The South Kohala coast on the Big Island of Hawaii is a scorched slag heap of sharp lava, the last place you'd think to wander looking for luxury. But fasten the seat belt on the rental car and inch along the 1.5-mile rutted road (its condition varies) and you will be rewarded with three beaches worthy of world-class destination resorts—Kekaha Kai State Park.
The first beach, Kekaha Kai, is a beach park with picnic facilities, right at the parking lot. Mahaiula Bay (pictured) requires a walk of less than a half-mile, to a classic sand crescent rimmed by palms and other beach trees. The third beach, Makalawena, is a round-trip walk of about two miles across a sun-baked rocky path, but the walk doesn't prevent it from being the most popular. Makalawena's charms include a little oasis pond, decent surfing, and a long run of sand backed by dunes. There's also a nice keiki pool—a protected swimming area inside the reef that is great for kids.
For more details, see page 72 of Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer.