One of my Big Island Bucket list wishes was to see Papakolea Beach, also known as Green Sand Beach. It is truly a treasure. Papakolea is 1 of ONLY 4 green sand beaches in the world, and we were not going to miss it! “Strenuous hike!” they said. “Uneven terrain, dangerous inclines!” they said. “Not for kids!” they said. “Pshhhhhaw!” we said! “We’ve hiked lava fields of sharp volcanic glass! We can do some dirt roads and scramble down a hill!” It’s only a 3 mile trek and I’m glad we attempted it. We saw some gorgeous scenery along the way. If you’re not up for the hike, you can still hitch a ride in one of the many trucks waiting at the parking lot for a fee. *Word of caution here: technically these trucks are illegal and don’t have work/tourist permits. We fared just fine without hitching a ride. At the time my kids were 10 and 12 and we hiked the entire way.
The coastline is rugged and beautiful and it was windy, but otherwise a very nice hike and not really strenuous. It took us about an hour each way. We were in no rush, we took our time and stopped for water breaks whenever we felt the need. You do need to have good shoes. We hiked for awhile through coastal pasture land until we finally saw the top of the crater. The beautiful color of the sands come into view and your heart skips a beat! The green sand actually comes from Olivine (which of gem quality is known as Peridot), broken down from the tuff ring that surrounds the beach. Olivine is called the “Hawaiian Diamond”. When the light hits just right, the sparkle of the sand is as delicate and dazzling as tiny green diamonds. Definitely do this hike if you are able. Give yourself a good 3 hour window for the hike, more if you pack a lunch and picnic.
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