Lithified Sand Dunes – Koloa, Hawaii - Atlas Obscura

Lithified Sand Dunes

A prehistoric landscape hidden in the cliffs of Maha'ulepu. 


Along the southern shore of Kaua’i is a short, secluded hike along seacliffs overhanging the ocean.

These are sand dunes that have slowly been lithified (turned to stone) over time, and are now slowly being eroded away by the ocean. The bright yellow hue of the rock contrasts amazingly with the deep blue of the very rough nearby ocean that is popular with windsurfers.

The trail starts at Kawailoa Bay, which is gentle enough for some wading and ends at another bay-type area that looks absolutely prehistoric and barely touched. It’s not hard to imagine dinosaurs roaming around the area, and it is truly a sight to behold.

Know Before You Go

Head South on the Island to the town of Po'ipu, and drive East, away from the Spouting Horn. The road is essentially straight for this part as you drive past the numerous resorts and hotels. Eventually, it'll end, and you'll turn onto a dirt road through what is, for all intents and purposes, a desert. It pays to have 4WD at this point. Drive down this road for approximately 10 minutes and follow the signs to Kawailoa Bay. You'll soon hit a dead end with ample parking. Inside, there is a hidden road to another area that has parking for the Kawailoa bay beach. Park your car and walk east to Kawailoa bay, and you'll see footpath along a ridge overhanging the coast. These are lithified sand dunes.

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