If you love to see just how volcanic activity can transform the land, head on over to Makolea Beach. Well-known as the closest black sand beach to Kona, this natural marvel lets you explore how the 1801 lava flow changed the landscape forevermore. It’s way off the beaten path – and no lifeguards are on duty any time – so get in the water at your own risk.
Most Kona beaches have brilliant white sands perfect for sunset strolls, sandcastles, and sunbathing. The shoreline along this beach, however, takes a swift departure from that model. Instead, the sands have a jet black appearance that links back to the early 1800s eruption of the nearby Hualalai Volcano. During that event, basalt lava flowed out into the water, covering the landscape with black rock formations. Over time, the water wore down the rocks and turned them into the sand you can go see today.
To take a look at its pure magnificence, you’ll need to park in the lot just past the Mahaiula Trailhead. Then, walk from the lot to reach the water’s edge and follow the shoreline to the southwest. Be careful while walking over the lava rock formations all along the oceanside. You’ll want to wear a grippy pair of water shoes, for sure. Plus, watch where you’re putting your feet down instead of trying to take in the gorgeous ocean views.
As soon as you see the beautiful, smooth black sands come into view, you’ll know you’ve arrived onsite. The beach is about 40 feet wide in total. So, it’s often best to settle down on the sand and finally get to enjoy the picturesque scene all around. If you bring a picnic lunch, it’s a great place to enjoy a quiet meal while watching the waves roll in one by one.
From time to time, you may see locals snorkeling and scuba diving in the waters beyond. But it’s definitely a risky endeavor since there are no lifeguards around. The secluded nature of the beach also means that there’s no one to call for help if you get in trouble in the water. Plus, first responders would not be able to get there in a timely manner. To stay safe then, you can watch all the action from the shore rather than join in on the perilous adventures.
While visiting this beach, it’s not uncommon to spot sea turtles coming up on the sand for a rest. If you do, be sure to stay back at least 10 feet because the turtles are a protected marine species. Get too close and you could disrupt their rest, putting them in danger as they head back into the water still tired out. Beyond that, you run the risk of ending up with a hefty fine. You’re welcome to take lots of photos though, as long as you keep your distance.
You will not find any bathrooms or other facilities on this beach. There’s not even a trash can in sight. There is a bathroom at the trailhead, however, but there is not any water. So, plan accordingly to avoid needing the restroom during your visit. Also, put a jug of water in your trunk for washing the sand off yourself before getting back in the car. Beyond that, you’ll definitely want to bring a garbage bag, so you can pack out whatever trash you make or come across on your trip.
-While 4×4 vehicles can make it to the beach without popping a tire, it’s usually not a great idea. Plus, if you have a rental, driving it onto the beach could go against the terms in your contract.
-Do not leave any valuables, bags, or other belongings in your vehicle. Even items in your trunk are at risk of theft while parked in a public lot.