When one first gets to Hawaii, you automatically ask “Where are the good beaches?” You are told two things: First, they all are good. Second, they all are open to everyone. There’s no such thing as a private beach in Hawaii (those socialists!)
I believe, though, that I have found the local’s secret for keeping the good beaches to themselves: keep them nearly impossible to get to. Sure, anyone can go to a resort and park in a parking lot and walk forty feet or so to crowded white seaside lots. But the true beaches, the ones that locals love and covet, are harder to come by. If you ask about a specific location and the response is that it’s a “little difficult” to get to, then that’s where you want to go.
Last Friday we went to Makalawana beach here on the big island. This secluded spot is almost universally reported to be one of the best beaches on the island, if not one of the best in the world. The trick is in getting there. One must first drive a park “road”, which is an indistinctly paved path through a lava field. In certain places the asphalt undulates with the shape of the lava rocks just under it, and in other places the asphalt just gives up and you’re driving on lava that has been broken down to gravel. It took us about 30 minutes to drive that one mile in a Mustang rental car. Once you park, then you get to the rough terrain. You walk a good 3/4 of a mile to a full mile through a lava field in a vaguely market foot path. Add no shade and the coasts’ 80+ degree temperatures, and you’re in for a treat!
Once you get to the beaches, though, you realize the trip was well worth it. Our destination had three separate coves of white sand protected by rock outcroppings. The biggest bonus of all, though, is that there is nearly no one else there. The length of beach we staked our claim to ran for at least 100 yards, and there were maybe twenty other people besides us there.
Ask the locals. The more they grimace when they tell you how to get to a beach, the better the destination.