Kua Bay: Everything You Need to Know

Are you looking for more information on the Big Island’s beautiful Kua Bay? Look no further! This guide from a Hawaii local has everything you need to know.

Kua Bay Opener

Kua Bay is one of the most stunning beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii. As a matter of fact, I put it in my post of the best beaches on the Big Island not too long ago! Here’s everything you need to know to have a fantastic time at Kua Bay.

Where Is Kua Bay?

Kua Bay, officially known as Maniniowali Beach, is located on the west side of the Big Island in Kailua-Kona. There is no designated parking area for Kua Bay, but everyone just parks along the side of the recently-paved road.

When Is the Best Time to Go to Kua Bay?

The best time to go to Kua Bay is in the morning, because it can get quite hot, and there is no shade. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

As for what time of year to visit, Kua Bay is a fantastic beach to visit at any time. Since Hawaii’s weather is quite temperate, there really isn’t a bad month to visit this incredible Big Island beach. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the best things to do in Kona all year round!

Sea urchin

What Do I Need to Bring to Kua Bay?


If you’re going to spend a day at this lovely Big Island beach, you’ll definitely need to bring something to swim in! If you want to support a sustainable local business, I recommend purchasing your swimwear from Sundaze Bikinis. This locally owned, sustainable business makes all of its products from recycled ocean plastic! In other words, you can enjoy the ocean while helping to clean it too!

Use the code BORDERS15 on the Sundaze Bikinis website to get 15% off your order!


Because of the aforementioned lack of shade, pretty much everyone brings an umbrella to Kua Bay. I highly recommend bringing one of your own.

Reef-Safe Sunscreen

While Hawaii made it illegal to sell non-reef-safe sunscreen by 2021, I think it’s important for us to do what we can to protect the reefs now. Kua Bay is filled with fragile reefs, so do your part and purchase some reef-safe sunscreen before your trip. Stream2Sea, Raw Elements, and Kokua Sun Care are all fantastic reef-safe sunscreen brands.

Beach Towel

You’re going to the beach. You’ll need a beach towel. Enough said.

Beach Bag

Most visitors to the islands forget to bring a beach bag with them to carry all of their stuff. This will come in handy, especially if you plan on bringing all of the other recommended items on this list (which you definitely should). My personal favorite is the hibiscus print beach bag from Lauren Roth Art.

Use the code BORDERS5 on this Lauren Roth Art website for 5% off your purchase!


It’s quite sunny at Kua Bay on most days. Sunglasses will keep your eyes nice and shaded when the rest of your body can’t be.

Snorkel Gear

There is some prime snorkeling at Kua Bay. Bring some goggles and a mouthpiece if you’re interested.


It’s hot. You need to rehydrate. Water is essential. And why not use an eco-friendly reusable water bottle?


I don’t know about you, but I get hungry when I go to the beach. Consider purchasing something off of the Hawaii Food Bucket List.

Kua Bay View

What Can I Do at Kua Bay?

Take in the Sun

Between the warm sun and the extra soft sand, Kua Bay makes for the perfect place to take in the sun. If the sun gets too intense though, make sure you have that umbrella handy!

Go for a Snorkel

Even though the beautiful blue waters seem clear from above, if you dive down under, there are hundreds of light blue fish that match perfectly with the color of the water. It’s kind of like nature’s magic trick! If you’re lucky, you might even be able to catch a turtle or two munching on the algae on the rocks.

*Note: if you look closely at the rocks, you’ll be able to see dozens of little sea urchins! If you’re worried about getting pricked by a sea urchin that you don’t see, the spines of baby sea urchins don’t actually stay in your skin. And I didn’t see any large sea urchins while I was there, so I think you’re in the clear!

Go for a Swim

Usually, the waters at Kua Bay are perfect for swimming. The waves aren’t too high, and the water isn’t too cold. So why not take a dip?

During the winter months, be cautious with the waves. If they look a little too high for your liking, don’t go in the water. Do note that there is no lifeguard on duty.

On a similar note, it’s important to keep the power of the ocean in mind. For some more safety tips, check out my Hawaii beaches dos and don’ts list.


Hunt for Shells

Shell hunting was probably my favorite activity at Kua Bay. While most shell-searching just entails walking along the beach and picking up the shells that catch your eye, at Kua Bay, it’s a little more challenging. As a matter of fact, you likely won’t end up going home with any shells at all. Why, you may ask? Because the creatures are still living inside of them!

I spotted opihi (also known as limpets), cowrie shells (the brown spotted shells), and auger shells (the spiral white shells) – and all of them still had the animals in side of them!

Please do not force the creatures out of their shells or off of their homes! If the shells are stuck to a rock, there is an animal in there! Or if you’re not quite sure (I found one of them just casually on the sand), give it a little tug and see if you can pick it up without resistance. If not, leave it alone.

Even though you won’t have any treasures to take home with you, you’ll definitely have fun memories of the experience.

Try Out Bodyboarding

The waves at Kua Bay are perfect for bodyboarding, especially for little kids! On a good day, you’ll see at least half a dozen kids around five years old, releasing their inner adrenaline junkies on those waves. And if it’s great for kids, it’ll also be great for a beginner learning how to bodyboard!

While you can likely rent a bodyboard somewhere in Kona, you won’t be able to rent anything at Kua Bay (there are just no vendors). You might want to consider bringing a bodyboard with you to the islands, if that’ll be a frequent activity for your group.

Try Out Cliff Jumping

On the right and a little bit out from the shores of Kua Bay, there is a relatively large rock (one that is large enough for multiple people to stand on). Just like Waimea Bay on Oahu, this is a rather popular place for locals to cliff dive! While the jump isn’t too high, it’s a great place to go cliff jumping for the first time.


Wondering what else to add to your perfect day on the Big Island? Here’s a post on how to plan a perfect day on any island in Hawaii!

Have you ever been to Kua Bay? Tell me about it in the comments!

Thinking about visiting some of Kua Bay on your next trip to the Big Island of Hawaii? Or maybe just planning your dream vacation for the future? Pin this post for later!

Local's Guide to Kua Bay, Big Island, Hawaii #hawaiibeaches #bigisland #hawaii #kuabay
Everything to Know About Kua Bay, Big Island, Hawaii #hawaiibeaches #bigisland #hawaii #kuabay

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