Just a quick warning.. this beach could be classified as ‘off the beaten path’ and although you will often see children at the beach, this hike takes around 30 minutes of walking across dried lava rock and is not the easiest beach on the island to get to. You will be carrying everything in and out, so keep that in mind.
With that being said, Makalawena Beach is one of the most pristine beaches on the Big Island. Because of it’s secluded location, it makes the beach less ‘touristy’ as others on the island. If you close your eyes and imagine the most beautiful white-sandy Hawaiian beach, you're already imagining Makalawena, and will not be disappointed!
The easiest way to get to Makalawena Beach is to drive to Kekaha Kai Beach and hike North to approach Makalawena Beach from the South. Drive on Highway 19 and turn on the road towards the ocean between mile markers 90 and 91. There, you will see a sign for Kekaha Kai State Park. This road is unpaved. It is best to have a vehicle that is somewhat lifted, or 4-wheel drive. Smaller cars can handle the drive, but just drive slowly and carefully. The drive will take you 10-15 minutes. Find a spot to park (there will be other vehicles parked) and load up your packs for the hike.
Once your parked, walk north through the gate. You will see Kekaha Kai Beach, which is a beautiful beach. But don’t stop there. You will continue on to the greater reward which is the pristine and beautiful Makalawena Beach.
You will walk through a lava field for about another 20-30 minutes until you finally approach some sandy dunes. At this point, climb up the small sand dune hill towards the ocean and you have arrived!
Continue to walk until you find a secluded spot, and enjoy the rest of your day splashing in the clear waters!