Experience secluded snorkeling, white-sand beaches, soaring cliffs and savagely beautiful landscapes on these remote backcountry trails. This is the wilder side of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes, and all of the approaches – the Hilina Pali, Keauhou, Kaʻu Desert and Puna Coast Trails – are hot, steep and strenuous. Carry lots of extra water, and remember: what hikes down, must climb back up.
Pick up your required overnight hiking permit ($10 per group) at the Backcountry Office, where rangers have information on current trail closures and conditions, and just as importantly, water-catchment levels at primitive backcountry shelters and campgrounds.
With swimming, snorkeling, white sand and coconut trees, Halape is the most popular overnight destination, followed by Keauhou. Endangered hawksbill sea turtles nest all along the coast here; travel responsibly.
The easiest route to the coast is the gently sloping Keauhou Trail (7 miles one-way). Exit via the Puna Coast Trail (10 miles) to avoid the 2700ft climb. The shortest route to Kaʻaha is via the Hilina Pali Trail (3.6 miles one-way), which continues to Halape (8 miles). It begins with a brutal cliff descent from Hilina Pali Overlook, dropping 1500ft in 2.2 miles of switchbacks. For a true epic, head to the far west on the Kaʻaha Trail and climb up to the Kaʻu Desert Trail – but bring plenty of water.