Big Island

Kid-Friendly Beaches (Part 2): Big Island’s Hilo District

After living on the Big Island for 8 years, my family and I have found many great kid-friendly beaches. Now that my daughter is older, she likes to boogie board and play in rougher surf. There are so many great places to be discovered, so now I’ll share this knowledge with you. Enjoy this, the Hilo District Kid-Friendly Beaches!

Hilo Honolii Beach

The surf at Honoli’i Beach is for bigger kids and adults, but little ones can enjoy the park

Probably the best known Hilo beach is Hilo Bay with its expanse of black sand right on Hilo’s busy Kamehameha Avenue. While this is a great place to launch a sailboat or watch the local paddling teams in their outrigger canoes, it is not a great place for swimming. 

For great swimming conditions for kids try the beaches along Kalanianaole Avenue including:

  • Onekahakaha Beach
  • Richardson’s
  • Four Mile (aka Carlsmith Park)

Onekahakaha Beach

My favorite for kids is Onekahakaha Beach. Here, the sandy beach is protected by the Hilo break-wall so that only small, lapping waves come into the swimming area. The depth only reaches a couple of feet, so it’s a fantastic place for budding swimmers. I’ve even rented a kayak and standup paddle board in town and brought them to this beach for a day’s worth of activity.

Hilo kayak photo

Kayaking at Onekahakaha Beach in Hilo…rent the kayak in town!

Honoli’i Surf Beach

For bigger kids who are strong swimmers, Honoli’i Beach offers a good training ground for boogie boarding and surfing. Just North of Hilo, five miles, enter the park by turning right off Hwy. 11 on Nahala (just past the cemetery) and follow the road to the left. The parking area on the cliffside is tight and usually full of surfers. 

Hilo Honolii Surf

With crashing waves at the mouth of a river, Honoli’i offers strong swimmers an adventurous day

The hike down the stairs into the park is down rather steep stairs. Stand on the shore of the lovely park and watch the big boys and girls surf, then jump over the rocky shore on your boogie board into the mouth of the river where smaller waves come in regularly. There are bathrooms with changing space and a lifeguard on duty during the day.

Four Mile Beach Park (aka Carlsmith Park)

If you’re in the mood for a relaxed lounging on the water’s edge and some easy snorkeling, Carlsmith Park is a good opportunity to see local sea turtles hanging out. Some kids really love the bigger sea life, while others run screaming like they’ve just seen the Creature from the Black Lagoon. So assess whether this is a good place for your kiddos or not. 

You’ll have to bring your own snorkel gear (buy a cheap set at Target or rent in Hilo). Located in the Keaukaha area, it is just a few minutes drive from downtown Hilo and next door to the Maunaloa Shores condos. There are picnic benches and big, shady trees here to enjoy.

Tips for Enjoying Kid-Friendly Hawaii Beaches:

  • Most beaches on the East side are rocky, so sturdy waterproof shoes are always a plus.
  • Sunblock is a must as the Hawaii sun can really bake you even when the sun is hidden by clouds.
  • Carry drinking water and snacks. There are not a lot of services near these beaches.
  • It’s always best to explore unfamiliar terrain in the daylight.
  • Please carry out your trash and help us keep the Hawaii aina (land) clean and beautiful!

Enjoy this Hawai’i Life!

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