Trekking to a Rare Green Sand Beach in Hawaii

Papakōlea Green Sand Beach is a rare wonder of nature, but seeing it is not the most wondrous experience on the south of the Big Island of Hawaii.

Hot Take: Bucket list doers will be rewarded, but it really is a hassle for what it is (3.5 stars)

Pro Tip: Don’t be a hero, pay the $15 RT each to take the ride…try to sit in the cab and you can learn a lot from the driver. If you do decide to hike to the beach don’t go in the middle of the day, it is VERY exposed/rugged out there.

 This was the door lock - and if you're wondering if the door flew open when it was not hitched then you are correct.

This was the door lock - and if you're wondering if the door flew open when it was not hitched then you are correct.

Bouncing through the dusty washout ravines in a truck from the last millennium, Kelly and I began to wonder what had we gotten ourselves into. Bang goes a rock. Clank goes the truck’s weakened frame. Whomp is the sound we make when we bounce off the inside of the cabin of the truck. This goes on for almost 20 minutes (and to think, we paid $15 extra each for this experience instead of the 1.5 hour hike). One thing is certain, the path to see one of only four green sand beaches in the world is an adventure!

Arriving jarred, but intact, we marvel at a truly unique masterpiece of nature (in a very dramatic setting). While this beach has a fine texture and feels to the touch like most others, the olive green color is caused by green crystals (olivines) that compose about 50% of the grains of ‘sand’.

 The view of the Green Sand Beach from the top of the steep ridge.

Before we got to the beach itself, we got to scramble down a 100 ft cliff (and here we were thinking that our adventures had ended with the truck ride). However, don’t forget to take a pause before the descent to take in the scenery…it really is something spectacular.

 A close up of the sand shows that it does have a greenish olivine color.

A close up of the sand shows that it does have a greenish olivine color.

The water of the bay is very inviting and makes for one of the best protected bay swims that we had while on the Big Island. While sunset at the beach itself is not ideal due to the orientation of the steep sides of the hills surrounding the bay, the drive back while washed in the setting sun was pure magic.

 A truely magnificent sunset at we left Green Sand Beach.

Kelly really loved the whole experience; while Matt thought it was just okay (and to be skipped in favor of South Point and Punalu'u Black Sand Beach if you are tight on time).