Hiking Ke-awa-iki Beach, the Golden Ponds, Pueo Bay and Weliweli Point, Kohala Hawaii
by Donnie MacGowan
Want to find a beautiful beach not even many locals know about? Don’t mind walking about 15 minutes over a lava road and a’a? This tiny mostly black-sand and gravel beach has good snorkeling on the south (left as you face the water) side, where there is still a pocket of white sand.
This unique black and white sand beach was created after the 1859 eruption of Mauna Loa, when lava reached the north end of the beach, where the black sand is today. Further south along the beach, the recent black sand has not had time to thoroughly mix with the pre-existing white sand.
If one continues south there are numerous tide pools to explore.
Hiking north, one passes along the wild and open Kohala Coastline to Pueo Bay (Pueo mean “owl” in Hawaiian), where many freshwater springs make the snorkeling interesting but weird, due to large temperature and salinity gradients. There are numerous trails to make your way back to the car or Ke-awa-iki Beach.
However, if one takes the trail running east behind Pueo Bay (intersection marked with coral), one comes to a pair of lovely golden pools, which can be seen for quite a distance, as they support a growth of hala trees.
A golden algae growing on the lava lends these pools their distinctive color.
If you bring an underwater camera, you can take spectacular photos of this gorgeous biologic wonder.
Feel free to frolic in the ponds before finishing the hike—just be sure not to damage the growth by walking on it too much.
Another interesting trail to thread are the many roads and trails leading to Weliweli Point from the Ponds or Pueo Bay, essentially just keep parallel to the coastline and they all converge at a private residence near the point–on clear days, unsurpassed views of Kohala Mountain and Haleakala on Maui can be seen here.
Return by taking the major dirt road back towards the highway, taking the millennia old King’s Trail south when that intersection is reached. Out in the a’a flow it’s hard to get lost, you can almost always see where you parked your car, and the trails all eventually lead there.
There is much to see here besides the beaches and the Golden Pons.
There are remains of ancient heiau (temples) and villages.
And although no green sand beach is know to have formed, vesicular basalts in the area around Weliweli Point have abundant olivine (peridot) crystals.
Depending on how you thread the trails, it’s approximately 4 miles, round trip.
To Find the wonders of Ke-awa-iki: Drive just north of Mile 79, park where boulders block a gravel road. Take gravel road/trail towards the ocean, hike along the road, fence and trail 15 minutes to Ke-awa-iki Beach. No facilities.
A video about Ke-awa-iki is available here.
All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan; all rights reserved.