Waianapanapa State Park: Black Sand Beach on Maui
Honokalan, the Black Sand Beach on Maui can be found in Waianapanapa State Park along the Road to Hana. Set among black lava cliffs, Waianapanapa State Park’s lush green floral and bright blue ocean with white capped waves contrasts beautifully against the Black Sand Beach making it one of Maui’s most picturesque beaches. A site you will want to be sure to have your camera in hand.
One of the most beautiful beaches on Maui, the black sand glistens in the sun like glitter. Created by lava flows rushing into the ocean and cooling instantly, the black sand makes for striking picturesque views that anyone will enjoy. Not only does Waianapanapa State Park hold the Black Sand Beach on Maui, but there are also lava tubes, sea caves, a blowhole, and a sea arch for all to explore.
Swimming at the Black Sand Beach
Due to rip currents and an ocean bottom that drops off quickly, you will only want to swim at the Black Sand Beach if the ocean is calm. When the surf is up, rip currents can form in the bay making it dangerous to swim.
Camping at Waianapanapa State Park
Waianapanapa State Park is one of the few places on Maui where camping is allowed either by tent or in their cabins. However, a permit is required before arriving to the park and must be obtained back in Kaluha. Camping or not, Waianapanapa has a large parking area, restrooms, and picnic areas for all to use. The picnic area are not only a nice place to sit and enjoy a picnic, but also to watch mongoose search for food.
Ghosts at Maui’s Black Sand Beach
While going through some of the sea caves at Honokalan, something felt off to me. As we explored, I kept having the feeling that something bad took place there. Even with all the amazing scenery around us, I couldn’t shake that feeling.
We had to bend down to go through a small opening in the lava rock to one of the sea caves to find a large cavern with a spectacular view of the ocean and surf crashing up through the mouth of the cave. If you stayed at one side of the cavernous room, you were far enough away to not risk getting wet.
I got out our camera to take a few pictures of us inside the sea cave. I adjusted the settings for low light and proceeded to take some pictures. All came out clear and crisp. Drew took a few of just me that also came out well. Then we proceed to take a few pictures of the two of us together.
I checked to make sure they were alright, and every one of us together was blurry. I made a few adjustments and still blurry. We moved to a spot with more lights and they were still blurry. No matter what we did they came up looking like there was a haze in front of us in every picture.
The feeling I had outside the cave got stronger. Instantly, I turned to Drew and told him we needed to get out of there, right way. We went back the way we came and back out on to the beach.
I took a picture of Drew in front of the cave as a test. Everything was fine. The pictures weren’t blurry and there haze had disappeared. I was happy to discover that I hadn’t broken our camera. Yet, I still couldn’t shake that uneasy feeling I had.
When we got back to the place we were staying, I uploaded the pictures to find the blur and haze gone. Later we learned of the Hawaiian legend that took place in Waianapanapa Was it a visit from the Hawaiian Princess, Popoalea that made me feel uneasy and messed with our camera that day?
Legend of Waianapanapa Caves
Legend has it that the Hawaiian princess, Popoalaea, fled from her cruel husband, Chief Kakae in an effort to escape his cruelty and abuse, she hid on a ledge just inside the underwater entrance to the cave at Waianapanapa. A faithful serving maid accompanied her and sat across from her fanning the princess with Kahili , a feather, symbol of royalty. When Popoalaea disappeared, Chief Kakae became extremely upset and set out with his men to find her.
When they came to Waianapanapa, the Chief went to refresh himself at the fresh water pool at the entrance of the cave. Upon doing so, he noticed the reflection of the kahili in the water, revealing Popoalaea’s hiding place. Chief Kakae was outraged at his discovery taking both Popoalaea’s and her serving maid’s lives.
At certain times of the year, thousands of tiny red shrimp appear in this same pool of water, turning the water red. It is believed to be a reminder of the slain Princess Popoalaea as her blood seeped into the water. Is it shrimp that cause the water to turn red or Popoalaea’s ghost returning to the site of her murder?
Don’t Miss a Visit to the Black Sand Beach of Maui
You can easily spend a full afternoon or longer at Waianapanapa State Park exploring the Black Sand Beach of Maui, lava tubes, sea caves, and everything else this beautiful park has to offer. Pack a lunch, plenty of water, and don’t forget your camera.
Have you ever been to the Black Sand Beach on Maui?
All photography by Kimmy Hayes © 2014.