Hawai'i Coral Reef Network

Marine Protected Areas in Hawai'i

Waialea, Hawai'i

35 acres, Established 1985


Waialea Bay is located in the southern portion of Kawalhae Bay, on the western coast of Hawaii. Take Hwy. 19 north about 23 miles from Kailua Kona (or south from Kawalhae about 5 miles), and turn onto Puako Beach Drive. Then take the first right onto Old Puako Road, and watch the numbers on the telephone poles. Turn left between poles 69 and 70. The road is rough, but driveable. Parking is available near the beach.

The MLCD extends from the highwater mark seaward to a line from the point immediately north of Ohai Point to Kanekanaka Point.

Although access to Waialea Bay is not particularly easy, the site is popular with many Big Island residents. The beach (known locally as Beach 69 because of the pole marker) erodes due to strong surf during winter months, but is pristine during the summer. The bay's bottom drops off gradually from the beach to depths of about 30 feet outside the bay's mouth. An intermittent stream enters the bay, and surface visibility is reduced during periods of freshwater intrusion.

The best reef is in the MLCDs southern portion, and extends out beyond the District's boundaries. Depths range from about 10 to 30 feet. Coral communities are also found around the rocky prominence inside the bay. The diversity of marine life in Waialea is among the best in all of Kawaihae Bay, which makes it a popular site for snorkel and SCUBA activities.

Humpback whales are often seen outside the bay during winter.

Safety considerations

Waialea is a somewhat sheltered bay, but high surf occurs during winter months.

No lifeguards are on duty at the beach.




Fishing for finfish with hook-and-line is permitted. Netting finfish is allowed over sandy bottom areas with a permit. No other fishing, taking or injuring of any type of marine life, or possession of fishing gear is allowed. Taking of sand, coral or other geological features, or possessing equipment for that purpose is also prohibited.


See also: Administrative Rules

Last update: 6/12/2002