Papakolea Green Sand Beach

MODERATE 69 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
3 hours ago

hiking
3 days ago

hiking
3 days ago

hiking
9 days ago

hiking
11 days ago

Although the destination is indeed breathtaking, the hike to and from just flat out isn’t. It’s merely hot, dusty, and littered with garbage that has either washed up on shore or is left by people making their way to the green sand beach. For these reasons, the hike is far from pleasurable and becomes quite the chore on the way back to the parking lot.

Avoid the lackluster hike by enlisting the help of a local and their 4x4. Or just drive it yourself in your rental Jeep (no signage as far as I could see citing any regulation preventing you from doing just that). Either way, save the energy for another more beautiful hike or for swimming at the green sand beach.

If you still decide to hoof it, I’d suggest AT LEAST 4L water per person on the typical 85-90 degree F day. Sunscreen is an absolute must-have, as there is ZERO shade.

hiking
26 days ago

hiking
28 days ago

hiking
30 days ago

Beautiful views and unique coloring of the sand. We were short on time so took the "shuttle." This was a fun experience riding in the back of the pickup truck. Takes you back to the earlier years before seatbelt laws.

1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

2 months ago

*LOVED* the map feature on here!!!!
Thank you!

hiking
2 months 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
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months 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).

3 months ago

4 months ago

walking
4 months 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.