Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area

Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area-Former Tarmac With Trails, Beaches, and Trails
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area is a 103-acre park with ball fields, a skateboard park, hiking paths, beaches, and tidal pools. The former airstrip serves as the access road and parking lot. Picnic tables, a public pavilion, and public restrooms and showers are close to the beach. 

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area may be one of the more exciting beaches you’ll visit on the Big Island. It is on the outskirts of Kailua-Kona.

During WWII, a landing strip was built parallel to the coast and was enlarged in 1947 to become Kona Airport. During the 50s-60s, Kona Airport buzzed with flights from Aloha and Hawaiian Airlines. The 60s brought hotels and resorts to the area until the 70s spelled its doom.

In 1970, construction started for the Kona International Airport (KOA) was built further north of Keahole Point. The longer tarmac and larger facility attracted Aloha and Hawaiian Airlines, who left Kona Airport. 

With no more commercial flights at Kona Airport, the tarmac became a drag strip from 1970-to 1976. In 19776, the area became the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area.

The Old Kona Airport State Recreation sits on 103 acres and has baseball and soccer fields, walking trails, and Kailua-Kona Skate Park. The old landing strip is the access road and parking lot, while the terminal is now a public pavilion. 

A sandy walking trail on the ocean side of the tarmac runs the length of the runway. On the opposite side of the runway and directly across from the beach pavilion area is the Makaeo walking/jogging path. This .7 mile paved path loops through luscious tropical plants and flowers. Volunteers keep Makaeo looking beautiful and have even spruced it up with a Japanese garden.

Kailua-Kona Skate Park has mixed reviews. Some skateboarders say that the bowl is excellent but needs improving. Kailua-Kona Skate Park also has several quarter pipes an 8-stair rail but lacks a run-up. 

The soccer and ball fields are at the southern end of the runway, and Kailua-Kona Skate Park is next to the Makaeo walking/jogging path.  

When you head to the beach from the midpoint of the airstrip, you’ll find picnic tables, public restrooms, and public showers. During weekends, the beach gets crowded with locals who fill the pavilions with cookouts and beach parties.  

While there is plenty of sand in the picnic and pavilion areas, black lava rocks are near the water, so use caution when entering the ocean. Remember, there isn’t a lifeguard on duty, so swim and snorkel at your own risk. 

Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area has two surf areas that may interest you. If you park at the northern end of the tarmac, you’ll find a path that leads to a sandy cove and small bay. Black lava rocks are everywhere, but the waters may be calm enough for snorkeling. 

The other choice spot is Keiki Ponds and Queen’s Bath. Keiki is Hawaiian for “child,” and these tidal pools and shallow waters are ideal for children and those young at heart. Most are ankle-deep, with several coming up to your shoulders. Although you can walk south along the shoreline from Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area, the fastest means getting there is as follows: 

  • Drive to Kona Community Aquatic Center
  • Park in the southwest area near the soccer and ball fields
  • Locate the walking path and shoreline access signs
  • Follow the path west and cross Kona Bay Drive to the beach access path. 

We think you’ll love visiting Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area. With so much to do, like exploring the tide pools, hiking the trails, or snorkeling for tropical fish, there’s something there for everyone. 

Insider Tips:
There aren’t any restrooms or water fountains at Keiki Ponds and Queen’s Bath, so prepare and pack accordingly. The rocky barrier keeps the pools calm, but high surf can roll over the rocks, so stay alert.