Hawaii, Travel Tales

Hiking the Big Island’s Pololu Valley

Since Hawaii’s Big Island is known for its colorful beaches, I decided I need to see at least one colored sand beach during my husband and I’s anniversary trip there. There’s a handful of black sand beaches in the Big Island but none of them compares to the beauty of Pololu Valley. Pololu Valley is located at the end of Highway 270 on the northern side of the island. Getting there from our hotel in Waikoloa Village wasn’t too bad. The scenery was so stunning that we didn’t mind driving through narrow roads and mild bouts of rain. After an hour of driving, we finally reached the small parking lot at the end of the road. It was only 10 in the morning but the parking lot was already full. Thankfully, most of the people left after taking photos from the lookout. Hiking the Big Island's Pololu Valley

Hiking the Big Island's Pololu Valley

The lookout boasts beautiful, panoramic views of the coastline

Hiking the Big Island's Pololu Valley

We weren’t sure if we should hike down since it was still drizzling but the black sand beach looked so inviting we had to just go for it. It would be a shame if we didn’t at least try to see it up close after driving for an hour. The trail was a bit steep and muddy. I wish we had been more prepared because we only brought our running shoes with us but thankfully, the muddy parts were sparse. We stopped along the way, taking photos of the sweeping views of the beach below. After  a 30 minute hike – which included a couple of switchbacks – we finally reached the valley floor.

Hiking the Big Island's Pololu Valley

Before we reached the beach, we were greeted by tall ironwood trees that stretched out across a privately owned land. It was so lush and verdant, that we were almost tempted to cross the river and explore it on our own but instead, we held back and made our way to the black sand beach.

Hiking the Big Island's Pololu Valley

Hiking the Big Island's Pololu Valley

Privately owned land opposite the beach that reminds me of Jurrasic Park

Hiking the Big Island's Pololu Valley

Hiking the Big Island's Pololu Valley

Once I saw the black sand beach, I couldn’t help but touch it to see if it’s real. The sand wasn’t powdery or soft. It actually felt like one of my facial scrubs I have at home! Maybe this is where they get it? :p James and I walked along the shoreline and took pictures before finally settling on one of the logs that faced the ocean. We just sat there taking it all in, sharing laughs and stories about our Hawaii trip. We didn’t dare take a dip because 1. the water was too cold and 2. the current was really strong. After half an hour, we made our way back to the parking lot, which took us twice as long because our out-of-shape butts weren’t prepared for it at all.

Hiking the Big Island's Pololu Valley

Hiking the Big Island's Pololu Valley

Hiking the Big Island's Pololu Valley

Hiking the Big Island's Pololu Valley

Hiking down Pololu Valley is one of the best memories of our Hawaii trip. This is one of the rare places you get to see a black sand beach surrounded by verdant cliffs, the makings of a perfect Hawaii postcard. And the best part is, it’s easy to get to! Lush, wild and untamed, Pololu Valley is definitely one of Hawaii’s best kept secrets.

Hiking the Big Island's Pololu Valley

Things to know before you go:

  • Approx. 2.5 miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking is free but limited
  • The overlook is open daily and  there’s no entrance free
  • There’s no public restrooms
  • This is not the best place to go for a swim because of strong currents. Heed the warning signs!

Getting to the trailhead:

  • The trailhead is located at the end of Highway 270, just past the quaint towns of Hawi and Kapaau. There’s a small parking lot at the end of the highway that can maybe fit up to 9-10 cars. The trail is marked by a several warning signs.

Tips before your hike:

  • Make sure you wear proper footwear. Some parts of the trail have been eroded and can be difficult to traverse. I only wore running shoes and it would’ve been fine on a normal day but since it was raining, I had to go really slow to prevent myself from slipping.
  • Since the Big Island’s weather is a bit bipolar, don’t forget to bring your rain jacket/lightweight waterproof jackets. Mine served great purpose when did our hike.
  • Bring a picnic to enjoy while you marvel at the beautiful, rugged coastline.
  • Don’t forget to bring water! Although it only takes about 1- 1 1/2 hours to finish the trail roundtrip, it is also very steep.

