Plein Air Painting Sites on The Big Island of Hawaii


This is an amazing plein air painting site "at the end of the road" on the most Northerly point of the Big Island of Hawaii.

Best Time to paint at this spot is after lunch from 2pm onwards because of the light. Plan to have lunch at The Bamboo Restaurant in the old Hawaiian town of Hawi first.

To Get There from Kailua-Kona area: Go North on Route 19 along the coast - take Route 270 past Kawaihae to Hawi - have lunch and then proceed about another 6 miles to Pololu Valley Lookout. This spot is about 600 ft. above the ocean on a cliff. You can paint right by your car, or, take the steep trail down. There is a spot a short distance down the trail that is suitable as a painting spot. Spectacular views of cliffs, beach and surf. If you paint on the cliff top by your car, it is windy. If you go down the trail a bit, you are sheltered from the wind.

The trail is not recommended for anyone who has physical challenges as it is rocky and steep. Wear shoes with a good tread if you venture down this trail. It is worth it!

No Bathrooms at this spot - bring your own water and food - or eat at Hawi.


If you are on the Eastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii, this plein air painting site is a "must do" because of the truly spectacular Akaka Falls (420 ft. drop) that are a short hike from the parking lot at Akaka Falls State Park.

There is no entry fee to get into this park.

To Get There: Take Route 220 off Route 19 a few miles North of the town of Hilo. Well signposted directions take you there.Restrooms are available near the parking area.

You will need to hike in about a quarter of a mile on a paved trail with steps to get down to the viewing point for Akaka Falls.

I was at this site 2 weeks ago and found a very nice roofed shelter at the viewing spot. This is useful if it starts to rain as you are painting. As this is a rain forest, the chances are that it will rain. The shelter makes plein air painting at this spot possible.

Plein Air Painting Trip Through Hawaii - An Artist's travels

Manini Beach Park - Plein Air Painting by Mary Smith of Kailua Kona, Hawaii

Manini Beach is in the beach community of Napoopoo on Kealekekua Bay. From this little beach there is a good view of the pali (cliff) across the bay towards Captain Cook’s monument. Good shade here, picnic tables, OK bathroom facilities, no running water, limited parking, but good snorkeling. Maybe the local donkey, Pua, will wander by.

Lots of views to choose from – towards the ocean, across the bay to the monument, beach houses and canoe launch, plenty of trees and rockpools, swimmers, Scuba divers, children and people meditating or doing Yoga. Very peaceful local park.

Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden

Parklike gardens mauka (uphill) from the main road through Captain Cook. Don’t miss the turn; it is on the left, coming from Kailua Kona, after the historic coffee plantation on the right, small sign and bumpy approach drive. Many examples of Hawaiian trees here planted in the original Hawaiian farming style. Plenty of shade, bathrooms, parking, water, picnic tables and interpretive center. Choose from many varieties of palm, bamboo, fruit trees, flowering bushes, picturesque coffee shacks, Hawaiian grass structures and the occasional jungle fowl.

Kona Inn lawn in Kailua Kona

Easy to find behind the Kona Inn (good calamari sandwiches), anywhere on the grass or on the sea wall. Marginal bathrooms, parking opposite the library on Hualalai road. Views across Kailua Bay to the King Kam hotel, out to sea, palms, banyan, whales, flowering bushes, the buildings of the Kona Inn, across to the Hulihee Palace, rock pools, tourists and cruise boats. Come early in the morning, before it heats up. You may end up chasing the shade.

Anaehoomalu Beach or A Beach, for short

One of the most loved beaches on the Big Island, it is north of the airport, at Waikaloa Beach. There is parking for this public beach to the left off the approach road. Walk through to the beach facilities. Plenty of parking, good bathrooms, tables, shade and trees to rest your supplies on. Snacks etc. are available at the King’s shops across the way north. Views West out to sea, the Kohala coast, Hawaiian canoes, fish ponds and walkways, beach scenes and friendly tourists curious about what you’re painting. Come early for the most shade, but there is plenty of tree cover later in the day.

Kukio Bay

This is a gem of a public beach park, more like a private beach. To the left off the highway north of the airport and part of the exclusive, pricey Hualalai Resort complex. The beach facilities are very clean, freshly raked sand. Pick up a parking permit at the gate on the way in. Parking is limited so come early. There’s a safe shallow lagoon so plenty of small children and families. Manicured trees and palms, views of the bay to the north with paddle-boarders and surfers, whales, views of Kohala mountains and Mauna Kea, ‘beach’ homes of the v. rich, a rock arch and clean imported sand. You’ll have to move around to keep out of the sun, also the wind can blow steadily so anchor your work.

