Papakolea Beach is a green sand beach on the southern tip of the Big Island. It doesn’t get too crowded here, and once you visit, it’s not hard to see why. It takes a lot of effort to trek out here. From the west side of the island (the touristy side), it takes about 2 hours to drive down, and the last 45 minutes or so, you’re literally driving in the middle of nowhere. Lots of fields, cattle, dirt, and run-down roads. So if you’re questioning whether or not you’re headed in the right direction, you probably are. Just make sure you can see the ocean up ahead! So once you arrive at the destination as indicated by Google Maps, you’ll notice that it’s just a parking lot. The actual beach is another 3 miles out. If you have an off-road vehicle, you might be able to drive through the unpaved landscape yourself. You could also walk, but most people we saw walking ended up turning around halfway before they even got to the beach. 6 miles roundtrip is a long hike…and with all the dust and wind, it’s quite a battle!
THANKFULLY, there are locals with ATV vehicles stationed at the parking lot. At first, we thought it was just a ripoff touristy gimmick–having them drive you through the terrain, drop you off at the beach, and then drive you back. For $15 a person. But let me tell you, those were the best $15 I spent that day. These people know what they’re doing (it takes a lot of skill to navigate an ATV vehicle through this terrain), and they wait for you while you enjoy the beach and take you back whenever you’re ready. And the ride in the ATV vehicle itself already makes it worth it. It’s a bumpy and thrilling ride, so make sure to hang on tight! I’d also recommend bringing sunglasses cause it gets hella dusty.
Didn’t take too many pictures on the way there cause the ride was too bumpy. When we finally got to the beach, I was surprised! The sand wasn’t really green like I had imagined. It’s not your normal color of sand, but it’s not GREEN green…more of a murky yellow-ish green. I think the best part about this beach is the surrounding cliffs. Lots of interesting textures, and the height of the cliffs really makes the beach feel like a secret, enclosed paradise. The waves are big and the water is a little chilly, so be careful when you’re wading!
And there you have it! The Big Island’s Papakolea Beach. I’d budget spending around 1.5 hours here (including the ATV trek there and back). It’s a gorgeous beach that’s definitely worth checking out. There’s not too many people here either (relatively compared to other beaches on the island), so that’s something to take advantage of 🙂