Richardson Beach Park

Located at the very end of Kalanianaole Avenue in Keaukaha is Hilo’s closest black sand beach.  This is Richardson Beach Park and it also provides the best snorkeling close to Hilo town.

Keaukaha is where people in Hilo go for a day at the beach.  The coastline hosts a number of beaches with pavilions, showers, picnic tables, and camping areas.  These beaches fill up on the weekends and summer evenings, but may be all but deserted on a weekday.  The surrounding runoff and proximity to Hilo bay make visibility poor in most areas, but the water at Richardson beach is much clearer than other spots nearby due to the rocky protected cove.

The beach has a great view of north Hilo and in winter on a clear day you’ll be able to see Mauna Kea as you swim.  It’s an uncanny experience to be enjoying a day at the beach and look up at a mountain covered in snow.

The beach is small, but extremely pleasant as long as there are no crowds.  Mangroves and palms drape the area in cool shade and it’s usually drier here than in Hilo.

This is a marine conservation area, so fishing of any kind is not allowed.  There’s a wide variety of marine life and Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles are common here.  Fish species include tangs, chubs, wrasses, butterflyfish, moorish idols, whitespotted tobies,goatfish, and schools of sharpnose mullet.  There’s quite a bit of coral on the rocks and invertebrates about.  Surrounding the black sand beach are a variety of tidepools playing host to even more marine life.  Hermit crabs, nerite and triton snails, A’ama (the Hawaiian rock crab), helmet and rock-borining urchins, zebra blennies, and Opihi (limpets) are all a common sight at Richardson.

While Richardson beach is Hilo’s best snorkel spot, if you’re coming from Kona side don’t expect the visibility to be as good.  For the most part East Hawaii tends to have worse visibility than Kona side due to rainfall runoff and ocean currents.  However, if you’re looking for a quick dip with a fishy view close to town, Richardson is just the place.