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Papakōlea Green Sand Beach

A remote hike at the southernmost tip of Hawai'i to an extremely rare green sand beach.

Hiking Moderate

8.7 km
106 m
102 m
1-2 hrs
Low Point
4 m
High Point
27 m
Papakōlea Green Sand Beach Map

If you’re looking for an almost desert-like hike on the southern coast of Hawai’i that ends at an amazingly coloured green sand beach, then don't miss out on the Papakōlea Green Sand Beach Hike. This mostly flat trail ends with an epic downhill section to a green sand beach that sits in a bay cut into the side of an eroded cinder cone that erupted some 50,000 years ago.


Looking like no other beach on Hawai'i, the Green Sand Beach is a marvel to see. It gets its green sheen thanks to a common mineral in Big Island lava called olivine. As the mineral is heavy, it stays in place, giving the beach its green look. There are allegedly only four green sand beaches in total in the world.

To reach the trailhead, drive down Highway 11, and between mile markers 69 and 70 head down South Point Road. After about eight miles, turn left towards the Green Sand Beach sign and park at the end of the road. From here, walk south towards the ocean along a paved path that quickly turns into a dirt one. At times, you’ll feel like you’re hiking on Mars as the otherworldly red, undulating earth track is completely devoid of vegetation. Keep parallel to the ocean, hugging the coastline for the rest of the way and you’ll eventually reach the top of the ancient cinder cone. From this amazing vantage point, watch as the waves splash into the small bay filled with green glinting sand.

Climb down the metal staircase and stick your toes between the sparkling green sand grains. Depending on the tide and the size of the waves, head in for a dip to cool off before returning the way you came in.

Disclaimer: It is unlawful to take any sand from the beach.



Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

all year round


  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Family friendly

Guidebooks in this area