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Papakolea (Green Sand) Beach

Minneapolis, MN
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88 posts
28 reviews
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Papakolea (Green Sand) Beach

Hello all. Taking my second trip to the Big Island in January, and I'm trying to decide if the hike to Papakolea Beach to see the green sand is worth it. Last time I decided not to see it because I had too much on the list, but this time we could maybe manage it, although it will take a bit of driving to get there from Kapaoho How's the hike from the parking lot? I've heard its windy, dusty, and takes about 3 hours round trip, but how's the scenery? The pictures I've seen with the trees growing bent over because of the wind actually look kind of cool, but is that enough to make the hike interesting? Can you see the ocean while walking? Is it hard to follow the trail? Google map's satellite images look a little confusing with all the tracks from the illegal vehicles. I'm curious to hear everyone's opinions!

Big Island, Hawaii
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for Island of Hawaii
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1. Re: Papakolea (Green Sand) Beach

Yes, it's about three hours.

The scenery along the way is actually pretty interesting and there are some ruins of heiaus. You'll basically be following close to the shoreline the whole way (a little over 2.5 miles each way) so yes, you'll see the ocean. It's impossible to get lost, you just walk along the 4wd roads, sticking closest to the shoreline when they diverge. I think it's a lovely hike in many ways but isn't all that pleasant if you get a lot of wind and end up coated with dust.

I think it can be worth it for people who are on a second or greater trip or who have lots of time on the island. The beach is pretty cool looking (don't take the sand...). The main issues I see that you'll have is that it appears all the rental agencies are prohibiting the Ka Lae road, unpaved in parts, which gets you to the parking area at the trailhead. Vandalism of cars at the trailhead isn't all that uncommon. So it's a risk.

Also there are no facilities, either at the trailhead or beach. That makes for a long time with no bathroom. You will want to resist the urge to get in the water, even if others are doing it, it is a very dangerous ocean area with surprising currents, undertows, rogue waves, and big sharks.

Minneapolis, MN
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88 posts
28 reviews
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2. Re: Papakolea (Green Sand) Beach

Yikes, is that a new thing with the rental agencies prohibiting it? I don't remember that being a problem last time I was on the island, and that was only 3 years ago. Because your description of the hike otherwise sounds lovely, although the lack of bathroom may be a bit of a challenge! (Related, is there any convenient bushes to hide behind if things get desperate?)

It may be a moot point, because I'm not sure if I want to chance our rental car getting broken into in a prohibited area. That would be a disaster!

Island of Hawaii...
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for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
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3. Re: Papakolea (Green Sand) Beach

The South Point Road prohibition has been at least a year but I donʻt think it goes back three years.

pzp
Kauai, Hawaii
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for Kauai, Kapaa
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4. Re: Papakolea (Green Sand) Beach

The time I did the hike the wind was so strong I walked bent over almost double one way, and the other direction I was wishing for roller skates and a sail. :-)

Island of Hawaii...
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for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
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4 reviews
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5. Re: Papakolea (Green Sand) Beach

The wind at Ka Lae is what keeps me from thinking of it as a pleasant place to go. When I have gone there, Iʻve ended up taking refuge in the car just to get out away from being hammered by the wind. Thereʻs a reason they put in a wind turbine farm along South Point Road.

6. Re: Papakolea (Green Sand) Beach

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