Once inhabited by King Kamehameha the Great, Kamakahonu Beach in Kailua-Kona, HI, is an important historical site. Of course, more than its historical significance, the beach offers plenty of options for modern beach guests. In fact, locals have nicknamed the spot “Children’s Beach” due to its shallow water and gentle waves. Due to its placidity, it is known as one of the safest swimming beaches in all of Kona. King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel is situated nearby and is a popular vacationing spot for families. The small, popular, public beach is also known as King Kam Beach.
The name Kamakahonu actually translates to “the turtle eye” from the Hawaiian language. This nickname is believed to be derived from a turtle-shaped rock that used to be prominent on the beach. Unfortunately, this landmark is now located under the Kailua Pier. In addition to calm waters offshore, the beach itself is also welcoming, featuring shaded picnic spots, showers, restrooms, BBQ areas, and more along the shore. There are also nice concessions nearby as well as some fancy restaurants that feature a mixture of international and local cuisine options that are also easily accessible. There are also stores that offer refreshments, snacks, and even sunscreen, which makes the experience better.
This small beach is sheltered on one side by the Kailua Pier and dense rocks on the other. There are some notably good fishing spots on nearby Kailua Pier and you can also enjoy dive tours, pleasure cruises, and parasailing in the area. Kamakahonu Beach is a great place to spend the day snorkeling. In addition, it is an ideal location for dive instruction, swimming, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding due to its welcoming waters, even for newbies. If you don’t have the gear necessary to enjoy these activities, you can rent the necessary gear for snorkeling from Kona Boys Beach and kayaks from Hobie Cats all at reasonable prices.
The white sand, swaying palms, and grassy lawns, along with the sheltered shoreline with virtually no waves are ideal for small children, families, and those who value relaxation above physically challenging activities. You access the beach fairly easily by parking for free on nearby Palani road and walking to the beach. If you want to get a bit closer, you can opt for paid parking at the King Kamehameah’s Kona Beach Hotel. Regardless of which you prefer, you have some paved parking options.
Aside from the many modern activities you can enjoy when visiting Kamakahonu Beach, it is also a significant historical site, as mentioned above, as it was once inhabited by King Kameahameha. He resided here from 1812 until he died in 1819. He was a royal figure and constructed many buildings as well as an office and his personal temple, the Ahuena Heiau, which stands offshore to this day, adding to the beach’s uniqueness.
According to the register of National Historic Landmarks, Kamakahonu Beach is one of the island’s most historic sites. The Ahuena Heiau temple, built by King Kaamehameha the Great, was dedicated to the god of peace, prosperity, and agriculture, Lono. Members of Kamehameah’s council met regularly for ritual ceremonies.
On the third Sunday of each month, you can visit the nearby Kokua Kailua village, which hosts a free event at Hulihe’s Palace. This event includes free trucks, local artisans, and free entertainment starting at 4 pm. Add to this the easy access to many restaurants and stores the beach always offers, and it’s obvious that Kamakahonu Beach is a great way to spend a day, or a few hours anyway, as a family or relaxing as a couple or with a group of friends. There is no lifeguard, however, the calm waters and absence of waves create a pretty safe swimming environment, with or without professional safeguards.
-Pay attention to any posted signs pertaining to ocean conditions when visiting to ensure safety.
-There are tropical fish right off-shore that you can see when snorkeling off Kamakahonu Beach.