Papakolea Green Sand Beach

MODERATE 115 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!

hiking
6 days 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
13 days 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

15 days 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
1 month ago

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

hiking
2 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
3 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
3 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.

4 months ago

Loved it a must see!

hiking
4 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.

5 months ago

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

hiking
6 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.

8 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
9 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
10 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
10 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
11 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!

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.

hiking
Saturday, November 05, 2016

Nice hike but very uneven. Sunscreen and water is a must as it can get quite hot. The beach itself is part of a small alcove and if you decide to go for a swim (which we did) you have to climb down if you feel adventurous ;). Not that bad really and it is nice and refreshing after a long hike. If you can't be bothered walking back, the locals can drive you back for a fee on the back of a ute/truck (now that's adventurous as the people on there were bouncing quite a bit). We did walk back though as we felt the hike wouldn't be properly completed.

hiking
Thursday, August 25, 2016

We actually started at the southernmost point by mistake, however on the way we found some beautiful light green sand in some areas. This area is pretty sunny and dry so come prepared. The beach itself is a pretty neat nook of the big island but i was disappointed by the dark green sand (almost looks like mud). Although it gets rocky at some parts it is fairly easy with no climbing required. Definitely do this hike if able and visiting.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

when i went the sand wasn't the dark green but if you pick up the sand you'll see little green rocks.its a 2 mile hike one way and many hill that go up and down.locals do offer to give you a ride for at most 20$ a person.but if you not down for the walk or to pay.if you drove a jeep or a truck I'm sure you can make it just have a look out.some drops look safe other you can't tell till your stuck definitely DEFINITELY SOMETHING YOU'LL REMEMBER

hiking
Sunday, May 15, 2016

Option to pay a local and drive you to the beach. The location is certainly worth it either way. I chose to hike it. It's flat, but pretty along the water and parts go through a lava field. Lots of off road vehicle trails to follow. I suggest sticking to the ones close to the water, it's prettier and if the wind isn't too aggressive, it's cools you down a bit. Brink a swimsuit and towel, but be careful of the currents at the beach. They are very strong.

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