Kohala Coast - Northwestern Big Island

 

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Spencer Beach to Hapuna Beach via Ala Kahakai Trail

The Ala Kahakai Trail is an old trail from the time of the Hawaiian Kings connecting the Kings' roads and fisherman's trails. Currently, only small portions are maintained and signed as hiking trails. From Spencer Beach to Hapuna Beach is a 5-6 mile return hike with fairly minimal elevation gain with occasional short climbs onto lava rocks. Spencer Beach at the north end looked to be a local beach, with many local campers.

Start of Ala Kahakai Trail at Spencer Beach

Start of Ala Kahakai Trail at Spencer Beach

Ala Kahakai Trail just south of Spencer Beach

Ala Kahakai Trail just south of Spencer Beach

 

It is a walk through a neighbourhood or two, some resorts, a few white sand beach secluded coves and some ruins. Part of the trail runs through a golf course, under macadamia trees and between rock walls. The trail was probably about 30-40% shaded.

Trailside Ala Kahakai Trail

Trailside Ala Kahakai Trail

Slight climb to get to our trail

Slight climb to get to our trail

Walking between rock walls

Walking between rock walls

 

We did find a few quiet coves of white sand.  The first one we came across going south from Spencer Beach is Mau'ume Beach.  There were a few people here.  Just south of Mau'ume Beach, we found a white-sand bottomed cove to call our own. We spent an hour or so hopping waves there, hanging unused attires on a tree trunk close by, until the tides started coming in where our shoes laid.  We took that as a sign to pack up and go before the tides swallowed our trail.  It's a good idea to find out the tide schedule before this hike.  

Ala Kahakai Trail south, approaching Mau'ume Beach

Ala Kahakai Trail south, approaching Mau'ume Beach

 Our secret cove on our way to Hapuna Beach in the morning

Our secret cove on our way to Hapuna Beach in the morning

 Our secret cove heading north in the afternoon. Note the change in water level.

Our secret cove heading north in the afternoon. 

 

There were many tide pools and coral near Mauna Kea Golf Course tennis courts. Keep your eye out for crabs and baby fish at the tide pools near the tennis courts.

Sharing the golf course via Ala Kahakai Trail

Sharing the golf course via Ala Kahakai Trail

Tidepools along the lava rocks and corals

Tidepools along the lava rocks and corals 

 

There are Hawaiian ruins just north of Hapuna Beach, and another ruin just north of Spencer Beach. The ruins just north of Spencer Beach (walkable) is a National Historic Park called Pu'ukohola Heiau NHS consisting of ruins of a temple or two on land, an offshore-underwater temple and a previous royal compound. The ruins just north of Hapuna Beach is groups of rocks with signs informing of their previous functions in the past.

Hapuna Beach is a large white sand beach off a resort. There was minimal shade and much tourist activity. The north side of Hapuna Beach housed many streams of baby fish that made themselves seen as we walked by. There was a quieter cove of white sand available at the north side of Hapuna Beach as well, pending suitable tides.

Approaching Hapuna Beach on Ala Kahakai Trail south

Approaching Hapuna Beach on Ala Kahakai Trail south

Quieter cove just north of Hapuna Beach main beach

Quieter cove just north of Hapuna Beach main beach


Further south of Hapuna Beach, this trail is said to go to Puako Petroglyphs.  Boys weren't crazy about going any further so we chose Hapuna Beach as our turnaround point.

 

Practical Information (as of June 2017):

Features: Hike on an old Hawaiian roadway, from Spencer Beach to Hapuna Beach, passing many coves, through golf course, passing ruins on rugged lava rocks and between rock walled estates

Our hike: 5-6 mile hike, 30-40% shade, elevation gain minimal

Don't Forget: hat, water, sunscreen, check tide schedule

Directions: North on Hwy 270, past Hwy 19. Turnoff is on the left side, turn towards the ocean. Look for signs. We parked at Spencer Beach (no fee) and walked south past the sheltered group picnic area to Ala Kahakai Trail heading south, trail well marked for the most part, near golf course, not super clear but we found our way

 

