Black Sand Beach Maui

The first advice most Maui visitors receive about the many things to do in Maui is to get car rentals and set off on the fabled drive from Kahului or Paia to Hana. This is referred to simply as the Road to Hana by locals and most everyone else. Along the way, you will be treated to spectacular vistas, lush rain forests, and secluded beaches. One of these hidden gems is the Honokalani Black Sand Beach in Wainapanapa State Park.

Black Sand Beach
Black Sand Beach

This black sand beach in Maui is composed of volcanic rock that has been pulverized and smoothed into sand by the waves over thousands of years. The sand at Black Sand Beach Maui is actually made up of tiny polished lava pebbles. The lava flow that entered the ocean here while it was still molten created a rapid temperature change, causing the viscous fluid to quickly solidify and shatter. Higher up on the beach, the black sand gives way to normal sand. There is another black sand beach in Maui on the southern coast called Oneuli, which is near the Makena Big Beach south of Wailea Beach.

Wainapanapa State Park stretches along the coastline, and its Black Sand Beach Maui is located just past mile marker 32, quite close to Hana Town. The beach is in beautiful Pailoa Bay. There is no outer reef to protect the beach, so swimming can be dangerous. Stick to wading unless you are with others and are an accomplished swimmer. Warning signs about jellyfish, the man-of-war with its painful sting, and strong currents abound, and there are life preservers affixed to the cliffs surrounding the beach. If you’re deciding when to go, summertime produces the calmest waters, when it can be suitable for swimming or kayaking.

Because of the strong currents, you won’t find any Maui surfing here, but Honokalani Black Sand Beach provides access to cliffs for rock climbing, lava tubes and arches, blowholes, and some of the caves that figure so prominently in the islands' legends and history. There is also wonderful hiking in the park, providing numerous scenic overlooks. You can actually hike from this black sand beach in Maui all the way to Hana Town. This hike takes you past Ohala Heiau, a ruined temple, along a trail called the King’s Highway Coastal Trail, and through native hala forest.

The Honokalani Black Sand Beach is not very large, but it is extremely picturesque, providing some of the most iconic images of the island’s rugged Hana coastline framed with the deep green, lush vegetation and sparkling turquoise waters. There is a large variety of sea birds here if you are a birdwatcher. While the drive to get here makes a great Maui day trip, there is camping available in the park, as well as cabins that make excellent vacation rentals. The cabins are reasonably priced and sleep up to six people. The come fully furnished, have a full kitchen, and provide cooking utensils. Facilities in the park and at Black Sand Beach Maui include showers, restrooms, and drinking water.

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