Green Sand Beach (Papakōlea)
Officially called Papakōlea, and also going by the name Mahana Beach, Green Sand Beach takes its most common moniker from its unusually-coloured sands. It is one of just four known beaches worldwide to comprise green sand through the degradation of a volcanic rock known as olivine.
Located on Big Island’s southeast coast at the end of a small inlet, the rocks of an ancient volcanic cone lie on either side. Swimming is possible, however the waves can be rough, so caution is advised.
The only legal way to reach Green Sand Beach is on foot. The nearest parking is at South Point, marking the southernmost latitude anywhere in the United States. It’s then a 2 mile one-way hike to the beach. Vehicles ply the route, but do so illegally, and contribute to environmental damage of this fragile coastal ecosystem.
Green Sand Beach can get crowded at weekends.However, there are no facilities, so you’ll need to take everything you will need with you along the trail.
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