Do You Have to Pay to Go to Mauna Kea Beach?

The Big Island of Hawaii boasts a treasure trove of stunning beaches, and Mauna Kea Beach, also known as Kauna’oa Beach, is undeniably one of its crown jewels. With its pristine sands and proximity to luxury resorts, is access to this beach paradise free, or are there fees involved? Like all Hawaiian beaches, it’s free and open to the public, however the parking for it comes courtesy of the Mauna Kea Beach Resort’s privately owned lot which fills up fast. 


Kauna’oa Beach, popularly known as Mauna Kea Beach is an incredible slice of tropical paradise on the Kohala coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. It’s a family friendly beach with soft white sand that slopes gently into the water with palm trees along the fringe to provide shade. The beach fronts the Mauna Kea Beach Resort, has access to facilities and is great for sunbathing. During the calm summer months, it’s also a good beach to go snorkeling. Given its popularity and the private resort edging it, enjoying this famous half-mile beachfront can be a little tricky.

  • Public Beach, Private Surroundings: Mauna Kea Beach is a public beach, however, it's located within the Mauna Kea Resort, a private complex. Public access is available through a designated public access point. There's no entrance fee, simply visit the beach and soak up the sun.
  • Limited Free Parking: There are a limited number of free public parking spots available along the highway near the beach access point. Securing one can be quite challenging, especially during peak season.
  • Parking Fees: Non-Hawaii residents are charged a $21 parking fee by the Mauna Kea Resort to use their parking lot. It's a 5-minute walk from the parking area to the beach down a paved path.
  • Resort Guest Privileges: If you're staying at a hotel within the Mauna Kea Resort, you'll have complimentary access to the beach and the resort's parking facilities.

If you're determined to snag a free parking spot, be sure to arrive early in the morning, especially on weekends and during peak season. The Big Island offers so many beautiful public beaches with free parking, so don’t worry if you can’t make it to Mauna Kea right away. Do some research to discover hidden gems and rest assured that the perfect Hawaiian paradise awaits. 


With its iconic crescent-shaped bay, powdery white sand, and crystal-clear waters, Mauna Kea is a magnet for both relaxation and adventure. Spread out a towel on the soft sand and soak up the Hawaiian sunshine, the gentle waves and the calming sound of the ocean create a picture-perfect backdrop for pure relaxation. The calm and clear waters are also ideal for swimming and snorkeling. As the day draws to a close, the sky above Kauna'oa Beach erupts in a kaleidoscope of colors. Find a spot on the beach and witness a mesmerizing Hawaiian sunset.

Other popular activities include:

  • Stand-Up Paddleboarding: Glide across the water's surface on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP). Enjoy a unique perspective of the coastline, get a light workout and soak in the beauty of the surrounding landscape. 
  • Kayaking Adventure: Explore hidden coves and secluded stretches of coastline. Paddle at your own pace, and enjoy a fun and active way to experience the beach.
    Learn to Surf: The waves at Kauna'oa Beach can be ideal for beginner surfers. Take a lesson from an instructor, catch some waves, and experience the thrill of surfing in paradise.
  • Tee Off in Paradise: The Mauna Kea Resort boasts a world-class golf course offering stunning ocean views. 
  • Meet Manta Rays: Numerous boat outfitters head to the shores at night where floodlights over the water attract plankton, the manta ray’s food source. You can watch these gentle giants along a lookout called the “Manta Ray Point'' observation deck located near “Manta” Restaurant at Mauna Kea Beach Resort.

Kauna'oa Beach offers something for everyone. Whether you seek pure relaxation, an active adventure, or a luxurious escape, this captivating beach promises an unforgettable experience. Check out our Vacation Rentals in Hapuna Bay. Call us at 888.598.6353 or email for help planning your next beach resort trip.