Papakolea Green Sand Beach

Phone (808) 961-8311
4.5 stars from 10 reviews
Address South Point Rd, Naalehu, HI 96772
One of only four green sand beaches in the world.

• Sand Type: Green • Parking: Street only

Full Description
Papakolea Green Sand Beach is made of the mineral Olivine, which is found in the eroding cinder cone that was created by an eruption of Mauna Loa in ancient times.

The hike to the beach is about five miles each way through lava fields. It is a good idea to wear sturdy shoes. It can take 2 to 3 hours to make it to the beach. Plan ahead so you have enough time to make it back to your car before dark. There are no lights or facilities here.

The path for vehicles is brutal even for 4 wheel drive vehicles so you definitely do not want to take a rental vehicle down to the beach. But if walking isn't an option there may be a local trying to make a few dollars by shuttling people to and from the beach. Do this only at your own risk because these shuttle services are certainly not legal or insured.

If you do swim here stay close to shore, there are no lifeguards here. Also, be sure to resist the temptation to take the special, green sand from this beach as a souvenir. For more on that be sure to read Lava Rock & Sand Souvenirs.

sabrina r
Joined: Mar 2016
Reviews: 13
Likes Received: 0
This beach is worth the hike! Be prepared for a long walk to the beach. It’s a tough one. Do not walk along the coast, that will lengthen the hike. I would suggest walking along the dirt ‘road’ that the locals use to transport tourists there. Getting down to the beach isn’t as scary as it appears when you first look at the beach. There is a wooden ladder will take you down a bit, then you can easily walk the rest of the way. Don’t turn back without getting to the water (we almost did as it appeared a little risky to do with a 9 & 11 year old). It’s not at all.
Mitchell L
Joined: Jan 2018
Reviews: 11
Likes Received: 3
Very cool beach and amazing to see. It is green but not quite as green as I expected. Still it was a really fun adventure getting here and hanging out for a bit.
Joined: Apr 2016
Reviews: 237
Likes Received: 33
We stopped here on our discovery of the island tour on this year's family vacation. Very beautiful beach and relaxing. One of the many beautiful beaches on the Big Island. We were there in the middle of the week and in the afternoon and believe it or not it was busy! However still enough room for us.
Joined: Sep 2016
Reviews: 13
Likes Received: 0
A must see on the big island. There are locals that will drive you to the beach and wait for you for about $15 per person. And that was much better than hiking in the heat.
Reimina K
Joined: Apr 2016
Reviews: 4
Likes Received: 2
We hiked to see the Green Sands Beach. There are locals who are willing to drive you to and from, for a charge. The hike was gorgeous, and the beach was phenomenal. It's not handicapped accessible at all because you have to climb down a cliff to reach the beach. Be careful, but it's so worth it!
Joined: Sep 2013
Reviews: 168
Likes Received: 4
It’s a beautiful beach. However, I expected the color of the sand to be greener than it actually is. The color is more army green than normal green we think of. The texture was very fine and soft. There are no trees or plants. We paid a local family $10/person to give us a ride to the beach. It was a very bumpy and dusty ride sitting on the open truck bed. Our clothes, hats, and bags got dirty from the dust. Once we were dropped off at the top of the hill, the walk down to the beach is a little sketchy. We carefully walked down to the beach. There were a lot of people considering how difficult it was to get there. The water was on the rough side but there were some body surfers. We couldn’t spend a lot of time at the beach because the truck we rode in was leaving with everyone they brought over. Next time, we would have to negotiate to get picked up later.
Tom T
Joined: Sep 2013
Reviews: 579
Likes Received: 33
It's been on my bucket list to visit Green Sands beach since it's so unique. There are only 3 other green sand beaches in the world, and it was on my must-see list while I was on the Big Island.

We rented a 4 wheel drive vehicle with the intention of making the ride down the bumpy road ourselves. It's a long drive to Ka Lae (South Point), but the drive is really nice. When we arrived at the end of the paved road, many cars were parked in the dirt lot. A local told me that our vehicle didn't have the clearance to make it down the road and we'd get ourselves stuck. He then said for $15 / person he'd drive us down in his 4-wheel drive truck. At first, I thought it was a scam to get us to pay since we didn't know if it was true or not. After negotiating, he agreed to pack 8 of us into the vehicle for $10 / person.

As we headed down the road, I realized he was right. The road was far too rough for our rented vehicle. A jeep would have made it, but not our comfortable Nissan. So we sat in the back of the big truck and bounced our way down to the beach, which took all of a half-hour to get there.

Green Sands is a beautiful cove protected beach with olivine colored sand. It's not really green, but it's unlike any sand I've ever seen. The beach is picturesque and unfortunately had dozens of people visiting midday when we arrived. Some people were swimming and body surfing in the waves, while others just kicked around the sand and took pictures.

I felt rushed since the driver was waiting for us.

My advice for visiting Green Sands Beach is:
1. If you're brave enough to make the drive, rent a Jeep with good clearance (make sure your rental company allows it)
2. Go early to avoid the crowds.
3. If you're getting a ride down, negotiate your rate. The more people you team up, the better the rate you can barter.
4. If you want to make a day of it, park in the lot and make the hike. Be sure to take all valuables with you.
5. However, you decide to get down to the beach, allow yourself time to take it in and enjoy it.

Green Sands is a rare treasure in Hawaii that takes an effort to visit, but well worth it.
Heather M
Joined: Mar 2016
Reviews: 57
Likes Received: 8
Such an interesting place! There are two ways to get there. You can either hike to the beach (which is about a 6-mile round trip trek with NO shade!) or you can pay the locals who park themselves at the end of the road for their "taxi" service. This is basically a 4wd vehicle/truck that you will stand or sit in the back of (with others) and they will drive you to the beach, wait for you to hang out and take pictures, and then take you back. We've always been short on time during our visits so we've never made the hike. Paying the "taxi fare" has always been worth the money for us.
Teresa M
Joined: Mar 2016
Reviews: 6
Likes Received: 0
This is a must see. This place is amazing. Since there are only 4 in the world it is certainly on our list of things we take our visitors to see. It is spectacular!
rachel m
Joined: Aug 2014
Reviews: 229
Likes Received: 19
Green Sands beach is beautiful! The drive in was a bit rough. I would not want to walk in, but I saw a few people doing it as we passed by. Once you get there it is worth it. Seeing a green sand beach is a great memory I will have forever. You do have to go down a steep cliff to get to the beach, luckily it is much easier now than the last time I was here (which was 15+ years ago). It is still steep but the rocks have been walked on so much that they have kind of formed an easier pathway. It is very windy here and the ocean is very unpredictable and can be dangerous. So use caution and common sense and you will have a great time.
More Top Rated Big Island Places