Honomalino Bay / Beach
Located just south of the Hawaiian fishing village of Miloli'i, it's accessible via 4 wheel drive if you happen to own one of the very few houses along the bay. But for most of us, we park at the county beach park (Miloli'i Beach Park) parking lot and walk in. It's about a mile over a somewhat rough trail that's easy to follow.
The trail passes a few houses, weaves between lava humps and trees...
It passes scenic waterfront, and crosses a short lava field ..........
.........before opening up onto a salt & pepper beach rimmed by coconut palms.
Since most tourists decline to make the walk, this beach is often delightfully deserted. A piece of paradise! And besides, the trail itself is quite interesting. It passes by many historic sites of interest, including a quite old and still actively used fishing shrine.
As with most remote beaches, there are no facilities here. (There are toilets and trashcans at the parking area.) One is expected to leave no traces and pack out one's trash. No campfires nor camping. But even so, it's a great destination.
The reasonably gentle bay is great for snorkeling in that it hosts a nice population of young reef fish. Sea turtles are not uncommon. The beach itself is a long crescent of mixed sand (coral and black lava) with areas of lava shelves. A blowhole can be found amid the shelves, as can many small pools of evaporating saltwater containing salt crystals. These salt crystals have a incredible flavor, livening up foods, especially grilled meats.
A real surprise on this trip was the presence of a monk seal. We respectfully hiked past an adult basking on a beach, stopping briefly for a few quick photos. Seals have the reputation of being aggressive if disturbed, so we kept our distance. Besides, it's an endangered species, thus protected. So distance plus caution was the game plan.
If going or returning from the beach during high tide, be forewarned that part of the trail will be under water. It's not bad, only about 12-15" at the deepest. But on a rough sea day the crossing can be interesting.
Before diving into talking about Miloli'i, I need to explain that there are three divisions : the Hawaiian fishing village along the coastline, the residential area on the lava flats, and the residential area on the hill slope. Generally no one includes the hill slope area when describing Miloli'i. It's like that area doesn't even exist. So adhering to precedent, I'm going to exclude it too. The residential area on the lava flats is not considered to be the Hawaiian fishing village. Most of the properties are owned by non-Hawaiians and are mostly vacation homes and rentals. It's the homes along the coast that make up the traditional, and historic, village.
Miloli'i is generally accepted as being the last Hawaiian fishing village in the State. But don't expect some friendly picturesque village. This is no scenic tourist trap. Plus many of the residents can be unpleasant and even hostile towards tourists. The area is impoverished and junk laden. You'll find no grid electricity or county water. Cellphone coverage is iffy. But if you can get by all this, you'll find a village who's general lifestyle still lies in the past of many decades ago, although it's now infiltrated with the modern vice of drugs (meth), which has brought along crime with it. There once were plenty of free roaming pigs, but the county put an end to that. (note : I have a photo of the old county notice and warning about confining loose pigs, but I'll have to search my photo libraries in order to find and post it. The sign itself is now gone.) So now it's plenty of free roaming dogs instead. Many of the coastal houses are homes to the fishermen. Boats and trailers can be found parked at most. There are no stores, no gas stations, no banks, no hotels, no night life, no tourist information booth.
Miloli'i has a history of hardship, and it's not just the poverty. An 1868 tsunami caused extensive destruction. 1926 saw a lava flow from Mauna Loa that destroyed the adjacent tiny village of Ho'opuloa and sent an arm of lava skimming by Miloli'i village itself. And yet another tsunami struck in 2011, again causing property damage.
But there are redeeming factors. The coastline is beautiful. There are coves that are incredibly photogenic. Looking mauka, the hills beg for photographs. At the beach park area and Honomalino Bay there are nice snorkeling and swimming spots. The beaches are lovely and relaxing. The remoteness appeals to many people. Being remote, the night skies are amazing. So are the sunsets. The quiet time away from the rat race results in many a visitor renting a vacation home for a week or two in the flats.