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Green Sand (Papakolea Beach)

Big Island, Hawaii




Beach lodging


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Abbey Vacation Rentals

80 77-6425 Kuakini Hwy, C2

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96740


"Premium Vacation Rentals in Kona, Waikoloa Beach, Mauna Lani, and Mauna Kea on Hawaii's Big Island."

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Beach dining and restaurants


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Huggo's Restaurant

75-5828 Kahakai Road
Kailua Kona, HI 96740-5308
(808) 329-1493


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Beach activities and services  

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Polynesian Adventure Tours

73-4818 Kanalani Street

Kailua Kona, HI

(808) 329-8008


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A Heavenly Hawaiian Wedding




Trust your most important day to A Heavenly Hawaiian Wedding. We specialize in the finest Hawaiian weddings.

Beach Details

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Map of location  Beach website  Beach weather



Beach parking and beach access

It is surrounded by pasturelands and is only accessible on foot or by using a vehicle equipped with four-wheel drive.  To actually reach the beach, an additional climb down the cinder cone is required. Papakolea is located at the base of Pu'u O Mahana, an old littoral cone in a wild, undeveloped terrain. Access involves a three-mile (4.8 km) hike through lava fields.


Beach safety concerns

Strong currents.


Swimming; Diving; Body-boarding; Fishing.


Beach fun facts

This is one of only two green sand beaches in the United States, the other being in Guam.


The Scoop: Beach articles and information

In the words of Dr. Beach

Green Sand Beach is one of the most interesting beaches in the world and the southernmost beach in the United States. The sand is volcanic glass that is tinted green by the presence of olivine grains. Individual nuggets of olivine can be picked up by the handfuls on the beach or eroding sea cliffs. While the grains are usually too small to be valued as a gemstone, the rare green sand is prized by collectors. I am a member of two sand collectors societies which have worldwide membership, and a sample from Green Sand Beach is a biggie in any collection.

Green Sand Beach is located in a desolate part of the coast near the Kaulana boat ramp; there are no facilities, food or water available. You must drive through wind-swept grassy plains to the end of the road; then take an invigorating, two-and-a-half-mile walk along the sea cliffs until you reach the ocean-breached volcanic cone that provides the source material and pocket for the accumulation of the volcanic sand beach. To reach the beach itself, carefully climb down the low sea cliff on the south face where the footing is sure. Some people attempt to climb down the crumbling cliffs backing the beach itself, but this route is not safe. On calm days, a quick dip into the sea is very refreshing. The water is clean and clear, but the dark sand on the underwater beach makes it more foreboding and less appealing to most people for swimming. On the return journey to your car, notice the piles of stone and other fortifications that were constructed by early Hawaiians on the cliff top. These waters contain some of Hawaii's best yellowfin tuna, which is the finest fish in the sea for sashimi. From these towering cliffs, schools of these large fish, growing to over 300 pounds, can sometimes be spotted.




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