Visiting Hawaii’s Green Sand Beach
Visiting Hawaii’s Green Sand Beach
How to see the famous Papakolea Beach!

Visiting Hawaii's Green Sand beach

I learned about Papakolea Beach when I traveled to Hawaii with my family almost ten years ago.  We arrived at the trailhead too late in the day to visit the beach in daylight, so I promised myself I would return one day and get to see the green sand. There are only four beaches in the world that have green sand which makes this a bucket list destination! 

Getting There

Take the road to ‘South Point’ between mile markers 69 and 70 on Hwy 11 (between Kona and Volcano Village), and drive about 8 miles to the small harbor at the end. South Point will veer off to the right, but green sand beach parking will be on your left.

The Hike


After thoroughly researching the process of getting to the beach, we decided we would do the 2.5 mile hike along the coast. I read that it is illegal for people to drive you to the beach (not sure if that's true or not), but we highly recommend the hike for several reasons:

  • The views along the coast are stunning and hiking allows you to enjoy the scenery quietly and at your own pace.
  • If you ride to the beach in one of the trucks with a group of people, everyone has to agree on leaving at the same time. This could prevent you from being able to spend more time at the beach. (We initially thought we would just be there for 10-15 minutes, but it was so pretty and enjoyable that we stayed for quite awhile, despite not getting in the water).
  • Hiking is free! (Note: the hike is in direct sun so bring sunscreen, and be sure to wear proper footwear - you wouldn't believe how many broken flip flops we saw along the trail).

After the hike along the coast for a while, you will come up on a view of the cliff that leads to  Papakolea Beach. I was already extremely excited about seeing the green sand, so the stunning views from this part of the hike were the unexpected cherry on top! 

The Beach

The path down to the beach was steep and sandy, which made for a slippery descent. The rocks form makeshift stairs, but there was really no direct or easy way down. The path is the same regardless of whether you hike in or catch a ride, so beware that it's fairly challenging to climb down (and back up).

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All that hard work getting to the beach is SO worth it! Not only is the green sand enjoyable to look at, the beach itself is beautiful. Even though we didn't care to brave the rough and chilly water, we still spent a decent amount of time enjoying the scenery of the beach and inspecting the green sand before hiking back to our car. 

It's important to note that most of the pictures shared from this destination are heavily photoshopped to bring out the green color of the sand. As always, I make a point to only use unedited and unfiltered photos so you know exactly what to expect. The green sand is mixed with black and white sand, so it's difficult to see that green color in photos. 

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