Je ne sais quoi (How cool is it?)
Commonly known as Beach 69, Waialea Beach is well known as a great snorkeling spot, the large Kiawe trees and of course the white sand. Beach 69 is one of the Big Island’s best beaches and popular with both locals and tourists. It definitely qualifies as one of the most exotic vacation places you could hope for, set on the Kohala Coast. Waialea Beach is also called “Beach 69”, since many secluded beach spots were previously referred to by the number of the closest utility pole.
The shoreline of Beach 69 not only contains incredibly wonderful sand, but also offshore rock formations and a few lively tide pools. During high tide, the beach is not very large. This beach has a gradual slope and is separated into different little alcoves by the ancient Kiawe trees. The Kiawe supply much welcomed shade, but be warned that fallen Kiawe branches from this invasion species have sharp spines that puncture both feet and tires indiscriminately. The first kiawe was planted in Hawaii in 1828. Today, this invasive weed is ubiquitous on the Hawaiian Islands, but does provide much needed firewood for heating and cooking.
This section of coast is more jagged and rough than the other nearby sandy beaches. In the winter months, waves cause the white sandy beach to disappear. Knock wood, it returns to its pristine state each summer. Beach 69/Waialea is located in front of a small community, but the trees provide ample privacy.
Where is Beach 69? 19°98′N 155°83′W
There are no life guards, so defer to locals re: safety concerns. If nobody else is swimming, there might be a good reason for it. Ask.
If you choose to spend a day on the beach here, there are showers and restrooms.
Hike the Ala KahaKai Trail (15.4 miles)
If you are up for a moderately difficult hike along the former Hawaiian Kingdom roads and ancient fishermen`s trails, pick up the Ala Kahakai on Beach 69. Follow the coast on this 15.4 mile trail that loops past some of the last pristine shoreline remaining in Hawaii. Along the trail you can see anchialine pools.
“An Anchialine pool or pond is a landlocked body of water with a subterranean connection to the ocean. Anchialine pools are a feature of coastal aquifers which are density stratified, with the water near the surface being fresh or brackish, and saline water intruding from the coast below at some depth. Depending on the site, it is sometimes possible to access the deeper saline water directly in the anchialine pool or sometimes it may be accessible by cave diving.”- wikipedia
Find out more about the trail at the Hawaii state park website.
Beach 69: Things to Do on Vacation
- Go to the right side of the beach for unobstructed ocean access , if you want to play in the water.
- Some of the best snorkeling on the Big Island can be found further south with extensive offshore reef. In addition to the corals, be prepared for a lot of tropical fish and Green Sea Turtles. The beach here is protected from the surf and also more secluded.
- It’s possible to see both dolphins and whales in the distance during the winter.
- Watch out for thorns from the Kiawe trees, to make sure you have a fun beach vacation.
How to Find Beach 69
Beach 69 is found along the Old Puako Road, near the entrance to Puako town. There is a big parking lot, that tends to fill up later in the day. Consider visiting in the morning to avoid crowds. Parking costs $5 for non-island residents to help maintain the beach. There is an honor box, so bring exact change.
Thank you to John B. for sharing the photos of this great beach spot. Like so many of the people I was fortunate enough to grow up around, John appears to have figured it out pretty well for himself and his family. A Sea Girt native, John relocated to the big island in 2003 with his wife Noreen. He works for the Keck Observatory. Good things happen to good people.