Kehena Beach

Hawaii, U.S.A.

Starfish Rating of 4

Claim to Fame

Also known as Dolphin Beach; beach-goers can swim with spinner dolphins in their natural habitat.

(click image to enlarge)
image courtesy of silvia.schiavon
  • Where is it?Island of Hawaii, southeast Punta district, on the Pacific Ocean, at the 19-mile marker on Highway 137, on Red Road; 40 minutes from Hilo International Airport
  • Coordinates: latitude» 19.3975°
    longitude» -154.932°
  • Water Type: saltwater
  • Climate: tropical
  • Development: rural or natural area; some development (mostly cottages and small villas)
  • Length of Beach: .75m/1.2km
  • Type: black sand
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Situated on a small bay, this black sand beach has a reputation for being “clothing optional” and draws a mixed group of tourists and locals who wear or don’t wear swimsuits, and share the beach happily, regardless. So lush, warm and beautiful is this snug locale that nobody seems to care what anyone else is doing. Or perhaps it’s the cold beer and fresh wedges of coconut sold by beach vendors!

While nude or topless State beaches are not technically legal in Hawaii, there are a few that are secluded and private, and the authorities simply turn a blind eye. This is a relaxing place to enjoy the sun and sand in any manner of dress you wish. But always keep an eye on the water; if it’s rough, stay on the shore because strong currents are present from time to time.

Picturesque and intimate, Kehena Beach is a popular spot with locals. They especially enjoy the natural shade provided by the coconut trees that encircle the beach area, the exhilarating pounding surf and the lofty sea cliffs that surround the area. Visitors always marvel at the black sand and adjacent rocks; this beach and rocky crags were formed as recently as 1955 when a lava flow emerged from a nearby volcano. This is the only black sand beach in the immediate region.

Kehena Beach is a nature paradise as well, with visits from Humpback whales as they make their seasonal journeys, sea turtles and spinner dolphins. It is sheer joy to swim and play with the dolphins as they frolic in the surf.

On Sundays, there is live music on the beach and with the water always warm, this is a fine day to visit. Local cottages are for rent, including one fabulous Balinese-style retreat for two, so this is a spot where you can stay a while if the beauty of Kehena Beach just won’t release you.

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