Many people choose to split their time on Big Island between the Hilo and Kona sides. Our itinerary was already crazy because we would be visiting three different islands so we wanted to keep everything as simple as possible, just one hotel for us, thank you. Although we were on the Hilo side (in Pahoa), we still wanted to explore the Kona side, and made the long journey on Saddle Road twice. It was worth it both times! First of all the drive is beautiful. It was rainy in Hilo and once you get over the tallest portion of the Saddle Road, all rainbows and sunshine on the dryer part of the island, Kona side.
The drive was an incredible experience and gave us a better understanding of the geography of the island. The Kona side definitely has the best beaches and sunsets on Big Island, they must be experienced no matter where you stay! To avoid the crowds of the popular Kailua-Kona part of town, stick to beaches a bit farther north. Waialea Beach [Old Puako Rd Hawaii, HI 96740 – watch the numbers on the telephone poles and turn left between poles 69 and 70 about half a mile, hence the nickname Beach 69] was pure Big Island bliss. Park in the lot and make note of the facilities and outdoor showers, they might come in handy. The beach isn’t huge, it makes for a great little walk from end to end. The type of beach go-er you are should determine which direction you walk in. Facing the ocean walk left past the lava rocks and driftwood for calm waters and excellent swimming.
For a wavier experience hang right.
There are plenty of trees for shade, and opportunities for wildlife sightings! We saw little red birds having a feast of a coconut buffet, blonde bees with gorgeous green eyes, and lots of fishies in the water.
If you do end up staying on the Kona side for sunset you may see something like this