There may be two recurring themes in the posts we write on our Voyage stories. First is the point that there is a wonderful transformation of self-esteem waiting for you if you want to upgrade yourself from being an ordinary tourist to becoming a voyager. There is a difference in the same way the meanings are different between the words ‘child’ and ‘adult’. Secondly, we always believed that the farther you travel from home, the more rewarding the experience may become. Life holds out interesting turns for you and the excitement is inversely proportional to the distance travelled from your home. This year in March, we made the longest air travel till now to reach the little pieces of heaven in the Hawaii islands, gorgeously and exclusively reigning as the Queen of Pacific all by herself. While you may foresee a clichéd sentence coming on blue sky and lavish sandy beaches but no! Our voyage was about the touch and feel of not one, but three coloured sands of three beaches – black, green and white ofcourse! This is exactly where ‘tourists’ distinguish themselves from ‘voyagers’ that they push themselves to limit to experience the shades of natural wonders.
- Both the black sand beach and the green sand beaches are located on the southern tip of the Big Island Hawaii. So if driving from Kohala Coast, you will have to drive down south for around 2 hours.
- It is impossible to visit both the beaches on the same day. For sanity’s sake, we recommend that you visit Black sand beach early in the morning, then head to the Volcanoes National Park on same day. Visit Green Sand beach on another day. Tanusree had recommended this itinerary and it worked nicely.
- Do not try to take the black sand in your plastic bags. The lifeguard has eyes of a hawk and will scream out loud in his loudspeaker to warn you. It is illegal actually to take anything from the Black sand beach i.e rocks, sands, turtles (!).
- Take your own beach chairs, umbrella and sand mats, water bottles, food. The beaches we saw in Big Island don’t have the variety of basic facilities as we would have expected (as found in other beaches elsewhere we have visited)
- Take the shuttle service from the parking lot of Green Sand beach. It will save time and sanity.
- We stayed at Kona Coast Resort which was ideally located to explore these beaches. Kona Coast Resort was spacious, clean and very exotic. Highly recommended.
The white sand beaches are abound and aplenty around the Big Island. The one that stands out for its serenity and natural landscape is the Hapuna beach on the west coast. A complete contrast to the hustle and bustle of the beaches found in Oahu, Hapuna offered a tranquil and unspoilt setting in Big Island for those who had been seeking the true pacific calm in the waves of the Pacific Ocean. Ideal for long walks along the shiny white sand while the foamy waves kiss and go erasing the trail of your footsteps left behind. The beach has rental facilities and a small café unlike many other beaches in the Hawaiian Islands where basic facilities were hard to find. The beach is also ideal for surf-boarding for its high and strong waves. Some daredevils are also seen jumping from the cliffs on the edges. You can either arrive at Hapuna beach early morning and stay until lunch or show up in the afternoon before couple of hours from sunset. The view of the sun taking the final dip in the western sky in the pacific arms of the ocean is a sight worth watching from the Hapuna beach. The splash of orange in the sky and white sands all around you will hum out the perfect antidote to the pangs of your soul.
Later in the Big Island, the most unique experience of the colourful sand exploration was the sight of the black sand beach. Called the Punaluʻu Beach, it is located between Pāhala and Nāʻālehu on the Big Island of Hawaii. The beach has black sand made of basalt and created by lava flowing into the ocean which exploded as it reached the ocean and cooled. This beach is also popular for sighting massive Hawksbill or Green sea turtles who swim up the shore sometimes to seek some undivided sun tan in front of the bemused visitors. The very sight of the black sand was so different and never felt before that you will be awed. Obviously it was impossible to walk barefoot, you had to wear your sandals. We installed our own umbrellas and armchairs and decided to absorb this strange experience for a while to be chilling out on black sand! While we were watching the foamy waves announcing their might with every second splash, we saw a sudden flurry of visitors around a lazy turtle which just made its way to the shore for some repose. The giant sea turtle was naturally very slow, gentle and in a mood not to be disturbed. We realised that two more of its underwater compatriots had made their respective appearances on the other end of the beach. We checked them out too while they kept resting as unmoved as a granite stone with occasionally being washed partially by the splashing waves.
The journey to set foot on the Green Beach was the most laborious and epic of all. We had to drive all the way to the southernmost point of the United States to be there. Surely your eyes will be frowning but it is true that the southernmost point of the USA is not in the mainland but in the Big Island of Hawaii. Also called the Papakolea beach or the Green Sand beach which is situated so far away and the access is so remote that we were left bemused how we actually ended up doing this. There is a point where you have to park your rental car and either take the heavy-duty land rovers that are offered by the locals for 30USD return trip. Or you have the option to hike some 6km of uneven terrain all by yourself. You could also drive yourself provided if you hired a land rover or a vehicle sufficiently higher than the ground. In any case remember that you will not be covered by your car insurance company since you are technically off road. We parked our car at the entrance and started hiking, soon realising that things were looking a bit pear shaped. Not only we were unready for the hike, we were not dressed up appropriately for this long hike and not enough protected from the blazing sun. Moreover, we had no clue how long or how far the beach actually was from where we parked our SUV. Keeping the furious waves lashing the rocks on one side, we kept on walking with a furious sun on top of our heads and on the other side walking with an equally furious fashionista Tanusree venting her fury at me for the plan going wrong. Suddenly we saw a four wheeler appearing on the horizon. Like a desperate Bedouin lost in the midst of dunes, I waved my hands for a lift and the travellers obliged. We kept standing on the back of the pick up and what ensued later for the 10 minutes of journey will give the rollercoasters in theme parks a run for their money.
It is recommended that you make this trip in empty stomach as the violent and frequent turbulence of the bumpy route will dissolve any elements inside your stomach. We reached finally the much anticipated Green Beach and discovered from above that while it is beautiful, it was rather very small. We descended to the sands negotiating on the rocks the body’s balance with that of the pricy DSLR camera. We found that the sand of the beach was rather of the colour olive and not ‘green’ as we would have thought. The sand got its colour from olivine crystals created from eruptions to a dormant volcano years ago. Keeping in mind that this was one of only four green sand beaches in the world, the others being Talofofo Beach, Guam, Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island in the Galapagos Islands, and Hornindalsvatnet, Norway – we thought it was still worth the epic journey we had to endure to reach to this place.
When the volcanoes erupted thousands years ago forming the current Hawaiian islands, the mysteries and beauties of the seas and skies got strewn here and there all around. For those of you monochromes out there, you can settle with sun tans on white sandy beaches. For those with flare for colours in life – make sure you see for yourself that beaches exist with sands and the colour can be blue and green – all for your amusement in the pristine islands of Hawaii.