A mere two or so miles from downtown Hilo, Honolii Beach Park draws locals and vacationers alike for its beauty and ambiance—and for top-draw surf breaks. This South Hilo cove offers an attractive beachfront, good facilities, and awesome ocean-watching, especially when those wave-riders are in action.
Honolii Beach Park is reached off the highway a short way north of Hilo via Nahala and Kahoa streets. There’s no designated lot, just roadside parking—and it’s sometimes hard to come by. A paved path leads from the road down the bluff to a concrete stairway accessing the county beach park. Here you’ll find restrooms and showers as well as a lifeguard tower.
There are also benches, which offer prime vantages to watch surfers at play. The surf breaks at Honolii Beach Park are year-round: gentler and more beginner-friendly in summer, big and challenging in winter. Locals flock here with their surfboards, and spectating is nearly as popular. Organized surfing tournaments often take place at Honolii Beach. You may see some experienced body-boarders doing their thing here, too. Shutterbugs can have a heyday catching some classic Big Island waves breaking.
Unless you’re a strong surfer or boogieboarder exploring the summer swells, you’ll most likely not be getting into the ocean at Honolii Beach. Rips and other strong currents, sometimes interacting unpredictably with outflow from the Honolii Stream, make swimming a dicey affair. So does the shore face’s pretty steep drop-off. Overall, this is a place to enjoy from shore.
That said, the mouth of Honolii Stream includes a pool partly blocked off by a vegetated strip and edged by. This pond is generally quite safe for taking a dip in, including for younger beachgoers. (Just assess stream conditions before getting in the pond, as any such water body can be made unsafe by heavy runoff.) The Honolii Beach Park pond is also popular among anglers, including those fishing with throw nets.
Beachcombers will also enjoy studying the makeup of Honolii Beach itself, which includes black sands, pebbles, coral shards, beach glass, and driftwood.
A fine place for picnicking, watching surfers, and maybe getting wet in the placid pond, Honolii Beach Park makes a convenient seashore escape from Hilo. You won’t have the place to yourself, and there are definitely beaches in the region with more extensive swimming opportunities, but this is a fine place for oceanfront R&R.
-Use caution driving the narrow—and often quite busy—Kahoa Street accessing Honolii Beach Park.
-As at any surf break, you should definitely pick the brains of local surfers with regard to current conditions before trying your own hand at riding the waves at Honolii Beach Park.
-For more off-the-beaten-path seashores, seek out a couple of black-sand beaches between Honolii Beach Park and Hilo.