Outdoors Magazine

Our First Black Sand Beach

By Everywhereonce @BWandering

Waipio Valley Overlook, Hawaii

We could see it far below; a thin crescent of ashen sand that split the emerald green valley from the azure blue ocean. The views from Hawaii’s Waipio Valley overlook are satisfying enough that there really wasn’t much need to climb down the roughly 1,000 feet to the valley floor. But we had never seen a black sand beach before and wanted to take a closer look.

The hike down wasn’t terribly long or difficult. Most of the way we followed a well marked, rutted road that is really only suitable for four-wheel drive vehicles or foot traffic. We had no worries about getting lost, but with grades of more than 25% almost the whole way, we knew climbing back up was going to be a chore.

Our first glimpse of the shore had somewhat coarser sand than we expected. Large, rounded, volcanic cobbles really.

Waipio Valley Rocky Shore, Big Island, Hawaii

Further down the rocks gave way to powdery gray sand, and an almost completely deserted beach.

Waipio Valley Black Sand Beach, Big Island, Hawaii

In the other direction the river winds its way through the lush valley and eventually leads to Hiilawe Falls, the tallest waterfall in Hawaii. Getting to the falls, though, requires trespassing on private land, which we weren’t about to do.

Waipio Valley, Big Island, Hawaii

It’s just as well. We’d seen plenty of waterfalls already and were more interested in saving our strength for the challenging climb back out of the valley.

Waipio Valley Cliff

Somewhere up there our car is waiting for us.

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