Paul's Travel Pictures

Green Sand Beach - South Point, Big Island, Hawaii
Pictures, a video clip and visitor info from a hike to Green Sand Beach (Mahana) at South Point on the Big Island.

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Paul B. Michaels
Author & Photographer
Auto Mechanic Since 1989

Please Note - If you'd just like to see pictures of the Green Sand Beach, click here to visit Page 2 of this gallery.
Southern Tip Big Island
Satellite Dishes
South Point Road
While planning our visit to the Big Island of Hawaii, I knew we had to take the long drive down from our vacation rental in the Kailua-Kona area to South Point to see the Green Sand Beach.

The Green Sand Beach at South Point Park, also known as Mahana or Papakolea, is one of only three beaches in the world that share this unique characteristic.

Another green sand beach in the USA is on the island of Guam. The third example in the world is at Cormorant Bay on Floreana Island in the Galapagos Islands.

To reach the beginning of the hiking trail, set your GPS for South Point Park or the intersection of Hawaii Belt Rd (Hwy 11 or Mamalahoa Hwy) and S. Point Rd.

At the end of the road by the ocean, you'll see a dirt parking lot surrounded by asphalt pathways. Then face the coast, turn left, and start walking!

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Unless you arrive very early in the morning, you should see a few other cars already parked in the lot.

Take the shards of automotive glass littered around the parking area as a stern warning that you should not leave anything in sight inside your vehicle.

Take valuables with you and lock up any other items in the trunk or glove box.

Be sure to bring plenty of water, some snacks, sun block, sunglasses and of course a camera.

It's a really beautiful hike along the coast line of the Big Island with waves crashing over large lava rock boulders, bright green foliage, an orange 4x4 vehicle path and patches of olive green sand.

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According to the time stamps on these pictures, we arrived at the South Point Park parking lot at 9:20 AM and reached the Green Sand Beach an hour later at 10:20 AM.
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The hike to the Green Sand Beach was relatively easy with no major obstacles, relatively level ground, and just some fields of small lava rocks to negotiate.

I'd highly recommend wearing hiking shoes or at least sneakers.

You could travel the path in flip flops or sandals, but there's a good chance that your feet will get cut up by the lava rocks if you aren't extremely careful.

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It can be really windy on the path, which explains why the wind energy turbines were placed at South Point, and sometimes the dust or sand can get in your eyes or mouth.

We didn't find it necessary, but some people may have a more enjoyable experience by wearing a light scarf or dust mask.

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We saw a few people pass us on the path in 4x4 vehicles and SUVs but don't try to navigate the path in a rental car unless your rental agreement specifically allows offroad use.

I certainly wasn't going to tackle this dirt road with deep ditches and tire grooves in our tiny Hyundai Accent economy rental car.

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I'm really glad that we had to hike an hour to the Green Sand Beach rather than suffer a very bumpy 20 minute ride in a vehicle.

It wouldn't have felt as satisfying to reach the beach without the work and the dramatic scenery along the way really helped to pass the time.

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Once we reached the edge of the cinder cone above the Green Sand Beach, we took a rest and noticed that there was a couple down by the beach. (To skip ahead to those pictures, visit Page 2 of this gallery.)
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We had read that it could be a daunting and possibly dangerous task to scramble down over the large lava boulders to reach the beach at the bottom of a steep cliff side.

Since the experience of sliding down the wrong way on a volcano in New Zealand was fresh in our minds, we decided to skip it entirely and just admire the beach from above. (Read our Sliding Down "Mt. Doom" In New Zealand story at the preceding link.) Apparently there are also very strong rip tides and currents at the Green Sand Beach, so swimming here is very strongly discouraged. It's very possible that a person entering the water here could be pulled far south into the Pacific Ocean.

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Apparently there are also very strong rip tides at the Green Sand Beach, so swimming here is very much discouraged.

It's very possible that a person entering the water here could be pulled far south into the Pacific Ocean.

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Moss / Fungi / Lichens?
South Point Park is located about 60 miles (1.5 hours) from Kailua-Kona, and 80 miles (2 hours) from the Hilo area.

I'd recommend arriving at the beginning of the hiking path as early as possible to avoid the midday and afternoon heat on your hiking experience.

You're also more likely to have the Green Sand Beach all to yourself the earlier you arrive.

We saw at least one large passenger van packed with people on a tour headed towards the GSB while hiking back towards our car.

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During this hour long hike to the Green Sand Beach, I captured a few short video clips and later edited them together. To view the video, click on the blue link below. To download the movie to your hard drive, right click on the link and choose "Save Target As" or "Save Link As".

Green Sand Beach Hike Video - South Point Park, Big Island, Hawaii

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Yellow/Orange Soil
4X4 Vehicle Path
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Waves Crashing Over
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To see the rest of the pictures from our hike to the Green Sand Beach, visit Page 2 of the gallery by clicking on the "Next" or "Last" buttons below.

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