Hiking on the Big Island

It’s said only those who wander find a new path, and Hawaiʻi Island is a wanderer’s paradise. With so many adventurous trails to choose from, all one needs is a good pair of shoes and bottle of water to experience a free and authentic day of breathtaking wilderness. Hawaiʻi Island has hiking trails for every level of expertise. The following hikes are favorable for visitors of all fitness levels and offer amazing scenery with minimal expenditure.

Kīlauea Iki

Located within Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, this hike begins at the Kīlauea Iki Overlook and meanders along the Crater Rim Trail. If you only have time for one hike within the park, this is the one to take. The hike is about three miles round-trip, with the peak of the hike reaching 4,000 feet elevation – so bring a jacket and rain boots! It can get a bit chilly. Visitors will traverse through a native rainforest and cross warm 50-year old steaming lava oozing from the cracks in the earth. ʻŌhiʻa lehua trees line the trail with their beautiful red flowers and are the first vegetation to grow on lava flows.

Papakōlea Beach (Green Sand Beach)

Located in the Kaʻū District of Hawaiʻi Island is a short hike that takes visitors to a magnificent green sand beach. Green sand beaches, created by a common lava deposit called olivine, are rare, making this gem a truly unique destination. Archaeology buffs will appreciate the several ancient sites along the way. With a round trip of just over five miles, hikers will want to bring their swimsuits to cool off once reaching their destination. However, the surf is strong so swimming is only recommended for experienced swimmers. The trailhead is located about eight miles down South Point road off of Highway 11. Follow the shore for 2.5 miles to the green sand beach.

Pololū Valley

Located on the beautiful North Kohala Coast is the secluded Pololū Valley. The round trip hike down to the beach and back is steep, but less than a mile. To reach the trailhead, drive through the towns of Hawi and Kapaʻau to the end of Hwy 270, and park at the Pololū Overlook. You may want to spend a bit of time taking in the fierce beauty of the rugged Kohala coast, as it tends to take one’s breath away. Don’t forget your camera because the photo opportunities are unparalleled. The trail gets slippery and steep, so good shoes and water are a must. Have fun and go take a hike!

Hiking to Papakolea Green Sand Beach. Photo: Hawaii.com member Liz D.

Papakolea Green Sand Beach. Photo: Hawaii.com member Liz D.

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