beaches big island

Green Sand Beach

Mahana Beach
The striking green sand is the result of olivine deposits in the nearby rocks

This green sand beach near South Point, the southernmost tip of the island, is located in a small cove at the base of a huge cinder cone called Puu O Mahana. The striking green sand of Green Sand Beach, also called Mahana Beach and Papakolea Beach, is the result of olivine deposits in the nearby rocks. Mahana Beach can be quite windy in the afternoons so it is best to come early. There is little shade at Mahana so it is best to wear a hat and bring sunscreen.

Great For

Sunbathing, exploring. Swimming only when water is very calm and only very near the shore.


Puu O Mahana cinder cone is battered by the weather and waves and thus small nuggets of the green olivine gem–a semi-precious mineral–are sometimes found along the beach or in the nearby cove. Spinner dolphin pods are also seen here quite often.

Need to Know

Mahana Beach is exposed to the open ocean and subject to strong waves breaking onshore. Stay very close to shore if you swim as there are strong offshore currents. Do not go in the water at all if it appears rough. Removing any sand from this beach is not allowed.

Puu Mahana green sand beach. It’s forbidden to remove sand. Video by Alyse Parker






Located in Naalehu. Follow the paved South Point road from the highway for about 12 miles to where the pavement ends, then follow the rugged route for about 2.5 miles to the beach. Driving with a 4-wheel-drive vehicle is allowed with a permit from Hawaiian Homelands (808-974-4250), or you can walk the 2.5 miles from Kaulana Boat Ramp along the rough trail. When you reach the cliffs above the beach find the trail and do not attempt to go down the rocks that look like steps and appear easy at first but are not the best way to descend to the beach.