Hiking the Big Island’s Pololu Trail


The Pololu Valley has to be in the top ten most beautiful scenes on the Big Island. You can drive right up to the look out as I described here. If you have about an hour and you are hankering for a hike, then follow the Pololu Trail down to the beach below.

The trail head begins at the end of the paved parking area at the lookout. This trail descends 420 feet along the face of a cliff. The trail can be slightly technical at points, so wearing proper hiking shoes is advised. We also brought our hiking poles which helped. As with all Hawaii hikes, we recommend you wear sunscreen and a hat, plus bring water and mosquito repellant.

The hike to the beach takes about 20 – 30 minutes. Do take your time and stop to enjoy the pretty views of the valley along the way. IMGP1469

Once you get down to the beach, you can admire the depth of the valley and the strength of the ocean pounding against the black sand beach. This beach is not for swimming, so don’t even think about taking a dip to cool off.

The Pololu Trail can be very slippery when wet and we know from experience. Just take a look at the photo on the left and you’ll quickly see why. Areas of the trail are simply steep sections of packed dirt. We were hoofing it as fast as we could on the way back up because we could see the rain headed our way. We didn’t make it off the trail in time, so we experienced how slick the trail can be with just a little bit of rain. To avoid rain, it’s best if you can time your visit for morning or very early afternoon.

The state only owns the land along the trail and down to the beach, so that is the only area open for public access. Any suggestion of hiking beyond the beach to the other valleys without a permit would be considered trespassing. I also believe that the October 2006 earthquake damaged the trails beyond the beach.

You can see more photos and a video of Pololu Beach

See more ideas of what to see and do on your Big Island vacation.

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 Instagram.


  1. Fabulous picture. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is a very steep hike where going down to the beach is easy, but hiking back up takes a lot longer!

  3. Aloha Keahi – Thank you for complimenting the photo. I was really happy with it considering I was simply using my point and shoot digital cameral.

    Thanks for visiting Go Visit Hawaii and for your first time comment!

  4. Hi HVG – yeah 420 feet up and down a cliff is definitely steep.

    Hiking back up doesn’t necessarily take longer. We actually came back up quicker than we went down because we could see the rain headed our way.

  5. I’m glad you mentioned that people should not swim out into the ocean from this beach. It can be treacherous.

  6. Is it possible to have a small wedding at this lookout point? Who may I contact regarding this information?

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