A Journey to a Beach of Green Sand

The expedition to the Big Island of Hawaii that I experienced last summer brought me too many stellar adventures and all of the things that me and my travel crew did in that week, made the trip exceed any expectations that I could have held for it.  Within 24 hours we decided to fly to Hawaii from Michigan just 26 days before the trip.  It was spontaneous and it was perfect.  Below is the story of just one of the many magical moments of this expedition.

Late in the evening during one day of our Hawaii trip, after a day of exploring and checking out a beach of black sand called the Punalu’u Beach, where we came across multiple seas turtles and a parrot fish while snorkeling, we headed to the Green Sand Beach or Papakōlea Beach.  This Beach is not as easy to get to as some of the other beaches, for the nearest parking lot or entry point is three miles away.  There are two ways to get to it from this remote parking lot, that is seemingly in the middle on nowhere. One, you make the three mile trek in the hot and windy conditions through fields of tall grass and roads that make dirt bike tracks seem like nice paved side street.  The other way,  for a fee, you get the locals to drive you with their vehicles that are built and modified for the roads.

We chose to have the locals drive us, for it was getting late and it wouldn’t be much more than a couple of hours before the Sun set.

After negotiating a price we decided to wait for the last driver of the day to return back to take us.  The parking lot we were waiting in was kind of sketchy and since we were one of the last ones in the parking lot it was eerie looking. Being in the middle of nowhere, with ruins of old building, forgotten cars, and rodents scurrying around.  After waiting for around a half hour our drive finally returned to drive, right when we were thinking about heading back. His name was Ray and he was going to be driving us in a relatively old Jeep of Ford Escape looking vehicle and because there was  six of us including Ray, there were only seats for five so we through Bobby in the trunk of the car, that was modified for people to sit in.

The first little bit of the drive was quite rough and we thought we had started in, but then our drive made a turn and told us that the green sand beach adventure officially started.  Let’s just say that there was no way to prepare for how rough the drive is and no real way to describe it, but take what you think would be rough and and make it three times worse. It was filled with rocks, hills, and ruts that were taller than the vehicle itself.  It was also three miles of this, the only paving that had been done must have just been from cars driving on this field from the parking lot to the beach, I have no clue how this car didn’t pop a tire or break an axle or something.  It was just something else and it made sense that rental companies won’t let you take rental cars to the beach, but we made though. Three miles later on indescribably rough roads we made it and the view was just as indescribable as the roads.

180 degree panorama
Part of the path down to the beach

The Moon was rising in the cloudy dusk colored sky as we looked down at this beach of dark green sand that was seemingly carved into the cliffs in a U-shape.  The cliff sides of the beach were this grey/green color that looked like something from a different planet on a sci-fi movie, like a ceramics sculpture that was patiently molded by nature, appropriately hidden from civilization.  We quickly made our way down the sloped cliff face and through a short winding path carved into the rock of the cliff face, before finally stepping onto the green sand.  Like this trip, it was something that I never really thought I would ever do, it was a surreal feeling and the best part was that we had the beach all to ourselves.  The sand consisted majority of green olivine crystals mixed with other colored particles left long ago by volcanic activity.  Olivine is a rock forming mineral.  To me it felt softer and smoother, compared to regular sand, and brushed off a bit more easily.

We quickly noticed that the waves were very high energy as we jumped into the salt water of the Pacific Ocean; we were swimming off the coast of a tiny island in the middle of the world’s largest ocean.  The waves were big and they were strong, in fact at one point the tide carried Allie almost the whole way up the beach.  The undertow was powerful enough to knock you right over, sometimes even when we were withstanding it. It was wild.

The beach itself was not very big so we were able to easily explore all of it and really take it all in before our driver said that it was time to head back, with the Sun disappearing on the horizon and the Moon getting brighter.  We gave it one last look, took one last picture, and I thanked the Universe and God for this moment as we piled into the vehicle for another three-mile ride back through the up dirt bike course on steroids.

One last Picture (from left: Bobby, Allie, me, Mary, Kevin)

The ride back wasn’t as bad for we sort of new what to expect now, although our driver tried to take rougher areas to give us more of an experience.  The sky was mostly darkened by night on the way back, as we passed by another car that appeared to be having trouble and people walking back, who made the choice to walk instead of hitch a ride.  The ride itself was an experience alone, I don’t feel like my description really described for there is no real way to.

When we made it back to the parking area, the Sun had completely set in the sky and it was completely dark save for a gentle light on the horizon, from the Sun.  Our driver Ray was a really cool person who had a nice outlook on Life and the Universe and when we got back we took a picture with him (below) and this picture is one of my favorites from the trip.  We then began the about an hour and half drive back to our temporary home under some bright and unobstructed starlight on an island in the middle of an ocean.

Our Driver Ray

I can understand why this beach is difficult to access and I don’t blame the locals for wanting to keep it this way for it is protected, a treasure that requires a little bit of extra work to get to.  Those who make the journey are rewarded with a view that is unmatched in its uniqueness.  Another showing of the beauty in this world, in this case the hidden beauty, reinforcing the notion that we need to protect places like these, as well as the Earth itself.  Protect it, so future generations can dance in the same wonder and so the Earth can stay beautifully bizarre and habitable for millions of years to come. Mahalo.

– Dustin


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