Red Sands Beach
Red Sands Beach
Perhaps one of the more mysterious and least understood spots in the small town of Hana is Kaihalulu Bay or "Red Sands Beach". Though not very safe or easy to reach, many make the trek to find out that the beach is not made of sand at all, but instead consists of small red cinders. The small cove at Kaihalulu is surrounded by a mountain of volcanic remnants known as a "cinder cone". The mountain is highly unstable and crumbing into the sea all around this location. The traditional Hawaiian name for this place "Kaihalulu" which translates as "roaring sea" and the ocean conditions can be hazardous, proceed with caution if you choose to enter the water.
AT A GLANCE:
HIGHLIGHTS: A one of a kind location where a crumbling volcanic cinder cone meets the sea in a stark landscape that looks more like the Mars, then Hawaii.
ACTIVITIES: Swimming, shallow water snorkeling close to shore.
WARNINGS!: The access to this beach is extremely hazardous, crossing landslides, 30 to 50 foot cliff drop offs, and jagged lava rocks. There is the only one way in and should be attempted at your own risk, and avoided if you are unsure. Be aware of the small pinecones under the ironwood pine trees, they are round and can act like marbles under foot. Also understand that there is no lifeguard at the ocean front and hazardous currents can exist especially along the divider between the open ocean and the cove fronting the beach.
AMENITIES: None, but two nearby parks have restroom facilities.
Finding this beach is a bit of a puzzle, as it has no clearly marked trail and has no signage except for a few warning signs well off the roadway. The obvious draw here is the unusual nature of this beach, though not the safest or easiest to reach beach in Hana, it is a beautiful sight. The secret to the red sands is the fact that the entire beach, and surrounding mountain is a cinder cone remnant to a long ago coastal volcanic eruption. The unstable cinder cone is slowly crumbling along the oceanfront creating a beach and small cove with jagged lava rock jetty formation blocking the open ocean waves from reaching the beach.
The classic Red Sands adventure involves some members of your group "chickening out" which is completely understandable. It is a dangerous place, not an easy hike, and requires complete confidence in your balance and physical abilities. If a someone's intuition tells them to rest and wait for you along the trail, let them do so, as there are several Hana beaches that are much more easily accessible. See Hamoa Beach, Koki Beach, or Waianapanapa Beach for alternatives in the area.
Photographers love this beach more then swimmers, as there are no bad pictures you can take here. The striking red and black lava stones seem to amplify the hues of the blue ocean making for surreal pictures.
Once you reach the beach you will find that it is not soft, it is actually crunchy and more of a layer of small particles of lava rock. This continues under the surface of the water and lines the bottom of the cove which can amplify the sound of the small waves reaching the shore. Generally a trip to Red Sands is short lived, the raw natural elements of wind, waves, and sounds make for a bit of over stimulus. The thought also dawns on you that the very beach that you sit on was created by the land all around you collapsing, perhaps not the place to linger for a long period of time.
Once in Hana town follow HI-route 330 aka Hana Highway toward town center. Look for a road called Haouli Rd. Turn on Haouli Road toward the ocean and at the stop sign intersection turn right onto Uakea Road and look for parking roadside. You may have to go to the end of Uakea and turn around as to park on the roadside opposite the housing.
The ballpark across the street is the only restroom and you may choose to make a visit before walking out to the remote location. On the ocean side of Uakea Road adjacent to the old Hana school buildings there is a rectangular grass field with yellow gate. The trail access begins about 20 yards into the field along the tree line on the right side.