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red cinder hill at koki beach

About Kōkī Beach

Located on the eastern side of Maui, The Valley Isle, lies Kōkī Beach. This beautiful red sand beach is generated by the cinder cone hill of a nearby volcano to the north, Ka ‘Iwi O Pele, meaning “The Bones of Pele.” According to Hawaiian legend, the volcano is said to be the battle site that stemmed from a sibling rivalry between the ocean goddess Namakaokaha’i and her younger sister, Pele, the volcano goddess. After the rivalry came to an end, Pele’s bones were scattered along the shore of Kōkī Beach and her spirit is said to have carried on to Kilauea.

Despite some of the year bringing choppy waters, summer months provide a wide beachhead with shallow and calming waves. While this may sound like the perfect place to swim, it is not advised due to the sporadic rip tides, and occasional high waves that can make conditions dangerous; furthermore, the lack of supervision from lifeguards. However, its high waves make it a prime destination for bodyboarders and surfers, and is a very popular location for the children of local Hana to learn how to surf.

In many months of the year, specifically the winter, the water becomes very choppy and the sand retreats from the beach due to strong currents. This exposes much cinder and volcanic rock, as well many boulders that are native to the beach, making it dangerous. Swimming is not recommended and only for experienced surfers and bodyboarders to attend the waters.

alau island at koki beach

Nearby Kōkī Beach

Looking out towards the ocean, the Leho’ula sea arch can be spotted. To the south end of Kōkī Beach rests Alau Island. Alau Island is a small cone-shaped island and is one of the favorite places of ‘iwa, or great frigatebird, to gather due to its seclusion. Also among the uninhabited island are many coconut trees that cover its peak. Legend states that this island is said to be the place of sacred study for Hawaiians for centuries.

To the south are two fish ponds, Haneo’o and Kuamaka. These are owned and cared for by the community of Hana and are known to be dated back to pre-contact. Nearby are grassy areas with shade from Ironwood trees, equipped with barbecue grills and picnic tables, making this the perfect place to stop, have lunch, soak in the ocean breeze and watch the surfers.

To the north is the red cinder hill that is constructed of volcanic rock and other material. This material often breaks off and falls into the ocean, which makes the formation very unstable and sightseers are advised to stay away from the area. Also nearby Kōkī Beach, the famous Maui huli huli chicken shack can be found and is one of the best Road to Hana food stops. The shack is off of the highway and directly on the coast, sporting picnic tables in the shade and the red sand you can find on Kōkī Beach itself.