Papakolea – It’s a beach silly (beaches second post)

I can almost guarantee this will be one of the most surreal sites you will ever see. A beach is not supposed to be green! Grass, apples and kermit the frog are suppOlivine crystals in lava rockosed to be green. This wasn’t the first beach we visited (see the list here), but it was one of the most unique. There are actually two – the further one that’s more olive than green and a very tiny patch of sand that is more green than olive. They both owe their distinctive colour to olivine crystals (see good posts here, here and wiki of course)

The larger of the two beaches is a perfect beach shape – gently rounded in a crescent moon shape. But as you approach (everyone pretty much approaches it the same way from the west) you can see the tall cliffs (remnants of the volcano) that have a mix of regular dark rock and I swore I could see that dark rock washing down the side of the cliff onto the beach. That accounts for the much darker olive colour of the sand now as opposed to 10 years ago.

Approach from the west

I suspect that in a very short time, the beach will no longer be green (go now!!!!). The locals are very aware of this and have posted a sign.


There is in fact, another green sand beach around the shoreline in the other direction that our driver said is accessible by boat. (His cousin will be arranging these trips in the near future.)

The beach itself is quite rough and there are no facilities whatsoever here except for some large rocks and a ladder. Travel tip #1 ALWAYS carry kleenex or toilet paper with you – more valuable than duct tape sometimes. Most people come here just to see the beach, not to swim and there is great access for taking photos of waves crashing into rocks


Wait, ladder, did you say? What would you need a ladder for? Well, the thing about this beach and why you often have it all to yourself is that it’s not the easiest place to get to. Until a few years ago, the only way to access it is to walk about 2 miles in…..over sandy, dusty terrain… the sun…with no signage. I’m allergic to sun and sand. So, when strange men approached as we parked, I was the one who was open to asking how much for the jeep ride to the beach (really, I would have walked it if there was no other way, but I wouldn’t have been happy about it). Right now, it’s a steal – totally worth it (about $10/person in and out) – go before they raise the prices! Although to be fair, I think most people realise the bargain after they’ve walked it in and don’t want to walk it back out! The walk does not look pleasant on a windy day. The terrain is old cattle grazing pasture and heavily rutted (honest. I consider ruts over 2 feet to be heavy duty ruts) and sandy with no shade or protection from the wind. Travel tip #423 Carry a bandana with you too. It’s multipurpose and fashionable. But James (our driver and guide) grew up there before the last people moved away and knew the land (and ruts) like the back of his hand. The jeep ride was like a roller coaster in slow motion and James was full of local knowledge. This ride showed me what real off-roading was like and why jeeps were jeeps. Travel tip #369 dress appropriately cuz you never know when you have to climb into a jeep.

Now that was just to get to the beach cliff. To get to the beach, you had to scale down the cliff (oh, didn’t I mention that part?) and THAT’s where the ladder comes in handy. Although, anytime someone tells me “that ladder, right there, see that rock, just beyond that” I get a wee bit nervous, but it was a very sturdy ladder (obviously this is civilised tourist country) that got you over the steepest part and the rest was just a bit of scrambling. (see below – not so bad!)


On the way back, James stopped at the small green beach which gave you an idea of what the bigger beach must have looked like glistening in the sun.


This is totally a gem(stone) of a place to visit and highly recommended. Bring lots of water, sturdy shoes and time. Take the jeep ride because that alone was worth the trip.



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