Mahana Beach, also called Papakōlea Beach, is located at South Point and is one of only four green sand beaches in the world. The beach is often secluded and requires a 2.5-mile hike each way. This unique beach on the Big Island of Hawai’i is part of an eroding volcanic cinder cone; fine-grained deposits of semi-precious olivine wash down the cinder cone to mix with yellow and black sands below, giving the beach its unusual coloration.
Mahana Beach History
The area surrounding Mahana was originally a massive ancient Hawaiian settlement; the area holds a treasure trove of archaeological information. Captain Cook’s January 5, 1779 journal entry reports at South Point “a pritty large village, the inhabitants of which thronged off to the ship with hogs and women…” Numerous archaeological surveys have been conducted in the area, revealing burial caves, heiau (Hawaiian temples), fishing shrines, and vast residential complexes.
Mahana Beach, Hawai’i Facilities
There are no facilities, restrooms or rubbish cans at Makalawena. There is little shade, so bring water and pack accordingly.
Mahana Beach Swimming Conditions
You can sometimes swim near the protected entrance; however, the currents and waves at Mahana can be dangerous even when waters appear calm. As with all Hawaiian beaches, check the current conditions and pay heed to all posted signs regarding ocean conditions and safety.
How to Get There
From Kona or Hilo, take Highway 11 to South Point Road. Follow the road towards the ocean. When you reach unpaved road, keep going towards the ocean, following the signs to the Kaulana Boat Launch. Park at the end of the road, and go through the gate on the east side of the parking area. Follow the dirt track across the fields until you reach the edge of cinder cone. From there, traverse the steep cliff down to the shore.