Explore Big Island Hike - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Big Island Hike Map

This is not an all day hike unless you make it one. We were the first to arrive at the beach early in the morning and left by 10ish. If you go any later (earlier’s better) take a hat as there is NO shade. Bring water and sunblock too. Sand will get in your eyes (windy).

The hike is 5 or 6 lanes of heavily eroded sandstone- easily 6ft in some parts- spread all along the area. I can’t recommend driving or paying the locals to drive you. The locals cars were beat up/missing bumpers, which along with their driving demonstrates their own lack of care (I take a dirt road to my house and the paid drivers did not demonstrate off roading knowledge as we witnessed from our walk). The hike itself is pretty flat.

If taking the “lane” closest to the ocean you’ll see heaps of trash blown in by storms. Nets, laundry baskets, buckets, tires, styrofoam, rope, etc. We planned to fill a bucket with trash on our way out but didn’t realize the path we took went inland instead of to the beach.

The green sand beach itself is very rare. The water is warm. Watch the waves first to get an idea of how they work and when you’re comfortable go in. The waves were large for us and honestly scary so we stayed where we could touch. The current wasn’t strong so it was a nice experience. Somebody took a floaty and got wrecked (they were at the break).

Walk back wet so it cools you; the sun will dry you anyway. I dressed for bugs, which wasn’t necessary. Also, you’ll probably get tan lines from your tank top/shorts so keep that in mind.

I really did enjoy this beach. The lack of respect from visitors is what lowered my rating.

If you go please be considerate to the environment and acknowledge it’s condition.


The trail is closed

Amazing. looks like a popular access point for swimming at the base of the falls. Lots of locals at the bridge where everyone parked. you can hike past where the swimming hole is which takes you up to the falls you see from the bridge. if you take overgrown trails to the right off the main path you'll find a smaller set of falls. lovely hike, lots of careful climbing. I could see how someone can surprise you on this trail. A local hiker covered in tribal tats and carrying a backpack crossed paths with me while sitting at the edge of a tidepool. Was a Friendly type.

When I read the review that you’ll get wet I assumed they meant walk through a stream, the water’s actually dripping from the roots in the ceiling. Reviews also say headlamps are necessary and they’re definitely not for the right cave (phone works) but could be nice for the left cave. We were fine anyways. Close toed shoes definitely necessary. My friend in vans slipped (not bad/doable) and I was fine in my timberlands.

The right cave is easy and more friendly because it’s short and just stops.

The left cave requires some low stances (watch your head) and traversing rocks. It also opens up to a huge tube a few times. There are reassuring orange arrows/dots depicting the way out (same way in). At the end of the tube there are a few holes which you physically could climb out of but I do not recommend. For one, where are you, two is that a maintained trail, three the signs specifically say exit through the entrance. So go back out through the cave.

Also be aware the weather may change by the time you’re out of the cave. Sunny for us when we went in and pouring when we came out. Car’s not far from the entrance so it was okay.

Great walk/hike so much to see and smell. It was a little overcast the day we went but still so amazing.

23 days ago

Enjoyable trail to visit and easily accessible -

Cool if you've never seen a lava tube before.

off road driving
1 month ago

My husband and I took our rental Jeep out to the green sand beach. It was the last day of our honeymoon and I have to say it was my favorite part of the trip! We didn’t hike the trail but we highly recommend you get a vehicle with 4WD and drive out there. Beware - it’s a BUMPY ride! But so worth it. The whole drive is along the coastline and is absolutely gorgeous. When you get to the beach itself you will be amazed. There are beautiful cliffs and you can go in the very warm water. Give yourself at least a half day so you have time to get there and back and to really enjoy the beach and go in the water. Honestly so beautiful and a spectacular memory that I will hold near and dear to me!

we listened to advice and went first thing in the morning. best time by far. even on the way back at 1030am it was starting to get too hot. it was a fun trek and a great beach to see. going at 8am kept tourists and heat down which made it a great hike. sad to see so much plastic that's come from the ocean, but still a must do.

It was windy enough to stay cool but not so windy as to throw sand at you...worth the walk out especially if you meet some new people to walk with.

Botanical garden trail, makes you feel like you are in a completely different world. Waterfalls, ocean views and tons of bright, colorful flowers. Beautiful!

1 month ago

I can not recommend this hike. It is overrun with tourists and off-roaders who want to see Papakolea, or the green sand beach. This area suffers from neglect and exploitation. There are dozens of dusty roads rutted as deeply as six feet. Locals will drive you to the beach, about 3 miles away, in battered pickups for $20. The degradation of the terrain is depressing. The shoreline is glorious, but along many beaches heaps of plastic debris has piled up. It’s a sad site. The beach itself is beautiful and a unique site to behold. Thus the attraction.
If you go, go early to beat the crowds. It can be a hot, dry, dusty, and windy hike, so prepare accordingly. Leave the green sand behind.

Awesome petroglyphs. Worth doing

HOT. Almost worth paying to have a jeep take you out there..

If you have a 4 wheel drive DRIVE!!! The 2 miles to get to the green sand beach are not much to look at. Better to drive there and enjoy the green sand. Also driving is fun as hell. Great beach to swim and let the waves throw you around. A bit dangerous.

Hiked this trail on my 28th birthday just a few days before we got married in Hawaii!

This is a great hike to take on early in the day, to beat the heat and the crowds! We arrived at the parking lot fairly early, maybe 8am? I don't quite remember now. There will be people offering to drive you out, if you are not fit enough to do this hike, I guess you could take them up on the ride, but it has been eroding the area and they do not want people driving out there. Better to prepare and bring water, a hat and some snacks and walk the trail and let this area remain beautiful.

