3 Unusually Colored Hawii Beaches

3 Unusually Colored Hawii Beaches

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Hawaii | Natural Wonders  |  12 Comments | All Travel Posts

Everyone knows that Hawaii is home to gorgeous golden sand beaches. But did you know that visitors have other sand hues to choose from? No other single place on Earth has as many strangely colored beaches. Here’s a look at our three favorites, one black beach, one red and one green:

Black: Punaluu Beach Park

Hawai’i (The Big Island)

green turtle black beach 3 Unusually Colored Hawii Beaches follow me on pinterest button 3 Unusually Colored Hawii Beaches There are other spots in Hawaii to see black sand beaches but none are as scenic and expansive as what you’ll find at the Punaluu Beach Park, near~ish to Hilo on The Big Island. The black sand—and the black rocks at the edges of the beach—are the result of a long ago volcanic explosion. Removing any sand off the beach is not only a violation of state law but also, legend has it, an affront to Pele (the Hawaiian volcano goddess, not the Brazilian footballer). Those who remove volcanic material from the island will be cursed, a la Greg in the fourth season of the Brady Bunch.

In addition to its sand color, Punaluu is famous for the plethora of crabs and turtles that call this beach home.

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[via jakerome]
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Red: Kaihalulu

Maui

kaihalulu hawaii beach s 3 Unusually Colored Hawii Beaches follow me on pinterest button 3 Unusually Colored Hawii Beaches There are only a handful of red beaches in the world. To achieve such a vibrant red, a beach needs to be near a rich source of iron and have a means for that iron to leach into the beach and be sheltered from harsh ocean waves. And that’s exactly the situation at Kaihalulu on Maui’s eastern shore. The iron comes from a cinder cone hill produced by a volcano. The replenishing happens because said hill is eroding. And because Kaihalulu is so well protected by a natural sea wall, all that iron doesn’t end up in the ocean as fast as it would at other beaches.

Kaihalulu is not a great swimming beach—the water is usually rough and there are many rocks about. It is, however, an amazing place to visit, partly for the beach’s vibrant redness and partly because it feels blissfully isolated. (In fact, Kaihalulu’s relative isolation makes it a local favorite for nude sunbathing). To get here from Hana take Uakea Road to where it dead ends (past Hauoli Road, across from the baseball field). There, next to the community center, you’ll find a path. Take it to the Japanese cemetery, turn right and prepare for a semi-precarious climb down.

If you go, a pair of Tevas or FiveFingers or the like are highly suggested for the sandy, slippery, sharp-rock conditions.

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Green: Papakolea

Near Ka Lae, Hawai’i (The Big Island)

Like Kaihalulu (above), Papakolea beach owes its unusual color to the cinder cone hill that is eroding onto the beach. The hill semicircling Papakolea is extremely rich in olivine, a mineral that often appears green due to the presence of nickel. Though Olivine itself is not rare, it is very unusual to find it in such high concentrations. The mineral is also found in large quantities on the moon and Mars, which might explain why Papakolea looks so other worldly.

Of the three beaches in this review, Papakolea is easily the one we’d return to first. Of the three it is also the most difficult to get to. The way requires traversing a steep two-mile trail or finding a way along the coast in a 4WD vehicle. A good Hawaii guidebook and/or map is highly suggested.

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updated: 24 Feb 2011
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Related posts:
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A Review of Maui Jim: The World’s Best Sunglasses
Real Places That Resemble Dr. Seuss Illustrations

 3 Unusually Colored Hawii Beaches


Responses

  1. Frederick says:

    I just decided to go to Hawaii (instead of the Florida Keys) because of this article. Thanks! These beaches just look too amazing to pass up.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Spot Cool Travel Stuff Reply:

    Great to hear it, Frederick.

    We’re a fan of the Keys, too. Especially Key West. The surprising thing about the Keys, though, is that the beaches on the whole are rather sub-par. If you are looking for a trip that includes amazing beaches, we think Hawaii is the much better choice.

    Let us know how your trip turns out.

    ~ SCS

    [Reply to this comment]

  2. ConnerGo says:


    Twitter:
    Ahhh. Hawaii. Thanks for the fun post and for pointing out the consequences (!) for taking away black sand; the same holds true for the green sand.

    A couple of other suggestions for responsible travel on the Big Island:

    - Stay at least 50 yds from the sea turtles (unless you’re snorkeling in which case they come right up to you!)

    - Instead of 4WD to Papakloea (the tires are tearing up this ecologically and culturally sensitive area) do the hike. Its more rewarding that way too – this is a wild landscape!

    aloha!
    Conner
    Lonely Planet, Big Island 1, 3 &4

    [Reply to this comment]

    Spot Cool Travel Stuff Reply:

    Thanks for the tips, Conner. And, not incidentally, good job on your Lonely Planet guidebooks.

    ~ SCS

    [Reply to this comment]

  3. Jack says:


    Twitter:
    Great shots. we’ve got the black and red ones where I live on Tenerife…but no green ones. I like that shade of beach.

    Like Luc J commented, walking on the black sand can be like walking on coals.

    [Reply to this comment]

  4. Benjamin @ barcelona rentals says:


    Twitter:
    It is amazing indeed! But what do you think of Hyams Beach in New South Wales, Australia… It is said to be the whitest beach of the world (don’t forget to put on your sunglasses) and Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, California… Also extremely nice but weird! here a link with more info and pictures on it! http://www.funonthenet.in/articles/strange-beaches.html

    [Reply to this comment]

    Spot Cool Travel Stuff Reply:

    Benjamin,

    There are definitely other surprisingly-colored beaches in the world. You mentioned some good ones. Maybe a subject for a future post?

    ~ SCS

    [Reply to this comment]

  5. Mia says:


    Twitter:
    Truly amazing, I haven’t seen such things before. These beaches are truly unique.

    [Reply to this comment]

  6. Carlos D says:

    Who knew Hawaii had such cool beaches. Thanks as always SCS!

    [Reply to this comment]

  7. Lo says:

    Ive been to the red…amazing! and yea getting there can be a bit dangerous. But amazing! There was also a black sand beach on maui, on the hana side

    [Reply to this comment]

  8. Maui Beach Portriats says:

    I had no idea that Hawaii had a beach with green sand. I have seen the red, black, typical golden and white but not green. I will definitely have to visit Papakolea beach when I’m on the Big Island next. Thanks for sharing.

    [Reply to this comment]

  9. Luc J says:

    I’ve been on such a black beach in Greece once. You need to be in good shape, because you have to run from your towel to the water and back from the water to your towel – or your get your feet burned.
    So I’ll go for the green one, if you don’t mind.

    [Reply to this comment]

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