This beautiful emerald beach is located in South Point, Ka'u district on the Big Island of Hawaii. The green sand beaches are rare and are only found in the Galapagos Islands or Guam, United States.
The sand is actually a green olive color caused by eruptions from what was once a volcano. In fact, green sand beach itself is within what was once a cinder cone. Three sides of the cone are still present, with the ocean coming in from what would have been the eastern edge.
Imagine swimming in an ancient volcano's cinder cone with green sand? You can and it is a site not to be missed when traveling to the Big Island.
However, getting to this beach isn't easy. Papakolea is located at the base of Pu'u O Mahana, an old littoral cone in a wild, undeveloped terrain. Access involves a three-mile (4.8 km) hike through lava fields. If you're going on a sunny day, keep in mind that it is usually quite windy in this area, which blows up the dust.
It is a good idea to prepare yourself for what some call a long and arduous walk. So wear hiking boots, a T-Shirt, comfortable pants or shorts and a hat and bring plenty of water and sunscreen. It is a common sight to see tourists arrive in sandals and bathing suits who turn around half way because they can't make it.
Also, there aren't any signs, markers or maps to follow. There isn't even a specified trail. A good tip is to stay a little bit more to the left on the way there. Even though the trails near the ocean are nice, they are more rugged with sharp lava rocks and in the end will take longer.
Once you make it to the beach, you'll be rewarded with one of the best views on the Big Island. The green beach appears almost unreal against the backdrop of steep cliffs and boulders.
At sunset, the play of colors against the sand is simply breathtaking. To get down to the beach, you'll have to hike down a low sea cliff. The best spot is the area where the cliff is less steep. The steep face of the cliff is dangerous because the ground is loose and can slide away.