Pauoa Bay

Pauoa Bay – A Wonderful Spot to Enjoy the Beauty of Paradise on the Big Island
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Are you looking to enjoy the beach without the crowds? If so, you cannot go wrong in setting your sights on Pauoa Bay. If you’re not a Fairmont Orchid at Mauna Lani Resort guest, it’s a bit of a walk, but it’s well worth trekking on down to its sandy shores.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

When you want to simply get away from it all while soaking in the beauty of paradise, jet on over to Pauoa Bay. Set along the northwestern shores of Puako, this Big Island favorite always serves as a great place to spend a relaxing day on the waterfront. Fairmont Orchid at Mauna Lani Resort guests and nearby residents have the easiest access. But, it’s only a short trek down the coast from Holoholokai Beach otherwise.

If you want to park for free – and get your steps in – go to lot at the end of Holoholokai Beach Park Road. Then, secure your vehicle and walk out to the beach until you find the trail heading south. From there, it’s about a ½ mile walk to the golden sands along the bay. By the time you get to the backside of the resort, the beach trail turns into a paved path, making for an even easier trek. Don’t want to make the trek? Pay to park in the resort lot instead, but the fees can add up rather fast if you stay all day.

Once you make it to the bay, you’ll see crystal clear waters protected by lava walls, which calm all the waves as they come to the shore. The palm trees all around add to the beauty of the scene, plus provide a little bit of shade here and there. For the most part, it’s bright and sunny all around, however, so be sure to wear your SPF 50+ reef-safe sunblock.

Despite the regular resort visitors, this beach stays relatively empty. As a result, there are never any lifeguards on duty. But that doesn’t stop visitors from dipping into the water for a swim. Although the lava walls keep waves to a minimum, you still have to be careful while playing in the ocean. Conditions can change quickly, after all, especially in the winter months.

Snorkeling is a popular pastime, too. Thanks to the conservation efforts of the University of Hawaii, the nearby reefs are the healthiest on the island. They’re home to many tropical fish, eels, and other incredible sea creatures. Beyond the reefs, there’s a chance to see dolphin pods swimming by. And in the winter months, humpback whales regularly make their appearance far in the distance.

Fun things to do include:

Explore Tidepools
The lava rocks along the northern edges of the bay create many tidepools to explore. As you look in each one, you’ll find a tiny ecosystem all its own, featuring fish, hermit crabs, and so much more. Don’t touch any of the creatures that you find. Just watch in awe as they move around their natural habitat.

Watch Sea Turtles
Sea turtles often swim around the bay waters at their leisure. During the sunset hour, they come up on shore, too. So, keep an eye out for these magnificent creatures, and then admire them from afar when you do see them.

Admire the Sunset
As with all Hawaiian beaches, these shores serve as the perfect place to admire the sunset. You’ll want to arrive well before the sun starts to go down, so you can take advantage of the golden hour for all your photos. Then, cozy up on the beach and get ready for a breathtaking show as the sky lights up in a ton of vivid hues.

The beach does not have any restrooms or other facilities. You also cannot use the bathrooms at the resort unless you’re a paying guest. The only workaround is getting a meal at one of their wonderful onsite eateries. With that move, you can get complimentary valet parking plus use the restrooms as you wish.

Insider Tips:
-Never keep any belongings in your car – not even in your trunk – while parked in public parking lots. Thieves often prowl the beach lots in search of easy targets, resulting in broken windows and stolen items.
-The umbrellas and chairs on the beach are for resort guests only. Bring your own if you don’t want to plop down in the sand while getting hit with the full power of the sun.