Onekahakaha Beach Park

Onekahakaha Beach Park - Safe, Shallow Tidal Pools
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Onekahakaha Beach Park doesn’t have a beach but offers safe, shallow, sand-bottomed tidal pools. Restrooms, picnic tables, grassy areas, sidewalks, and a lifeguard station make this park a top destination for families, children, and the elderly. The park is also ideal for those afraid of the ocean since the breakwaters protect the area from waves, currents, and rip tides.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

Onekahakaha Beach Park is the perfect spot for families with young children or those skittish of the ocean. Although there isn’t a beach to speak of, black boulders form a breakwater to create shallow and calm pools. 

Onekahakaha Beach Park is on the eastern side of Hawaii in the area known as South Hilo. Back in 1915, the only access to the beach was a trail. Thankfully, those days are gone, and a paved road leads you into the park. 

Another interesting fact about Onekahakaha is that in 1968, it was home to a children’s zoo. But in 1973, local authorities relocated the zoo to a larger tract of land in Panaewa near the racetrack.  

Onekahakaha Beach Park has ample parking and puts you steps away from being in the water. The park is popular, so you may park on the access road if the parking lot is full.

Other amenities at the park include restrooms, showers, and picnic areas, many of which are covered. Additionally, there are plenty of trees, so you can chill in the shade if the tropical sun gets too intense. 

Grassy areas abound and are a great place to play games, sunbathe, or throw a Frisbee.

Sidewalks meander from the parking lot through the park and down to the water access. The walkway also runs parallel with the shoreline making Onekahakaha Beach Park great for those with strollers or needing wheelchair access.  

As we mentioned, there isn’t a beach, yet Onekahakaha Beach Park is very popular despite this setback. The main attraction is the natural pool directly in front of the parking area, complete with a sandy bottom. The water is waist-deep on adults, and during low tide, it is ankle-deep. A lifeguard station is nearby to ensure kids swimming and jumping off rocks into the shallow water are safe. 

To the left of this pool are tide pools. Within are coral, sea urchins, and other small marine life. Visitors have reported seeing sea turtles swimming in the pools or perched on a black rock basking in the sun. 

It’s for all of these are reasons why someone afraid of the ocean would enjoy Onekahakaha Beach Park. The water is shallow, there are no currents or riptides, and unless you’re scared of turtles, the pools lack sharks and other predators. There is also a lifeguard on duty providing ultimate safety for those wanderers.

The park has undeveloped areas to visit for those who like to explore. This area is between the park and Kedkea Point and has large sand-bottomed pools and inlets along the rocky coast.

We think Onekahakaha Beach Park ranks high for being one of the best parks for families with young children, seniors, and those fearful of the open ocean. 

Insider Tips:
-Swimmers of all abilities should not swim beyond the breakwater. These waters are known for strong currents, powerful waves, and dangerous rip tides. As a result, there have been many fatalities.
-Winter brings strong winds and swells known to sweep over the breakwaters and flood the park. Always check with local authorities on the park’s condition before visiting.