Where are the red sand beaches in Hawaii?

Hawaii is a state in the Western United States that is separated from the American mainland by nearly 2,000 miles (3,200 km) of the ocean. It is the only U.S. state that is not in North America, the only archipelago state, and the only one that is in the tropics.

There is no place in the world that is more closely identified with beaches than Hawaii. Numerous beaches in Hawaii come in every size, shape, and, most notably, color. Each of these distinctively colored coasts owes its distinctiveness to the various make-up of the small particles that make up any beach’s most prominent feature: the sand.

Different types of sand in Hawaii:

  • White Sand
  • Black Sand
  • Green Sand
  • Glass Sand
  • Waikiki’s Sand – Hawaii Sand
  • Red Sand

Red Sand Beaches in Hawaii

A dramatic and stunning hidden cove like none other is Red Sand Beach. Outside the cove, the sea is nearly always a deep, almost surreal Kool-Aid blue that batters the dramatic and rugged coastline with relentless intensity.

It is one of the world’s most distinctive and stunning beaches and is formed by the constant erosion of an iron-rich cinder cone that surrounds the beach.

On Maui’s eastern coast, south of Hana Bay is where you will find Kaihalulu Beach. One of the few red sand beaches in the world, it is located on the slope of Kauiki Head. Because of the grassy, overgrown trail that runs down the cliff face, access to this “hidden beach” might be hazardous. Although swimming is not advised due to the choppy water (after all, “kaihalulu” in Hawaiian means “roaring sea”), the beauty of the towering red hills and dunes set against the deep, midnight blue water is unrivaled.

Location of Red Sand Beach a.k.a. Kaihalulu Beach

On the eastern coast of Maui island, near Hana Bay, is Kaihalulu Bay, also known as Red Sand Beach, which is situated on the side of Ka’uiki Head, a cinder cone. 

The Hawaiian word kai halulu, which means “roaring sea,” is the source of the bay’s name. The word “the glimmer” (ka uiki) is the source of the hill’s name. It was the location of a castle and temple (heiau), where several conflicts against intruders from Hawaii island took place. Queen Kaahumanu, a strong civic leader, was also born there.

An offshore reef partially protects Red Sand Beach from the choppy open ocean. As a result, the bay is shielded from strong waves by a natural sea wall. One of the few red sand beaches in the world is in Kaihalulu. The turquoise water, the black sea wall, and the green ironwood trees all stand out in contrast to the rich red-black color of the sand. The cinder cone behind the beach continuously erodes, enlarging the cove. Because of this hill’s abundance of iron, the beach’s sand is an intense shade of red.

Kaihalulu is quite isolated and can only be reached by a short but dangerous climb. The path to the beach traverses a plot of land that is privately owned and follows a ridge that rises above the water below. Due to the loose, crumbling cinder and surrounding ironwood tree needles, the walkway is small, steep, and slippery. A historic Japanese cemetery is also located next to the trail. Some people view the beach as a clothing-optional area due to its remoteness and challenging access.

How to find Red Sand Beach?


It might be challenging to locate this beach; you must utilize Google Maps and make the following notes:

1. Just outside the Travasa Hotel parking lot, park on the side of the road. As you cross the field at the Hana Community Center, look to your right for a trail. The track has just been well-cleaned and is now extremely simple to locate. (Since the jungle spreads swiftly, this might alter.)

2. If you find yourself in the Japanese Cemetery, you must turn around and retrace your steps down a trail that declines.

3. A landslide has partially covered the original ridge route, and in its place is a new, more hazardous, narrow trail. You may take a different, safer track that descends to the water’s edge, stroll along it, and then return to the trail after it passes the area with the incline and slide.

4. The route is lined with ironwood pine needles and is formed of loose cinders. It is slick, and there are multiple places where slipping may spell disaster. However, because the path is short, chances to tempt fate are fleeting, and reasonably competent hikers may consider these dangerous areas to be unimportant. Unlucky/inexperienced people risk suffering severe injuries or worse.

What causes the red sand beaches in Hawaii?

At Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach, lava rock is what forms the red sand. Volcanic eruptions created (and are still creating) the Hawaiian Islands.

Instead of cooling below the water’s surface, the lava for the red sand cooled at the ocean’s surface. The high iron concentration in the lava rock then resulted in the formation of iron oxide, or rust, because of exposure to the elements. The iron-rich sand in this location turned rust-red instead of the black lava rock that converts into black sand as at Punalu’u Beach.

The rust in the lava rock gave the sand its reddish hue, and it was pulverized into sand particles from the red rock to create this lovely red sand. One of the rare spots in the world where this beauty may be found is this hidden beach.

Is the red sand beach dangerous?

There are several reports of individuals getting into trouble in the water and requiring rescue, which is more of an issue than at other beaches due to its solitude and the absence of lifeguards.

It is advised to avoid making foolish decisions in the water. Be careful, do not swim out too far, and avoid taking on more than you can take. There are no lifeguards and other people would be swimming into danger to save you if you swam into a risky scenario, but in many areas, there would be lifeguards or other individuals like good Samaritans that may aid you. Do not count on it.

Additional details of red sand beach

The following bullet points below highlight some crucial details you should be aware of:

Only experienced, fit hikers should tackle the route to Red Sand Beach. No kids or anybody who have balance or mobility concerns should undertake this hike.

Avoid going on the hike during or right after significant rainfall. Even when dry, the route can soon degrade and become quite slick.

Choose the right footwear. The main reason for injuries on the Kaihalulu trail is slips and falls.

In Hawaii, there are no private beaches. Contrary to what you may have read, state law prohibits private property from blocking access to any beach.

At the Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach, clothing is not required.

On the Island of Maui, more rescues occur than almost anywhere else.

Tidal currents may be quite dangerous in the cove. Be extremely cautious when swimming.


The red sand beach in Hawaii which is located on Maui’s eastern coast is very stunning and a rare beach, but it is dangerous to visit. Hikers or travelers who are interested in checking on this should be extra careful and be prepared for any negative event that may happen.