All over Hawaii there are lots and lots of trails, some more transited than others and with some tips from the locals I met, this post is going to be about one of those little secret Big Island Hikes!
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If you’re looking for a proper hiking day on the windy north side of the island, I highly encourage you to go hiking in Pololu Valley.
For a more relaxed day. Another hiking option is to do this little short hike between Kapa’a Beach Park and Lapakahi State Park, passing along the way by Mahukona Beach.
The start of this hike is over trails where time seemed to have stopped long ago.
This is a very short hike, of about 2 miles. So, it’s more of a scenic walk than a proper hiking day.
As this walk is not demanding you could even combine two Big Island Hikes and do it on the same day you visit Pololu Valley or simply take your day super easy and stop at each of the beaches you will visit! You can also go snorkelling at the historical site of Lapakahi State Park.
Where to stay
The Big Island has accommodation spread all over, if you stay in Kona the start of this hike will be just over an hour away drive.
Check out on camping places and AirBnBs if you cannot find a cheap place to stay. There’s actually a camping in Mahukona Beach Park which is right in the middle of this walk.
Along this trail there will be quite a few wonderful spots for some wild camping. Please remember to leave no trace if you decide to spend the night camping.
How to get there
To get to the trailhead of this Big Island Hike you can pretty much forget about the Hele On Bus as the departures of the bus all over the island tend to be a silly o’clock in the morning.
The trailhead is a couple hundred meters before you arrive to Kapa’a Beach. When leaving the highway and entering the narrow lane that takes to the beach you will see a gravel road on the left side as you’re driving to the beach.
If you’re travelling with friends take a look at a car rental as sometimes there are some pretty cheap deals in Hawaii.
If driving, you could park by the beach and then walk up the road until the trailhead (gravel road)
Otherwise, it’s super easy to hitchhike all over the island. The locals are well used to pick up travellers and I was also offered a couple of rides by other tourists.
What to take to hike between Kapa’a Beach and Lapakahi State Park
This is a pretty short walk, just about 2 miles. So no special equipment is needed. You can go with sneakers, I’d avoid flip flops though as some areas are along big boulders and bushes. As always, don’t forget your bottle of water as the sun in Hawaii can be tough.
MY HIKING ESSENTIALS
The hike from Kapa’a to Lapakahi
As other Big Island Hikes, the start of this trail in north Kohala, between Kapa’a and Lapakahi State Park is stunning from just a hundred meters after you start walking.
It will quickly feel like a desolated place and the presence of a rusty old abandoned truck and trailer gives it the impression of arriving to a place where something terrible happened and the owner ran away in a rush (sadly, it’s common in Hawaii to see abandoned vehicles in many places)
The trail will quickly go through what it was an old railway line, with some remains of it still present.
The terrain is mostly flat and although sometimes the trail bifurcates into two or even three different paths, they will join a bit further away. There’s no need to check on a map and I could always tell in the distance pretty much on where to continue.
Some of the most beautiful landscapes on the walk will come when the trail goes right next to the coast line, you will still be a bit high up from the ocean so the views are fantastic!
Before arriving to Mahukona Beach Park you will find the remains of an old port. I couldn’t find any info into how old these ruins are but I guess no more than 50 years or so. From that point you will have to walk a couple of minutes by a paved road to Mahukona Beach.
At Mahukona Beach there’s a campsite, you can book on this site although I didn’t see anyone at all when I was there, there’s also something that seemed a shop but it was closed when I went so don’t count on it for any drinks and food.
From Mahukona beach there’s a short walk towards a lighthouse. This is another of the beautiful points on this Big Island Hike and from here is where I “struggled” the most with the famous winds of the north of Hawaii!
After the lighthouse I didn’t see any clear paths after I walked a few meters, but I kept going “roughing it” as the terrain was still easy to walk (excluding the winds!), this was all rock and bushes and it goes for perhaps two or three hundred meters until you arrive to one edge of the Lapakahi State Park which is going to be the end of this little hike.
This ancient settlement was first inhabited about 700 years ago and its settlers developed different farming and fishing techniques. There are numerous boards around the area explaining these and more interesting facts of this state park.
The park has a well marked circuit where you can also see a reproduction of the houses the first settlers built.
You can also go snorkelling on this beach, just be careful as the waves can be big, but there’s a section on the northern side of the beach with a sign mentioning to enter on that stretch only as it’s protected by some rocks.
You can do this hike as an out and back one or simply go to the highway by Lapakahi State Park and hitch a ride back wherever you go next!
Feel free to drop a comment if you’d like to know a bit more about Big Island Hikes and have a look at my other posts about my time backpacking in Hawaii for more inspiration on your trip to these paradise islands!