The hike is completely exposed, but we had a strong wind on the way out. Great views of the ocean and if you wander off the trail to the ocean along the way, there are some areas with sand much greener than at the actual beach! (All of my photos of green sand were from these areas!) We had a great time exploring the area and taking photos on the way back, but hiked straight to the beach on the way in to avoid crowds. Getting there early really pays off, there was no one on the beach when we reached it and were able to snap a few photos from above of it completely empty before another couple made it there. There were some local kids who came running down the steep hill at break neck speeds and ran straight into the ocean which was fun to watch, but be careful with the decent as it is the one steep and challenging part of reaching this beach. We wore swim suits, but decided not to swim and instead just took some photos and explored the gorgeous, but tiny beach. A peaceful area to relax when there are not many people, but it starts to fill up fast. We passed a ton of people headed in on our way out. The hike is very hot with no shade on the way out, we did not have a breeze on the way back. Wear sunscreen, a hat and bring water! There are no restrooms nearby.

Overall: WORTH IT! You can not skip this one if you are visiting!

The hike is easy, mostly rolling hills and some scrambling over rocks, but there are many trail options that eventually lead to the same destination. If it’s windy, you’re in luck, as there is no shade to shelter from the sun. But the destination, while small, is beautiful. It is a fairy easy climb down the cliff (don’t worry, this is a fairly touristy destination—no rock climbing experience required). The water is not really appropriate for swimming as the waves are super harsh and choppy—definitely not good for snorkeling—but it’s enjoyable to relax on the green sand and take in the natural beauty of this hidden little gem.

Beautiful and interesting, description is spot on. Fun

A very long, hot and windy walk but I feel definitely worth it. Once we figured out the way down the cliff at the end I spent a lot of time taking tons of photographs and exploring the small beach and rock formations. Be careful in the sun if you have fair skin.

My legs were still recovering from the Waipi'o Valley hike a few days before, so given the heat and uneven terrain, I did not find this hike to be very enjoyable. We got there as the tide was coming in, so we weren't able to spend a lot of time on the beach. The surf was crazy! We actually ended up wimping out and taking the shuttle service back down - which I found to be like being on an amusement park ride, standing up, and without being strapped in. The beach was breathtaking, so I'm glad we did it.

The trail is hard to see and is across the street on the far side of the bridge. It's quite bushy and you can find you way ok. It skirts the river and one misstep could put you in the drink.

Plenty of parking and a few portable toilets at the parking lot. People offer 4x4 shuttle service to the beach but we opted to walk along the road. We passed some great views of the water and there were a few other people walking to the beach. The green sand is more of a green tint. I actually found the rock formation over the cove and the water’s color to be more impressive than the green sand. It was warm and windy along the walk, which was relatively flat and straight-forward.

We did a guided hike through Kalapana cultural tours, a 10 mile treacherous hike. Going up was fairly easy , it's not a marked trail so I wouldn't recommend doing on your own. There are no mile markers or anything to point where the lava is flowing except for the map from the satellite. Coming down in the dark on steep slippery surfaces in the rain was really hard. Fell a few times and wearing jeans( recommended by the tour) didn't get any blisters. Our guides were really helpful, patiently guided our slowest hikers too, carried ponchos, gloves and extra headlights and a firstaid kit. There's no way we would have made it back in one piece if not for them. This is truly a lifetime experience but definitely go prepared with lots of water and snacks and whole lot of fitness and determination.

Hot and dry, bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and a swim suit to enjoy the best reward at the end!

Not to be missed on a trip to the park. A major stop for the tour busses so if you can go earlier. It isn’t lit before 10 am so bring a light, even the light on your phone will work. Follow the tube through to the other side and the trail will loop back.

Many trails to take to the green sands beach. Its a fun adventure with beautiful views of the ocean. Terrain is rocky and may be hard for young children / older people. It’s very open, so it’s incredibly windy the whole time. When you get to the beach, you climb down the face of it which is easy for the most part just watch your step! The water was lovely and the waves were too rough so it’s easy to swim/ boogie board. It gets deep quickly though. It is hard to hangout there because it’s so windy you end up just getting whipped by the sand. Try to take cover on the right side by the rocks. And don’t bring your lunch! But amazing and surreal views

There are no trail markers but they're are plenty of people hiking and several vehicles shuttling people to the Green Sand Beach so you can find your way easily. Mixture of two types of paths, all carved out by previous 4-wheel drive vehicles. The path closest to the shoreline is rocky and the one furthest is sandy. If you're going to wear flip flops (several people out on the trail were

long Rocky or dusty ( depending on which road you take ) walk. Beautul ocean views all the way, wide open and windy.
The beach at the end of the trail is gorgeous and worth the walk.

Really nice walk to fascinating ancient drawings in lava.

Rumor has it there is no lava flowing for the past 10 days, per the Park ranger. Some people report having seen it on social media (Instagram #kalapana and #kalapanalavaflow) but we did a 10.5 mi, 4 hour hike to no avail. Another family starting at the same time as us, covering a different portion of the lava field also reported no active flow that they could see. Would definitely call the park before you venture, the bike company told us to climb the ridge. Assured us we would see lava. So we hiked it up. Easy to climb up, not easy to climb down in the dark. We fell and ripped clothing and cut up our legs and arms. Lava splinters hurt! Would definitely do it again, but would also ask Park Rangers next time instead of just the bike sales-people! Definitely bring lots of water, good flashlights/headlamps and a raincoat/poncho, we got poured on while returning home!

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