Big Island Travel Guide

Big Island Sights

Papakolea Beach (Green Sands Beach)

  • Hwy. 11 Map It
  • Naalehu
  • Beach–Sight

Published 01/20/2010

Fodor's Review

Tired of the same old gold-, white-, or black-sand beach? Then how about a green-sand beach? You'll need good hiking shoes or sneakers to get to this olive-green crescent, one of the most unusual beaches on the island. It lies at the base of Puu O Mahana, at Mahana Bay, where a cinder cone formed during an early eruption of Mauna Loa. The greenish tint is caused by an accumulation of olivine crystals that form in volcanic eruptions. The dry, barren landscape is totally surreal but stunning, as aquamarine waters lap on green sand against reddish cliffs. The surf is often rough, and swimming is hazardous due to strong currents, so caution is advised. Drive down to Ka Lae (South Point); at the end of the 12-mile paved road, take the road to the left and park at the end. Don't pay anyone for parking, but you may encounter some enterprising folks willing to take you to the beach in the back of their truck for a small fee. Of course, lock your car and don't leave valuables inside. To reach

the beach, follow the 2¼-mile coastal trail, which ends in a steep and dangerous descent down the cliffside on an unimproved trail. The hike takes about two hours each way and it can get hot and windy, so bring lots of drinking water. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are no longer permitted on the trail. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude; walking.

Read More

Sight Information


Hwy. 11, Naalehu, Hawaii, 96772, USA

Map It

Published 01/20/2010


Book A Trip



  • CARS

What's Nearby

  • Restaurants
  • Sights
  • Hotels

See all sights in Big Island

Subscribe to Newsletter
Sign up for Travel Tips & News
I want emails from Fodor's Travel with travel information and promotions. I can unsubscribe any time using the unsubscribe link at the end of all emails.

Thank you for your interest!

Look our for our newsletters with travel tips and special offers.