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Where to find a black sand beach in Maui
Does Maui have black sand beaches? Yes! Here is what you need to know about where to find a black sand beach in Maui. You might think of the Big Island when you think of black sand beaches in Hawaii, but did you know that Maui has several black sand beaches?
Today, let’s talk about how to find a black sand beach in Maui and which Maui black sand beach you should visit.
If you’re starting from scratch, check out how to plan a Maui vacation. Feel free to mix and match to make these Maui itineraries work for you. You’ll definitely need a rental car, you’ll find the best prices anywhere at Discount Hawaii Car Rental.
Why are there different beach colors in Hawaii?
Most of Hawaii’s beaches are your typical white sand, except they aren’t really typical! More on that soon. However, Hawaii has three other beach colors. Green, red, and of course, black.
You may not notice that Hawaii’s white sand is different than sand back home, but it is! Hawaii’s white sand is made up mostly of calcium carbonate, produced by marine life such as shells and skeletons. Mainland sand is composed primarily of quartz. But, you’re here for black sand beaches.
How is black sand formed?
Sand, any old sand, is formed when rocks and minerals break down due to weather and erosion over the thousands or even millions of years. Black sand is typically found in volcano activity areas, such as Iceland, The Canary Islands, The Azores, and, you guessed it, Hawaii.
Black sand can come from lava, which might be obvious, but also from varying minerals, basalt, and dark-colored rocks. This explains the variance in the color of the Maui black sand beaches. You’ll find that some beaches are truly black, while others are grey. Either way, it’s a spectacular sight if you’ve never seen a black sand beach!
Enough of the science lesson, let’s get to where to find black sand beaches on Maui.
Wai’anapanapa State Park
Arguably Maui’s best black sand beach, Wai’anapanapa, is the Maui black sand beach most people think of. In fact, it’s on my list of 50 things to do in Maui. There is also a lava tube at Wai’anapanapa State Park.
Located on mile marker 32 on the Road to Hana, it is also known as Honokalani Beach, but most people just call it Wai’anapanapa. (Say that 5 times fast.)
Since this spectacular black sand beach is located on the Road to Hana, you’ll want to arrive early to miss the crowds. If you only see one black sand beach, make it this one since it’s along the Hana Highway and close to many other Maui must-sees.
Although One’uli Beach is closer to Kihei and Wailea’s resort areas, it’s much lesser known than Wai’anapanapa.
One’uli Beach is more of a grey sand beach to me, but I had to put it on the list anyway! It reminds me of the beach in Polulu Valley on the Big Island. Another must-see if you’re visiting the Big Island.
One’uli Beach is very easy to access, so if you’re only in Maui for a limited time, you have to check it out.
One’uli Beach is a calm beach that’s great for snorkeling and diving but less crowded than many beaches on Maui. It’s very near a coral reef, so this is a great place to spot all kinds of sea life. If you’re staying in the Kihei/Wailea area, this beach is a must-see. It’s also less than an hour from the west side resorts in Kaanapali or Lahaina.
Honomanu Bay beach
Located about halfway between Paia and Hana, some would consider this a “black pebble beach” instead of a Maui black sand beach. It does have some sand, so I included it on the list.
Honomanu Bay Beach is a rockier beach, and the sand is more grey than the stunning Wai’anapanapa beach, but it’s beautiful nonetheless, and the lower crowds are really nice.
It is important to note that this is more of a local beach popular for surfing and fishing. Locals aren’t thrilled about the fact that more tourists have found their way to this beach. Unfortunately, some tourists are disrespectful, leaving trash and being the kind of tourist you don’t want to be.
Don’t be that person! Check out 20 things you should never do in Hawaii, but in general, be respectful and pick up after yourself! It’s not that difficult.
The Maui black sand beach on the “other” side of the Road to Hana
I’m not sure the name of this beach, or if it has a name, but you aren’t likely to spot many other people here.
If you’ve read my 7 best things to do on Maui post, you know that we love the “other” side of the Road to Hana. Since not everyone braves the “back way” of the Hana Highway, this beach is quieter than most. When my husband and I last stopped here, there was no one else in sight.
Don’t miss the ultimate guide to the Road to Hana for even more tips.
This unnamed beach is another one that might be considered a “black pebble beach,” but it has sand, so it made the list. This beach is worth visiting if you want to take some photos because you might be the only ones in sight!
We are standing in rocks, but if you look behind our heads, you can see the sand!
Waoka Pond Black Sand Beach
This hidden Maui black sand beach is actually located on a short hike on the Venus Pool Trail. Also called the Waoka Pond Trail. Can you tell why finding things in Hawaii can be difficult? They’re often called by different names!
Either way, you’ll find a hidden black sand beach with an unknown name on this trail near Hana. As you can tell, you’ll have to check out the Road to Hana for all but one of the black sand beaches in Maui.
The Road to Hana is a must-do anyway. Some of my other favorite stops along the road to Hana include:
- Ho’okipa Beach Park
- Twin Falls
- Keanae Peninsula
- Wailua Valley State Wayside
- Pua’a Ka’a Falls
- Hanawi Falls
- Nahiku Marketplace
- Wai’anapanapa State Park
- Hana town
- Hamoa Beach
- Wailua Falls
- ‘Ohe’o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools)
Is taking sand from Hawaii illegal?
You might want to grab some sand as a Hawaii souvenir but you shouldn’t. Taking sand from Hawaii is illegal. Sand and other items such as lava rocks are confiscated from tourists every day, so don’t even try it.
Things to do in Maui
Here are more Maui vacation ideas:
- Maui vs. Kauai
- The best 5-star resorts on Maui
- The 10 best Maui tours
- How to plan a Maui vacation
- 15 Free things to do on Maui
- Snorkeling Molokini Crater
More black sand beaches in Hawaii
If you really want to see an amazing black sand beach, my favorite black sand beach is Punalu’u Black Sand Beach on the Big Island. It’s really easy to access and less rocky than most black sand beaches. It’s also one of the best places to find sea turtles on the Big Island.
Other black sand beaches on the Big Island include:
- Waipio Beach, in Waipio Valley which is a difficult drive but very worth it! Please be respectful of those who live in the valley.
- Kaima Beach Park in Kalapana
- Pololu Valley (grey sand, mentioned earlier) is a hike-in valley and easier to access than Waipio Valley. You’ll need to arrive early as parking is limited.
- Richardson’s Beach. The newest black sand beach on the Big Island, located near the town of Hilo.
Where to find a black sand beach in Maui
I hope this list of black sand beaches in Maui gave you an idea of which beach to check out during your Maui vacation. It’s worth noting that there are many black, rocky areas on Maui, but I wouldn’t necessarily consider those to be a beach. As we learned in our science lesson, maybe they will be beaches someday. 😉
I also hope you enjoyed your science lesson about the different types of sand in Hawaii and how they are formed. I’m a homeschool mom; I can’t help myself!
Leave me a comment if you’d like to know more about Hawaii’s green sand beach and red sand beach. Or if you have any questions or blog post suggestions, you can leave that too.
Want even more Hawaii travel ideas? Check out some of my top Hawaii travel tips
- 10 things to know before going to Hawaii
- 20 things you should never do in Hawaii
- 100 things to do in Hawaii
- Is Hawaii safe?
- 5 must-have travel items for Hawaii
- The 15 best golf courses in Maui
- How much does it cost to go to Hawaii?
- Why consider a Hawaiian island cruise
Although I am a Hawaii Travel Agent, I am only taking on a few clients for 2021. You can contact me if you’d like more information. I would recommend starting with my Hawaii travel guide if you plan to DIY your vacation!
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