The Magnificent Colored Sand Beaches of Hawaii
Hawaii is the proud home to the most naturally occurring colored sand beaches in the entire world, the result of a diverse variety of corals, unique marine life, and debris from the many ancient volcanoes that gave birth to the island chain. A few of Hawaii’s colored sand beaches are accessible; the majority remote and secluded, accessible only by a challenging hike, ATV or all-terrain vehicle. However, if you are a fan of romantic colored sand beaches and up for the challenge, you will discover red, green, black, white, and golden beaches of jaw-dropping beauty.
Papakolea Green Sand Beach
Tucked away at the base of Pu’u o Mahana, an ancient cone of a long-dormant volcano located near the southern tip of the Big Island, Hawaii, Papakolea Beach is a rarity. From the trailhead to the beach is a vigorous three-mile hike, so go equipped with plenty of fresh water and sunscreen. There are no services or lifeguard at the beach. Be aware of surroundings and wave breaks. The green sand is composed of finely ground, semi-precious olivine. The multi-faceted sand grains shimmer and sparkle in sunlight, but are especially striking at sunset. However, unless you plan an overnight camp out, it is best to start the hike back to the highway at least three to four hours before sunset as the terrain is challenging and can be dangerous in the dark. Novice hikers are advised to enlist the services of a guide service to ensure a safe and memorable eco-adventure. Seasoned trail guides are available in nearby Kona.
Kaihalula Red Sand Beach
Accessible by the twisting Hana Highway, Kaihalulu Beach, which means ‘roaring sea” in the Hawaiian language, is not a beach suitable for swimming or any beach or water activity. Close to shore rip tides, and rocky outcrops are dangerous and deadly, but the scenery is amazing. The beach is composed of brilliant red sand with flecks of black, a product of nearby Ka’uiki Head, a now-dormant cinder cone volcano. The sands are red in color, ground down from lava that cooled quickly, retaining its fiery hue. When in the area, be sure to explore the charming amenities and points of interest in Hana and find your way to the Seven Sacred Pools.
Halawa Black Sand Beach Park
Molokai, perhaps best known as a 19th-century leper colony, is also the home of some of finest beaches in the island chain including one composed entirely of fine black lava sand. The majority of Molokai’s beaches are a rich golden color, often described as spun burnt sugar, making the pure black sand beach at Halawa an attractive abnormally. From the beach, there is a sweeping vista across the channel with a view of Maui in the distance. Hawaii’s scenic black sand beaches are the result of lava flow into the sea. When basalt settles near the surface, these spectacular haunting coastlines are created.
Hulopoe Bay Golden Sands Beach
Flanked by lava fingers protecting the beach from riptides and strong ocean currents, Hulopoe Bay is a great place to swim, snorkel and paddleboard. The pale golden colored sand shimmers on a moonlight night, and it is not an unusual sight to spot humpback whales and dolphins. Under the stewardship of the State of Hawaii, the inviting beach park provides campsites, showers, clean restrooms, BBQ pits, and picnic tables.