Hike time: 25 mins. O-M-G. Makalawena There should be a picture of Makalawena Beach under “paradise” in the dictionary. By far the most beautiful beach on the island, “Maks”, as it’s called by the locals, is almost always empty with powder white sand, crystal clear azure water, a series of coves, big sand dunes, fresh water ponds, ample shaded areas and wildlife lingering around undisturbed by your presence. It offers great swimming and snorkeling as well as boogie boarding in the surf. The center beach is the best snorkeling spot with abundant coral, caves, and sea arches. To get there take Queen Ka’ahumanu Hwy. (Route 19) to Kona Coast State Park, also called Kekaha Kai State Park, between Mile Markers 89 and 90. It’s not the most obvious turn off so keep your eyes peeled, I missed it and had to turn back. The road off the highway leads all the way down to a parking lot near the water but has a gate that is only open Thursday through Tuesday 9am-7pm, so be sure to make it out on time or you’ll be locked in! The hike begins by taking you on an old carriage road, past the abandoned Magoon Mansion on Mahaiula Beach. Keep on trekking through some kaewe trees, past a couple of springs and over the dry a’a lava field until you reach the sand dunes. From here you’ll want to get out your camera because the view is spectacular. Stop for a moment to take it all in because it might not last forever, the land is surely set for development of condos and resorts unless the locals manage to put them off with their protests.