Panorama taken from a viewpoint above Green Sands Beach on Hawaii Island. The picture barely does the sand justice, which is, uniquely, coloured green by olivine sand. It is a very isolated beach with fantastic waves.
Papakolea Green Sand Beach - Hawaii Island visitor guide showing a virtual tour of 'Papakolea Green Sand Beach' linked to an interactive map with local and travel information. 360° panoramas from Hawaii.
Papakolea Green Sands Beach is one of the more remote beaches on Hawaii Island. Well off the beaten track some distance from Ka Lea (South Point), the beach is very remote with no facilities or amenities, accessible either by four wheel drive or a 2.5mile trek over ancient lava fields.
The beach is special for the olivine crystals eroded from the partially collapsed Pu'u Mahana cinder cone which formed over 49,000 years ago. These crystals, more numerous near the bottom of the beach, give the sand a rare green colour. Olivine is heavier than the surrounding black ash sand, and so remains on the beach for longer while the rest is washed out to sea.
This area is under constant erosion, and it is a steep descent down the slopes of the cinder cone to the beach at the bottom. It lies at the end of a narrow cove and the waves here, channelled in by the headlands, can get quite large.
Olivine is a silicate mineral containing iron and magnesium. It is a common component of Hawaiian lavas, and one of the first crystals to form as the lava cools. However, it rarely ends up being eroded into beaches. The only other green sand beach is in Guam. The stone is known locally as 'Hawaiian Diamond' and is common in the Diamond Head cone near Waikiki on Oahu Island.