10 Best Hilo Beaches You Must Visit in 2023
Are you looking for the best Hilo Beaches in Hawaii? Look no further.
Our writer Val, lives in Hawaii and in this post she will tell us all about it.
If you’re heading to the Big Island, you’ve probably already heard that Hilo has shops, museums, and lush greenery.
Did you know that Hilo also has amazing beaches? No matter what beach activity you’re interested in, you’re bound to find the perfect fit.
Enjoy all Hilo has to offer and spend a few days soaking in the sunshine at the best beaches. Read on for the ultimate list of the top 10 best Hilo beaches that you must visit in 2023!
10 Best Hilo Beaches in Hawaii
These top 10 best Hilo beach parks are fantastic options for the whole family! Interested in snorkeling, bodyboarding or swimming?
There’s an ideal beach in Hilo for you! Read on to plan the ultimate Hawaii trip in 2023.
1. Carlsmith Beach Park
Carlsmith Beach Park is the ultimate family-friendly beach park. It’s well-maintained, easily accessible, and has lifeguards on the weekends.
This is one of the best sandy beaches in Hilo and is perfect for snorkeling, swimming, and suntanning.
Plus, Carlsmith has a beautiful green lawn area. It’s complete with pavilions, grills, picnic tables, and restrooms.
Traverse the lava rock footpath down to the lagoon and enjoy the calm, reef-protected swimming areas.
2. Coconut Island (Moku Ola)
Coconut Island is a small island in Hilo Bay. Easily accessible via a footbridge just north of the Queen Liliuokalani Gardens, it has a couple of small beaches and a large grassy area with picnic tables.
With coconut palms offering shade and a protected bay perfect for swimming, it’s easily a pleasant place to spend a couple of hours.
Feeling dare-devilish? Take a cue from the local kids and jump into the water from a 20ft tower! Plus, the location of this island offers great views of downtown Hilo, and both Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes.
3. Reeds Bay Beach Park
Located around Hilo’s Banyan Drive area, Reed’s Bay Beach Park is a family-friendly spot. It’s complete with picnic areas, showers, bathrooms, and calm, shallow waters.
This park is a popular spot on the weekends for people participating in all kinds of water sports such as kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding.
Don’t feel like packing a picnic lunch to bring with you? Have a fresh meal at one of the nearby hotel restaurants in the area!
4. Keaukaha Beach Park
Keaukaha Beach Park might not be the best swimming beach, but with a large grassy area, it’s ideal for a picnic.
You should make sure to bring your snorkeling gear! On a calm day, snorkeling is fantastic, but the water can be quite chilly due to freshwater springs coming up the ocean bottom.
With frequent turtle sightings, Keaukaha is a great spot to hang out.
5. Honolii Beach Park
Located in South Hilo, Honolii Beach Park is an incredibly picturesque spot.
It isn’t the most accessible on this list, since you have to go down a bunch of stairs to get to the beach. However, as long as you don’t have mobility challenges it shouldn’t pose too much of an obstacle!
This cove is popular with surfers, bodyboarders, and fishers.
The surf is too rough for swimming, but it’s a fun spot to stop by and watch experienced surfers ride the waves!
6. Onekahakaha Beach Park
Perfect for the keiki (children), Onekahakaha Beach Park has one of the safest swimming areas along the Hilo coast.
Complete with a shallow, sand-bottomed ocean pool, there’s also plenty of tide pools and inlets to explore. Plus, there’s normally a lifeguard on duty!
It’s a popular spot and fills up quickly on the weekends.
Keep your eyes out for the Hawaiian Green sea turtles, as they’re often seen lounging or feeding here!
7. James Kealoha Beach Park
James Kealoha Beach Park is known locally as the “4-mile” beach since it’s exactly 4 miles from the Hilo Post Office.
Despite not having a traditional sandy beach area, it’s ideal for swimming, snorkeling, surfing, and fishing.
With a sheltered lagoon on the east side of the bay and an open west side, this beach has something for everyone.
Various local food trucks often visit the beach park so you don’t even have to leave to get a good meal. That makes it perfect for a long beach day!
8. Wai’olena Beach Park (Leleiwi)
While Wai’olena Beach Park doesn’t have a sandy beach area, it has a grassy area and covered pavilion ideal for a picnic or a windy day.
With a lava rock shoreline swimming isn’t as easy at this beach.
