Known as Green Sand Beach or even Pu'u o Mahana, Papakolea Beach, is well deserving of its name. The olive-like color of the sand comes from the presence of a greenish, semi-precious stone named, appropriately enough, olivine. The erosive force of the ocean washing into the base of Pu'u o Mahana cinder cone has extracted olivines out of the cinder. These are deposited on the sand, giving the sand a green tint.

This secluded, and we do mean secluded, sand beach is located near Ka Lae (South Point) in the Ka'u district of Hawaii. The hike is a rugged 2-mile dusty labyrinth of ruts that eventually lead to the beach. Getting down to the beach is an entirely different issue. Shaped like a giant bowl, you have to climb down the side of the "bowl" to reach the beach. Braving the rugged road down, you might be tempted to ask yourself if it's really worth the trip. It's not easy to get to, but where else can you see a Green Sand beach?

Do not swim here as the waters are very turbulent.

Update: We wanted to make note that DHHL’s official policy is no vehicular traffic to Papakōlea. They do not issue vehicle permits for $25 or any amount and they do not give out a key. The trek out to Papakōlea and Mahana Bay can only be achieved by foot and should be considered a “back country” trip for serious hikers only.

You do not need a permit to hike there but you are supposed to call DHHL to let them know you will be going there. They just like to be informed of who is on their property and the hike is absolutely free. You can contact DHHL at:

160 Baker Ave.
Hilo 96720
Phone: 808-974-4250

We should also note that anyone trying to charge you for parking is running a scam. Rather than get confrontational, just leave if anyone's attempting to charge for parking.

Hawaii Green Sand Beach Map

Green Sand Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii

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