Kapanaia Bay Beach

Kapanaia Bay – A Quiet Big Island Beach Only Accessible Using a 4x4 Vehicle
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Whenever you want to enjoy beautiful ocean views in pure seclusion, set your sights on the beach along Kapanaia Bay. Located just west of Keokea Beach Park, this small strip of land beckons to those who want to get away from it all. Be sure to have a 4x4 vehicle, however, or you’re not getting down its only access road.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

When you just want to jet away from it all and relax in pure seclusion, put the beach along Kapanaia Bay on your radar. Set just west of Keokea Beach Park, this quiet waterfront spot offers amazing ocean views without the crowds. The beach sits right along the tip of the Big Island, far away from the major tourist spots. You must have a 4×4 vehicle to get there because its only access road is rather rough, especially after heavy rains.

The waves get a lot more powerful in the winter months, too. But it’s not really a great place to go swimming anyway. Even in the summer months, the lack of lifeguards on duty makes it unsafe for kids and adults alike. Plus, you won’t have anyone nearby to call for help if you get into trouble. And the first responders wouldn’t be able to make it there in a hurry.

Instead, its sand and pebble beach is best enjoyed with your feet firmly on the sandy shores. From that vantage point, you get phenomenal panoramic views of the oceanside. As you sit quietly on the beach, there’s a chance to spot sea turtles, dolphins, and many other marine creatures in your midst. From December through April, you may even see humpback whales breaching the surface from time to time.

Despite the dangers past the water’s edge, it’s not uncommon to see locals surfing and boogie boarding here. Although a bit ill-advised, their activities are a blast to watch from the shores. If you bring a picnic lunch along for the ride, you can dine in style while gazing in awe at their death-defying moves out on the water. Even without the extra action, it’s fun to picnic on the beach while simply soaking in the serene atmosphere.

You’ll want to bring your own blanket to sit on since there are no picnic tables anywhere on the beach. In fact, there are no facilities whatsoever, so you may want to keep your visit brief. Otherwise, you may find yourself far from a bathroom when you need one most. There are not even any trash cans on site, so bring a garbage bag for all your debris.

Always act as a good steward to the land during your visit by picking up any other trash you see along the way. You can throw out the trash bag once you get back to your hotel, content that you did your part in protecting the beauty of Hawaii.

If you end up needing a bathroom ASAP or just want to pick up food, drinks, or other supplies, the nearest town is Kapaau. To get there, just travel west down Hawi-Niulii Road until you reach Hospital Road. Don’t forget to check out the statue of King Kamehameha while you’re there.

Keep in mind before you go that you won’t likely make it down the access road if it has been raining. So, check the weather before you go and skip the trip if it seems at all wet. Since this beach lies well off the beaten path, let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to get back. Then, check-in when you return. With that move, you can rest assured help will be on the way if you get stuck out there.

Insider Tips:
-Once you make it to the end of the dirt roadway, park along the shoulder, and then travel the rest of the way on foot.
-For a similar beach with facilities, go to the nearby Keokea Beach Park instead.
-Be sure to apply reef-safe SPF 50+ sunblock every two hours – even if you’re not getting in the water. The bright sunrays have the potential to cause serious sunburns otherwise.