The green sand beach in Hawaii or Papakōlea is a must-visit destination in a lifetime with rare geology. This is among one of the best four green sand beaches in the world. Papakōlea is one of the two green sand beaches in the United States and one of the top attractions in the Ka’u district.

So, let’s have a tour of information about the green sand beach in Hawaii or officially called Papakōlea.

History and Facts

Sculpted in a 49,000 years old cinder cone, Papakōlea belongs after the eruption of the Mauna Loa volcano that contains the green crystals (olivines), which gives the name. The beach itself has three names.

  • Papakōlea Beach- after the kolea bird often witnessed behind the beach. Papakōlea also translates to ‘plover flats.’
  • Mahana Beach- after the cinder cone accountable the green or olive color of the beach.
  • Green Sand beach- the most recent one.

The cinder cone is luxurious in olivines, a silicated mineral containing iron and magnesium. Olivines are also known as peridots when gem-quality and locally known as ‘Hawaiin Diamonds’. Olivine is a regular mineral component of Hawaiian lavas, which forms as magma cools down. Therefore, the formation of the green color of the sand is due to the olivine crystals, separated from the eroding headland action of the sea. However, the green crystals are combined with black (lava) and white (corals or shells)sand. Thus, some portions of the sand on the beach are more greener than usual.

Location and Directions to Green Sand Beach

Green sand beach in Hawaii

Green sand beach in Hawaii

Located in the Kau district of the Big Island, north of Ka Lae, the atmosphere is seemingly rural and remote. However, getting to The Green Sand Beach is not that easy, but it is totally worth traveling!

First, take the route to South Point between mile markers 69 and 70 on Highway 11. Then drive to the parking lot on the left-hand side towards the end of a small harbor. Now you are about to take the hike! Walk from the parking to the ocean and take your way to the left. Go along this way until you get above the cliffs of the Green Sand beach. Climb down, watching your step, along the lava cliff on the west of the bay.

Must Read

It is strictly illegal to drive all the way to Papakōlea. The road extending from the parking lot is highly fragile and has many historically significant places. Therefore, driving a vehicle along this road can cause damage and cause scars to the landscape. The owner of the land (DDHL) does not allow commercial vehicles to the beach. All the car rental companies, too, prohibit you from taking your rental car along the road. So, it is highly advisable to dodge the people who offer you rides from the public parking lot as they also do it illegally.

Things to Remember When Visiting Papakōlea

  • Choose a weekday to visit Green Sand Beach to avoid larger crowds and choose during the daytime. 
  • Bring plenty of water and sunscreen as the place can be very windy and sunny with no shelter all the way. Also, consider bringing a hat/or a beach umbrella for cover.
  • Leave no trash behind, and DO NOT take sand home from the beach. 
  • Swimming is okay for pros on the bay, but surfing is not at all encouraged as the surf can get rough.
  • Bring food as there aren’t any facilities for food and the beach is NOT lifeguarded. Therefore, safety is your own responsibility.
  • No bathroom or cell phone service is available.
  • Wear good shoes as the paths can be of different kinds of terrain.

Aloha! Are you ready to have this adventurous journey to Green Sand Beach in Hawaii?