For the dedicated adventurers of the Big Island, the South Point area holds many surprises.Visitors to the south end of Hawaii Island will find anglers fishing for larger pelagic fish from shore, collapsed lava tubes open to the sea, and unique heritage points within easy access from Highway 11. South Point, or “Ka Lae” in Hawaiian, is believed to be where the first ancient polynesians arrived between 400 and 800 AD.
Green Sand Beach
Visitors that are eager to kick it into four wheel drive or traverse a 2.5 mile scenic oceanside hike on foot can experience a true geographical oddity: the extraordinary green sands of Papakolea Beach.
Papakolea or Green Sand Beach inhabits in the eroded remains of Pu’u Mahana, a cinder cone believed by many geologists to have formed from downwind venting of magma from Mauna Loa.
The green appearance of the sand is from the mineral Olivine, which the pounding waves continually erode from the remains of the ancient cinder cone.
Upon arrival at the rim, a short hike leads to the secluded beach below. Papakolea is a soft sandy, mid-sized beach, great for building sand castles, swimming and body surfing. Take the usual precautions of the waves and currents, as there is no lifeguard.
Locals provide often are available to provide four wheel drive shuttle service out to the beach for a reasonable price for those without a sturdy 4WD and advanced backroad driving skills. The primitive road is very rugged. Better yet, stretch your legs and enjoy the natural beauty on foot– 2.5 miles each way. Bring plenty water for the trip.
Papakolea Beach is one of only four Green Sand Beaches in the world. Visitors to the Big Island should make time to visit this spectacular gem at the very southernmost point of the United States.