On the Northeast tip of The Big Island of Hawaii sits one of my favorite beaches. This silky black sand beach protected by the lush Jurassic Park setting stole my heart. The Pololu Valley is nestled snugly against the edge of the majestic Kohala Forest.
Located at the veritable end of the road (State Hwy 270) the official lookout provides a view of rippling earth-folds cascading down to a deep blue sea.
Pololu Valley Lookout
From the top of the ridge at the lookout you can catch a small glimpse of the tantalizing black sand beach down in the valley of the Pololu stream.
We had come to this slice of paradise with the intention of hiking down to the valley floor. The lookout is listed in the guide books as a spectacular vista, assuming that many would be content with the view alone. But as we passed several multi-generational groups looking over the edge longingly, I knew it would be a very frustrating situation to forego the hike down.
Hiking the Pololu Valley Trail
The hike to the beach is only about ½ a mile down and a manageable hike, but it is a steep trail that requires concentration on the way down, endurance on the way back up and would be treacherous if the conditions were wet. With each twist and switch back, the ability to concentrate was interrupted by another spectacular view and photo-op. The aforementioned lush valley, beckoning black sand and intensely blue crashing ocean continually stopped us in our descent.
The Enchanted Pololu Valley
Once down in the valley, you are mesmerized by the peaceful and almost spiritual setting. The valley and stream stretch placidly to the south seeming to lead into a land that time forgot.
To the north, the ocean pulls your attention from the tranquil valley. As you approach the beach, you can see evidence of generations of hikers
that have gone before. There is a tree swing and spot for a bonfire.
Delicately balanced hiker’s cairns dot the black sand. The rippling earth-folds from this vantage point are almost as overpowering as the surf. It is a sublime spot for a rest and picnic.
The surf has significant riptides and swimming is not recommended. Because of the slightly daunting trail down, the beach is sparsely populated.
After crossing the stream along the beach you will connect with the remainder of the Awini Trail that takes you over the ridge to Honokane Nui viewpoint.
Words to the wise 50+ hiker:
Wear the right shoes for rocky and possibly slippery hiking
Do not underestimate the effect of heat and humidity.
Carry plenty of water and be sure to take time to absorb the contemplative beauty of this valley.
Day Trip Itinerary
This is an ideal day trip out of Kona. We enjoyed a healthy and energizing breakfast at Waimea Coffee Co.
The charming village of Hawi is worthy of a stop and the drive along the Kohala coast is beyond scenic.
We rounded out our day with a refreshing brewski lunch at The Big Island Brewhaus in Kamuela, HI.