Biggest Ball of String

Our road trip adventures, quirky roadside attractions, generally in the United States or Canada (and with occasional travel off the mainland into Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean and Europe – so far)

Punalu’u, South Point, and the Green Sand Beach (Hawaii)

on July 10, 2013

Back to Hawaii! It’s been awhile, but last time I was telling about our Hawaii adventures, I meant to continue on to the Green Sand Beach…

I can’t remember when I first heard that there was a “Green Sand Beach”, but I’ve been trying to get there since.South Point  The problem is: there’s a 2-3 mile hike to get there.  That didn’t seem like very far, but nobody was willing to go with me.

However, every time someone new comes with us, I continue to suggest we go.  THIS TIME, Amanda and family thought it was a good idea! YAY!

So, one day, when it was supposed to be rainy in the Hilo area (I know – you think it’s always rainy there, but I find the weather very pleasant with a good mix of sun and rain), we went on a field trip to South Point.South point blow holes - tides out

South Point (“Ka Lae”) is only about 50 miles south-ish from Volcano Village and Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park.  It is the southern most point in the entire United States (19° North), including the Florida Keys (25° North.)

It’s possible that this is the landing place of the first inhabitants of Hawaii – Polynesians from Tahiti.  James Michener wrote in his novel “Hawaii” that they were escaping political upheaval – and headed out to sea in Fishing shelvescanoes, following the North Star… and eventually came to land safely, on the Big Island.  Of course, that’s technically fiction, but it’s fiction-based-on-fact, and the fact is: The Polynesians came, and archeology supports that they landed right there, on South Point.   Wikipedia summarizes: “Ruins of an ancient Hawaiian temple (heiau) and a fishing shrine can be found here. In addition, ancient Hawaiians drilled numerous holes in the rock ledges to use for mooring their canoes. Tying long ropes to their boats, they would drift out to sea to fish without fear of being carried away by the strong currents.”

Nowadays, people fish along the same shore – some even wrap their fishing “rope” around the wheel of their car, and when they catch something (which…I’m not how they know, but they carry their fishing lines far out into the sea with huge industrial size garbage bags tied to them every 100 feet or so), they start their Jeep and wheel in the catch!  (I haven’t seen this happen, but I’veCliff Jump seen it set up, in hopes of happening.)

We also saw people cliff-dive from one of the fishing stations, too, this year. In fact, I saw that there are tours offering South Point cliff diving/jumping as an option…  This girl was encouraged by her boyfriend to jump, on the promise that he’d jump right after her… which he did… which is good… so we didn’t have to push him…

Off we went towards the Green Sand (Papakōlea) Beach.

Just so you know – it IS too far to walk. WAY TOO FAR!  Some people do it, but you have to be really dedicated to it, in good shape, with sufficient water.

Some people drive in, but they need 4 wheel drive vehicles that they don’t care about.

Being in a rental car (shhhhhhh), we decided to walk.  We didn’t know, yet, that we would never have made it.

This man parked beside us (at the last possible place to abandon your vehicle) said: “I’ll drive you in, for $10 perRoute to Green Sand Beach person, kids for free.”

Although I was the advocate for “Lets just walk – how hard can it be?”, I immediately abandoned that idea as soon as this guy offered to drive us.  After convincing everyone else, we placed ourselves in his truck.

His truck, by the way, was held together by rope and duct tape.  The truck is completely covered, inside and out, in dust. There’s a jump seat inside, and a couch in the back..  I could understand the apprehension about renting his truck BUT it was a GREAT option!

He, himself, was EXACTLY who he should be – a local.  He was wearing board shorts and a beat up baseball cap, and flip-flops (which are “slippahs” in Hawaii), and when he drove, he could reach his big toe over to the clutch while still keeping his foot on the gas.

Green Sand BeachIt might not sound like a pretty picture, BUT he quickly became our hero!  So much so, that I asked him if I could keep his name (Magee) and phone number and hand it out to people who wanted to get to Green Sand Beach.  (So, if you want to go, and you don’t know anyone to drive you in, and you can’t walk in, please let me know!)

Also: he didn’t make us pay until we were safely delivered back at our own vehicle, AND he let us just take our time at the beach – he stayed up above and visited with the guy selling coconuts until we were ready to leave.

The Beach itself was amazing! I’ve never seen anything likeGreen Sand Beach 1 it! (I mean – there are only two beaches in the world that are made out of Olivine – this one, and one in Galapagos Islands (to which I haven’t been), so it makes sense that this was my first time seeing it…)

Olivine is a “magnesium iron silicate with the formula (Mg,Fe)2SiO4.” (That’s for my sister – checking to see if she’s reading… I should cut-and-paste it incorrectly… that’d be the real test 😀 )  Here’s what I know about it – it’s green. REALLY green! (Although you can’t really tell from the pictures, for some reason…) It’s “this close” to being the precious gem, Peridot. (“This close” is based on quality and size, but it didn’t stop me from feeling privileged and giddy to walk around on sand-size gemstones.)

Apparently, the Beach is inside what used to be a cinder cone.  It has now eroded on one side (Footsteps in Green Sandmaking the beach) but that completely explains the steep, steep, STEEP walls that you have to climb down to get to the Beach.
Green Sand Beach 2

You are NOT ALLOWED to take any sand from the beach – the fine, I think, is $500.  This makes sense, since there are only two such beaches in the world, and if everyone took some of the sand….

Speaking of interesting colored beaches in the area – there’s also the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach.   This is a turtlePunalu'u Turtle nesting area, and, though you aren’t allowed to touch them (penalty of $10,000 to $25,000 fines – I’ve seen both signs), you CAN snorkel in their vicinity!

This beach also has bathrooms, a refreshment stand, and a shower.

There are a few Black Sand Beaches on the island (as I’ve previously mentioned ~ Kalapana/Kaimu and Kehena), but this one is very easily accessed, and it’s worth it to just “be” there.  If you haven’t been to a Black Sand Beach before, you might be just as surprised as I was that the sand doesn’t make your feet dirty… It’s like little tiny black glass beads, made of basalt.
Punalu'u Punalu'u Beach

Wednesday, on to the Place of Refuge!

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2 responses to “Punalu’u, South Point, and the Green Sand Beach (Hawaii)

  1. Shannan says:

    No pics of Magee and his truck?

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