Alien Landscape Washes Over Wawaloli Beach


Explore a new land at Wawaloli

There were some days on the Big Island that I thought we had landed on a foreign planet. Never more so than when we arrived at Wawaloli beach. Located off the main highway out of Kona just down the road from the Natural Energy lab and Kailua-Kona airport, it was an easy beach to miss unless you knew it was there. It was also one of the most bizarre beaches I had ever seen.

Colors and textures take over the landscape

We arrived at low tide. Where were the famed white sand beaches, or better yet, the black sand beaches of Hawaii? Oh there was white sand alright, but grass and black chunks of rock were scattered around it. Tiny tide pools dotted the landscape between massive lava rocks. Except for one group of locals doing a little crabbing, we were the only ones there. We could have landed on Mars for all I knew.

Dek was in heaven of course. Rocks and water everywhere? Yes please. These are his two favorite things. Since it was low tide, the water barely reached his knees in most places. He could explore this new terrain without causing his parents too much stress.

Searching for crabs, fish and alien creatures in the tide pools

One thing we had not counted on was that when you are going to explore the surface of a new planet (or in our case tide pools) you really need to wear water shoes or at least some really sturdy flip-flops. The main pool we explored was a bit slick. What we thought was white sand was actually rock with a nice algae-like film on it. Dek needed an extra hand in some spots as he slid around.

Mike and I took turns exploring some of the larger rocks. Giant waves crashed along the shore giving us quite a show as we each got to check out the smaller tide pools that were a little hard for Dek to get to. During high tide these pools weren’t visible. The larger tide pools do fill up making for some great baby swimming though.

While the waves crashed, UFOs (OK, OK, planes) took off overhead at regular intervals. Dek got an air show the likes he had never seen. You would think it would be distracting, but the beach was already so surreal, what was a little extra noise from the local airport?

Planes and helicopters are drowned out by pounding waves

This was not the only alien planet we would venture into. I would soon learn that this bizarre landscape created by lava was not as rare a sight as I thought as we continued our journey through the Big Island. In fact, what became more and more rare was a white sand beach. We found a few, but more often than not we were just stunned by the rugged terrain such an active volcano had made and continues to make. We could go back next year and experience a whole new island if Madam Volcano decides to whip out another section of the island. There may be a new “planet” to explore before we know it.

Know Before You Go:

  • Free parking
  • Easy to access with a non-4WD drive car
  • Bathrooms and showers on sight
  • Bring water shoes, sneakers or sturdy flip-flops to walk out onto the lava rocks. They are rough and jagged and not kind to bare feet.

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Showing 4 comments
  • TBM

    Beautiful photos!

  • Lisa

    Not what you expect when you think Hawaiian beach – but beautiful all the same!

  • hikinginparadise

    great pics. I discovered Vibram 5 finger shoes and will be using them on all my off road treking. Worth looking into

  • f-stop mama

    Beautiful, looks like a fun place to explore!

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