Kaihalulu Beach, better known as Red Sand Beach, is a natural marvel forged by volcanoes and hidden away on Maui’s famous Road to Hana.
It is one of the most unusual beaches found anywhere in the world and considered one of Hawaii’s most beautiful beaches. It is also a place of controversy due to a narrow, degrading trail that is argued by locals to cross private property, though there is a law in Hawaii mandating established beach access trails be public.
Finding and hiking to this crimson cove presents some challenges. The trail is not maintained and deteriorates more and more with each tropical storm.
Due to the danger this sheer, narrow trail presents, it is absolutely not recommended for children or those with balance or mobility issues.
For those explorers who understand the safety risk but are comfortable accepting it, this comprehensive guide to Red Sand Beach will show and explain everything you need to know for a safe and enjoyable visit. This includes how to find Kaihalulu Beach, what to expect, and how to prepare to ensure your safety.
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Is it Ethical to Create a Guide to Red Sand Beach?
In the information age, location sharing has become a topic of controversy.
Among the many incredible destinations in Maui, few spark more debate than Red Sand Beach due to the relative frequency of rescue teams being called in. These include water rescues as a result of the dangerous undertow, as well as land rescues due to fallen hikers.
While the position of many is to provide no information so that visitors do not go looking for Red Sand Beach at all, we feel the lack of safety information presents a danger to those already seeking it out. Especially as Kaihalulu Beach is already very well known.
At least one reported tragedy occurred as a result of a hiker taking a dangerous route, unable to find instructions on locating the proper trail.
As travel guides, our responsibility is in providing accurate, detailed information so that readers understand the rules and risks and can make informed choices.
Additionally, as two passionate travelers, it is our credo that this world is meant to be explored and enjoyed responsibly; particularly its greatest miracles. Physically capable and conscientious hikers should have absolutely no difficulty accessing the beach.
Please respect the island, the locals, and the rescue workers by carefully reading this guide and practicing due caution if you decided to visit.
Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach Beach Overview
As beautiful as the beach is to see in person, there is a lot to know and understand prior to visiting for the first time. Local residents and state officials will not assist you in finding this location nor advertise it due to the safety concerns.
That said, some rescue missions have been the result of hikers taking the wrong trail due to a lack of information. Our belief is that education is greater than condemnation and have created this guide so that you have all the information necessary to have a positive experience.
Before getting into the rest of this guide, please read the bullet points below highlighting some crucial details you should be aware of:
- The hike to Red Sand Beach should only be attempted by experienced, able-bodied hikers. No children or individuals with mobility or balance issues should attempt this hike.
- Do not attempt the hike during or following heavy rainfall. The trail can quickly deteriorate and is very slippery even when dry.
- Wear proper shoes. Slip and falls are the primary cause of injury on the Kaihalulu trail.
- All beaches in Hawaii are public beaches. Contrary to what you may read, private property cannot prevent access to any beach in the state by law.
- Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach is “clothing optional.”
- More rescues occur here than almost anywhere else on the island of Maui.
- The cove can be subject to brutal rip currents. Take great care when swimming.
How to Get to Red Sand Beach Maui
As you can see in the photo above, the beach is located within a hidden cove near the town of Hana. Reaching this cove requires a half-mile hike along a narrow trail with steep sides.
Follow the instructions below to get to Red Sand Beach:
- Drive or walk to the dead end of Uakea Road just past the Hana Community Center (the road runs parallel to Hana Ball Park, see Photo 1.)
- Find the yellow gate with a small dirt walking trail beside it and walk across the empty grass field. (Photo 2)
- Find the trail on the far side of the field (Photo 3)
- Follow this trail 0.5-miles to Red Sand Beach.
Safety & Warnings at Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach
The dangerous hiking conditions at Red Sand Beach have been well-explained throughout this guide.
It is narrow and rapidly eroding, with steep drop-offs. Bring proper footwear, go slow, and do not attempt with children, following heavy rains, if you suffer from vertigo or balance issues, or if you are physically limited.
In addition, the cove itself can create an extremely strong undertow invisible from the surface. Practice extreme caution if you choose to swim here and be mindful that things can change quickly.
Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach Photo Gallery
When to Visit Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach
The best time to visit Red Sand Beach is in the morning. This makes the extremely limited parking easier to find and may even provide some solitude. Additionally, the water tends to be at its calmest, the dangerous trail will be empty, and the water color most vibrant from the angular light.
With that said, there is no bad time to visit except during, or immediately following, heavy rains. The Kaihalulu trail is slippery and steep enough when dry, but becomes especially dangerous during storms.
Red Sand Beach Maui FAQs
Learn the answers to the most frequently asked questions by people hoping to visit Maui’s Red Sand Beach for the first time.
Where is Red Sand Beach?
The beach known as Kaihalulu or colloquially as Red Sand Beach is found in a small cove near the city of Hana in eastern Maui.
How do you get to Red Sand Beach?
There is an unmarked trail at the end of a grassy knoll near the dead end road of Uaukea that will bring you through a tropical forest straight to Red Sand Beach after 0.5-miles.
Find maps, images, and more specific information in this guide.
Is Red Sand Beach dangerous?
Yes, Red Sand Beach is one of the most dangerous beaches to access on Maui. In addition to a treacherous trail, the cove is subject to extreme rip currents. Great care should be taken when visiting and swimming here.
Is Red Sand Beach on private property?
No, Red Sand Beach is NOT on private property. In fact, state law prevents any beach or beach access from becoming private property.
How long is the hike to Red Sand Beach?
The hike to Red Sand Beach is a 0.5-mile hike out and back that typically takes 10-20 minutes each way. Great caution should be taken and this hike should not be attempted with children or people with mobility issues.
Do you need a reservation for Red Sand Beach?
You do not need a reservation to visit Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach and, like all beaches in Hawaii, both the trail and beach are public access by law.
Other Maui Guides
Before you go, you may want to skim some of the titles for other relevant Maui guides below to ensure you do not miss any epic beaches, sunset destinations, or noteworthy things to do during your visit to the Valley Isle!
- HAWAII PACKING LIST: A printable essential packing list + 25 useful items to consider
- 5-7 DAY MAUI ITINERARY: How to see the entire island in one week or less
- WHERE TO STAY ON MAUI: The best places and areas to stay on the island
- PLANNING A TRIP TO MAUI: Step by step guide for planning your first visit to Maui
- ROAD TO HANA STOPS: The Top 25 places to visit on the Road to Hana
- ROAD TO HANA ITINERARY: How to plan for a 1-2 day self drive.
- BEST MAUI PHOTO SPOTS: 15 best places for photographing Maui
- SECRET BEACHES OF MAUI: The 10 most incredible hidden beaches on the island
- MAUI SUNSETS: The Top 10 places & activities for watching sunset in Maui
- KIHEI BEACHES GUIDE: Photos, locations, and descriptions for all 15 beaches in Kihei
- BEST SNORKELING IN MAUI: Best snorkel spots, tips, tours and more.