Makalawena Trail

Makalawena Trail

Posted on: March 11, 2018 8:05 am

The south end of Kekaha Kai State Park (formerly Kona Coast State Park) is accessed via a rough road through the lava flows to a parking area near Mahai’ula Bay.  On a previous day, we hiked south to Makole’a Point along the lava beds and past black and beaches.   On another day we hiked north across the lava flows to Makalawena Beach and beyond.

There is a good beach at Mahai’ula Bay but the ocean there is too rocky and rough for swimming or surfing.   We had to hike north to find Makalawena Beach.

A well-tramped path leads 1.2 km across the a’a (black rough lava) to Pu’u Ali’i Bay.   This lava flow covered the shoreline in 1859 so the whole area has no vegetation and paths are only made by clearing the rough boulders to the side.   Over time, users create a “trail” between the bays.

At the edge of the bay are sand dunes and scrubby kiawe trees.

Beach morning glory vines (pohuehue) cover the dunes except where foot traffic limits its growth.

Makalawena Beach is the destination for this hike along the shoreline..   There are no facilities, but few people too.   The beach is pristine and fairly good for swimming at the north end and the surfers were enjoying the waves.

At the end of the beach is a brackish pond.   This is a protected wet area (12 acres) which is a National Natural Landmark that protects nesting and breeding areas for some native Hawaiian birds.    A rough 4×4 road from there bears north  still in Kekaha Kai Park. We chose to explore that area from the north by another access road on another day and we stayed instead to enjoy Makalawena Beach before hiking back, a total of about 4 km.

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Doug Smith

Doug writes for Kamloops Trails, a not-for-profit (and ad free) website, offering information on trails, waterways, routes, featured spots, viewpoints, and explorations in the outdoors in the Kamloops area (and beyond).

Doug started exploring this area in 1976 and continues to follow tracks and routes wherever they lead, with the aid of map, compass, GPSr and camera. After many dead-ends, but also many discoveries, he chose to share this information.

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