Activities

Must-Do Hikes to Big Island Beaches

January 23, 2015, 7:00 AM HST
* Updated January 23, 7:11 AM
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Aloha Big Island residents and visitors! I invite you to plan your next exciting hiking adventure on the Big Island. Each one of the gorgeous Hawaiian Islands offer a host of incredible hikes, but the hiking trails on the Island of Hawai’i are some of the best in the world!

With trails that range from easy walks to more challenging day long journeys, there is truly something for everyone. No matter your skill and energy level, or the size of your group, there are just so many amazing hiking opportunities on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Explore volcanic terrain, and lush green valleys all the way to protected coastlines and beaches. Feel the essence of Hawai’i fill you with fresh air, and all the mana of Hawai’i’s natural beauty and grace. Lace up your boots, grab your board shorts and bikinis, pick up some water and trail mix and get going!

Waipi’o Valley

Located within the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island, the Valley of the Kings is probably one of the most popular sights to see in the Hawaiian Islands. This area doesn’t just have deep roots in the history of the ancient Hawaiians, it also feels like it in a big way too! The Waipi’o Valley was in fact the boyhood home to King Kamehameha I; without a doubt a spiritual epicenter for Hawaiians. During this hike, guests will be an eyewitness to 3,000-ft cliffs, up to 1,500-ft high waterfalls, and possible encounters with Waipi’o Valley residents. Be careful to stay off of private property, be friendly and always be respectful. This Big Island hike is about 3-miles from the parking area to the beach. If you are looking for a longer adventure, continue on the Muliwai Trail from the black sand beach. Definitely bring sunscreen and plenty of water!

Pololu Valley

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In the ancient Hawaiian language, pololu means a long spear. The Pololu Valley is located on the far northern side of the Kohala Mountains. It is said to be the oldest part of the Big Island, and hosts a magnificently dramatic coastline. When hiking Pololu, wear shoes with good tread because it can be slippery. It is also hot and humid, so make sure to bring lots of hydration with you. In less than 3 miles, guests can hike down two switchbacks to Pololu Beach. To get to the trail, journey down Highway 270 towards the North Kohala Coast. Past Hawi and past Kapa’au, you’ll go all the way to the end of the highway. There you’ll find the Pololu Valley Lookout and access to the trail.

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Honaunau Coast

The Honaunau Coast hike in Kona is one of the coolest hikes you will ever do in your life! The Honaunau Coast doesn’t actually have a trail, so make sure to wear some good shoes or hiking boots for walking over the lava coastline. Here, guests will feel magically transported to another world with naturally designed art-like eroded coastal formations, blowholes, lava arches, and natural bridges. To get to the trail-less head of this hike, veer off towards the ocean between mile markers 103-104 on Highway 160 and go into the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park. Right before the park entrance, follow the road on the ocean side that heads back towards the highway.

Papakolea Green Sands Beach

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Most people never get the chance to see a beach, but what about a green sand beach? Papakolea Green Sand Beach is a geological wonder located at the oceanside of Pu’u Mahana (a cinder cone that erupted approximately 50,000 years ago). The sand is green from olivine, a silicate deposits specifically from Big Island lava. I suggest that you hike along the shoreline, where you will also have a chance to spot out an ancient heiau stone (do not touch). Off of Highway 11, take South Point Road for about 7.5 miles. You will see a sign that marks Green Sand Beach, where you can enter and hike east along the coastline. This is a historically popular spot for fishing, and many like to swim here. If you are not a strong swimmer, it is best to stay out of the ocean at Green Sand Beach.

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