Kohanaiki County Beach Park is a relatively new park that was just established in 2013. It lies on one of the westernmost juts of land on the Big Island and has some pretty outstanding things going for it.
First off, Kohanaiki County Beach Park is most known for its being officially camp-able. Anyone can camp here Thursday through Monday so long as they apply for a county permit. That permit is available online, you just have to pay the nominal fee, print out your receipt, and bring it with you to show at the guard shack at the park’s front gate. Note that what you are reserving is the ability to camp within the park, not a location. All of the camping spots themselves are first come first serve. So the earlier you get to Kohanaiki County Beach Park the night you’re going to camp, the better the spot you can get.
Locals often refer to Kohanaiki Beach Park as Pine Trees, which was this stretch of beach’s name before the county built up the park facilities and named it after a trail that stretches along this part of Hawaii. Those facilities that they added include improved beach access, paved parking areas, both outdoor and indoor showers (indoor showers are reserved for camping guests), designed camping areas, and an extended covered pavilion. There are several barbecue set-ups throughout the park’s many acres, all of which get used pretty regularly by those looking to enjoy a hot meal during their day at the beach.
The swimming conditions at Kohanaiki Beach Park are not the best (which might be part of why Hawaiian authorities didn’t create a designated park site here earlier). The waves here typically get too rough to swim during the winter and the rocky ocean floor can deter barefoot swimmers even when water conditions are at their best. A part of the shoreline here is likewise rocky and not easy to set up a sunbathing area on. The upside of this, for some, is that these areas of the beach are easier to drive upon — and you will find plenty of locals driving their vehicles up to park close to the water for the best in convenient beach times.
That said, there are parts of Kohanaiki Beach Park that are comprised of soft sands beneath large trees offering much-needed shade. During low tide, several tide pools are created, a little ocean wonderland that is perfect for inquisitive children. During the summer, when the waters are calmer and the visibility better, snorkeling is a popular pursuit here with green sea turtles a common sight.
But what really draws people to Kohanaiki County Beach Park, and has drawn people here for decades upon decades, is the excellent surf conditions. A large exposed reef break and eastern wind directions create clean groundswells and good conditions for surfers of all skills. Winter is when you will see the most surfers out riding the waves, but the area is surfable all year round. If you are looking for up-to-date surfing conditions for your trip, make sure to look under the local name of Pine Trees for accurate information.
-There’s a cool archeological area that can be reached by going through Kohanaiki Beach Park. Follow the signs and small footpath and you will find yourself in a unique spot that gives evidence to an ancient community. Here, you can discern a canoe house, donkey corral, petroglyph, and fish ponds that ancient Hawaiians used to raise fish during the seasons their culture forbids them to go offshore fishing.
-Remember, this beach is rocky. Bring a good pair of covered shoes if you plan on doing any walking.