Posted on 23. Jun, 2009 by lilikoi in Adventures, Beaches, Beaches | Hana Hwy, Hana, Road to Hana, Road to Hana Beaches, Road to Hana Sites, Sites | Hana HwyRating:
In a nutshell: Red Sand Beach is a dramatically beautiful place that you’ll likely never forget.
Minuses: The short hike to the beach is hazardous.
Sound-bite: “Has the Mothership departed without me?”
Red Sand Beach is a dramatic and beautiful place unlike any you’ve likely ever seen. The ocean here is always a deep, surreal, Kool-Aid blue, and rages relentlessly against the dramatic and rugged coastline. The beach itself is carved out of the Ka’uiki Head cinder cone, whose rust-red lava cinder cliffs tower, impossibly intact, to sheer vertical heights. The cove is protected on the ocean side by a wall of jagged black lava rock, further contributing to this almost psychedelic-induced hallucinatory scene.
A flock of 'iwa ply the sky above the cliffs, looking for prey below. They are quite impressive to watch as they are significant birds and masters of wind currents, and in this setting look like pterodactyls cruising over a prehistoric sky. The icing on the surreality cake are the nudists and eccentric characters who also frequent this beach. Strike up a conversation with one of these folks and it is certain to add more color to your Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Speaking of eccentrics, if you are among the chosen few awaiting the Mothership, local hippie lore has whispered in my ear more than once that this is where she will pick up her children. In fact, once a guy told me that he believes the Mothership resides just below the sands of this beach, waiting for the preordained moment to lift up above the surface and take off. Far out, man.
Back on Earth, when you’re following the portion of the trail that bypasses the slide, and are down on the shoreline, take a look around. You will notice some large pieces of old grave markers from the Japanese cemetery above are down here. Now notice the landslide that blocked the original trail, and how the cemetery is slowly being removed to erosion. I’ve never seen more than a marker down here, but I do know gravity doesn’t pick and choose what falls. Yikes!
I ranked it lower than five stars because I don’t want it to go to the top of the list so that everyone reading the guidebook mindlessly goes there. If you got this far in the article then you should know it is absolutely worthy of being at the very top of your Hana list!
Notes on finding this beach:
To get to this beach is tricky, and can be dangerous (especially if you are not sure-footed.) Use the Google Map below, with the following notes:
1. The Google Map has Uakea Rd. in the wrong place, and mysteriously extending to Red Sand Beach. It does not. The blue line starts at the satellite image position where Uakea Rd actually ends, and roughly follows the trail.
2. Park on the side of the road just outside of the Hotel Hana Maui parking lot. You will walk across the Hana Community Center field looking for a trail on your right hand side. Recently the trail has been well-cleared (bay far the most I’ve seen in a decade) and is now very easy to find. (The jungle grows quickly, so this could change!)
3. If you end up at the Japanese Cemetery, you need to back-track to one of the paths that go downhill. I would not take the suggestion of other guidebooks and use that trail right next to the cemetery any longer.
4. Bear in mind that if you have also obtained directions from another source, the original ridge trail has recently been partially erased by a landslide. You will need to follow one of the other trails down to, and then along the shoreline, and then back up to the part of the trail beyond the slide (which you can see from the shore.)
5. The trail is made of loose cinders and covered with ironwood pine needles. It is slippery, and there are several points where a slip could result in catastrophe. That said, the trail is short, so opportunities to tempt fate are very short in duration; those more experienced in hiking may actually find the risky points trivial.
Location: Park at the end of Uakea Rd. which runs on the ocean side of Hotel Hana Maui, parallel to Hana Hwy.
GPS Coordinates: 20.752803,-155.981736
View Red Sands Beach in a larger map