Just a short 20 minute drive South of Kailua Kona, past the "Place of Refuge" is Manini Kapahukapu Beach - simply turn off the highway for "Painted Church" and continue down to the ocean, keeping to the right, eventually the road becomes a 1 1/2 lane paved road for a few miles, leading to a small community of homes, then the water. If you get to the end of the road, overlooking the bay, with a heiau (regarding Cpt. Cook) and park beside the parking area, then you are at Kealakekua Bay Park and have just gone past the turn-off to Manini Kapahukapu Beach by a couple hundred yards - no worries, just drive back to the first turn-off road to the right, keep right, and in a minute you're there. There's only parking for about a dozen vehicles on the sides of the road (don't block resident's driveways please!) and the sign and gate welcome you at this terrific beach area, complete with outhouse/toilet, picnic tables, swaying palm trees, grassy and sandy areas for the kids! An easy entry for snorkeling is a wide/sandy corridor (compliments of the 2011 tsunami that struck the area), with best snorkeling about 50-100' feet off the shoreline where reef fish such as Yellow Tangs, Trigger fish, Moorish Idols, Puffers, Banner Fish, etc are prevalent in good numbers... Closer to shore, the fresh water springs make the water murky (and darn cold too as this colder, lighter freshwater floats on top of the heavier/warmer saltwater...) The bay never gets too deep offshore (maybe 30' feet?) but it appeared to be just sand, so stay closer in where the corals (and fish) are. The damage caused by the 2011 tsunami also damaged some of the reef in places but life is returning in bright, healthy, colorful corals and the fish along with it. This beach area is provided for the public's use by the Bill Healy Foundation and the caretaker, Sandie, who is often found just inside the gate. Sandie will cheerfully and tirelessly answer any questions and describe in vivid detail the destruction caused by the tsunami to the neighborhood homes (one home bordering this beach area has been rebuilt, raised far up above the ground to a (hopefully) safer height, while only the concrete footings of a second home that was totally removed from another bordering property tell of the immense powers of the ocean waves). Sandie has started a community garden in the far corner of this area and hopes to provide free/fresh fruit in the future to visitors and is terrific spokesperson for the Hawaiian culture - kind, knowledgeable and full of aloha - be sure to say "hi" to her and talk some story...! Kayaks are available everywhere for rent in this area and with the Cpt. Cook Monument across the bay, a perfect spot to explore the entire bay from. No garbage pick-up here so be sure to take whatever you brought with you and don’t forget to close the gate behind you when entering this great beach area – to keep a certain, persistent, wild donkey out. Enjoy!
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