ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay (A Bay)
Round Trip Mileage: 7 miles. This round-trip mileage is from Trailhead #3 to Trailhead #1 and returning the way you came, but you can loop this hike or do it in segments starting at different trailheads. There are many options here.
Elevation Gain: Negligible
Gear: This hike is mostly along the beach, but it requires you to cross nasty ʻaʻā lava fields and very rocky shorelines. You probably want some kind of shoe or boot for this. Make sure you also carry or wear your swimsuit, because there are lots of opportunities to swim in both the ocean and in an amazing freshwater lava pool.
Map: Topographical Map for Keawaiki Bay to A Bay
Overview: This is a bigislandhikes.com original. After visiting this area several times, we figured out a way to create some really fun loop hikes in the area. This hike links relatively unknown Keawaiki Bay to popular ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay (known to locals as A Bay). There are several different ways to take this hike and create loops, and three trailheads to choose from. This is probably the best beach hike on the entire island, and I guarantee you will have a storybook Pacific black or white sand beach all to yourself if you put in a little effort. In addition to a superb tour of the south Kohala coastline, this hike also introduces you to several freshwater-fed brackish pools in the area, some of which contain a unique golden algae. Others offer a cool dip. While you're in the area, you might want to check out the Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve, which is very close to A Bay. If you're looking for a recommendation for how to approach this, our strategy is to park at TH#3 and go all the way to just south of A Bay, then return the way we came. This way allows for maximum beach time -- and maximum solitude. But don't miss sunset at A Bay on a compelling evening.
Getting to the Trailheads:
Trailhead #1: A Bay TH: From Hwy 19, the Queen K Hwy, look for signs for both ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay and Waikoloa Beach Drive. Follow Waikoloa Beach Drive past the Queen’s Shops on your left and turn left onto Pae Wa’a for public beach parking. This trailhead is open from 7am to 8pm, and gates are locked.
Trailhead #2: Mile Marker 78 TH: This small parking area is located just off of Mile Marker #78 on Hwy 19. Be careful pulling into and out of this tiny parking area.
Trailhead #3: Mile Marker 79 TH: This is located about ¾ of a mile between Mile Markers 78 and 79, closer to 79. It's just a pull-off near the highway. Do not attempt to drive the road or block the gate near the trailhead – this is private property. Be careful pulling back out into traffic.
The Hike: I’ll describe this route beginning at Trailhead #3 and ending at Trailhead #1, going clockwise, but you can visit these places using the shown trails a number of different ways. Starting at Trailhead #3, locate the gate below the parking area and the four-wheel drive road that is the trail. This is a public access, but it skirts private property. After about a tenth of a mile, notice the ramrod-straight King’s Highway trail that you can use for a big loop hike. The King’s Highway was an ancient trail built by hand that traverses this entire part of the island. Walk the road through rough ʻaʻā lava for a little over a half mile, always staying to the north of the posted Private Property. Arrive at Keawaiki Bay and its lone palm tree. Follow the contour of the bay past the palm tree and across a short promontory and arrive at Pueo Bay, which has nice swimming in clear waters. From the center of Pueo Bay, locate a faint trail near the back of the beach near a big boulder. This trail leads toward the patches of green you can see offshore. These oases are brackish fresh-and-saltwater pools. The first pools you’ll come to are the Golden Pools of Keawaiki. The gold is a unique algae growing on the ʻaʻā lava pools. Please don’t swim in these pools to preserve this unique ecosystem. If you continue back toward the highway along the trail, you’ll find another freshwater pool among some ancient Hawaiian structures that’s deep enough to cool your legs off. After you’re done visiting these unique ecosystems among the ʻaʻā destruction, hike back toward Pueo Bay. Once back at Pueo, continue northward toward Weliweli Point, a promontory with a great vantage both north and south along the Kohala Coast. Past Weliweli Point, skirt private property near the beach and come around another promontory. From here, you should see another lone palm tree up the coast – this is your next point of reference for a great freshwater lava pool. But first, around the north side of the private property, find the road to Trailhead #2. It heads back through the ʻaʻā flows and also crosses the King’s Highway like the trail you began on. Continue to hike north along the coast toward Akahu Kaimu Bay, where you’ll find another lone palm tree. From the lone palm, hike back from the beach to find a large, freshwater-fed lava pool where you can have a nice, cool dip. It’s deep enough to swim halfway back. Refreshed, hike back to Akahu Kaimu Bay and continue northward toward ʻAnaehoʻomalu Bay (A Bay). This mile or so of beach has many small bays and inlets that provide for great swimming and snorkeling. As you approach A Bay, look closely at the polished lava rocks along the shore for petroglyphs. It’s very easy to find your own beach usually. There are often green sea turtles resting in the tidepools. Continuing back to A Bay, you’ll find a built-up public beach facility with restrooms, beach showers, and public parking. A Bay has two ancient fishponds ringed with palm trees for excellent sunset photos. From here, you can loop this hike by taking the King’s Highway back to Trailhead #3 or return along the beach the way you came. Note that the King’s Highway is far enough inland to be very hot during the afternoon sun. You’ll probably have no ocean breeze.