This Underrated, White Sand Hawaiian Beach Is Full Of Sea Turtles

With eight major islands (and more than 100 smaller, uninhabited atolls and islets), there are plenty of places to choose from when visiting Hawaii. Its beaches range from white to black sand and its greenery ranges from lush mountains with waterfalls to big fields with ocean views. Animal lovers will have plenty to see in Hawaii as well.

A perfect place to combine a handful of Hawaii's natural wonders is at the peaceful and family-friendly Kuki'o Beach on the northwestern coast of Hawaii's Big Island. This section is often referred to as the Kona District or Kona Coast. While perhaps small in size, this beach still has plenty of white sand and is close to a vast swath of land reserved for plant life to thrive, but also for humans to enjoy. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at the northern point of Kuki'o Beach conveniently offers information on how to get to the beach and allows access even for those not staying at the resort. However, perhaps the best part of Kuki'o Beach is that sea turtles love it too.

Look for small wildlife in tide pools

The relaxing, golden sand at Kuki'o (or Kukio) Beach is juxtaposed with lava rock formations along the beach's edges, making it perfect for a quintessential trip to Hawaii given that the Big Island continuously experiences lava flows. However, these flows do not disturb the peace at Kuki'o Beach and instead ooze on the southern part of Big Island — a region which includes Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. The lava rocks cluster together enough to allow beachgoers to get close up looks at tide pool dwellers like marbled shrimp and flat rock crabs.

The calm water at Kuki'o Beach is popular for outdoor activities like paddleboarding, canoeing, and kayaking for all ages. Snorkeling is possible, but the water is not always crystal clear. Kikaua Point Park is at the southern section of Kuki'o Beach and has similar terrain and activities. Head to Kikaua Point Park for showers and restrooms. This section of the beach has coconut palm trees as well.

Admire sea turtles from afar

Not far from Kuki'o Beach is the Pu'u Wa'awa'a Forest Reserve. This reserve aims to protect what is left of Hawaii's dryland forests as this type of ecosystem is in danger of disappearing altogether, along with the wildlife which lives there. Visitors can come to appreciate the ecosystem as well by exploring its hiking trails. To hike to the top of the Puʻu Waʻawaʻa, a 100,000 year old volcanic cone, take the Cinder Cone Trail. Fret not about lava. Lava flows in this region have not occurred for centuries.

Green sea turtles frequent Kuki'o Beach and Kikaua Point Park. Given that these are wild turtles, sightings are not guaranteed but warm afternoon hours are your best bet. All species of sea turtle found in the United States are endangered. These on Kuki'o Beach are no exception. Luckily, they are protected by law, so keep your distance as they relax on the shore. Additionally, keep in mind that they look more dark brown than green. Look for these beautiful animals as you walk south from the beach's entrance.