Overview of Kehena


The Big Island
Hawaiian Islands


For Gorilla Diving only! When the weather is cooperating, this is a great site to explore the raw, underwater lava formations and the marine life within. Never dive this spot unless the surf is low. We recommend a guided dive to begin with, if you have never dived this side of the island.

Directions: Starting from Hilo Bay, head South on Highway 11 (Kanoelehua Ave) for 7.4 miles to Kea'au. Head South on Highway 130 for 7.5 miles. Make a left on Pahoa Pohoiki Road (132) and travel for 7.3 miles, and turn right on Highway 137. Take this scenic road South for 8 miles until you see the parking below.


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05/20/2019 Shea (Avg: 3.33 Review) - Kehena is a beautiful spot but absolute and firm caution need to be used. Riptides are always present. Conditions change. The surf is often rough. I have seen a lot of rescues go down and someone recently drowned. People drown at this beach frequently. I probably decide to dive about 40% of the time I arrive to dive. Please, be careful at Kehena! It has a rough current and is always worse than it looks. However, on a calm day it is an amazing place to dive. Even on calm days this is a not a spot for beginners. I usually swim at least a quarter of a mile out and I always swim SE (to the left) as the current will bring you the opposite direction. It gets deep quicker than other shorelines. Dolphins come into the bay and interact with humans on a regular basis. Whales come during whale season and get rather close. I.ve seen eels, starfish, turtles, and tons of different fish. There is a massive bait ball that has been there for about nine months about a quarter mile off of shore. It's probably half an acre wide. I saw a white tip shark that must have been eight feet long about two months ago. The fish get massive and some are as five feet long. There was a fish last week that must have been two hundred pounds. This is a great spot when the conditions are correct. Visibility varies. Some days there is little visibility, other days it is totally clear. I cannot stress enough that there is no limit to safety when it comes to Kehena.

01/09/2009 Curt O. (Avg: 1.95 Review) - Don't even think of entering the water at this beach during high surf conditions. I have searched for three victims and recovered two in the past years. Respect the ocean, take pictures from land, and save yourself the trouble of losing your life. The Big Island has many other beaches that can be enjoyed without the hassle of dying. Be Aware.

04/24/2008 Joe from Kea'au (Avg: 2.98 Review) - Normally the surf breaks hard right at the shoreline. This day I only had snorkel gear and the break was like the lapping on an inland lake. Babies were playing in what normally would take them to sea. Vis was a 10. Papio, Opelu Kala, Kala, Uhu, Humu. Dolphins were in, too. Amazing! Tough hike in, worse out if you're tired and loaded down with gear. Nitrox boosts the energy level for the climb out. Good beginning coral formations. Good beach entertainment, especially on Sunday late afternoons. Clothing optional.

03/23/2005 Bob Sommer (Avg: 2.85 Review) - Dove this site today. Still one of my faves on the east side. The beach is only 50 years or so old so the coral growth is still in it's infancy. Still the dive is delightful. A school of dolphins often visits. Phil Caparus of East Hawaii divers is an excellent guide for diving this side of the island.

06/07/2004 Mike Henry (Avg: 3.04 Review) - I have been here many times and it is one of the best beaches on the big island. I have snorkeled here before and it is alright but the Kona side offers much better marine life, etc. But, the last time I went (3-04') I had the experience of a lifetime. There was a school of porpoise (or dolphins)...at least 100-150 right off shore. There were about 15 people and we swam with the school for a couple of hours!!!!! It was really a great experience and I'm told that they come play/feed off the beach here occasionally. I went back two more times on this trip, but did not see any signs off them. Good Luck, Aloha.

09/23/2003 Bob Sommer (Avg: 3.46 Review) - I love this dive spot although it is not for beginners. I dove Kahena several times over the course of a week, a few times with a guide and a few times solo. The biggest challenge for many will be getting down to the beach. There is a path over lava that leads down to the beach which is very treacherous. The surf entry is not for beginners, but those familiar with surf entries shouldn't have a problem. Conditions vary from day to day. I had to rescue a snorkeler who got caught in the surf zone. To the right is a nice little reef full of fish. I had some wonderful encounters with an octopus here. To the left out towards the point is the drop off. There are reports of a large Tiger who cruises the ledge but I never saw him. On Sunday's this beach is crowded, but each time we dove, regardless of the day, we were the only divers there.


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)



Overview at Kehena 

An example of when not to dive! The beach is just to the left of the rocks.

Trail Head

 Map     Sat
GPS: TB1702


Trail Head at Kehena 

Look for this parking by the road and this small sign that marks the trail head.

Trail Head

 Map     Sat
GPS: TB1703


Trail Head at Kehena 

The trail is hard lava, so don't attempt it unless you are sure-footed!




Overview at Kehena 

It's a beautiful beach for swimming, diving and naturist activities.


 Map     Sat
GPS: TB1705


Entry at Kehena 

The entry can be treacherous, so only dive on a calm day.


 Map     Sat
GPS: TB1706


Entry at Kehena 

Talk to your local dive shop about the seasonal conditions at this site.

Last Verification: July, 2001  


Diver Averages for  Kehena  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  2.33
Bottom Conditions:  3.00
Reef Conditions:  2.83
Animal Life:  3.50
Plant Life:  3.00
Facilities:  1.00
Solitude 3.67
Roads:  3.83
*Site Average:  2.93

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  3.33
Beginner Scuba:  2.17
Intermediate Scuba:  2.83
Advanced Scuba:  3.00
Night diving Scuba:  2.83

Number of reviews for this site: 6


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