Other Related Hawaii posts:

 

Where’s the best colored sand beach you’ve been to?

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Hiking the Big Island's Pololu Valley


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58 Comments

  1. Nina

    August 22, 2016 at 4:27 am

    Best coloured sand is on Zanzibar almost on any beach you go. You should check it out!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 22, 2016 at 10:46 am

      I haven’t heard of that place but I’ll definitely check it out Nina. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Chantell Collins

    August 22, 2016 at 4:34 am

    This is exactly the kind of hiking trip I enjoy – easy ;). It’s a shame that it was drizzling but then again it makes for a different beach experience. And it’s so bad seeing as you can’t really swim there anyway. I love how dark the sand is and the big smooth rocks on the beach too! What a nice little day trip 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 22, 2016 at 10:57 am

      Haha! Me too Chantell, me too. I like that it didnt take us hours to get down to the beach. Just a quick 30 minute hike and voila, we were there. Going back up…well that’s another story. :p Yea I wish it was sunny but you’re right, it does make a different beach experience. 🙂

  3. Svetoslav Dimitrov

    August 22, 2016 at 4:38 am

    Hey, Janna, what an amazing place you have explored! I am a sucker for secluded spots, such as these, that offer verdant and lush vegetation, coupled with harmony and sand.

    This reminds me of Tenerife’s El Medano beach whose sand colour varies from golden to black (a volcanic island Tenerife is). You can check out my last article – I have a picture there.

    On a side note: Isn’t it a better idea when you click on a photo that it opens in a new window?

    I shared it on Pinterest,
    Cheers,
    Svet

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 22, 2016 at 11:03 am

      Hey Svet! You and me both! I love spots like these as well. I’m not sure if its because the weather was bad or its really secluded but I was glad that there weren’t a lot of people when we went. Oh wow that sounds amazing! I’ve never heard of El Medano beach but I’ll definitely check out your post to see it! Thanks for the tip!

      You’re actually right, I just dont know how to fix it lol. I think it may have something to do with the theme that I have. It’s not letting me do it. I’ll try to look into it. Thanks Svet for sharing on Pinterest! Happy travels. x

  4. marie

    August 22, 2016 at 8:28 am

    How lovely! It looks as if there was no one else for miles around and you enjoyed it all to yourselves.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 22, 2016 at 10:58 am

      There were a few people here and there but we had it all to ourselves for the most part. Idk if it was because of the weather but yea it wasn’t crowded at all!

  5. Christina

    August 23, 2016 at 3:43 am

    Pollolu Valley looks like a beautiful place to go hiking. I’ve recently rediscovered hiking so this is timely. Great views too!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 23, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      I’ve done quite a few hikes during my travels and this is one of the best hikes I’ve done coz the hike is easy and the reward at the end is just breathtaking! Hope you make it out there someday Christina!

      1. Christina

        August 28, 2016 at 4:34 am

        Where did you stay while you were there? Do you have any tips on what else to do around the area?

        1. Janna C.

          Janna C.

          August 30, 2016 at 11:58 am

          We stayed at Hilton Waikoloa Village. I’ll be posting a guide for the Big Island so come back soon! 🙂

  6. Laura Nalin

    August 24, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    It’s a shame about the weather but at the same time it looks a bit mystical. Hawaii always reminds me of Jurassic Park, too! I haven’t been to the Big Island yet but would love to do this hike. I’d say the coolest colored sand beaches would be Cocoa Beach in Florida and Piha Beach in New Zealand!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 12:24 pm

      We kinda got used to it. The rain didnt last the whole day but man, did it rain a lot during our trip! haha
      And yes, doesnt it? I think some locations in Hawaii were actually in the movie! So cool. I’ll check those two out Laura. Thanks for the tip!

  7. The Toronto Seoulcialite

    August 25, 2016 at 1:49 am

    I love all your point-form tips! They make it so easy to figure out how to get around, etc. Jeju Island in Korea is supposed to have black sand as well. They make fantastic skin care here, so it’s no surprise they’d take advantage for scrubs!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks girly! Oh good to know! I’m actually intrigued if they really use the black sand for some of the facial scrubs we use. Must. Search. Now!

