Papakolea Green Sand Beach

MODERATE 55 reviews

Papakolea Green Sand Beach is a 4.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Naalehu, Hawaii that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
4.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
400 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

off road driving

walking

beach

views

wildlife

rocky

One of the only true Green Sand Beaches in the world! This is a must see. The hike is easy enough, just bring sunblock and water, there are no facilities nearby. Located in a bay cut by the ocean into a side of Puu Mahana, the green sand is created by a common silicate deposit of Big Island lava called Olivine. You can hitch a ride from the parking area, but why miss the raging ocean waves uninterrupted from Antarctica?! Walk the rough rocky terrain and enjoy the sights and sounds!

hiking
1 day ago

A bit disappointed to see the Green sand beach is no longer green but if you really want to see real Green sand, hike to this beach and stay close to the water. Halfway through, you see real Green sand. You can stop and just sit around here if that's what your goal is. if you don't believe me, hike to the end and come back and you will prove me right. I am posting the photos from my hike. The photos are from halfway to the Green sand beach.

hiking
9 days ago

hiking
10 days ago

hiking
10 days ago

hiking
18 days ago

The Essentials: Easy hike, a little longer than expected, hot, bring lots of water, fun payoff but probably not quite as awesome as you expected

Details: Upon arrival, an enterprising 9-year-old stopped our car in the parking lot and asked, "You need a ride or hiking to Green Sand?" We told him our plan to hike. He'd perfected a feigned surprise response, "Hiking it? 6 miles round trip? Wow. It's hot out there."

Yes, he was trying to sell us on a rocky pick-up ride down to the beach, but he wasn't exactly wrong. It's a hot hike on dusty and rocky trails with non-stop sun exposure the entire way. A beautiful view of the ocean keeps things interesting though. Bring sunscreen and maybe don't backpack shirtless to "improve your tan" if you're a pale gent from the midwest (learned the hard way).

It might work best to undersell yourself on the beach. If you're expecting to see sand the color of well-irrigated grass, you're going to be disappointed. It mostly looks like typical sand but with a greenish tint. It's still a pretty cool and unique phenomenon, but only if you hike over that ridge knowing beforehand that you're not going to be looking down on a sea of forest green. Might work best if you don't hike for the green sand alone, but rather for the cool and isolated cove. It's a pretty neat out-of-the-way place.

The hike back seems to go a little quicker, since you're usually refreshed from the ocean and you know how long that mostly flat & dusty path is going to lead before you reach the parking lot. You'll probably run into a handful of folks heading out who'll be wondering exactly how much further they need to go before they hit paydirt.

Last thing: That sand's a little bit different in terms of touch and stick as well. Seemed a little bit tougher than normal to remove from our feet before putting our hiking shoes back on. We used our socks to whip it off our feet but maybe a cloth or rag could be helpful (or beach towels if you're coming really prepared).

23 days ago

1 month ago

walking
1 month ago

If you have the time, definitely hike to the Green Sand Beach instead of taking a shuttle. We were nervous at first because the way isn't really marked, but we knew to walk down to the ocean and head east, so we followed tire tracks heading in that direction and stayed along the coast. Took us about 40 minutes to walk out there. On the way back, we felt a little more confident, so we cut inland a little bit. There's some uneven footing and lots of dust, but we really enjoyed this quick hike and the destination is so beautiful.

walking
1 month ago

If you have the time, definitely hike to the Green Sand Beach instead of taking a shuttle. We were nervous at first because the way isn't really marked, but we knew to walk down to the ocean and head east, so we followed tire tracks heading in that direction and stayed along the coast. Took us about 40 minutes to walk out there. On the way back, we felt a little more confident, so we cut inland a little bit. There's some uneven footing and lots of dust, but we really enjoyed this quick hike and the destination is so beautiful.

hiking
2 months ago

Easy hike, but super hot when it's sunny. Pack lots of water. Trail will get dusty with wind and vehicles driving by. Beach is well worth it!

2 months ago

2 months ago

2 months ago

2 months ago

3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

Not overly difficult, it's basically a scenic walk along the coastline with a little bit of uneven footing. It is very hot though, so water is a must. But all that effort is worth it because you can reward yourself with a nice dip in the ocean once you finally reach the Green Sand Beach. I also highly recommend checking out the cliff jumping at South Point since it is so close by. For more on my adventure here, check out my blog post:

https://www.thehikinghi.com/single-post/2016/12/19/Papakolea-Green-Sand-Beach-and-Cliff-Jumping-at-South-Point-The-Big-Island

backpacking
3 months ago

Great short hike. About 5.5 miles total. The beach is very cool. The hike is very windy and there is a lot of dust blowing in your face. Consider that when you pack your water - take plenty. The beach is nice to swim at but be careful of the rip current. I am an experienced swimmer and would say the rip was moderate on the day I went. Be cautious allowing your small kids to get in too deep. Take towels and extra socks with you. The sand really is a dark green/brown color. Very cool. At the trail head you can park and hike or take a "shuttle" which is gonna be a beat up old pickup or something like that. No idea what it costs. You're probably here on vacation and don't have room to pack hiking boots. If you can, definitely bring some. The trail isn't really much of a trail. They are more dirt vehicular roads/trails than hiking trails. There are a bunch of loose lava rocks lying around so a stiff sole on a hiking boot would be ideal. Tennis/running shoes were sufficient for me. Don't attempt this hike on flip flops.

4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

This hike was highly recommended to me. I did it on a cloudy day and was thankful for that. You would need a lot of water on a sunny hot day. When I got to the beach it was a nice site but nothing spectacular as I was expecting. The hike is easy along the ocean, easy to find as long as you keep the ocean on your right, mostly fit with rolling hills. Keep your expectations in check so you are not disappointed when you reach the beach. All in all a decent hike

hiking
6 months ago