Papakolea Green Sand Beach

MODERATE 125 reviews

Papakolea Green Sand Beach is a 5.6 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
5.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
334 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!

walking
19 minutes ago

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.

hiking
11 days ago

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.

hiking
14 days ago

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.

21 days ago

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

hiking
1 month ago

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

hiking
1 month ago

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

1 month ago

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.

hiking
2 months ago

Really pretty, hot and sunny though. But way too many people out on the trails in trucks and jeeps.

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful walk to a gorgeous green sand beach. The dirt road is grass on one side and rocky/ lava rock coast on the other. There are tide pools along the way with intense green sand and the payoff of great swimming at the larger green sand beach. Not a hike as much as a walk. Well worth the trip. The walk in took about an hour

hiking
4 months ago

Very hot and rocky hike. Landscape is a study in contrasts - wind swept grassy plain meets desert-like trails meets rugged ocean coast. Beach is at the bottom of a steep cliff but there are paths to help you down and up. Sand is truly green. Amazing view.

hiking
4 months ago

On a cool & breezy day, it's an awesome hike with amazing ocean views; on a hot & sticky day, it's a bit of a dusty slog. Go early and bring lots of water!

4 months ago

This hike is actually 5.75 miles fr the parking lot before becoming a dirt road only usable by 4x4s and atvs. The area is beautiful but in all honesty the sand doesn’t even look green. I followed the advice in a previous review and found sand that looked greener about a mile from the beach near the ocean. It wasn’t the hike I had hoped for but we made the best of it. It was really busy and crowded.

5 months ago

Loved it a must see!

hiking
5 months ago

A nice, relatively easy hike. Deceptively hot, given how windy it is. The green sand beach and bay are beautiful and it’s a great spot to swim. Pretty heavily trafficked, including by cars (which are supposed to be banned).

5 months ago

Very cool hike. The route itself is consistent with a great view. The destination is definitely worth it. Amazing water color.

hiking
5 months ago

Coast line trail that is more nature walk than hike. That is, until the end. There are no doubts when you arrive at the beach. There are a couple of picnic benches at the top and some wood stairs down. We'd recommend bringing a snack and some swim trunks to enjoy the beach

5 months ago

Bring lots of water, no shade.

6 months ago

It was a great hike when raining because it wasn't too hot!

hiking
7 months 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.

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.

9 months ago

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

hiking
9 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
10 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).

walking
11 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.

walking
11 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.

hiking
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

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!

hiking
Saturday, April 08, 2017

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
Saturday, March 25, 2017

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.

hiking
Wednesday, March 08, 2017

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
Sunday, January 15, 2017

It's actually a really fun walk, the off-roading paths are crazy. It's hot AF tho so bring something for shade, umbrella, sarong, something! And lots of water. Just Keep the shoreline in sight and you'll get to the beach.

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