Activities

Green Sand Beach Offers Hiking and Scenic Views

April 21, 2015, 4:21 PM HST
* Updated April 22, 1:40 PM
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If you’re looking for a unique Big Island destination to visit, try Green Sand Beach a.k.a. Papakōlea Beach.

Located near South Point in the Ka‘u region of the Big Island, it’s one of only a few green sanded beaches in the world.  The shoreline is enclosed by an ancient volcanic cinder cone that is now collapsing.  Its unique landscape, combined with olivine sand and pristine blue waters make it a beautiful destination for a day visit.

Getting to this beach requires some effort.  The pavement ends at a parking lot for incoming visitors.  If you enjoy hiking, the winding dusty road leading up to the hidden bay will be a welcome journey of expansive landscapes and ocean views.  It stretches 2.5 miles each way, with open, unshaded thoroughfares that beg the use of sun-wear and sunscreen. Bring plenty of water.

Though the road is accessible by four-wheel drive, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands’ official policy prohibits vehicular traffic to the beach.  So it’s best to stay on foot.

Despite the beach’s remote location, it’s not always a solitary getaway.  In recent years, Green Sand Beach has been put on the map, literally and figuratively speaking, by travel and destination websites.   Its rising popularity makes it more accessible, with vendors offering snacks and drinks at the parking lot before the journey in.  Many more visitors are now frequenting the area than in previous years.

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All in all, it’s still a beautiful destination, and offers a great hike for visitors who want to see a different part of the island and the unique landform that Green Sand Beach has to offer.

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Directions: Drive to the south side of the Island on Highway 11 (from either Hilo or Kona side).  Between mile markers 69 and 70, turn south onto South Point Road and continue for about 13 miles.  You’ll see signs prompting you toward Green Sand Beach, and eventually reach the parking area where you can walk down to the beginning of the dusty road leading to the beach.  Your smart phone’s navigation tool can also give you directions by typing in “Green Sand Beach.” 

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