A-Bay (Anaeho'omalu Bay) to Keawaki Bay hike

The hike from A-Bay to Keawaki Bay is a 7 miles roundtrip out and back hike. A-Bay housed a resort, a fish pond and a fish trap structure. There was no signage on the trail. We parked our car in the public parking and walked towards the beach. Then we headed south along the beach, past a bar, some coconut trees and some cabins. We saw lots of hammocks hanging between coconut trees here. A-Bay had a narrow white sand beach when heading south, which is almost a mile long when the tide is low.  The tide was low in the morning we were there, so we saw many tide pools along the way. There were colorful fish swimming in the shallow waters as we walked by; I even spotted two fishes 2 feet large, playing tag with each other. In the afternoon when we headed back, the tide started coming in.  We got our feet wet a few times, running across as the waters receded momentarily.  If we had come any later, we probably would have lost our trail.  Check tide tables before the hike.

Coconut trees near the fish pond at A-Bay

Coconut trees near the fish pond at A-Bay

Narrow white sand beach south of A-Bay

Narrow white sand beach south of A-Bay

 

Beyond the beach part of our trail, we walked into the edge of a large lava bed along the ocean. We followed a depressed area of rock while sticking close to the ocean but still managed to lose our way a few times. There is no signage here. We did meet a couple hikers along the way, reassuring us that we were indeed allowed to be there. The rocks here were sharp, and rough, so closed-toed shoes and pants are highly recommended to protect yourself in case of a fall. These sharp rocks went on for 1 to 1.5 miles. This part of the hike had an alien looking landscape, sharp black lava rocks juxtaposed against turquoise colored waters. Mauna Loa loomed in distance.

Walking along the sharp rocks of the oceanside lava bed

Walking on the sharp rocks of the oceanside lava bed

Walking on the sharp rocks of the oceanside lava bed

 

Rocky trail leading to the beach

Rocky trail leading to the beach

 

The remainder of the hike (about a mile or so) traversed black lava pebbles and white coral beaches. There were areas where private houses stood, but we stayed ocean side, which we were told was OK to pass through by a caretaker of one of the homes. There were lots of mixes of sand colors: green/black, white/black, black/white/green. There were also small sections of green sand; in the black lava rock section, we could see where the green sand came from, green minerals sparkling in black lava rocks.

Olivine minerals on the rocks that give green sand beaches its color

Olivine minerals embedded in the rocks that are the beginning of green

sand beaches its color

Coral on the beach that will eventually form white sand beach

Coral on the beach that will eventually form white sand beach

 

Our hike ended at Keawaki Bay, a black pebble then rough black/white sand beach adjacent to a private fenced compound.  There were no facilities but the kids found a couple of rope swings along the beach to swing on.  This was our lunch spot and turnaround spot.

This hike was a more rugged hike than Spencer-Hapuna Beach hike.  Less developed areas along the trail, less established trails and disappearing trails due to tides.  Attempt with caution.

 

Practical Information (as of June 2017): 

Our Hike:  7 miles round trip from A-Bay to Keawaki Bay, rugged hike on disappearing beach trail, sharp lava rocks and black/white coral beach adjacent to turquoise colored water with tide pools when tide is low

Directions:  Coming from Kona, take Hwy 19 going north, exit at A-Bay  - turn towards ocean, drive past Queens shops on left, take 2nd left towards Lava Lava Beach Club, follow winding road towards ocean; public beach parking before entrance of Lava Lava Club, walk down toward beach on right, parking is gated, check for when it closes

Fee: Free

Don't Forget: water, sunscreen, hat, snacks, check tide tables before going

 

 

Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve

If you're looking for a petroglyph preserve to walk through, this is one that is close to A-Bay.  On the side road to the King's Shops, this little preserve tucked in between many condos used to be a roadway for ancient Hawaiians as the made their way from Kona.  Areas where these ancient hikers took refuge, doodled and waited as they awaited permission to pass are labeled. It was a short hot hike on a hot afternoon, with no trees for shade, but it was interesting.

Petroglyphs at Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve

Petroglyphs at Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve

 

Warning: The safety of these adventures are dependent on a variety of factors including but not limited to: terrain, weather, wildlife, hiker skill level, human error, and other foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information provided at the time of publication, we do not assume any liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information provided.  As such, we will not be held responsible for any harm, injury, and/or loss that may result. Your personal judgement on the safety of each adventure is required at all times. Please use your own discretion and be safe.

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