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About Waipio Beach on Hilo & East Island, Hawaii

Waipio Beach is one of the best-known and most recognizable beaches on the Big Island. It’s located at the bottom of Waipio Valley at the mouth of Wailoa Stream on the northeast coast of the island. Due to the difficult access, this unbelievable beach is enjoyed by most visitors from 800 feet above.

Waipio is truly one of the most amazing black sand beaches in all of the Hawaiian Islands. To be there walking around and seeing it in person is an unforgettable experience. This experience is extra special because only a small percentage of people who drive up this way can continue down the road to the beach. In other words, Waipio Beach is rarely crowded.

Driving down the road into the valley is only allowed if you have a vehicle with four-wheel drive and a low-gear transfer case. This means you have to have a rig with a “four-low” option like a 4×4 pickup or a serious off-road SUV like a Jeep Wrangler or Toyota 4Runner. Any car with two wheel drive or “all wheel drive” will not make it back up due to a lack of traction and spinning tires (can you say big towing bill?). And getting down is a bigger concern than getting back up. Cars without a 4-low option don’t have engine compression to slow them down on the descent. This means the driver has to use the car’s brakes which can overheat and then fail. People have died on this road due to brakes giving out on the way down. The road is said to have a 25 percent average grade with sections that are over 40 percent which makes it one of the steepest roads in the US. Note that even with 4WD this road can be slick and dangerous when wet.

If you don’t have the required vehicle (or don’t have the driving experience or don’t want to take the risk), you still can get down there by hiking the road. Just give cars the entire right of way and save energy for the steep hike back up. The hike is about 1.3 miles each way and has around 1000 feet of elevation gain on the return ascent. Tour companies are another option as they can drive you down to the beach.

If you just want to see this stunning sight from the Waipio Lookout, just drive through the town of Honoka’a and continue to the north end of Highway 240. If you want to continue down to the beach, park near the end of the road and read all the signage at the lookout and check in with the information office if they are open. You’ll want to take pictures of the beach from above even if you plan to go all the way down there.

All of the land in Waipio Valley is private. The beach and the road down are public, but don’t venture anywhere beyond the area adjacent to the beach. No alcohol or drug use allowed at this beach. The lookout park and beach hours are 7am to 11pm daily.

There is one more beach beyond Waipio, but you have to backpack there. Waimanu Beach is only reachable by hiking the Muliwai Trail from the north end of Waipio Beach. It’s eight miles from Waipio Beach and can be done in a day (super hard) or overnight if you get a camping permit. Hiking up the trail simply for another perspective of Waipio Valley is worthwhile.

Waipio Valley Rd
Honokaa, HI 96727
Park Name
Waipi'o Lookout, Waipio Bay Park
Other Names
Waipi'o Black Sand Beach, Waipio Bay, Waipio Valley, Wailoa Stream
Pet Details
Dogs allowed on leash
Free parking at lookout and at beach
Hiking, Photography, Picnicking
Viewpoint, Covered Pavilion, Picnic Tables, Restrooms at Lookout, No Facilities at Beach
8:01 am, June 18, 2024
temperature icon 76°F
L: 74° H: 82°
Feels like 77.47 °F broken clouds
Wind gusts: 0 m/s
UV Index: 1.51
Precipitation: 0.01 inch
Visibility: 10 km
Sunrise: 5:43 am
Sunset: 7:04 pm
Humidity 96 %
Pressure1020 mb
Wind 0 m/s

Nearby Beaches

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