One of the premier resorts and beach areas on the coast of the Big Island of Hawai’i is at Anaehoomalu Bay but almost everyone calls it A Beach. It is a beautiful, protected sandy crescent, perfect for families. Lava flows surround the resort and even the beach access road goes through the rugged black a’a lava flows. It is not really a hiking trailhead, but all of the west coast of the island is relatively young with ragged lava flows so hiking trails are mostly routes along the shoreline, connecting pocket beaches, headlands, and rugged tracks across the lava flows. The route from A Beach south follows a variety of terrain, on an out-and-back route.
Then the sand disappears and we had to pick our way slowly along the rocks, but there are some sections of “trail” to follow. The shrub/tree growth is kiawe, dense and full of thorns so we stayed on the outer edge.
Run-off from the two massive volcanoes of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa seeps through the lava fields from 13 800 feet all the way down to sea level, emerging into ponds and pools in the coastal lava flows. The water was cool, clear, and salt-free only a minute from the shoreline.
The last lava flow across this area was in 1859 so all of the rock, sand, and coral is less than 200 years old. The ocean wears down the lava into fragments and black sand. Sun, wind, and human interaction breaks down the lava into smaller chunks, but for the most part, it is a barren, rugged, and black landscape extending into the ocean.
The 5 km hike is out-and-back, best done in the morning before heat of the midday tropical sun.