Literally being “off the beaten path”, is what makes Makalawena Beach so special and unique. Though, its not easily accessible, the journey to get here is one very worth taking. You have two options to get to Makalawena Beach, the easiest one is to drive to Kekaha Kai Beach, and from here you can walk north and reach Makalawena Beach from the south. To get to Kekaha Kai Beach, take Highway 19 and turn towards the ocean in between mile markers 90 and 91. There will be a sign for Kekaha Kai State Park, keepin in mind, this road is mostly unpaved, but any car should be able to handle it ok. Be sure to just take your time. It will take approximately 5 minutes for you to drive to the end of the road where you will most likely see other cars parked there. Find a spot to park your car and grab your stuff. Be sure to bring everything with you and pack accordingly because the walk to Makalawena Beach will take you around 20 – 30 minutes.
After grabbing your gear, begin your walk to Makalawena Beach by heading north, you will go through a gate and follow the path towards the trees that will be a couple hundreds yards ahead of the gate on the left. These trees that you will see form sort of a back wall to Kekaha Kai Beach. Don’t be tempted to stop here at this beach, as mentioned previously, Makalawena Beach is definitely worth the hike and offers a greater reward for this timely hike.
Continue on the path, after passing those Kekaha Kai Beach’s trees and getting through your urge to stop, you will head through a lava field for about another 20 minutes or so, until you reach the sand dunes. Once reaching the sand dunes, you have arrived! Just head for the ocean and set up that perfect beach spot on Makalawena Beach.
Your second option to getting to Makalawena Beach is to just drive there. But in order to do so, this will require you to have a 4 wheel drive vehicle, and one with some decent clearance underneath it. You will also need someone driving with some skill at handling very uneven terrain. Should you decided to take this route, you will turn off of Highway 19 at the almost halfway point between mile markers 88 and 89. The road is not so easy to spot, so keep a lookout for the beginning of this road. It is located a little less than a ¼ mile south of the road that takes you to Kua Bay. Its pretty much the only other raod that will be between mile markers 88 and 89.
The beginning of this drive wont seem so bad, but don’t let that fool you, your rough ride will start sooner than you know it. Be sure to stay left when you have the options arise. If you do so, you’ll end up going the correct way. Once you leave the lava rock, the “real” ride begins and it will be as if you are on some sort of African safari or something. Keep on driving until you reach the ocean where you can follow a “road” right along the rocky beach. You will eventually drive across a strip of black lava rock that will be mixed with coral where you will most likely see other vehicles parked. Find a spot to park and be sure that you wont be blocking any other cars that could be coming or going.
After parking your vehicle, you will have to walk for a few minutes through a gate that you will see at the end of the road, go through it and then you will be walking along the north most inlet of Makalawena. There will be many great places for you to spend the day in the first area that you come to. The first inlet there will have the most plentiful of shady spots. You will find the best swimming in the middle inlet or the second one you will come to. In order to get there, just keep on walking around the first inlet, you will go around a corner and the sand will become super fine and very abundant.
Before making your decision on which way you will take to get to Makalawena Beach, just know that both ways will take about the same amount of time to get there. Should you decide to drive into Makalawena Beach, it will be a nasty drive but it will offer you a unique experience and an exciting adventure. Walking into Makalawena Beach from the south end is less risky and a wiser choice if you are not confident in your vehicle or your driving abilities on rough roads. Either way can get you to the beautiful and secluded Makalawena Beach. Once arriving to Makalawena, lay your towel out and enjoy the Hawaiian sun. The most exciting thing about Makalawena Beach is experience the trip to the beach, itself. Once you get here, you will have a hard time going back to the reality of life. Like all the beaches in Hawaii, please remember to be respectful by leaving the beach how you found it. Please don’t take anything from the beach area that you didn’t bring with you, with the exception of great memories and beautiful pictures.