The Many Colors of Hawaii's Magnificent Beaches


Hawaii is world-renowned for its amazing surf and beautiful beaches, making the islands a number one hotspot for vacations, honeymoons, and destination weddings. However, the islands' beaches of many colors – black, red, orange, and green -- are mostly hidden and well worth seeking out. Just bear in mind that many of these colored beaches require your off-the-beaten-path skills to get there.

Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach

On Maui's eastern end, just south of Hana Bay, you'll find the deep red sands of Kaihalulu 'Roaring Sea' Beach, which come from the erosion of the nearby, red iron-rich Ka'uiki Head cinder cone volcano. The red beach is especially beautiful against a jagged black sea wall and turquoise blue waters, but you'll brave a steep and slippery hike to get down to it. Perks of making the perilous trip? A nearly isolated beach where clothing is optional.

Halawa Black Sand Beach

If Molokai is part of your itinerary, you have to take the picturesque drive all the way down Kamehameha Highway, ending at the fine black volcanic sands of Halawa Beach. Formed from volcanic glass that shattered upon reaching the ocean, the black sand creates a spectacular coastline against Molokai's waters. As you soak in the beauty of Halawa, don't miss the incredible view of Maui in the far-off distance.

Punalu'u Black Sand Beach

Not to be confused with Punaluu Beach of Oahu, Punalu'u Beach on the Big Island is another one of Hawaii's black-sand beaches on the southeastern Kau coast. The black sand here is flecked with silver and is truly beautiful against a backdrop of deep-green palm trees along the coastline. And if you drive 20 miles farther south, you'll hit the green sands of Papakolea Beach.

Papakolea Beach

One of four green-sand beaches in the world, Papakolea Beach is at the southern tip of the Big Island, and like Kaihalulu, the unique color of its sand also comes from the erosion of a nearby cinder cone volcano. The green color is due to olivine, a mineral found in Hawaiian lava, and is so dense, it accumulates naturally on the shoreline.
You'll realize you can't really drive your rented vehicle to the beach, so ask the locals to take you in an ATV – which they will, for a small charge. Otherwise, it's a pretty hot and windy three-mile hike to the cliffs, including climbing a ladder down to the beach. The cool thing about this option is you'll get to see ancient, almost completely eroded cliff dwellings and fishing temples on your way to the olive-green beach.

Papohaku Beach

On Molokai's west end is the mesmerizing Papohaku Beach, with its blue waters spilling over onto orange, reddish-gold sand. Watching the sunset on this hidden gem is sure to lure you in, and if you stay past dark, you can catch great views of Makapu'u Lighthouse and the lights of Kailua.



Christina Wong is a Bay Area native who loves to travel the world, but always finds her way back to California.

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