  8. JM

    August 25, 2016 at 7:08 am

    It seems like this beach is in a remote area. I guess the hiking part to reach there is fun. I am amazed with black sand beaches because I do not see it that often . A nice beach to stay and relax but definitely not for swimming. 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 1:04 pm

      Me too! I’m amazed at any colored sand beaches but mostly the one’s we dont see often like black and green sand beaches.

  9. Vyjay

    August 25, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Pololu looks so serene and beautiful. Also it seems so secluded and a great place to spend some quality time. I am sure you had a great time.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 1:04 pm

      I really did! It wasnt the ideal weather but the views definitely made up for it. Love the serenity of this place!

  10. Natasha

    August 25, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    This looks like a lot of fun! I need to get to HI. I also love the tips about footwear — I think a lot of people neglect this when they’re on a new trail because they just assume what they have on will work fine. No one wants blisters!! I also think it’s a great idea to enjoy a picnic along the way!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 1:07 pm

      Thanks Natasha! Glad you found the footwear tips helpful. Just thought it would be useful because I’m guilty of not having proper footwear on some hikes that I’ve done but I’m learning! hehe 🙂

  11. Kerri

    August 25, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Looks beautiful. Seeing coloured sand beaches is a pretty amazing sight when you are used to yellow/white. Interesting that you mentioned the land looking like Jurassic Park. Did you know there is actually a spot on O’ahu where Jurassic Park was filmed? Great spot, looks great for hiking and just cements what a beautiful place Hawaii is.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      I heard! I think its one of those ranches where you can go on a horseback ride or do ATV. I believe the Napali Coast in Kauai is also a setting for the Jurrasic Park intro. Pretty neat huh?

  12. Izzy

    August 25, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    What time of year did you visit Hawaii? As a tropical destination, I know the rain is part of the package but is it seasonal? Seeing more and more Hawaii posts crop up and I’m green with envy just looking at all these beautiful colored sand beaches. Although I hate to admit it, but I am a white sand enthusiast myself! The contrast again a blue sky is everything!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 1:10 pm

      I visited in June! I think it rains a lot more in the Big Island than any other island in Hawaii. We visited Kauai same time last year and although it rained, it only rained for a short period of time. You should definitely look into visiting Hawaii. In the Big Island alone, they have green, black and white sand beaches! Definitely must see!

  13. Hung Thai

    August 25, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    Thanks for the tip! This looks like something I’d be interested in. Too bad you went on a rather gloomy day. I’d love to see pictures of it when it’s not so cold and foggy.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 1:11 pm

      Not a problem! The gloomy weather wasn’t so bad. We still had an awesome time! How could we not, when the views are as stunning as this!

  14. shayan Naveed

    August 25, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    Definitely looks worth it. I’d go there for sure. Very beautiful.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 1:11 pm

      Hope you get to visit the Big Island someday!

  15. Adonis Villanueva

    August 26, 2016 at 3:52 am

    That place looks so moody and eerily beautiful. You don’t need the sun when you’re in a place like that! I’m going to check it out when I go to Hawaii.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 1:11 pm

      Right? Glad you think the same way like I do Adonis! 😀

  16. Anne

    August 26, 2016 at 5:30 am

    I love that you still did it in the rain. Sometimes they are the best days out

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      No rain cant stop me from hiking! …unless of course if there’s flash floods and whatnot. 😛

  17. Bart & Eena

    August 27, 2016 at 4:31 am

    What a very peaceful trip to go to! Truly indeed a memorable experience for you and your husband. We would love to go here to someday! 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      It was one of the most memorable trips we had together as husband and wife for sure! 🙂

