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About Papakolea Green Sand Beach (Mahana Bay) on Kau & South Island, Hawaii

Papakolea Green Sand Beach on Mahana Bay is in a remote location near South Point on the Big Island. Getting to Papakolea is only possible with high clearance four wheel drive vehicles so if you don’t have one, you’ll need to hike the roads or pay someone else to drive you (that’s how most people get there).

The sand here actually is green. It is created from the stone called olivine (so named for the olive color). This sandy beach is at the back of a deep cove that’s surrounded by steep cliffs on all three sides. It’s quite a sight to see in person. A steep trail gets beachgoers from the top down to the beach. The trail isn’t that tough but your grandma with knee replacements probably wouldn’t want to do it.

To get to Papakolea, it takes a long drive on rutted dirt 4WD roads from the Kaulana Boat Launch. It’s only 2.5 miles each way from the parking lot, but because of the slow speeds required to travel these rugged roads, it’s still a long drive time-wise. If you don’t have a 4×4 vehicle like a Jeep Wrangler, and off-road experience to boot, don’t even consider driving to Green Sand Beach. There are guys with huge pickups that ferry tourists back and forth to this beach every day for a reasonable fee. They know which route to take and how to do it safely. Note that you are still in for a very bumpy ride if you decide to get into the back of a truck.

After you get to Green Sand Beach, you have to descend a sandy hill behind the beach. It starts with a rickety ladder and then steep sandy (slippery) surfaces. Take your time hiking down to the beach. If you decide this descent not for you, there’s a picnic table at the top and the view is outstanding.

Swimming is dangerous in Mahana Bay due to strong currents but that doesn’t stop people from doing it. Just use good judgement and maybe bring fins if you want to swim in the bay. Note that the beach and this entire area can be windy in the afternoon (therefore the huge wind turbines along South Point Road).

S Point Rd
Naalehu, HI 96772
Park Name
South Point Complex
Other Names
Mahana Beach, Papalokea, Pohakuloa, Pu'u Mahana
Free parking
Sunbathing, Photography, Hiking, Off-Road Driving
4x4 Roads, Trails, Picnic Table, Toilets at the trailhead
Hawaiian Ocean View,US
7:57 am, June 18, 2024
temperature icon 79°F
L: 75° H: 80°
Feels like 79.41 °F scattered clouds
Wind gusts: 7 m/s
UV Index: 1.91
Precipitation: 0 inch
Visibility: 10 km
Sunrise: 5:45 am
Sunset: 7:01 pm
Humidity 67 %
Pressure1018 mb
Wind 7 m/s

Nearby Beaches

Kaulana Boat Ramp

1.7 miles away

The Kaulana Boat Ramp is down South Point Road at the southern tip of the Big Island. It provides...

View beach

South Point

2.5 miles away

South Point is the southernmost point of the Big Island, the state of Hawaii, and even the United States....

View beach

Nearby Attractions

Nearby Lodging


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