Many adventure-seekers make the trek to Papakolea Green Sand Beach on the Big Island. But not everyone makes it. Here’s details on the hike, Jeep ride, South Point cliff jumping, scammers and more.
As you’ll see in this video, the journey to Green Sand Beach is WILD…
Green Sand Beach is a rare gem. It is among only two lush green sand beaches in the United States. The beach is on the most southern point of the US – even though the Florida Keys tries to claim the title.
If you intend to drive there, you’ll need a Jeep. Plus $20 cash to pay off some friendly-ish scam artists – but more on that later.
The whole attraction of the beach is the exotic deep green sand. At low tide the glory of the beach is at its peak. Don’t visit during high tide. The whole beach is under the water then, making the sand dark and hindering the beauty.
Getting to Green Sand Beach in a Jeep
Take it from recent first-time Jeep drivers: this is a pretty scary trek!
Why some people don’t make it to Green Sand Beach
- It might break a rental car agreement
- Driving is more difficult than you may be imagined
- When you lose cell reception, it’s hard to find South Point
- Running out of water
- Getting the Jeep stuck (AAA is not going to get you!)
Now that the Brutal honesty about the extreme driving conditions is out of the way… This is a pretty fun adventure.
The roads are not roads. There are no roads. You have to figure out how to off-road your Jeep. If a problem arises, there’s no way a tow-truck is going to reach your vehicle. And cell phone reception does not exist. Bring plenty of water whether you’re driving or hiking.
Hiking to Green Beach
Don’t expect a typical woodsy hike. There’s no shade. The sun is hot. You’re hiking a desert filled with black lava rock the entire way to reach Green Sand Beach.Pack sunscreen,cover ups, shoes (not flip flops), and lots of water. It’s dusty and windy on the path, but the gorgeous backdrop is the sparkling blue ocean and lava
Cliff Diving at South Point (Ka Lae)
The South Point cliff is almost 50 feet high and a destination for people who love cliff diving. If you are afraid to take the plunge, watching others doing it is also an adrenaline rush.
Scammers at Green Beach
Those jerks! One obstacle when getting to South Point is dealing with locals trying to make a buck off your visit. Officials know about and sometimes regulate this Green Beach scam. They’re stationed at the parking lot before the hike/drive.
Here’s how they “charge” you for your visit:
If you’re driving, they want $20 for “maintaining the roads”. (news flash: there are no roads…)
Going to hike to the beach? They want $20 to “protect” your car from thieves. (who’s going to break into your car?? hmmm??)
Need a lift? Catch a ride with the scammers to the beach. There’s a $15 per person fee for a ride in the “shuttle” which may turn out to be standing room in an old pick-up truck. (although, this might be better than the off-roading Jeep ride…)
Good luck on your adventure to Green Sand Beach. If you’re looking for another Big Island activity, check out the night manta snorkel in Kona.