Seeing Maui’s Red Sand Beach in Hana (or easier alternatives)

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One of the first views of Kaihalulu as you round the last corner of the trail.

Have you heard about Kaihalulu Beach, which is more commonly known as the red sand beach on Maui? It’s famous for its reddish sand and for something else that we’ll get to later on in this article.

If you’re trying to decide if you’d like to visit this beach, we thought we’d give you the lowdown to help you make your decision.

Safety First

To get to the red sand beach, you must navigate a narrow and sometimes slippery path that hugs a cliff edge. The entire hike takes roughly 10 to 20 minutes. There are no railings to protect or assist you.

While some people would say that this trail is tricky, but doable, we should note that this trail is not for everyone. I wouldn’t advise this hike to anyone who is afraid of heights or to anyone who easily loses balance.

How slippery is the trail? Very! I was wearing sandals designed for hiking and I nearly lost my footing a number of times. The day, I hiked here, the trail was dry. The trail could be more challenging if it’s muddy. What made the trail so slippery were many small pinecones and pine needles that easily rolled under foot.

I witnessed a gentleman fall on this trail. Thankfully he fell back onto the trail, but I shudder to think of what would have happened if he had fallen off the cliff edge onto the jagged lava rock. 

I wish that I had taken photos of the trail so that I could share them here. I must have been too focused on staying on the trail that I didn’t think to snap photos of it. I did find some photos of this trail on TripAdvisor. This pic shows how close to the edge of the cliff the trail is and this photo shows dirt stairs that could be especially dangerous in wet conditions.

Kaihalulu Beach is just kinda sorta red.

Kaihalulu Beach has a reddish shade to it, but it’s not super red. In fact, I had a difficult time even trying to capture a photo the red tones at all. I had to fiddle with the color settings to try to bring out the red color in the following photo.

Kaihalulu Beach, Hana, Maui

Kaihalulu Beach — the red sand beach at Hana, Maui

Here’s another photo that I took of the sand at the back of the beach. In this shot, it appears more grayish brown than red.

The red sand of Kaihalulu Beach

The back of Kaihalulu Beach

See more of the photos that I took during this brief visit to the red sand beach.

I should note that I visited around midday. Perhaps that direct angle of the sun washed out some of the color.

Clothing is optional at Kaihalulu Beach.

This beach is known for being clothing optional — the other claim to fame. And before we go any further, I’ll make it clear that I wore a swimsuit when I visited. 🙂 Most people at this beach were wearing swimsuits, however there were some people who weren’t. No one made a big deal of it either way.

A safe and easy alternative view of red sand without a hike:

You don’t have to hike a gnarly trail to see red sand near Hana. In fact, you won’t need to hike any trail.

The following photo was taken from the cliff at the end of the Travaasa Hana property on the Sea Cottage side of the resort. It’s very close to the trail head to the red sand beach.

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Just a couple miles past Hana, turn onto Haneoo Road. You can see some very similar red cliffs and shoreline as what you’d see at the Kaihalulu Beach. We took the following photos off Haneoo Road.

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In addition to the possibility of seeing red sand off Haneoo Road, there are some other amazing attractions, namely Alau Island and Hamoa Beach. It’s very much worth your time to take this short drive off the road to Hana.

In our opinion:

Okay, by now, we’ve let you know that the trail to the red sand beach can be a little dangerous and you might see “nekkid” people. Is it a unique beach? Absolutely! Is it a must see? That’s debatable. If you are driving the road to Hana for just the day, your time is very limited. Personally, we’d rather spend more time at the black sand beach at Waianapanapa and/or make sure we have enough time at the national park in Kipahulu to hike to Waimoku Falls

What to know, if you go:

  • The red sand beach is located in Hana, Maui. The trailhead is near the cliff edge of the shoreline at the end of Uakea Road. If I hadn’t been directed by a local, I don’t think I would have found the trailhead on my own as it was hidden behind a pile of yard waste. I was told by a local Maui resident that locals sometimes try to hide the trailhead. Why? There are several speculated reasons — one being the concern the safety of visitors. Another reason is that we’ve heard that the trail is on private land.
  • Wear good footwear for hiking — like a hiking sandal, hiking shoe or trail running sneaker. 
  • If possible ask a local if the ocean conditions are safe for a swim. When in doubt, don’t go out.
  • The sand on this beach is less grainy and more like small, rocks. I felt like the sand was a little sharp on my feet. Ideally, bring a pair of water shoes to wear at this beach.
  • See our tips for driving the road to Hana.
  • Useful TripAdvisor reviews and advice.

Have you been to the red sand beach in Hana? What did you think?

About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

One comment

  1. Thank you so much for writing about this beach and especially for the photos illustrating the challenges of the trail. I was bummed that I had missed seeing it on our trip to Maui in 2009 and now I know that it was probably a good thing. Mahalo!

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