Waipio Black Sand Beach

Picture Perfect Views Make Waipio Black Sand Beach the Gem of Hawaii's Waipo Valley
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Difficult to reach but beautiful to behold, Waipio Black Sand Beach is the epitome of a Hawaiian hidden gem. Set aside a full day to make the trek to this pristine beach, where you'll encounter indescribable views and a newfound reverence for the sacred atmosphere of the Waipo Valley.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

Hawaii’s Waipo Valley is home to some of the state’s most sacred and pristine spaces. Often referred to as the Valley of the Kings, it is regularly praised for its healing powers. This is immediately evident when visiting the gorgeous Waipio Black Sand Beach, which is situated at the foot of a truly mesmerizing valley. 

Unfortunately, all this beauty and serenity takes quite a bit of effort to access. Driving here is downright terrifying without four-wheel drive — particularly if you lack experience navigating mountain roads. The road is notoriously steep and narrow, forcing you to wait in pullout spaces when you spot opposing traffic. 

Many visitors prefer to hike in so as to avoid the drive — but this is physically strenuous and not a desirable journey for everyone. When in doubt, a guided tour is a great option, as it will free you from the exertion of a hike and the stress of a drive.

No matter how you travel to the beach, you’ll be ready to celebrate your arrival and relax after a grueling journey. Don’t be surprised if you have the entire beach to yourself. The very obstacles that make this location so difficult to reach prevent other visitors from stopping by, so crowds are rare. More importantly, however, the views are glorious. Photos really don’t do this beach justice, although you’ll be compelled to try to capture its awe-inspiring beauty.

Take it all in: the black sand formed by basaltic lava, the waves crashing at the shore, and the lush greenery of the valley. The beach is as serene as it gets, with no hints of commercialization in sight.

Set aside at least an hour to truly soak it all in and examine the view from every angle. You’ll thank yourself for truly immersing yourself in this exquisite experience. Pack yourself a picnic lunch for the most remarkable meal imaginable — be sure to pack any trash and clean up after yourself thoroughly.

Many visitors are excited to find wild horses on or near the beach. These are not quite as wild as they may seem, however, and may approach you in hopes of getting a treat. Be prepared with your camera so you can snap a few photos to show all your friends when you return home.

Because the beach is rocky and the waves unpredictable, you probably won’t hit the water while you are here. It’s not really a sunbathing beach either — instead, think of it as a lookout like no other. Give the land and the locals the respect they deserve, and you’ll realize that simply gazing at black sand and rolling waves can be the highlight of your Hawaiian adventure.

Insider Tips:
-Minimal facilities are provided onsite or even nearby, so arrive prepared with everything you need for an enjoyable beach day. This means packing plenty of water, snacks, towels, and sunscreen. Bags for packing out trash are also essential, as you won’t be able to leave it at the beach. You’ll be pleased to find porta-potties onsite, but that’s as good as it gets for restroom facilities. 
-If you decide to complete the drive on your own, do yourself a favor and use a 4×4 with excellent ground clearance. Anything other type of vehicle is all but guaranteed to run into trouble along the way.