  18. Tami

    August 27, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    My husband and I hiked into a secluded black sand beach in Mexico, along the Pacific Ocean. It was amazing! We drove as close as we could without the car getting stuck, then hiked in the remaining mile or so. Our hike took us through a “forest” of cactus, but once we got to the beach, it was spectacular! And not a soul in sight. I’d love to go back someday. I really enjoyed your photos and hike details. So glad you were able to go and then share it with all of us!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      Wow that sounds amazing Tami! I would love to experience that hike someday. Where in Mexico exactly? Sounds like a secluded area. Thanks for liking the post and for stopping by. 🙂

  19. Cory Lee

    August 27, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    Well, I officially found a new place to add to my Hawaii bucket list. LOL! Thanks for the great article and inspiration!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      Awesome, Cory! You’ll definitely love Hawaii!

  20. anna

    August 27, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    It looks like an amazing place to hike and get lost. I love going on peaceful walks with no one in sight. The tips you gave before going on your hike is pretty useful and can be applied anywhere.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 1:14 pm

      Me too! I love peaceful walks especially in places like this. Who could go wrong with such a nice view, right?

  21. Laura Lynch

    August 27, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Your hike reminds me of a hike/walk we did along the 17-mile drive near Carmel in California. Such beauty to be seen off the coastline. I’m sure you were glad to get out there and see it!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 1:02 pm

      17-miles? Wow! Kudos to you Laura. I’ve never hiked that much. 😀

  22. Brenda Tolentino

    August 28, 2016 at 9:42 am

    WOW, this is quite beautiful, it reminds me of our hike on the Jurassic Coast of England, where it was right by the sea and the cliffs were so beautiful. My family and I have to visit Pololu Valley some day soon.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 1:01 pm

      Thanks Brenda! Oh wow, that sounds amazing too! Didnt know they have a place in England called Jurrasic Coast. Yes, you guys have to! There’s so much to do and see for the whole family.

  23. mark wyld

    August 28, 2016 at 11:47 am

    The black beach looks amazing. We are going to fo the black beach in Iceland in January. I love the coast and the ocean its jus so peaceful to walk along. The walk back uphill is always a bummer lol

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 29, 2016 at 1:58 am

      Ahh so jealous Mark! I’m dying to go to Iceland! I’m sure you guys will have loads of fun. Oh yeah, the hike uphill sucks the most lol

  24. Joe Ankenbauer

    August 28, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Beautiful! The views are incredible! I love the Big Island, but I havent done this hike! another one for my list 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 29, 2016 at 1:57 am

      Thanks Joe! The views were definitely breathtaking! I have a few I didn’t get to do as well when I went to Kauai and the Big Island. I wish I had enough time to hike the Kalalau trail and the Waipio Valley trail! 🙁

  25. Lala

    August 29, 2016 at 2:23 am

    Looks like a beautiful place to go hiking. Made even more beautiful that it looks like it was just the two of you and nature. Great photography!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 1:00 pm

      Aside from a few people that were in and out of the valley floor, we basically had it all to ourselves. And it was amazing despite the sucky weather. Thanks for liking the photos!

  26. Megan

    August 29, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    I’ve been to the big island once but was young and mostly stayed at a resort. Hope to get back to explore some day and this beach looks like a perfect spot.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 12:59 pm

      Yes, you must Megan! Everytime we go to Hawaii, we rarely stay at the resort. We love going around the island and taking in the gorgeous scenery!

  27. Sara | Belly Rumbles

    August 30, 2016 at 6:28 am

    How gorgeous is Pollolu Valley even when the weather is miserable! Your photos capture the beauty amongst the grey skies, mist and drizzle, simply stunning.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      August 30, 2016 at 12:57 pm

      Right? That’s exactly what I was thinking. That’s when you know its beautiful – bad weather and all! Thanks Sara. Glad you liked the photos. 🙂

  28. Amy

    September 6, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Normally we head to Oahu, but this looks spectacular! Visiting a black sand beach is on my wander-list. Gorgeous photos!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      September 6, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      I need to visit Oahu nxt time! I heard there’s a bunch of spectacular hikes there as well. If you want to see different colored sand beaches, I definitely recommend the Big Island! Thanks for liking the photos Amy! Happy travels. x

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