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This trail is all about the destination. Snorkeling here is just fabulous. The hike down is pretty basic but mongoose will take your lunch and water while you snorkel. This makes the hike back brutal in the heat. We hike a great deal in Colorado at very high altitude and figured this would be easy but the heat and lava made this more than we bargained for. Perhaps it was the lack of food and water after the hike down and two hours of snorkeling but in any case we recommend taking the boat tour. Saw many in their twenties saying the hike back was miserable. If you decide to take it on, go early , hogs and goats own the trail and take lots of water that you hide from mongoose.

Well after reading some of the reviews I set off on this trusty journey with my 5 gallons of water, a machete and my experience of hiking Everest 5 times without supplemental oxygen and fully nude. My mother was a mountain lion and father was an alpaca so hiking has been in my blood since birth. After 7 days I emerged victorious over the trail though missing my machete because what I can only assume was the king of the wild hogs took it but spared my life.

Nah but for real it was a nice little hike, 40 down, 45 minutes back up. The snorkeling at the bottom was absolutely as good as everyone says.

At a good pace, it took us 1 hour to get to the Monument. You will be in over grown jungle type trails and many types of lava rock with no shade. We encountered wild goats. The hike back is the hard part. We had a time limit and has to push hard up the trail. 3 bottles of water and soaked in sweat it took us 1.5 hours to get up. We are in fairly good shape aa we walk 3-5 miles 3 times a week. Well worth it but allow more time then we did. Can't wait to return better prepared!

1.5 rating
This hike was a big dissapointment for my friend and I. The terrain is difficult, mostly sandy and on a constant incline. We were also very frustrated as the advertised distance was not accurate, in total to reach the summit, we hiked for 13km rather than 9. We followed the trail and did not take any detours. This could have been an issue had we run out of water.
Once we figured out that the distance was not accurate, we pushed through as we were promised gorgeous views. In complete honesty, the views at the top were not what we expected. Not to mention that the summit is a sacred area and hikers are discouraged to complete the hike. After hiking 13km, this was extremely disappointing.
We completed the hike in 6.5 hours (the average is 8) and although we made good time, we would have much preferred to spend our day at the beach.

we truly wish that we felt differently about this hike but we would not recommend to our friends.

12.06.18 Still closed, looking forward to doing this trail in the far off future.

Do you like your knees? Want to see your knees succeed in the future? Put away your hiking pole shame and start a whole new knee game.

Beautiful, short, relatively steep trail to the bottom. Slippery at the start, but 1/2 way down there were enough rocks & boulders to assist.

The beach was serene. Not a soul around which made it very peaceful.

12 days ago

Spectacular views! We did this in the light rain and it was muddy and slippery. Would not have been worth it in heavier rain, but as it was, we loved it. Some folks we passed found it easier to do with a walking stick. Given the mud, I thought the way down was much harder than the way up.

Nice solid hike. Sweeping views in some places

Easy hike. Can be hot and really windy. You can get a ride from a local on an old rust bucket for $20/person, each way, which is ridiculous for a 20 min ride, but it can be fun. My wife and I hiked in and got a ride back. The view of the green sand beach is amazing and one of a kind! At the end, the short, steep path down the hill to the beach can be a slippery due to the sand and the slope. Beach can be good for swimming depending on surf conditions which can change.

19 days ago

A fun stop while in the Hilo area. The lava tube cave is very interesting.

This trail is for experienced hikers only and can acclimate to the elevation. This trail was awesome and can take your breath away in more than one way. The view of the lake was beautiful and then the view from the observatory was even better. You are above the clouds. Ensure you are well hydrated and pack layers for colder weather.

As of 11.23.18 this is still closed.

As of 11.23.18, this trail is still closed. We have done this trail in years past and were looking forward to it again. Maybe next time.

Was very nice to swim once down. Coming back up was hard for me but worth it

28 days ago

Great views, of black sand beach and lush green valley. Easy trail with about six switchbacks down to the beach, can be slippery or muddy when wet ~20min down ~25min back

29 days ago

Beautiful beach at the first part - swam with a sea turtle. Black Beach was pretty but not a good place to spend the day. Saw a monk seal.

