Black Sand Beaches Kauai

Does Kauai Have Black Sand Beaches?

Black sand beaches possess an undeniable allure that captivates the hearts of all who visit. Unlike their golden counterparts, these unique coastal gems exude an air of mystery and enchantment. 

Visitors to Kauai often want to know if the island has any black sand beaches to explore, and the answer is yes (sort of). There are several beaches on Kauai with dark-colored sand that some consider to be black sand, including Waimea Beach and Glass Beach.

Waimea Beach Kauai
Waimea Beach (Officially Waimea Landing Beach)

Waimea Beach, at the town of Waimea, is often mentioned in the discussion of black sand beaches on Kauai. At Waimea Beach, the sand is actually a dark reddish brown. The reddish hue comes from the nearby Waimea River, whose name means reddish water. The river dumps red silt from the island’s famous red dirt into the ocean, giving the ocean and beaches in the area a red tinge. The beach looks darker when it’s wet.

Black Sand Beaches Kauai
Glass Beach at Port Allen

The best example of a black sand beach on Kauai is Glass Beach near Port Allen. The beach has a patch of black sand along with more traditional colors of sand. At one time, the beach was blanketed with colorful beach glass, and the glass really glistened against the black sand. However, much of the beach glass is now gone, having been collected by visitors and local residents alike.

Both Waimea Beach and Glass Beach are worth checking out for their unique coloring. Both beaches offer interesting visuals with the white foam of rolling waves juxtaposed against the dark-colored sand.

The two black sand beaches on Kauai are located on the island’s southern coastline. Stop by the beaches when you visit other area attractions. Glass Beach is at Port Allen (Hanapepe Town), the launching point for the island’s Na Pali Coast and whale watching tours. Check out Waimea Beach along with your visit to Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park.

Black sand beaches are formed when volcanic rocks erode or when lava flows into the ocean and interacts with the water. Kauai and the other Hawaiian Islands were created by volcanic activity. But since Kauai is the oldest of the islands, and black sand decomposes quicker than other types of sand, Kauai does not have the deep black sand that is notable on other islands in the chain. Both Maui and the Big Island have marked black sand beaches, especially the Big Island, the youngest of the Hawaiian Islands. Compared to some of these beaches, Kauai’s Waimea Beach can best be described as a gray sand beach.

It’s worth noting that at both beaches it’s best to stay out of the murky water, especially at Glass Beach which has been used as a dumping area for trash and industrial equipment.

Locations of Black Sand Beaches on Kauai