NileGuide Expert Says:

Surf, sand, history, and huge ice ponds, what more could a traveler ask for?


Highway 11
96777 Big Island (Hawaii),

NileGuide Expert tip:

Put it on your "to do" list, and if you doubt the drive in, just walk. If you come across an elderly Hawaiian man with a white beard, it's mostly likely Uncle Able, the official unofficial caretaker of Kawa'a. He says the property originally belonged to his family in the pre-contact period and he has been living there for many years. Send him a warm aloha.


Kawa'a Beach is a local favorite to escape to from any part of the island. The beach, which consists of a surfing area with a beach made of black pebbles, reef pools to walk through, a camping area, and a pretty huge ice cold freshwater pond, is located in the Pahala area of the Ka'u district. It is a bumpy, rocky, drive in but doesn't require four wheel drive. Locals are known to drive in a variety of cars, including VW Bugs from the 60s. However, use your best judgment when deciding if your vehicle will make it in and out, and if you decide to walk in, its not very far.

Because of the less than perfect conditions, the surf spot is best for experienced surfers, definitely not those at novice level. There is a big parking lot near the water to leave the car at for the day in full view from any part of the beach. The reef is exposed and dotted with tide pools for swimming and walking through which borders the sand and grass area where people camp.

The most intriguing part of Kawa'a is the big freshwater pond at the south end of the beach known locally as the "ice ponds," you can't miss it. Always clear and very cold, the pond has a sand and pebble bottom and gets deep enough for a real swim, not just a quick dunk.

Kawa'a in perfect for a full day visit or a short stop on the way to the east or west side of the Big Island. There aren't any shops in the immediate area so remember to bring water, food, and your camera. Kawa'a is known in the Hawaiian culture as a sacred place, and its said that sandalwood logs were rolled down the inland hills nearby to the coast where they were prepped for sale.

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