Beachfront Bliss: Planning a Perfect Picnic on the Kohala Coast

Hawaii Things to do

Puako beach

Memorial Day is just around the corner, and if you spend this holiday on the Big Island, you don’t have to give up on a traditional picnic. In fact, there is no better picnic than in beautiful Hawaii!

Planning a perfect picnic here is not just about packing a basket with goodies; it’s about embracing the island’s natural beauty, immersing yourself in its rich culture, and creating memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, this guide will help you plan a beachfront picnic that epitomizes the blissful essence of the Kohala Coast.

Why Choose the Kohala Coast?

The Kohala Coast, located on the northwest side of the Big Island, is renowned for its serene beaches, luxurious resorts, and historical significance. The coastline is less crowded than other tourist hotspots, offering a peaceful retreat for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle. With its scenic views, calm waters, and rich marine life, the Kohala Coast is ideal for a beach picnic.

Hapuna Beach Picnic Table

Best Picnic Spots on the Kohala Coast

Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area

Description: One of the most extensive white sand beaches on the Big Island, Hapuna Beach offers ample space for picnicking, swimming, and sunbathing. Hapuna is a world-famous beach, and Dr. Beach rated it the #1 beach in the USA in 2022. We wrote about it in our previous blog posts, and you probably already know how beautiful this place is. It is also an excellent spot for a picnic as it has tables, a large picnic pavilion, and plenty of shade and grass under the trees. Not to mention amazing ocean views and turquoise-blue waters.

Because Hapuna Beach is a state park, there are entrance fees, which you can learn about on its website.

Amenities: Picnic tables, barbecue grills, restrooms, and showers.

Why It’s Perfect: The gentle waves (during calm ocean months) and clear waters make it safe for families, while the breathtaking views are a photographer’s dream.

Spencer Beach Park

Description: Located south of Kawaihae Harbor, Spencer Beach is a tranquil beach with soft sand and shallow waters, ideal for a relaxed day out. The park offers excellent swimming and snorkeling conditions, ample shade under large native trees, and a calm, friendly atmosphere. It is a white-sand beach, and the water near the shore is shallow, making it an excellent playground for kids.

The park is ideal for weekend picnics, as it has many facilities, including a large picnic pavilion with tables and electrical outlets. If you plan to cook there, you will also have access to several charcoal grills.

If you are up for a walk, consider visiting the adjacent Pu’ukohola Heiau, which King Kamehameha I built in 1790-91. A short walk to the north, Mailekini Heiau, located on Pelekane Beach, is another ancient temple site considered a sacred area.

It may get a bit crowded during weekends and holidays, so it’s best to enjoy it on the weekdays. And when you are on vacation, every day is a holiday!

Amenities: Picnic tables, pavilions, restrooms, and camping facilities.

Why It’s Perfect: Its calm waters and shady spots are perfect for those looking to unwind and enjoy a leisurely picnic.

Hawaiian family on the beach

Waialea Bay (Beach 69)

Description: A hidden gem with powdery sand and excellent snorkeling opportunities. Waialea Beach is one of the Big Island’s more popular white-sand beaches. Especially during summer because of the sun, shade, and good snorkeling. Waialea Beach is also called “69 Beach” because of the number 69 utility pole close to the parking area of this beach.

Waialea Beach fronts a small residential area of Puako and is the first right turn after you take the Puako Beach Drive off the highway. The white sand of Waialea Beach erodes during the winter due to strong surf but is pristine during the summer. Plenty of tree cover provides shade and privacy. There are showers, restrooms, and a couple of picnic tables; however, you will be better off just sitting on the sand under the trees.

Amenities: Paid parking, picnic tables, restrooms, and shower facilities.

Why It’s Perfect: The picturesque setting and vibrant underwater life make it a favorite for those seeking a more intimate and scenic picnic spot.

Anaehoʻomalu Bay (A-Bay)

Description: Anaehoʻomalu Bay, affectionately known as A-Bay, is one of the Kohala Coast’s most enchanting and picturesque locations. This beautiful crescent-shaped bay is renowned for its serene waters, stunning sunsets, and lush, palm-lined shores.

Anaehoʻomalu Bay is conveniently located in the Waikoloa Beach Resort area, making it easily accessible for locals and tourists. There’s ample free parking available near the bay, and a short, scenic walk will take you from the parking area to the beach.

A-Bay is a feast for the eyes, offering a harmonious blend of salt and pepper sands, turquoise waters, and swaying palm trees. The bay’s calm, shallow waters make it an ideal spot for swimming and wading, while the gentle waves create a soothing soundtrack for a day at the beach. The landscape is dotted with lava rocks and ancient fishponds, adding a touch of historical intrigue to the natural beauty.

The beach itself is wide and spacious, providing plenty of room for picnickers to spread out and find their own slice of paradise. The soft sand is perfect for lounging, building sandcastles, or simply strolling along the shore.

Amenities: Restrooms, showers, beach rentals, and nearby restaurants.

