8 Black Sand Beaches in Hawaii You Must See to Believe!

Want to visit some incredible black sand beaches in Hawaii? You are in luck because Hawaii is home to some of the best black-sand beaches.

Black Sand Beaches are so unique that they exist only in specific parts of the world. They are very rare because the black sand forms after the erosion of volcanic material. 

Since there is so much volcanic activity in the Hawaiian Islands, it’s one of the few places you can visit a black sand beach in the world. 

Most of Hawaii’s black sand beaches are found on The Big Island, but the most famous one is located on Maui. 

While you might not be able to visit all these beaches, your vacation won’t be complete until you see at least one!

1. Punalu’u Beach

black sand beach and palms trees in hawaii

One of the most visited of all black sand beaches is Punalu’u Beach. Once you see this incredible beach, you will understand why so many people love it. Located on the southeastern coast of the Big Island, this beach looks like something that you would see on a postcard. 

Not only is it easy to access, but it’s also one of the few black sand beaches that you can swim at. This beach is also one of spots that has the best snorkeling on the Big Island.

Crashing waves, coconut palm trees that line the beach, and even sea turtles lounging on the beach make this one of the most beautiful black sand beaches.

2. Pohoiki Beach (Isaac Hale Beach Park)

large stretch of black sand and rocks along beach

Pohoiki Beach, also known as Isaac Hale Beach Park, is Hawaii’s newest black sand beach which formed due to a volcanic eruption in 2018. 

The lava from the eruption flowed down to the ocean and waves caused the solidified lava to be ground down into fine black sand, creating this new beach. While this beach is perfect for sunbathing or relaxing, it’s not a place where you should swim because it’s very rocky. 

Driving here is an interesting adventure because you will drive on a newly created gravel road that passes over hardened lava rock.

3. New Kaimu Beach

small cove of black sand surrounded by large rock

When it comes to visiting Kaimu Beach, you won’t be able to swim, tan, or even walk along this small black sand beach. 

However, it’s worth a visit to witness this impressive and constantly changing beach on the Big Island. Kaimu Beach used to be a beautiful and incredibly popular beach that was lined with palm trees and covered in fine black sand. 

After an eruption in 1990, the entire beach was destroyed and covered by lava flow. Today, more than 20 years later, the hardened lava is starting to form a stretch of new black sand. 

It is now called “New Kaimu Beach” and while there is not much black sand on this beach, the constantly changing landscape and history make it a must-see. 

To access the beach you follow the short trail that leads you across hardened lava flow and through a young coconut palm forest. Once you reach the end of the trail you can view the small stretch of black sand from the edge of the 6-foot cliff. 

4. Pololu Valley Beach

dark grey sandy beach next to cliffs

If you are looking for a place to enjoy spectacular ocean views while hiking to a remote black-sand beach, check out Pololu Valley Beach. 

To get to this beach you will need to hike down the steep Awini Trail which will take you about 30 minutes to complete. The trailhead is located at the parking lot of Pololu Valley lookout, which has some incredible views of the valley in itself, but hiking to the dark sandy beach is the real adventure. 

At the end of the trail is the remote beach that is surrounded by lush tropical forests, a steep 500-foot high cliff, and covered in dark sand. 

The sand here isn’t as black as other beaches. It’s very dark brown and appears black when it’s wet. This beach isn’t safe for swimming due to the large waves and jellyfish. 

5. Richardson Ocean Park

sea turtles on resting on rocks at the beach

Ready to experience one of the best black sand beaches on The Big Island for snorkeling and swimming? 

Richardson Ocean Park, known to locals as “Richardson’s” is the closest black sand beach to the town of Hilo. 

This beach is a local favorite, and it’s the perfect spot to bring the kids and let them play in the calm waters. 

Here, you can spend the day exploring the tide pools, swimming, and relaxing on this incredible beach. 

Most of this beach is rocky, but there are coves and sections that are coved in a pebbly black sand.

In addition to its natural beauty, Richardson Ocean Park also has bathrooms and showers. 

It’s also one of the best beaches in Hawaii for snorkeling, and you might even get to swim with sea turtles! 

Once you visit, you will understand why this is one of the best beaches on The Big Island and a local favorite hangout! 

Plan on arriving early because this beach gets crowded. 

6. Kehena Beach (Dolphin Beach)

people enjoying a black sand beach in hawaii

If you are looking for a unique black sand beach, Kehena Beach is the place to go. Located on The Big Island, it’s accessible by a short but steep trail. This beach is a hidden gem and it is both a local and tourist favorite, so it can get crowded. 

It’s also called “Dolphin Beach” due to the fact that a pod of spinner dolphins regularly visit the waters surrounding the beach. 

Don’t be surprised if you see people sunbathing with or without clothing, because this beach is one of the few beaches in Hawaii where clothing is optional!

Once you reach the beach, the jet-black sand is something that you have to see to believe. While some experienced swimmers do swim here when the conditions are right, the rough waves can be unsafe.

You can explore the tide pools and take in the incredible views. If you are lucky, you might even spot some sea turtles laying on the beach. 

7. Waipio Valley Beach

looking down on black sand beach in a valley

The views from the Waipio Valley Beach lookout are some of the best on The Big Island. Visiting this lookout is one of the best things to do in Hawaii. The Waipio Valley is stunning and one of its main features is a soft black sandy beach. 

At one time, if you were willing to brave the hike down into the valley, you could visit this black sand beach. Today, visitors are no longer able to hike down into Waipio Valley due to the road being closed because of unsafe conditions. 

While you might not be able to get up close to this black sand beach, the views of the beach from the lookout are still incredible. Hopefully one day the road will reopen and once again, visitors can access this gorgeous valley and see this beach that might even be one of the best black sand beaches on The Big Island. 

8. Honokalani Beach (Waianapanapa)

cove with black sand beach

This small narrow black sand beach located within the Waianapanapa State Park in Maui is incredible.While most of Hawaii’s black sand beaches are found on The Big Island, Maui is home to the most visited and famous black sand beach. 

Honokalani Beach is located within the Waianapanapa State Park which is tucked away along The Road to Hana. This state park and beach will take some planning to visit, but once you step foot on the dark black sand it will all be worth it. 

To visit the beach, you must first make reservations on the website. Once you have your time reserved you can expect about a 2.5-hour drive along The Road to Hana.

This famous road is one of the most scenic drives in Hawaii and while the views are amazing, be prepared for hairpin turns, narrow roads, and one-lane bridges. 

When you finally arrive you will find yourself in a jet-black sandy cove surrounded by lush green tropical greenery and turquoise blue ocean water. The water is beautiful, but it’s not safe for swimming, especially in the winter months when the waves are stronger. 

Nearby you will find natural stone arches, lava caves, hidden blowholes, and a few hiking trails. This is considered to be one of the top beaches in the world. If you are in Maui, you must visit this picture-perfect beach. 

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