All you need to know about Green Sand Beach On The Big Island, Hawaii

(Papakōlea Green Sand Beach)

Do you know there’re only 4 green sand beaches in the world? One of them is located here on the Big Island of Hawaii. If you’re visiting the Big Island, remember to check this one out. The Big Island Green Sand beach is near the southern tip of the Island, about an hour from our rainforest resort Volcano Inn.

How was the Green Sand Beach formed?

The reason why there’re only 4 green sand beaches in the world is because it takes a special, rare type of volcanic lava eruption. During the eruption, the lava brings the green olivine crystals up to the surface. When the olivine crystals interact with the cold ocean water, they shatters into tiny pieces we call sand, thus forming this extraordinary green sand beach. In addition to being surrounded by beautiful landscape, you will find warm, turquoise water where you can catch waves and enjoy swimming in this spectacular beach.

When I sat down and played with the green sand, I notice that when the sun shone on the sand, the sand was sparking. I half-jokingly told my friend that this is “green diamond”. You’ve got to see it in person to believe it.

green sand

How To Get There?

There’re three ways to get to the Green Sand Beach:

1) The hard but fun way: Most people choose to hike out to the Green Sand Beach from the parking lot. It’s about 3 miles, which is 50 minutes, to walk from the parking lot to the beach. Throughout the hike, you will be walking along the coastline with ocean breeze blowing at you. It’s a quite scenic hike and there’s rarely any uphill walking.

green sand beach trailGreen Sand Beach trail along the coastline

green sand beach trail

hiking to the green sand beachAlmost reaching the green sand beach

2) The easy but expensive way: You could get one of the 4WD truck services where they take you to the green sand beach from the parking lot. As soon as you pull into the parking lot, someone will approach you to ask if you want to head to the Green Sand Beach by car instead of getting there by foot. By getting to the beach this way, you get to see the same coastline view but you get there faster. The road is quite bumpy so get ready for a bumpy ride. The last time we were there (Nov 2018) we got a quote of $20/person one way. Disclaimer: the rate could vary among the service providers and it could change over time. Please do not solely rely on the said number here. We’re not promoting any services here but simply describing our observation.

3) The do-it-yourself way: As we hike along the trail, we saw many private 4WD cars passing through.

green sand beach

Full day at the beach

You can easily spend a full day there if you choose to hike out to the beach or if you get there by car/truck with your beach gears. The beach has good waves for swimming with warm, blue water. Last time we hiked out to the beach and swam for an hour or two, we were exhausted by the time we got back.

This is my favorite beach on the Big Island and it is highly recommended that when you visit the Island, you should check this one out.

If you have not checked out the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, we invite you to read: All you need to know about Black Sand Beach On The Big Island.

If you need a place to stay on the Big Island that’s near many famous attractions, check out Volcano Inn.

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