24 In Archaeology + History/ Beaches + Ocean Activities/ Hawaii/ Travel

Laupāhoehoe – The Big Island, Hawai’i

Laupāhoehoe Point is just about 30 miles north of Hilo on The Big Island. This whole area is made up of smooth lava (pāhoehoe), making the beach made up of varying sizes of  lava rock. I completely fell in love with the views of the ocean because of Hawaii’s isolation the water is a deep, deep sapphire blue. It is so striking!

Although Laupāhoehoe is an incredible site to take in, it has a really sad history as well. Nature is such a powerful force, but it isn’t always a good kind of power. On April 1st, 1946 a massive tsunami caused by an earthquake in Alaska struck the island of Hawai’i. Many people died on the Big Island, but the tragedy here was that there was a school right on the coast and 24 people were killed – most of them, children. Only two people lived to tell the tale. It was such a tragedy but luckily we’ve come a very long way in detection & alerts since then.


Laupāhoehoe Point Park is a beautiful place to visit and the park is set up with restrooms, picnic tables and even a shower station – camping along the ocean and in the Hawai’i State Parks seems to be extremely common. 


The waves crashed on the rocks and created massive sprays all along the coast. You get an almost 180 degree view of nothing but ocean, lava-rock formations and waves rolling in and out. I love looking at the ocean in Hawai’i because it just looks like it goes on forever and then eventually blends with the sky. It’s truly incredible.


There are several pieces of stone building laying in different parts of the beach. I’m not positive what structure it’s actually from, but Matt and I assumed that they were part of the school that was destroyed. Seeing these pieces was a very haunting reminder of the power of the Pacific. If you’ve been here and know where they came from for sure, I would love to know.



Photo by Matt

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This specific formation created massive spray as the waves hit them. We heard about a few blow holes, but we never made it to any of them. This was probably the closest thing to a blow hole that we saw and it was still beautiful.

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This cute little crab was up there to greet us, in fact, I just about put my hand right on top of him! Luckily, I didn’t hurt him, but he did startle me a bit! Ha!

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Further down the beach, but still in that main parking area, there’s a grouping of trees. This was probably my favorite section of Laupāhoehoe point because I just got caught up in the glimpses of that stunning blue ocean between these funky trees. The paths between the trees were so peaceful and inviting. I think this would be the perfect spot for a picnic, and I will do just that when I get back to The Big Island.

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Along with the spirituality of Laupāhoehoe’s natural beauty, there is also this other spiritual factor. There is an extremely beautiful memorial to the people who lost their lives in the tragic tsunami that struck on April 1, 1946. There are offerings of shells, necklaces and flowers left in front of the memorial. I think that it adds to this place’s spirituality.


Some of the offerings of beads.



Although this beach isn’t the best place to swim, there is a portion of the beach visible from the monument [pictured above] that is much calmer. To the far left, which you can’t see in the photo, there’s a dock that isn’t a functioning dock anymore, but the old boat ramp makes for a perfect place to get in and out of the ocean – we saw a family swimming there while we were there.

Something important to know about the beaches in Hawai’i is that massive waves can very unexpectedly crash. Never turn your back to the ocean. Heed all posted warnings and I highly recommend swimming where there are lifeguards. Just be sure to take care of yourself and be smart.

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  • Reply
    Sarah from Tales From a Fork
    July 13, 2016 at 9:40 am

    Really great photos! I’ve never heard of this island. Love all the big lava rocks and the waves splashing against them.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 20, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      I absolutely loved The Big Island, and this was definitely a beautiful spot to watch some waves! Cheers!

