Hawaii Trip: In search of Papakolea Green Sand Beach on the Big Island

Hawaii Trip: In search of Papakolea Green Sand Beach on the Big Island

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.

A map of Green Sand Beach Papakolea South Point

 

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.

 

Find Green Sand Beach aka Papakolea Beach on Hawaii's Big Island in South Point

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.

 

Car or Hawaii Offroading Jeep ride to Green Sand Beach
Best way to get to Green Sand Beach Papakolea South Point

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.

 

Do 4wd Jeep excursions in Hawaii at Green Sand Beach

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
rock coastline.

 

Even 4wd Jeeps in Hawaii might not make it to Green Sand Beach Papakolea South Point

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.

How is the 4WD jeep offroading to Big Island Hawaii tourist activity in South Point

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…)

Green sand beach trip with a dirty jeep in hawaii

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.

Hawaii Trip: Traveling between Big Island and Maui

Hawaii Trip: Traveling between Big Island and Maui

Want to see a few Islands in Hawaii? Traveling between Big Island and Maui is doable, especially if your trip is a week or longer. The 45 minute journey has postcard-worthy views of volcanos and the Pacific.

Here’s a quick view out the window…

Traveling between Big Island and Maui

Tickets are usually $75-125. When direct flights sell out, a route with a stop in Honolulu is the next best option. 

The open-air airport is unbeatable. 

Hawaii Maui Airport Outdoors boarding on tarmac

It feels like you’re still on vacation…

Hawaii Kona Big Island Airport Outdoors boarding the plane on tarmac

There’s fresh air, pineapple stands, and places to get a bite and drink a cold Kona Brewery beer.

Hawaii Kona Big Island Airport Outdoors boarding on tarmac

Check-in is outside.

Baggage claim is outside.

Passengers board planes outside.

Hawaiian airplane from Kona Airport to Maui airport with outdoor boarding

The flight on Hawaiian air is short and enjoyable.

Hawaiian airplane from Kona Big Island Airport to Maui with outdoor boarding

Cool mist and Hawaiian tunes greet passengers as they find assigned seats. And you don’t need entertainment or wifi on this flight. The views out the window are stunning!

Hawaiian airplane from Kona Big Island flight to Maui airport looking out the Hawaiian plane window

A note on baggage check points

There are some repetitive bag check points at the airport. A lot of this is to prevent bugs from leaving the island. The only fruit that can leave the island is uncut pineapple.

Traveling to Hawaii? Get the FREE guide…

Hawaii Trip: Take the Greenwell Kona Coffee Tour

Hawaii Trip: Take the Greenwell Kona Coffee Tour

If you’re an avid coffee drinker, a tour of Greenwell Kona Coffee farm on the Big Island is a must.

The Big Island is home to premium Kona coffee. This is the only place you can find it in the world. Some Kona coffee tours are more interesting and welcoming than others. Greenwell and Hula Daddy are both top-notch, with frequent tours and beautiful grounds. (no pun intended)

Here’s a look at this Kona coffee farm…

 

On the Greenwell Kona coffee tour

The tour is casual and informative. Guides are friendly and share details about the multi-generational farm and coffee process. It’s no surprise premium Kona beans are so sought after. Not a drop of 100% Kona coffee tastes bitter. It’s a great gift for coffee-enthusiasts.

Hawaiian flowers in bright pink and yellow on the Greenwell Kona Coffee Tour
Greenwell Kona Coffee Tour times and location

Umbrellas are available and helpful since it gets very hot in the early afternoon. Along the tour there are geckos, bantam chicken, avocado and banana trees. Plus, tons of tropical flowers…

Hawaiian tropical flowers in pink yellow green on the Greenwell Kona Coffee Tour

Samples are quite generous and you’re welcome to stay and enjoy the property after the tour. Kona coffee, honey, and chocolate covered Kona beans are available to buy.

Samples of some of the best hawaiian coffee at Greenwell Kona Coffee Tour on the Big Island

The region where the Kona beans are grown is close to popular Kona destinations. Since you only need about an hour at the farm, it’s easy to tack this onto another Kona trip.

Learn more about the Greenwell tour or see the Hula Daddy tour. 

Hawaii Trip: See lava sunsets & snorkel Two Step Beach (Honaunau Bay) on the Big Island

Hawaii Trip: See lava sunsets & snorkel Two Step Beach (Honaunau Bay) on the Big Island

Take in sunset views and snorkel  Two Step Beach

Honaunau Bay Beach – also called “Two Step Beach” by locals – is a popular destination on the Big Island for snorkeling, fishing and sunset-watching.

It’s next to a popular Big Island attraction that’s also worth checking out: the Place of Refuge. (aka Pu’uhonua O Honaunau Park)

Snorkel “Two Step” Beach

People rave about snorkeling at nearby Captain Cook Beach, but getting there involves a hike or a boat ride. Two Step Beach is a great alternative. It’s not usually crowded, especially in the morning.

Plenty of fish, coral and sea turtles swim in the crystal clear ~80 degree water.

There’s a boat ramp that provides a gradual entrance to a shallow snorkel site. More experienced snorkelers can walk along the edge of rough lava rock to enter a deeper section. This entrance has “two steps” – giving the beach the same name.

