Our First Black Sand Beach

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 grey 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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7 Comments on “Our First Black Sand Beach”

  1. Stuart M. October 11, 2013 at 7:47 am #

    Been there, done that! Actually, I heard there are lots of houses and taro patches down in that valley. It does look like paradise.


  2. Sarah Glashagel (@SarahGlashagel) October 11, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    Beautiful! My fiance and I have traveled some, and can’t wait to get to Hawaii. Your posts are inspiration!


  3. Jenn Smith Nelson October 11, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    Sweet pic!


  4. Teresa Blay October 11, 2013 at 3:33 pm #



  5. transplantedtatar November 17, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    Wow! We didn’t make it to the Waipio Valley (ran out of time!), so our only black sand beach was Punalu’u, Next time, we are definitely hiking to the valley. I am glad to hear that it’s not too difficult. I am so glad I stumbled on your post!



  1. A Darker Shade of Black | Everywhere Once - October 14, 2013

    […] thing you soon realize while exploring a volcanic island like Hawaii is that black sand beaches are more the norm than the exception. The other thing you realize is that not all black sand is […]


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