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Go to Green Sand Beach (Papakolea Beach)

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Green Sand Beach (Papakolea Beach) Information

Green Sand Beach (Papakolea Beach) Information

Papakolea Beach is a strip of famously green sand enclosed on almost three full sides by a steep cliff. It's secluded and difficult to reach but can be an adventurous highlight of your trip on the island if you get there. That cliff, Pu'u o Mahana, is actually a formation referred to as a littoral cone, with somewhat horizontal layers of cinder rock sloping back from the beach, resembling amphitheater seating.

The erosive force of the ocean washing into its base extracts small green mineral grains of a semi-precious stone called olivine from the rock and deposits them onto the sand, resulting in the beach's renowned green tint.

There are no lifeguards or other facilities available and it's generally quite windy with open waters that can get rough. Bodysurfing can be great under the right conditions, but waves and currents can pick up quickly so keep an eye out. Before you make your way down the cliff, make sure the tide is low enough to leave lots of room for you on the sand between the rock wall and where the waves break.

This secluded beach near South Point in the Kau district of Hawaii is also sometimes called Green Sand Beach. You can reach it via a 3 mile road over lava and pastureland from ancient volcanic eruptions, then up a rugged road to the top of the cliff, and finally by climbing down a precarious trail to the water (with large lava boulders and up to 5-foot drops). A four-wheel vehicle may help with the first part of that trip, but the old road is so full of holes and jagged rocks that you might just want to factor in the exercise as part of your day trip.

Remember to consider the time it will take you to return, too, and make sure to wear good shoes - especially for the rock climbing part. Although walking around the cliff seems easier, it's actually wiser to follow the trail that starts at the edge of the cliff's overhang. And for non-rock-climbing types, the green sand and aqua water view from the top of Pu'u o Mahana might be worth the trip in itself.