Sapphire Cove

Sapphire Cove - A Challenge to Reach but Great Ocean View
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Sapphire Cove (a.k.a. Kaiholena) is in North Kohala, approximately 8.5 miles north of Kawaihae. A short hike to the small bluff gives visitors a grand view of the Pacific Ocean. The access road can be dilapidated, so drive with caution.

- The Local Expert Team

Sapphire Cove is also known as Kaiholena and is in North Kohala in Hawaii. The cove is off the beaten path and will take some grit and determination to reach. It also has mixed reviews, which we’ll share at the end, so you can decide for yourself.

Your first challenge is finding Sapphire Cove since it’s on an unnamed road. Here are some directions to the unknown road:

  • In Kawaihae, get on HI 270 (Kawaihae-Mahukona Road) 
  • Head north on 270 for about 8.5 miles and look for a crossroad
  • The unnamed road is on the left; there’s a sign on the right for Kaiholena Pl, which is gated

The next challenge is choosing which way you wish to go to reach Sapphire Cove. Once you turn onto the unnamed road, the pavement abruptly ends with the option of turning left or right. We advise turning left onto the gravel road. It leads to a parking area about a quarter of a mile away. The dirt road to the right meanders more and eventually ends near the bluffs but not the parking area or trail.

Visitors to Sapphire Cove warn that sometimes these roads are in disrepair, and you may need a truck or an SUV. 

Once parked, you’ll find the trailhead on the ocean side of the parking area. The hike is short through the low-lying brush to a small bluff with a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean. There are access trails to the rocky beach, so make sure you’re wearing the proper footwear. 

As we said in our introduction, reviews of Sapphire Cove are mixed. Some travelers mentioned that the snorkeling is good, while others advised going to other locations easier to access. One visitor commented that Sapphire Cove is ideal if you want solitude. However, they went on to say that locals sometimes camp in the area and blast loud music. 

Sapphire Cove may not appeal to everyone, but we think you’ll enjoy the visit if you like an adventure.  

Insider Tip:
There isn’t much shade at Sapphire Cove, so dress appropriately. Mornings are probably the best time to visit when it’s not as hot and crowded.