Makaeo Walking Path

Makaeo Walking Path - A Wonderous Walking Path in the Heart of Hawaii
The Bottom Line:

If you are staying on the west coast of Hawaii and are on the hunt for a short and simple nature walk, then you will love the Makaeo Walking Path. Short, sweet, and just that right touch of Hawaii to make for a wonderful visit.

- The Local Expert Team

You will find the Makaeo Walking Path within the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area in Kailua-Kona. The Kuakini Highway cuts through the center of this recreational area, and you will find this trailhead and trail on the very west end of the park, north of the highway. You can park either directly at the trailhead, or you will find parking for the beach just across the road and simply walk over. 

As noted above, the Makaeo Walking Path is short, exceptionally short. This is a looped walking trail that is exactly one mile in length, which will take an estimated 2,500 steps to complete, or about twenty to thirty minutes when walking at a leisurely pace. It is completely paved and has an elevation gain of just 6.6 feet, which will barely be felt during the entirety of your walk. In other words, the Makaeo Walking Path would likely be in the running for the easiest trail to walk in all of the Hawaiian islands as it is paved, flat, and short. As such, many people who head out to the Makaeo Walking Path will walk it more than once, and you will often encounter quite a few joggers out, especially during the morning and evening hours. 

But don’t confuse easy with boring. The Makaeo Walking Path is unique and exceptional in its own way. First, it and the rest of the recreational areas that are a part of the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area were once, as the name suggests, a massive airport landing strip. This landing strip was originally built in 1947 and then expanded in the following decade. But as the state of Hawaii became more and more of a vacation destination, those on the Big Island recognized the need for bigger and more modern facilities. In 1970, the larger Kona International Airport was opened further north on the island and this airstrip closed down. For a few years, it was used for drag racing and similar pursuits until the state officially transformed it all into a state park in 1976.

So yes, a big part of why the Makaeo Walking Path is so flat is because it was once an airstrip. But the state has done a lot with the renovations since then. Today, green grass with native trees and bushes abounds on one end, offering beautiful picnic areas and concrete benches upon which to rest and contemplate. The other end of the path is a bit more colorful with a varied community botanical garden that truly has some of the brightest, most vivid flowers and flowering bushes. In fact, everyone who lives in the area is welcome to contribute their own part to the path, so what you experience when you visit one month might be completely different from what you experience another month, season, or year.

The Makaeo Walking Path is also unofficially known as the home to a group of stray, but friendly cats. While visitors are asked not to feed them (there is a dedicated local team that ensures all are well-fed, vaccinated, and fixed), these feline residents are friendly and often sneak into photographs taken along the route. You might not even notice until you look back at the pictures long after you’ve left the area! There are also a lot of mongooses out around this area, but they are going to be timider than their cat neighbors. 

Note that a couple of years ago, this part of Hawaii did have an issue with robberies within the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area, believed to be due to a nearby homeless encampment. The local police stepped up their presence and the greater involvement of the local community has decreased problems significantly since then, but still, it is important to be cautious. We would advise not to go here during the earliest dawn and latest dusk hours, despite the park technically being open 24/7. Going with at least one other partner and keeping valuables at the hotel (especially if you are looking to enjoy the adjoining beach) are also good safety tips to follow. 

Insider Tip:
Don’t be in a rush to just walk this trail and go. Spend some time exploring the whole of the Old Kona Airport Recreation Area. The beach across the street offers a nice, quiet place to swim and soak in some rays. Unfortunately, there is no posted lifeguard here. But what they do have is running toilets and showers to wash off that sand and salt before you jump back in the car and head on to your next Big Island destination.