Where People Swim in Kona
Kailua Pier or the "Pier"
Also called "Dig Me beach" but no LOCAL will even call it by this name...it is simply "The Pier".
If you are in Hawaii to enjoy some open water swimming, here is some information to help you start your adventure.
This beautiful swim with clear water, coral reefs and sea creatures--tropical fish, turtles, dolphins, manta rays--and is
located in the heart of Kailua Village. It is also the official start of the Ironman Triathlon World Championships.
Swimmers usually make a trip the 1.2 mile (RT) King’s buoy (half the IM course). However, you can also set
your sights on the "half way" and "three quarters" markers if you are not up to the full distance.
Best time to swim: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 8 am there is informal group that
usually swims out to the King’s buoy (1.2 miles RT) or longer if inspired. But ANY morning before 10
there will be bunches of people heading out and you can tag along. For some reason, hardly anyone goes out
in the afternoon. Probably because the canoe paddlers are out training and it does get a bit dangerous
as you are sharing the same water.
Safety: Swim with a group or a buddy; always be mindful of boat traffic and stay to
the Mauka (mountain side) of the markers.
Amenities: Bathrooms, showers and a place to stow your gear (no valuables) is available year round on
the pier. Free public parking is nearby. No lifeguards.
Other amazing ocean swims in and around the Kona vicinity are: Kahalu’u Beach Park,
Magic Sands and Keauhou. All are within 3-4 miles of each other on Ali'i Drive and offer free parking, bathrooms and showers.
North of Kona: Kua Bay
(~12 miles north of Kona), Waikoloa (~25 miles), Beach 69 (~30 miles),
Hapuna, and Spencer Beach Park (~35 miles). All offer free parking (except Hapuna where non-residents pay $5),
bathrooms and showers.
South of Kona: Kelakekua Bay
Also called Captain Cook bay (~12 miles) with limited parking and a
porta-potties, and Ho'okena (~18 miles) with free parking, bathrooms and showers.
Kona Community Aquatic Center:
The Kona Community Aquatic Center (KCAC) is one of the best-kept secrets in the islands. This state-of-the-art
25-yard by 50-meter pool is open to the public and totally FREE. The pool is rarely crowded and lap lanes
are always available, even when USA swim teams are training from 3-6:30 pm.
Address: 75-5530 Kuakini Highway.
Phone: (808) 327-3500.
The KCAC is located near the Old Airport and next to a
large recreation area with ball fields and a gym. Hours of operation: Mon-Friday 6:15 am to 1:45 pm,
and 3:00 to 7:00 pm, Sat-Sun and Holidays 8:15 am-11:45 am and 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm.
Kona Dolphins USA Youth Swim Club: The Kona Dolphins is an up-and coming USA team that trains at KCAC. Coach Joyce Follis and
Kathy Clarke offer practices Monday-Friday from 3-6:30 pm. Older kids swim from 4:15-6:15. If your child is on swim team and would
like to train with the Dolphins during your visit, please email Harry at Hncirie@aol.com
Kona Aquatics Masters: This adult program trains four times a week at KCAC. Practice times are Monday, Tuesday
and Friday morning from 6:15-7:15 am, and Wednesday evening from 6:00-7:00 pm. Inquire with coach about drop in rates.