Kua Bay

A ‘new’ beach park, north of the airport and south of Kukio. Across form the Veterans’ Cemetery. Very nice facilities but little shade so bring your umbrella or awning. Limited picnic tables. Come early for parking and to beat the heat. Small bay with rocky outcrops and some sand. Good waves, whales, picnickers and surfers. Few trees and vegetation. A couple of puus (hills) to the south. Good panoramic views and lots of rocks.

Kahaluu Beach and the Outrigger Hotel

A much used beach park at the south end of Alii Drive in Keauhou. Parking, bathrooms, tables, trees, beach houses and Hualalai mountain. Views into the hotel grounds to King David’s summer cottage. If you want to paint on the Outrigger hotel grounds permission is needed beforehand. Life guards, lots of snorkeling, surfing, sunbathing and vendors. The coral is protected by a Hawaiian made reef. Rocks and pools a plenty and interesting locals and visitors.

Keauhou Bay

Several public places to access the bay - at the end of King Kam III road, end of Kaleiopapa Road and at the Sheraton public beach parking area. Large palm trees, Kaeuhou canoe club Halau (canoe shed), large tree specimens, beach homes, hotel buildings, views uphill to Hualalai mountain, plenty of rocks and breaking waves at the mouth of the harbor. Lots of activity – canoe paddlers, kayakers, cruise and fishing boats. So-so bathrooms at beach parking, plenty of shade. Pick your time of day, nice breezes on the canoe club grounds.

Two step beach and Puuhonua O Honaunau National Park

Historical national park and active Hawaiian beach village. Two step beach is to the right of the national park and parking is free but can get crowded so come early. Portapotties here, some shade, but plenty of views across to the structures in the park, beach houses, another canoe club (shade here ) with nice views out to sea, boat launch, snorkel boats and plenty of kayakers and swimmers. If you have a park pass or want to pay, the park has limitless views of Hawaiian buildings, canoes, turtles, plants and rocky beaches.

Honokohau-Kaloko National Park

This park stretches to the north adjoining Honokohau Boat Harbor. Park by the sailboats and walk through to the shore. Lovely views of fishponds, trees, Hawaiian structures, boating activity and beachgoers. Adequate bathrooms, plenty of parking, shade, no water. Friendly park staff. A large fishpond behind the beach, with views to Costco, but plenty for birders to see. The north end of the park has very nice facilities, accessed by the gravel road just before the Hina Lani (Costco) turn. Another large fish pond, good parking, a long wall along the fish pond, lots of shade and good ocean views. Plenty of variety of subject matter to choose from.

Mauna Lani Area


This is a huge area starting with the public parking lot opposite the Mauna Lani fitness center. It is a good walk to the ponds over a paved trail through the lava.

Some may choose to stay in the parking area and paint mauka (uphill) views including Mauna Kea. Others may try the south side of the Mauna Lani Hotel parking lot. Again there are some mauka views and beautiful grounds, but one can get to the Ponds and the beach from this area.


As one drives into the Mauna Lani complex and drives to the first roundabout, take the road to the Orchid. Before going into the Orchid Hotel grounds, there is a road to the right which takes you to the petroglyph area and the beach. There is public parking here as well as lua and showering facilities. The beach is generally rocky, but there is a trail along the shore which goes toward Puako. There are some nice vistas along the trail if one has not found a local park or petroglyph site.

Plein Air Painting Sites in Hilo, Hawaii

SADDLE ROAD - from Hilo Side

Saddle Road to Kilohana Hunter's check-in station. Between the 43 and 44 mile markers from Hilo. A long drive from Hilo but worth it.

Sweeping views of the three beauties, Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Hualalai. It's clearly marked. Turn mauka (uphill) onto the dirt road. Saddle Road is newly paved and smooth from Hilo. No 4 wheel drive needed on dirt part of road. Portable toilet but not well tended.

SADDLE ROAD from Kona Side

Head for Mauna Kea State Park and paint at this spot. No Entry Fee - Bathrooms and picnic tables available. Bring your own food and drinking water.

Also, bring cold weather clothing and a wind breaker. This site is over 8000 ft. in altitude and can be very windy and cold. Spectacular views make this challenging site worth it.

Plein Air Painting Group Contact for Hilo, Hawaii

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