  • Reply
    Laura @ Grassroots Nomad
    July 13, 2016 at 11:20 am

    Stunning! I’m glad you didn’t accidentally squish that little crab. I haven’t been to Hawaii yet but there are so many cheap flights from Australia that my family always seems to be going there!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 20, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      I know; he was so cute! That’s pretty lucky to be able to get cheap flights – it cost an arm & a leg getting there from Missouri and it’s in our own country! Haha

  • Reply
    July 13, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    Great photo series! I especially like the detail shots of the crab and beads— unexpected and unique. Plus, they’re pretty. 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 20, 2016 at 5:04 pm

      Thank you – I really appreciate that! I love detail shots, but it’s really great getting feedback from others. Cheers!

  • Reply
    July 13, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    What a beautiful spot in Hawaii. I love the photos with the view of the ocean in-between the trees. So sad that so many young lives were lost in 1946…

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 20, 2016 at 5:06 pm

      Thank you, that was my favorite part of the beach. It is a really tragic part of the history here, but I’m so glad that technology has advanced since then.

  • Reply
    July 14, 2016 at 6:59 am

    The more I hear about Hawaii, the more impressed I am! There seems like such a range of landscapes and natural beauty. I love the shots of the ocean up against the lava rocks. Very beautiful!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 20, 2016 at 5:07 pm

      I was totally blown away by it! You’re right, there’s such a massive range of landscapes and it feels like each is more beautiful than the next.

  • Reply
    July 14, 2016 at 8:47 am

    Gorgeous photos of a beautiful yet poignant spot. I bet those building pieces are from the school, that’s pretty crazy if they are!!!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 20, 2016 at 5:10 pm

      I know, I think they are too. It made for a very eerie feeling as we passed them, but it was definitely a sobering reminder of the power of the ocean.

  • Reply
    Stella the Travelerette
    July 14, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    Your pictures are amazing! Laupahoehoe is indeed stunning! I can’t wait to visit Hawaii one day. But what a sad story about those children! I’m glad technology has helped avoid at least some tragedies like that.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 20, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      Thank you so much, Stella. I’m very glad that technology has advanced as well. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  • Reply
    July 14, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    My grandma and her sister love Hawaii! They spent a lot of time there when they were younger. I’d love to see for myself what everyone loves about it 🙂 Beautiful photos!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 20, 2016 at 5:15 pm

      I hope you get to go there soon. It really is something to see. I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but I absolutely fell in love with it. I can’t wait to get back and explore.

  • Reply
    July 14, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    I’m not personally a fan of rocky beaches but for the sake of a photo opp, man these are stunning! The topography is so rugged and how could you not appreciate that the stones are hardened lava? So sad about the children who passed away from the national disaster. I cannot believe an earthquake in ALAKSA could cause a tsunami in Hawaii. The world is just so nuts!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 20, 2016 at 5:30 pm

      I’m totally the opposite of you. I am THE WORST relaxer, so laying on the sandy beaches bores me to death. I love the climbing and stuff on the rugged beaches. It is so crazy how our earth truly is interconnected and this was a perfect example.

  • Reply
    Star Lengas
    July 15, 2016 at 7:18 am

    Such a sad story, but your photos are breathtaking! I did a college internship in Hawaii and it was such a magical time, I definitely want to re-visit!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 20, 2016 at 5:31 pm

      Well, that sounds amazing! What island were you on?

  • Reply
    Thuymi @ AdventureFaktory.com
    July 20, 2016 at 2:30 am

    Your pics are so dreamy <3 Can't wait to go! Hopefully 2017!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 20, 2016 at 5:32 pm

      Thank you so much! I hope you make it there next year – it’s totally worth it. Cheers!

  • Reply
    Onomea Trail - A Scenic Drive on The Big Island - For the Love of Wanderlust
    August 28, 2016 at 7:27 am

    […] a scenic route between Laupāhoehoe and Rainbow Falls that has a small sign, if you blink you could miss it, but don’t. Although […]

  • Reply
    August 23, 2017 at 10:36 am

    I haven’t been to Hawaii but I always enjoy to read about new places. Laupāhoehoe Point seems a very remote place of the island. It seems a wild and less touristic place in the same time. Did you have a guide or how did you find out about this place?

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