Why It’s Perfect: The combination of beautiful scenery and nearby amenities makes it a convenient yet breathtaking picnic location.

A-Bay Beach Waikoloa

Planning Your Picnic

Packing the Perfect Picnic Basket

Your picnic basket is the heart of your beachfront picnic. Here’s a list of essentials to ensure you have everything you need:

Food and Drinks
Main Course: Think light and fresh. Sandwiches, wraps, and salads are excellent choices. Consider Hawaiian-inspired dishes like poke bowls or teriyaki chicken wraps.
Snacks: Fresh fruits (pineapple, mango, and papaya), veggie sticks, cheese, crackers, and nuts.
Desserts: Hawaiian sweetbread, coconut macaroons, or a tropical fruit salad.
Drinks: Stay hydrated with plenty of water. Add a tropical touch with coconut water, fresh juices, or a homemade lemonade. For adults, a bottle of chilled white wine or a local craft beer can be a delightful addition.

Utensils and Accessories
Reusables: Opt for reusable plates, cutlery, and cups to minimize waste.
Napkins and Wipes: Essential for clean-up and maintaining hygiene.
Cooler: Keep your food and drinks cool, especially in the tropical heat.
Blankets and Chairs: A large, comfortable picnic blanket and portable chairs for seating.
Shade: A beach umbrella or pop-up tent to provide shade.
Trash Bags: Leave no trace behind by packing out all your trash.

Entertainment and Activities

A picnic on the Kohala Coast is more than just eating; it’s about enjoying the location and making the most of the natural surroundings. Here are some activities to enhance your experience:

Snorkeling and Swimming

  • The clear waters of the Kohala Coast are perfect for snorkeling. Bring your gear and explore the vibrant marine life.
  • Swimming is safe and enjoyable, especially at spots like Hapuna Beach and Spencer Beach Park.

Beach Games

  • Pack a frisbee, beach ball, or paddleball set for some fun beach games.
  • Consider a kite for a leisurely and picturesque activity.


  • Bring a good book or a journal to enjoy some quiet time.
  • Meditation or yoga on the beach can be incredibly refreshing.


  • Capture the stunning scenery and create lasting memories with your camera or smartphone.
  • Early morning or late afternoon provides the best lighting for photography.

Safety Tips

While the Kohala Coast is a beautiful and relatively safe area, it’s important to keep a few safety tips in mind:

Sun Protection

  • Wear sunscreen with high SPF, a hat, and sunglasses to protect against UV rays.
  • Seek shade during the peak sun hours (10 am to 2 pm).

Stay Hydrated

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially if you’re active.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption in the heat.

Ocean Safety

  • Always check the local weather and ocean conditions before swimming or snorkeling.
  • Be aware of currents and tides, and never swim alone.

Wildlife Respect

  • Observe marine life from a distance and avoid touching corals or feeding fish.
  • Respect the local wildlife and follow posted guidelines.

Adding a Touch of Hawaiian Culture

Enhancing your picnic with elements of Hawaiian culture can make the experience even more special:

Hawaiian Music

  • Create a playlist of Hawaiian music to set the mood. Artists like Israel Kamakawiwoʻole and Kealiʻi Reichel offer soothing tunes that complement the beach setting.

Traditional Lei Making

  • Bring supplies to make your own leis. It’s a fun and creative activity that also connects you to the local culture.

Local Foods

  • Incorporate traditional Hawaiian foods like laulau (steamed pork wrapped in taro leaves), Lomi-Lomi salmon, or haupia (coconut pudding) into your picnic menu.

Learn a Few Hawaiian Phrases

  • Greeting someone with “Aloha” or saying “Mahalo” (thank you) adds a personal touch to your interactions and shows respect for the local culture.

Sustainable Picnic Practices

The Kohala Coast’s natural beauty is a treasure that needs to be preserved. Practicing sustainability during your picnic is essential:

Minimize Waste

  • Use reusable containers and utensils instead of disposable ones.
  • Avoid single-use plastics whenever possible.

Leave No Trace

  • Pack out all your trash and dispose of it properly.
  • Clean up your area before you leave, ensuring you leave the beach as pristine as you found it.

Respect Wildlife

  • Do not disturb local wildlife or their habitats.
  • Follow all local guidelines for interacting with marine life and coastal environments.

Planning a perfect picnic on the Kohala Coast is about more than just enjoying good food in a beautiful setting; it’s about immersing yourself in the essence of Hawaii. By choosing the right location, packing thoughtfully, embracing local culture, and practicing sustainability, you can create an unforgettable experience that celebrates the natural and cultural richness of the Big Island.

Whether you find yourself basking in the sun at Hapuna Beach, exploring the serene waters of Spencer Beach Park, or marveling at the underwater wonders at Waialea Bay, your beachfront picnic will be a testament to the blissful beauty of the Kohala Coast. So gather your loved ones, pack your basket, and head to the coast for a day of beachfront bliss that will leave you longing to return.

Aloha and Happy Memorial Day!


To top