Pololu black sand beach

Beaches on the Big Island

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The beaches of the Big Island are unlike those you find back home. Hawaii is – geologically speaking – a very young island and there are no miles and miles of pristine white powder-sand beaches as you can find on the other, older, Hawaiian Islands. Instead, prepare for beaches made out of pitch black sand,  crystal green sand, coarse white sand, coral and even newly formed lava rocks.

Because the Big Island is still very young, new beaches appear and disappear regularly. The beaches we discuss in this article are already well established and – with the possible exception of  “magic sands” beach – will always be there.

Water Safety | Map of Beaches | Beach  Activities

Map of Beaches on the Big Island

These are the most visited beaches on the Big Island. You can zoom and navigate the map via the embedded icons, and click on the beach/palm icons to get more information on each beach. In these descriptions, we link to a more in-depth article this beach including pictures. (This is still work-in-progress. Right now only our ~9 favorite beaches have such a dedicated page  (back to top)

Water and Beach Safety in Hawaii

Take care in and around the water. As peaceful and inviting as the ocean may look – and often is, it also commands respect. Strong, hidden currents can overpower even the most seasoned swimmers. Avoid walking on coral as it may cut your feet, as well as damage the coral. Sea urchins also dwell in crevices between rocks and coral. Never turn your back to the ocean, and always follow posted signs. More practical tips are: (back to top)

  • The Hawaiian sun can be very strong! Be sure to apply sunscreen generously and often to prevent a heavy sunburn, Wear a shirt if you go out snorkeling.
  • Even though the crime rate on Hawaii is low, visitors should be as cautious as they would be at any other destination. Do not lock valuables in your vehicle. If you must, pack items out of sight before parking.
  • Please make sure to clean up after yourself.
Pololu black sand beach
The beach in Pololu valley is well-suited for a rewarding rest after you hike down into the valley. This hike, by the way, is one of our favorite 5 short hikes of the Big Island.

Things to do on the beach

Beaches on the Big Island are not as crowded as they are on the other Islands. Especially if you go to the more remote beaches during weekdays it is possible that you find the beach all to yourself. This also means that some beaches have very basic facilities. Be sure to take plenty of water and sunscreen.

Pololu beach on Hawaii
Pololu black sand beach on Hawaii. The overlook on Pololu black sand beach. Photo by astragrl on Flickr

Going to the beach offers many methods of recreation. You don’t need to be a fan of tanning to enjoy yourself. Take your snorkel gear and you can spend hours under water swimming between fish in every color of the rainbow. If you like playing in the waves, why not go body surfing or take along a bodyboard or surfboard?

You will never have to get bored on the beach – even if you travel in a big group! If you are not the sun worshiper your travel companion is. Take a book, some food/drinks, snorkel gear, or whatever you enjoy doing, and do your thing. Let me reiterate the two most important words: “snorkel” and “gear”. The waters around the big island are teaming with beautiful life, make sure not to miss it. (Read more on snorkeling and buying or renting gear here.) (back to top)

green sand beach
Green Sand Beach. One of the two green sand beaches in the United States. Close to the south point of the island