The island of Hawai’i (commonly known as the Big Island) is – geologically speaking – a very young island. You won’t find miles and miles of white sandy beaches like those on Oahu, Maui, or any of the other Hawaiian Islands.
Instead, prepare for beaches made out of black sand, coarse white sand, green coral, and even newly formed lava rocks. Because the Big Island is still very young, new beaches appear and disappear regularly over the years.
Here’s our list of top five kid-friendly beaches in Hilo you must visit.
Reeds Bay Beach Park
Located on Banyan Drive (the road along where most Hilo hotels are located), Reeds Bay Beach Park offers a calm and shallow swimming area for children. Named after William H. Reed, a prominent businessman on Big Island who arrived here in the 1840s, it is a wonderful place to have a picnic, launch a kayak or paddle board, and there are a lot of facilities to enjoy a beach day with your family.
The water is clear but freezing cold fresh with an “ice pond” located at the tip of Reeds Bay. The cold nature of the water is attributed to the cold spring water that bubbles up from the ocean bottom and mixes with the salt water.
Reeds Bay is a small beach that many tourists don’t know about, making it a hidden gem! It’s a little hard to find
This is a great place to bring your family for a full day of swimming and picnicking, and especially if you have toddlers.
The beach is shallow (2ft deep or less), with a sandy-bottom and is shielded by breakwaters. There’s also a shave ice truck to cool you and your family off when it gets too hot. There are lifeguards on weekends and holidays, as well as restrooms and showers near the picnic areas.
Carlsmith Beach Park
Also known as Four Miles by the locals, Carlsmith Beach Park is one of our favorite places to swim and snorkel in Hilo. The lava and a reef protect the swimming area, making it almost like a swimming pool, and perfect for the kids.
If the water is calm this is a good place for snorkeling. Turtles often visit this beach, but take note that Hawaiian sea turtles are a threatened species and protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act and Hawaii state law. If you do find one nearby, give them their space. There is a lifeguard on duty on weekends and holidays between 9:30am and 4:45 pm, and there are restrooms, a shower, drinking water, and a picnic area.
Richardson’s Beach Park
Richardson’s Beach, located near the end of Kalanianaʻole Ave, is Hilo’s best all-round black sand beach. The shoreline is enhanced by a natural spring creating brackish water that is calm and safe. The black sandy beach may be small for some, but snorkeling here is wonderful for kids.
The beach and swimming area are protected by a natural lava rock breakwater. During calm surf, the protected waters are popular for swimming and snorkeling, with frequent sightings of friendly sea turtles (remember to keep your distance, at least 50 yards in the water). We happened to witness a turtle rescue and release here during our visit. High surf attracts local bodyboarders.
Shaded by lots of coconut trees, the beach also makes for a sweet picnic spot.
Kealoha Beach Park
Kealoha is a great family beach with lots of open space and a rocky shoreline. It is good for snorkeling, swimming, and fishing with a large picnic area and restrooms. But, beware of the strong rip currents during high surf!
The park’s western side is open ocean and much rougher, with locals surfing here in the winter, or net fishing. The eastern side of the beach is best for older kids and snorkelers as it contains a deep, protected basin with generally calm, clear water and pockets of white sand.