Beautiful jungle with a variety of trees at different elevations. Secluded beach and great valley/waterfall views at the end. As in the other reviews lots of mosquitos, not bad if you are able to keep a pace. I wasn't quite fast enough :/ They won't bother you at the camp site near the ocean though. I found the waves crashing hard to sleep to, they are not small soothing waves, rather large and thunderous - bring some earplugs if that will be an issue for you. Cross the first creek/river at the sandbar about 300 ft up from the ocean, it's wider here but not as deep (this may change over time). Oh and pack everything in waterproof bags, I didn't and came close to falling in at the last stream (near the camp site) which would have ruined the trip. Also be aware of the water level of the stream in the valley if it is raining - a couple hiking out told me they woke up to their belongings being swept away (think this was campsite 2). Also the reviews saying it is difficult are telling the truth. Have fun!

1 month ago

From the parking area, 40 min. to beach. Outstanding swimming and snorkeling area. I’ve visited this beach several times over the years and it has become quite popular but still room for some degree of privacy. Many shade opportunities too. I would advise against wearing Flip Flops during the trek in due to the lava section of the trail. Well worth the time and effort.

1 month ago

It’s a long hike and frankly gets a little tedious along the way. No proper trail for the most part but a lot of very rough gravel (like walking on broken bricks) especially after the junction to the summit. The cabin trail might be more fun. Have to grant four stars for the Mauna Kea views, though. If you can wait, don’t do this mountain in bad weather.

The bay and snorkeling are worth the hike down. Today the heat on the way back up was brutal, we had plenty of water and it was a hard climb out after snorkeling and enjoying the water, we hike regularly in Oregon at higher elevations with no issues. Be prepared and if you’re questioning your abilities I would recommend a boat tour over the hike.

Mountain goats were a huge surprise—saw maybe two dozen of them. Once at the water, I set my pack down to go for a swim and had to come back because a Mongoose was going inside my backpack. About a dozen Mongoose showed up, so I had to hang my pack from a branch. Saw some amazing yellow fish playing in the water around Captain Cooks death memorial stone. Beautiful small finch like bird with a red head was super curious about my trail food. A little strenuous going back up, but we got hit with a monsoon like downpour which was a morale boost. Loved the trail—one of
My favorite hikes of all time. Watch out for boars too. We definitely heard them around near the upper portion of the trail in the thick grass.

Super overgrown at top of trail. Wouldn’t recommend for someone out of shape since the hike back is a strenuous one. Solid hike though and the bay is worth it.

Nice nature trail! Needed 1 hr each way

Gorgeous and rewarding hike, but it makes you work for it! The initial ascent from Waipi’o Valley is relentless- extremely steep, overgrown and lots of mosquitoes and spiderwebs. But once you see the pine needles on the ground, you’re near the top and in for a lovely hike.

The trail alternates up and down between pine forests and misty jungle, with many delightful creek crossings and majestic trees. Bring mosquito defense- you’ll thank yourself. It was also quite muddy being the rainy season (October). The entire middle section is beautiful and mysterious... enjoy.

With a snack break, it took us just under 6 hours to get to Waimanu Valley. The descent into Waimanu was more worrisome than Waipi’o. It’s comically steep, slippery, and overgrown, so watch your step (and for pig poop! We saw two wild pigs in the distance on the trail). But the views into Waimanu are stunning and magical. Would do this hike again!

This is an amazing hike! I try to make a point to do it everytime I'm on the Big Island.

This is a tough hike for most people so please make sure you are prepared for it. Its not a crowded trail at all which means if you get hurt, there may not be someone there to help.

Now that being said... the hike is beautiful and well worth the 11 miles RT. Towards the top you'll even feel like you're Mars!


on Pololu Trail

2 months ago

Wow. Just wow. Worth it to keep hiking up the mountain past the beach

I did this trail last year. It was cool and the rangers definitely push people towards this trail. The one across the street is far cooler. Both are closed, apparently, due to recent volcano activity.

This was an amazing trail with the most amazing views! The hike starts in a tropical like jungle, descends through a lava field, back into the woods, and then finally you arrive at the prize! Turn left at marker 8 to find the monument and snorkel bay. Warning: The grass gets extremely thick and overgrown at times. I recommend wearing a long sleeve shirt to protect your arms. My daughter got cut in the face and neck by the blades. But this was only for maybe 1/3 of the trip. If you have hiking boots, bring them. I promise you will be glad you did. Lastly, PLEASE bring enough water to last both ways. I wouldnt dare try this hike after 7am. The hike back up in the October sun was brutal.

2 months ago

Amazing experience.

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