Wade in the rocky tide pools or toss a frisbee back and forth with the calming sounds of the waves in the background.
9. Richardson Beach Park
Richardson Beach Park is the closest black sand beach park to Hilo. It’s only ten minutes away from the downtown!
A great spot for snorkeling, it’s also got a wide variety of tide pools, calm water, and a picnic area.
While the beach is a black sand beach, take a close look and see green sand mixed in.
Made out of Olivine crystals, you can see the unique and beautiful “green sand” without venturing too far afield.
Complete with a marine conservation area, the ocean is fed by freshwater springs that created ponds nearby. These freshwater springs are responsible for some cold currents you’ll experience while swimming.
With a lifeguard on duty from 7 am to 7 pm, you can come and hang out worry-free.
10. Hilo Bayfront Beach Park
This beach destination is conveniently located right in Hilo and has loads of amenities. It is a fantastic spot to fish, kayak, canoe, surf, or just hang out in the sunshine.
Complete with restrooms, showers, and an abundance of parking, this black sand beach is not actually ideal for swimming.
While you can definitely hop into the water if you want to, the water at this beach is a bit murky.
The murky water makes it an ideal hunting ground for sharks. Hammerhead sharks are fairly common in the bay!
This local spot is generally quiet and peaceful, ideal for getting some r&r.
Best Beaches Near Hilo Hawaii
Now that we’ve covered the best beaches in Hilo, let’s move on to some of the best beaches just a little further from town!
👉🏽 Papakolea Beach (The Green Sand Beach)
Papakolea is the green sand beach Hilo is known for. It has breathtaking sand made from green crystals (referred to as Olivines).
This beach is located in an old cinder cone of the Moana Loa Volcano.
It isn’t the easiest to access- you’ll need to hike 2.8 miles from the parking lot to access the beach.
Please note that the land between the parking lot and the beach hosts many culturally significant places. Driving on this road is illegal- so don’t accept a ride if it’s offered.
There isn’t any shade cover on the beach or a lifeguard. You’ll want to come prepared with lots of sunscreen and water.
The green sand is absolutely beautiful and makes this a worthwhile spot to visit!
👉🏽 Pohoiki / Isaac Hale Beach Park
Pohoiki / Isaac Hale Beach Park is home to one of the newest beaches on the island! It’s fascinating to see how mother nature can change the landscape so suddenly.
Back in 2018, the whole bay was almost filled with lava. Thankfully, the lava stopped 230 feet away from the harbor.
Now lots of new black sand is coming into the bay and forming a new beach.
There are also 4 natural geothermal ponds you can take a dip in!
The surf is generally a bit rougher at this beach, but there is normally a lifeguard on duty if you want to swim.
👉🏽 Haena Beach
If you’re interested in hiking, Haena Beach is the spot for you! Enjoy a gorgeous 5-mile (round trip) jungle trek complete with rugged coastline views to get to Ha’ena beach.
It might be a little muddy, so make sure to bring good shoes with you!
Ha’ena Beach is picturesque with both black and white sand. This sandy cove has beautiful coconut palms and a thriving reef.
It’s not uncommon to see green sea turtles or a Hawaiian monk seal upon arrival!
There aren’t any amenities offered at this beach park, so make sure to pack everything you’ll need.
👉🏽 Punaluu Beach
Spending a day at Hawai’i Volcanoes national park? Add this beach to your itinerary!
One of the most famous black sand beaches in the entire state, Punaluu Beach offers dramatic views and a great picnic spot.
While you’re able to swim at Punaluu Beach, be aware that there are often strong currents at this beach. With raw natural beauty, it’s absolutely stunning.
The black sand heats up quickly in the hot Hawaiian sun, so make sure to wear shoes on the beach so you don’t burn your feet!
👉🏽 Lehia Beach Park
Definitely a local spot, Lehia Beach Park feels more isolated and less developed than others.
With an unpaved parking lot, a single outhouse, and a rocky shoreline, Lehia Beach Park is a great spot to escape the crowds and get off the beaten tourist track.
Meander down some of the trails nearby and visit Leleiwi Point, past scenic tidal ponds and crashing ocean waves. It’s a beautiful, peaceful spot to hang out.
👉🏽 Kaimu Beach Park
This young black sand beach is a fantastic spot for any volcano aficionado.
