East Hawaii News

Hapuna Beach Recognized; Colored Beaches Not So Much

January 15, 2013, 4:40 PM HST
* Updated January 16, 9:15 AM
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The Big Island’s Hapuna Beach has been recognized by Travel + Leisure magazine has one of the world’s most family-friendly beaches.

The magazine this year decided to have its first annual Best Beaches Survey by allowing readers to pick the globe’s best sandy spots.

As it turns out, US beaches won almost all of the six categories used which included the best ocean-side locales for dramatic landscapes, seclusion and activities.

There were also categories for people-watching and wildlife viewing, although in some cases, such as Los Angeles’ Venice Beach, which came in second in the former, the lines must have been somewhat blurred (just kidding, Venetians).

Hapuna came in third in the “Best for Families” category for its “well-paved parking lots, picnic pavilions, and plenty of concession stands.”

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Seaside Beach in Florida and Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman finished first and second in that category, respectively.

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Oddly, at least from a Big Island point of view, Waianapanapa State Park on Maui and its black sand beach came in first in the list for dramatic landscapes, while the myriad of colored beaches on Hawaii Island were shut out in that category.

Green sand is evident at Papakolea, a beach near South Point. Photo by Roxanne Carter/Travel + Leisure.

Green sand is evident at Papakolea, a beach near South Point. Photo by Roxanne Carter/Travel + Leisure.

But two of those, Papakolea, the green-sand beach near South Point, and Punalu`u Beach, located further to the north, did make Travel + Leisure’s list of the World’s Strangest Beaches back in June.

That month’s edition of the magazine noted that Hawaii is “rife” with colored beaches.

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“We have black, black and green, black and red, green, and gray sand beaches in Hawaii,” Ken Hon, assistant professor of geology at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, told the magazine. “The colored beaches are almost all related to recent volcanic activity, except the white beaches, which are tied to coral reef erosion.”

Papakolea gets its color from a large concentration of crystals of olivine, a green mineral sometimes found in Hawaii’s basaltic lava, while Punalu`u’s black sand — which is prevalent on the relatively young Big Island — is derived from the lava itself.

Be sure to invite all the foraminifera you know to visit. Photo of Pink Sands Beach by Robert Harding Picture Library Ltd./Alamy/Travel + Leisure.

Be sure to invite all the foraminifera you know to visit. Photo of Pink Sands Beach by Robert Harding Picture Library Ltd./Alamy/Travel + Leisure.

But perhaps the list of colored sand here was lacking just the right hue.

Pink Sands Beach in the Bahamas – which gets its color from the red shells of single-celled animals called foraminifera mixed with white sand – made both the recent list as well as the strange beach edition back in June.

For the sake of the visitor’s bureau, hopefully the little critters will eventually decide to vacation in Hawaii.

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