Kaihalulu Beach

Kaihalulu Beach - A Truly Unique Red Sand Beach, But One Not Recommended for Most Travelers
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Kaihalulu Beach is one of only a handful of red sand beaches in the entire world. This is a gorgeous beach situated at the bottom of towering cliffs that is a frequent locale for wildlife sightings. However, with beauty comes dangers and those who seek this rare beach should proceed with extreme caution. 

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

One thing that makes Hawaii unique is just how many different types of beaches its islands have. Tropical beaches lined with pink sands, black sands, white sands, golden sands, and even red sands can all be found scattered throughout the islands, just waiting for travelers to make the effort to seek them out. Such is the way of the red sand beach that is Kaihalulu Beach.

Kaihalulu Beach is situated on a very far part eastern point on Maui and just outside the town of Hana. But while Kaihalulu Beach is incredibly close to Hana’s downtown, you wouldn’t think it once you stood on its shoreline. That’s because this beach is tucked away behind seaside cliffs and to get to that gorgeous red shoreline will take some effort. 

But before we get into just what kind of effort, consider first if this is a beach you would want to go to. Kaihalulu Beach is so renowned because it is one of the very few red sand beaches in the world. The sand here is made from the worn-down crumbles of a red lava cinder cone that cuts deep into this part of the island. This cinder can be readily seen as it partially looms over as a crescent-shaped cliff that protects the beach. 

These cliffs protect the beach on the land’s end and on the ocean’s end, a wall of jagged lava rock stands like soldiers against the harshest of ocean waves. Between the red sands beneath the cliffs and these lava rocks, you will find a calmer pool where people will sometimes wade in and many times locals will fish in. This really is a fantastic aspect of this beach and a good reason to go as the blend between a calm inner pool paired with waves pummeling white against rocks just feet away is truly something else.  

However, this bit about local fishermen does bring us back to the access quandaries. Kaihalulu Beach is unique. It is gorgeous. It does offer visitors a cool place to swim, snorkel, take photos, sunbathe, and fish. However, today, Kaihalulu Beach is largely considered a local’s only beach and a travelers-not-welcome beach for two big reasons. First, there was the privatization of part of the old route to get to the beach, and secondly, most notoriously, there are the dangers involved in taking routes to get down to the beach.

Kaihalulu Beach might be just a stone’s throw from Hana, but it is not an easy walk to reach its shores. The old trail to reach this beach was partially destroyed in a landslide a couple of years ago and the current “trail” is steep, narrow, slippery, and overall dangerous. There have been people seriously injured, some fatally, trying to check out the red sands of Kaihalulu Beach. In order to discourage visitors, the trail to Kaihalulu Beach is not marked and there are no nearby restrooms, trash cans, or other park-like amenities. If you do insist on traveling, check with a local regarding trail conditions before proceeding. 

Insider Tips:
-The remote or hard-to-get-to nature of Kaihalulu Beach has made it very popular among nudists. So if you do plan on going, go anticipating that you might happen upon sunbathers in their birthday suits.
-Many locals will warn you away from this beach. While not everyone will be aggressive about it, understand that you might be told not to go while mid-path. In other words, this is not the beach to go to if you do not like confrontation. 
-If you really want to get pictures and see for yourself the beauty of this beach but don’t mind not getting into the water itself, then you can just do the hike up to the top of the cliff overlooking the beach. This will provide you with some gorgeous vistas without the entire risk of trying to clamor down the cliff to get to the beach itself. Note, this is still a difficult climate.