You have to walk 300 meters over lava rock to get to the new beach, forming 50ft above an old one.
The Kailua “Beach Eco Path” leads past newly planted coconut palms. Expect to climb down to the water, and be careful- lava rock can be sharp!
While you won’t be able to swim or snorkel at this beach, it’s worth visiting and can easily be added to your itinerary if you’re heading toward Puna or Kalapana.
If you’re there Saturday morning, there’s a lively farmers market from 8:00 am to noon. With local musicians, kite flying, and vendors it’s a fun way to experience Kaimu beach park.
Best Things to Do in Hilo Beaches
You’re not limited to suntanning and swimming at Hilo beaches! One of the best things about Hawaii is how many different ways you can take advantage of the ocean.
One of the best things to do in Hawaii is to snorkel and see the underwater marine life and that’s not different in Hilo.
You can rent equipment from any diving company or might have some available for free at your rental condo.
Tip: Use a 1:1 ratio of baby shampoo and water in a spray bottle as a defogger! Not only is it gentle on your eyes but it works really well.
There are plenty of surf spots in Hilo! Two of the best are Richardson Ocean Park and Honoli’i Beach Park.
Never surfed before but down to try? Hilo Ocean Adventures offers surf classes for beginners!
There are some amazing diving spots in Hilo! Water visibility over 100 ft is common in this area, but, of course, dive conditions depend on the local weather.
The best conditions for diving are generally over the summer when the surf is lower.
Richardson Beach Park is a fantastic spot for divers of all levels!
There are loads of kayaking opportunities on the Hilo side of the Big Island. Not only is it a fantastic way to experience the ocean, but you can also get unique views of Mauna Kea.
Make sure to wear a life jacket while you’re out on the water!
✔️ Deep sea fishing
Big Island is considered the best spot for deep-sea fishing in the state!
There’s even an International Bill Fish tournament held in Kona each year. Ono (Wahoo), Marlin, and Mahi Mahi are all common fish you could catch.
If you’re interested in deep-sea fishing you should try and plan your trip between June and September.
With loads of charter boats and trips to choose from, there’s a deep-sea fishing opportunity for you.
✔️ Jet skiing
If you’re 16 or older you can go jet skiing while in Hawaii! It is a thrilling way to enjoy the pacific ocean and get a hit of adrenaline.
Jet skiing during whale season is not allowed, so if you’re in Hilo during the winter months you won’t be able to do this activity.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hilo Beaches
Check out these important FAQs so you know what to expect during your time in Hilo on the Big Island!
Does Hilo have good beaches?
Hilo, while lesser-known than Kona, has a wide variety of fantastic beaches. No matter what kind of day you’re wanting to have, there’s a beach for you!
Are there swimmable beaches in Hilo Hawaii?
There are swimmable beaches in Hilo! While not every beach in Hilo is as good for swimming, there are plenty of sandy beaches with calm waters suitable for the whole family.
Does Hilo have sandy beaches?
Hilo has plenty of sandy beaches, with some of the most notable being Carlsmith Beach Park and Coconut Island.
Which is better, Hilo or Kona?
Both Hilo and Kona have a lot to offer visitors to the Big Island. Kona tends to have more beaches and options for where to stay, but why should you stay in Hilo? Well, it has great urban vibes and offers accessibility to a wide area of the island
What is Hilo Hawaii known for?
Hilo is known as the cultural capital of the island, which historic buildings, galleries, and museums. Plus, with the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Volcano Village located only a 40-minute drive away, it’s a fantastic location.
Where are the best beaches on the Big Island?
While you can’t go wrong with any beach on the Big Island as they’re all so beautiful, beaches on the northwest side of the Big Island are notably beautiful, as is Carlsmith Beach Park in Hilo.
Final Thoughts: Hilo Beaches
If you’re planning a visit to the Big Island, make sure to add some of these amazing Hilo beaches to the list for your vacation!
You can’t go wrong with any of the beaches on the Big Island, but each one is good for different types of activities.
Whether it’s a soft sandy beach, green or black sand, swimming, or snorkeling spot, Hilo has it all.
About the Author: Val McArthur
Val McArthur is a communications specialist living on the island of Maui since 2018. She grew up in Guatemala where she developed a taste for high-quality coffee, the outdoors, and multicultural experiences. She’s always on the lookout for new countries to go to and coffee to drink!