Waianapanapa State Park and Black Sand Beach!

There are very few places in the world where it is possible to see a black sand beach, and Hawaii is one of them. All of the volcanic activity on the islands deposits lava into the ocean, which rapidly cools, breaks into debris, and over time becomes small enough to be considered sand. This what gives the sand its distinctive black color- you are actually seeing lava. Pretty cool. We happened upon this particular black sand beach more or less by chance, as we drove past it along the Road to Hana.

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Waianapanapa State Park has a lot of really fun stuff to check out, so make sure to allow plenty of time. It takes awhile to get there from the port, so also factor in driving time (it is located about 3/4 of the way to Hana, so you are looking at around an hour or more to get there, depending on if you make additional stops along the drive, the roads are crowded, or there is bad weather). And due to the nature of the drive, you definitely don’t want to rush it. There are so many beautiful sights along the way, and the road itself is very curvy and a little scary. So take your time.

We started our adventure in Waianapanapa State Park by taking the hiking trail to see the sea arch and blowhole. Super easy hike, with a big payout.

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It was cold and drizzly when we arrived, and yes, I took a latte on the hike. But like I said, the hike was really easy. More of a nature walk.

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The seas were rough on the day we visited this park, and watching the power of the waves crashing against the cliffs was absolutely incredible. To me, this was one of the highlights of our time in Waianapanapa.

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From there, we took a turn off the main trail to follow a side trail down to the black sand beach.

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Lest you think the life of a whiskey wanderer is all fun and games, know that occasionally, it isn’t. I was stung by a jellyfish while taking these pictures… oh the things we must suffer for our art!

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But nevertheless, onward we trekked! Barefoot, in my case, so my sandals wouldn’t make the jellyfish sting feel even worse. We followed a different trail to go to the caves, the site of a tragic and gruesome Hawaiian legend. According to the story, the wife of the chief ran away to escape her husband’s cruelty, and hid in these caves with her attendant. However, the chief found them, and killed them both in these waters. Nowadays, they say she is still in the caves, and the water runs red with her blood every spring on the night of Ku. A more detailed account of this legend can be found on the Road to Hana website.

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The caves are filled with freshwater, and those brave enough to enter an ancient, possibly still haunted murder site can swim in the caves.

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So obviously we did. The water was absolutely freezing, and shockingly clear. Now I don’t know if it was the cold water or the spirit of the murdered princess, but my jellyfish sting didn’t hurt anymore after swimming in these waters. Maybe the spring really is sacred?

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After exiting the freezing water, I was exceptionally glad to have a sarong to throw on over my wet swimsuit!


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We never did make it to Hana. We spent too much time playing around in Waianapanapa, and had to head back since we didn’t want to have to drive the sketchy Road to Hana in the dark. But this park was so awesome, I am ok with missing out on Hana.

Author: Natalie Bates

LA-based freelance writer | Blogger | Craft beer drinker | Rock 'n roll girlfriend | Adventurer | Lover of tattoos, red lipstick, and popcorn | World traveler | Compassionate human | Photography enthusiast | Eco warrior | Celtic babe ❤️

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