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Papakolea Hike (Green Sand Beach) – Big Island

Papakolea on the Big Island of Hawaii is unique in the fact that it is a couple of different activities balled up into one. Papakolea has a nice hike, which is 5.3 miles long round trip, but half the point of the hike is to reach the unique and beautiful green sand beach that is at the end of the Papakolea Hiking Trail.

What to Expect

There is not a lot of elevation change during the hike, which is around 2.6 miles each way. Elevation change only reaches around 100 feet. However, you can expect a hot, humid and windy hike. Most of the time you will find that the hike is just really hot. However, the payoff at the end is of course Papakolea Green Sand Beach. If you are planning on swimming at the beach, then make sure you pack the necessary beach gear so you will be all set once you make it into the beach area.

Green Sand Beach

The green sand beach itself is quite a site to behold. The sand at Papakolea Beach is green because of a common silicate deposit of Big Island lava called olivine. This deposit causes the unique green sand color and Papakolea Beach is one of only a few beaches in the world that feature this green sand look.


You can definitely swim on the green sand beach, however, you will want to be careful due to the fact that this area is located on the South Shore, which is notorious for strong surf and currents. Never swim if you are alone, if something happens you will not have anyone to help you.

The view hiking down to the beach is gorgeous. It is possible to drive a four wheel drive to an area that is suitable for viewing of the Green Sand Beach, however, the hike itself along the ridge and coastline is much better, as it gives you an opportunity to see all the beauty and wonder around the Papakolea area.

Overall the area is really special and unique. You will definitely not see a green sand beach like this anywhere else. The Papakolea Hike and Green Sand Beach is something that all adventurers need to experience. Not only is their tremendous beauty in the land around you, but you get to see one of the truly amazing wonders of the world.

Don’t pass up an opportunity to hike the Papakolea Trail that leads into Green Sand Beach.

Hawaii Tourism