Most visitors associate black sand with the black sand beach at Wai‘anapanapa State Park, but the lesser-known (and often less crowded) One’uli Black Sand Beach is also an untamed black sand beach that is ideal for kayaking, snorkeling & diving.
One’uli means “dark sands” in Hawaiian. Unlike typical white or gold beach sand, that develops from thousands of years of ocean grinding on coral and shells, One’uli’s black sand started out primarily as lava from the nearby Pu’u Ola’i cinder cone.
At the water’s edge the sand becomes hard lava rock, so One’uli is not the ideal beach for most casual swimmers or sunbathers. But coral reefs are found just a short way off shore, making One’uli an idea place for divers and snorkelers. One’uli is a good location for Hawaiian green sea turtles (AKA “Honu”) and you may catch a glimpse of the occasional manta ray or small sharks. Keep in mind that there can sometimes be strong currents, the shorebreak can be dangerous, and there are no lifeguards or bathroom facilities.
The proximity of One’uli Black Sand Beach to the Maluaka Wetlands also affords many opportunities for hiking, birding, and a historic fishpond is located nearby. The trails to the cinder cone can be challenging, but there are signs available explaining the trails and local wildlife.
Near the parking lot, you'll see a grove of Kiawe trees. Kiawe trees are a form of wild, untamed kind of mesquite that shed nasty thorns into the sand below. Do not walk barefoot anywhere near these trees. Avoid them unless you are wearing strong hiking footwear. The thorns can break right through sandals and flip-flops.