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8 spectacular beaches with unusually colored sand

By: Josh Lew on July 17, 2014, 6:27 a.m.
Papakolea Beach, Big Island, Hawaii

Photo: Alex Garae/Shutterstock

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Papakolea Beach, Hawaii

Sometimes referred to as Green Sand Beach, Papakolea sits on the island of Hawaii (also known as the “Big Island”). This beach gets its nickname because its sands are infused with olivine, a green semiprecious mineral. Trace deposits wash onto the beach after being eroded away from nearby lava-formed rocks. The olivine is too dense to be washed out to the ocean, so it eventually ends up on the beach, giving the sand its unique olive-green hue. 

Papakolea is quite remote. The drive to the trailhead that leads to the beach is about two hours from both Kona and Hilo. Then there is a 2 mile hike that includes a rugged decent before you reach the green sands.