Kaunaoa (aka Mauna Kea), Hawaii, can only be accessed through the Mauna Kea beach hotel, located at 62 Kaunoa Drive off of Highway 19 on the northern Kohala Coast of Hawaii Isand (which is often referred to as Big Island, as the largest in the island chain). The beach is in Hawaii County. The nearest airport is he Keahole-Kona International Airport (KOA) some 30 minutes drive from this beach.
The beach is covered in powdered white sand and is surrounded by palm trees. Only 30 cars of non-guests are allowed at a time by the Mauna Kea hotel parking gate attendant. Non-guests wishing to visit this beach should arrive early. The beach is crescent shaped and usually has fairly calm waters. The sands slope gradually out to sea under clear waters.
There are a few rocky points here for snorkeling.
The currents can get strong, especially during the winter months.
This is the only Big Island Beach that has been named one of the top 10 beaches in the United States by Dr. Beach. Dr. Beach is a Florida International University professor, Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, who has been rating the top ten beaches annually since 1991 based on a prior 2 year study of 650 public beaches in the US and 50 objective criteria.
Mauna Kea beach hotel guests at Kaunaoa (aka Mauna Kea), Hawaii, can arrange with the concierge for equipment for a wide range of activities at the beach as well as for deep sea fishing tours.
Boogie boards, kayaks, canoes, sailboats, scuba equipment, and snorkeling gear are all available from the hotel as well as beach chairs and umbrellas.
The hotel was built at Kaunaoa (aka Mauna Kea), Hawaii, was opened in 1965 by Laurence S. Rockefeller 5 years after he had first visited the site.
Above the beach, behind the hotel, stands the Mea Kauna Volcano, which is the tallest in Hawaii at 4,205 meters. During winter months snow tops the volcano's peaks, sometimes accumulating several meters of depth.
The only dining right at the beach is that afforded by the hotel's restaurants, of which there are 13 in all, including the Kapuna Beach resort restaurants which share the same 60 acre property and facilities with the Mauna Kea..
On Tuesday evenings the beach is the site of a weekly luau by the hotel which includes the traditional Hula dancing and the Fire-Knife dance.
There are 2, 3 and 4 bedroom townhouses constructed b y the owners of the hotel right on this beach. Residents of these homes enjoy the amenities of the hotel itself, including the use of its golf course.
The nearest town to this beach is Puako, less than 2 miles to the south. The entire county where Kaunaoa is located is inhabited by less than 10,000 people.