Learn more about visiting Honaunau Bay or check out another unique snorkel adventure, swimming with manta rays at night. (it’s amazing!!)

Hungry after this adventure? Head to Kona Brewery.

Hawaii Trip: Manta Ray night snorkeling in Kona

Hawaii Trip: Manta Ray night snorkeling in Kona

If you’re looking for adventure in Hawaii, here’s an excursion for you. Night snorkeling with the Manta Rays in Kona is something you’ll remember for a long time. Snorkel and dive groups could care less about fish and turtles during this tour. What are they searching for? Everyone has their eyes peeled. They’re waiting to see 12-foot wide Manta Rays.

See this majestic Manta Ray clip…

Snorkel with the Manta Rays at night

The tour boat sets out for one of two locations, based on recent Manta sighting reports. Manta rays hang out at the Sheraton or near the airport. 

Night snorkeling with Manta Rays in Kona is the best snorkel on the Big Island. Add it to your Hawaii adventure list.

Up to 30 manta rays may be seen in a 1-2 hour trip. Dolphins and seals have been known to appear on the tour as well.

Night snorkeling with Manta Rays in Kona is the best snorkel on the Big Island. Add it to your Hawaii adventure list.

 

Snorkelers meet the crew in Kailua-Kona. In addition to transportation and snorkel gear, the crew provides a surfboard for everyone to hold on to, so the snorkeling group floats together. The surfboard has a light on the bottom, which attracts plankton. The Manta Rays come out to feed on the plankton, and the snorkel group gets a show.

Night snorkeling with Manta Rays in Kona is the best snorkel on the Big Island. Add it to your Hawaii adventure list.

The Mantas on this trip were shy at first, but there were plenty of fish and eel to enjoy during the wait

At first, the manta rays were gliding on the bottom of the ocean floor. This was very close to the divers hanging out in a circle formation on the ground. They call this the flashlight “campsite” because they shine light on the mantas from below.

Night snorkeling with Manta Rays in Kona is the best snorkel on the Big Island. Add it to your Hawaii adventure list.

The mantas came closer to the surface of the water. They ate Plankton and did somersaults near snorkelers. One did a few backflips within inches of the group. It was stunning and peaceful.

Night snorkeling with Manta Rays in Kona is the best snorkel on the Big Island. Add it to your Hawaii adventure list.

This experience is based on Big Island Divers night manta ray snorkel. They provided snacks and hot chocolate on the way back. If you’re looking for dinner, Kona Brewery is a crowd-pleaser nearby.

Hawaii Trip: Take the Hula Daddy Kona Coffee Tour

Hawaii Trip: Take the Hula Daddy Kona Coffee Tour

It feels a little less like Hawaii and more like a tropical rain forest on the misty countryside of the Big IslandThis is because the trees you’ll find on the Hula Daddy Kona Coffee Tours thrive in humidity.  

Here’s a look at the farm…

Frizzy hair aside, the Hula Daddy coffee farm is very serene and the view from the balcony is breathtaking.

Coffee lovers visiting the Big Island: check out the Hula Daddy Kona Coffee Tours.

Love coffee? Scroll to the bottom for another tour recommendation… 

Tour the Hula Daddy Kona Coffee Farm

The reason many people love Kona beans is because the taste is fruity, flavorful and best of all, not bitter. Like vineyard tours in Sonoma, learning about harvesting and roasting coffee in Hawaii is quite interesting. The Hula Daddy’s Kona Coffee Tour on the Big Island is a great place to learn about coffee. It’s a very long process as coffee goes from tree to bean to coffee in your cup. That’s why Kona coffee runs about 40 bucks a pound.

Coffee lovers visiting the Big Island: check out the Hula Daddy Kona Coffee Tours.

The Hula Daddy Kona coffee tour includes samples of coffee, access to the farm, gecko sightings, and a visit to the test kitchen. Depending on the day, you may get to meet the official coffee roaster as well. Believe it or not, one single lady gets all the roasting done. For the entire coffee line. For the entire year. That’s amazing. When asked how she prepares for her job, the roaster said she has to limit spicy foods. They throw off the balance of her taste buds.

Here’s a fact…Each tree produces one pound of coffee.

Chocolate covered coffee beans and free samples of “coffee tea” are available on the tour. You can also try a “super healthy, full of antioxidants” tea produced from coffee. It was informative and quick, saving plenty of time for drinking coffee on the porch in a rocking chair.

Coffee lovers visiting the Big Island: check out the Hula Daddy Kona Coffee Tours.

Hula Daddy Kona coffee tour RSVP

At the time of this review, Hula Daddy was giving free coffee tours throughout the day. Things may have changed. In early September, 2017 Hula Daddy began requiring advance reservations and the 45 minute tour now has a charge of $10 a person.

On a cruise? It’s a quick trip…

When you get into port, grab an Uber to tour Hula Daddy, about 20 minutes away.

Coffee lovers visiting the Big Island: check out the Hula Daddy Kona Coffee Tours.

You cannot miss this experience in Hawaii if you are a coffee lover. It’s a charming place. It’s beautiful. And it’s different than the other adventures you’ll have on the Big Island. Plus, it’s the only place you can get their coffee other their online shop.

After one coffee tour, you might be hooked. Also check out the Greenwell Farms Kona Coffee Tour and the Kona Brewery Tour, if you like beer.

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