“This steep trail offers stupendous coastal views on its way to visit a huge black sand beach.”
— Megan W
River/Creek · Views · Wildlife
Don't be satisfied with simply taking in the views from the overlook - venture down to the beach to experience the soft black sand and pounding surf. The beach is wide and long, with room for everyone to enjoy this bit of tropical paradise.
Need to Know
Swimming here is NOT recommended. Surfing is only for the extremely experienced. The optional small stream crossing at the beach contains agricultural/bacterial runoff, so don't drink it or swim here with open cuts. Camping is very tempting, but not permitted.
Extremely slippery and rocky. Not recommended for running, but it is a good power walk.
This trail starts at the end of Highway 270 after passing through the hamlet of Hawi on the North Kohala Coast. There are several designated parking spots, overflow lines the streets, but please be respectful and don't park in residents' driveways.
After enjoying the enticing views of your destination from the overlook at the parking lot, head downhill on the path. If you like, pick up one of the "loaner" hiking sticks often left at the top, they will help with balance. The trail here is a wide trough filled with embedded rocks and roots. The going is steep and often slippery with mud, but very do-able if you take your time. The trail takes a few long switchbacks to descend the hillside, and the views through the jungle foliage at each turn are great.
Upon reaching the valley floor, you are greeted with a surreal treed landscape and the sound of thundering waves. Keep an eye out for the fun rope swings here. This is a pleasant place to explore, however, the land up-valley is private. You can reach a section of black sand beach without crossing the stream, but to see the larger, main part of the beach, it is best to wade across. Usually, the water depth is only up to mid-calf, but be aware that flash floods can occur here after rains. The beach is littered with rounded lava rocks and driftwood. Please heed "Pele's Curse" and do not remove any rock/sand/shell etc. from Hawaii to take home.
Polol Beach is a wonderful place for a picnic, so pick your favorite spot amongst the green leafy groundcover or atop that perfectly shaped piece of driftwood log. When you are ready to return, retrace your steps back up the hill. Obviously the ascent is tougher than coming down, but taking scenery and water breaks will help you from becoming overheated on the steamy climb.
Flora & Fauna
Chattering tropical birds.
History & Background
Polol means long spear in the Hawaiian language. This coast with its deep incut valleys is the oldest part of the island.