Hike to a Shipman Beach – Big Island hidden treasure

Shipman Beach, also known as Hā’ena Beach, is only about a 30 minute drive from Hilo. It’s one of the only white sand beaches on this side of the island. I was excited to learn that I didn’t need to make an hour and a half long trip to Kona side to find that type of beach.

From the trailhead at the end of Beach Road, we quickly emerged into dense coastal rainforest. Sunlight filtered in softly through the bright greenery and vines hung down like hundreds of ropes from the tree canopy. Unfortunately, the days preceding our hike had been rainy– I wouldn’t recommend this. It meant that the trail was made up of primarily mud and puddles. Hiking through required careful navigation to avoid squishing through the muck and fruit guts.

However, after about 90 minutes, the trail sloped towards the ocean and we discovered the beautiful, secluded beach. Right behind it is private property owned by Shipman Ltd. (hence the name), which is also the reason there isn’t a way to drive to this beach. The clear, cool water curves against the sandy shore and swaying palm trees. If you walk to the far edge and into the brush, you may find a rope swing that hangs gently over the ocean. When I saw it I dove into the water immediately and pulled myself on. I just sat, for a while, looking out into the sea, my toes dipping into the water.

As the minutes slipped away towards sunset, we decided to take the ocean trail back along the coastline. This path has beautiful views of the cliffside and ocean, but also allowed us to somewhat avoid the mud. I will admit that, at the trailhead, we saw a sign saying that cars should not still be there past 5pm. We promptly ignored it… and I began to regret this decision as we attempted to find our way through the trees using the lights on our phones. For a moment I contemplated how I could simply just become a forest dweller, but eventually we did stumble out of the trail in the dark. We were tired and muddy and craving ice cream, but fully content. I would definitely recommend giving this beach a visit.

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