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#8 Romantic Thing to Do on the Big Island of Hawaii
To the Ends of the Earth
First, press ‘Play’ …
… then picture this.
I would enjoy this one for its sheer ‘otherworldly-ness’ alone. What an amazing place. Its name is “Papakōlea beach” (pron. papa-ko-LEE-a) and it is one of only four green sand beaches in the world (the others being in Guam, the Galapagos Islands and Norway).
While it’s technically not ‘the ends of the earth’, Papakōlea is very near the southern most point of the United States, known as Ka Lae (‘the point’ in Hawaiian), or more commonly as South Point. This is where early Polynesians arrived and established a village, living off the rich fishing grounds nearby.
Papakōlea is located in a windy region of incredibly beautiful cliffs, macadamia tree groves and several Hawaiian heiau (pron. HAY-ow), sacred places of worship.
The sheer remoteness makes it likely you’ll have the place to yourselves. I find these kind of lone wolf, zen-like settings extremely romantic. If you you do too, then you’ll appreciate it.
Papakōlea beach was formed when the ocean cut a bay into the side of Puʻu Mahana (pron. Poo-oo Muh-ha-na) , a cinder cone which erupted about 10,000 years ago. The green sand is actually olivine, a silicate. The olivine (also called Peridot when of gem quality) is heavier than the other lava components, so it remains deposited on the beach, while the lighter components of the lava wash away.
This one’s not for everybody. Getting here requires a sense of adventure and a 5.3 mile (easy) round trip hike.
You and your love could take a 4WD vehicle down to the beach but it’s hard on the road and you can’t appreciate some of the interesting sights along the way. Non-4WD rental cars can be driven to the parking lot, but the agreements prohibit off road driving beyond that. Local folks are sometimes available to drive you from the parking area to the beach for a few bucks, but unless you’re in poor health, enjoy the hike, your love and the interesting sites along the way.
Since the point of this romantic activity is togetherness, let’s get some exercise and walk it. Swimming at the green sand beach is possible, but the surf is quite strong and I don’t recommend it. If you get swept out to sea, the next stop is Kiribati in the Line Islands about 2,500 miles away. And speaking of beach, it goes without saying, but I will anyway, please don’t remove any sand from the beach.
Depending on your point of origin, this one’s an all day trip. It can be windy and hot where you’re going. There are no facilities in the area, either at the parking lot or the beach. Bring sunscreen, water, several large beach towels, and some picnic items (more on that later). If you have long hair, a pony-tail is a good idea to combat the wind.
Interested? Let’s go!
Starting first thing (before breakfast – trust me here), head south out of Kona on Highway 11 (Mamalahoa Highway) (pron. just like it sounds). About 6 miles south of Keauhou Bay and 9 miles out of Kailua Kona, between Honalo and Kealakekua (pron. Key-la-key-KOU-a), on the left (east side) you’ll see Teshima’s, an unassuming little restaurant in an older building. But don’t be fooled. Pull in.
The ambiance is local with chrome dinette sets and vinyl booths so you can sit side by side or talk to each other across the table. The staff in this family-run restaurant is friendly and welcoming. And the food is fantastic. The Japanese breakfast is authentic, served on a lacquer tray, and includes rice, fish miso soup, eggs, and toast. Parking is not the best and the restaurant is a little hard to find, but I think you’ll get a kick out of it. The tempura and miso are out of this world. You’ll find plenty to share with your love.
Open 7 days a week – 6:30AM – 1:45PM and 5:00PM – 9:00PM (Same work ethic as mom. Gotta love it!)
79-7251 Hawaii Belt Rd, Kealakekua, HI 96750
(808) 322 – 9140
Teshima’s was started by a second-generation Japanese woman, who lived until she was 106. She ran the place almost the whole time. (Really reminds me of mom.) It’s a fun and delicious way to start your romantic adventure.
Once sated, continue south on 11 (Mamalahoa Highway). You have an approximately 90 minutes drive to the Green Sand Beach. On the way some interesting stops you might enjoy. There are numerous coffee plantations which offer tours. Also in this region are the Captain Cook Monument and Kealakekua Bay, the best snorkeling on the island. And one of my favorites anywhere!
Ten minutes further down the road is Pu’u Honua ‘O Honaunau (pron. at your own peril) National Historic Park, a spiritual complex considered a “place of refuge” for the early Hawaiians.
Your destination is about an hour on down the road. Stay on Highway 11, then take the road to ‘South Point’ between mile markers 69 and 70 on Highway 11. Drive to the harbor at the end of the road and park your car in the parking lot on the left hand side of the road.
Hiking to Papakōlea beach
Usually the hike can be hot, but it’s not particularly challenging. Just walk towards the ocean then take the road to the left as you’re facing the water. Stay on the road closest to the water, walking east, with the ocean on your right for about 2 1/2 miles. Plan on strong winds. An alternative is to pay for a ride to the beach from several enterprising local folk with 4-wheel drive.
On your way watch out for several ancient sites. These are mostly heiaus, temples used by the ancient Hawaiians as a place to make an offering of their first catch to appease the gods.
You’ll know you’re there once you reach the cliffs above the Green Sand Beach. The best way to access the beach is to climb down the lava cliff on the west side of the bay. In addition to enjoying the rare green sand, look closely for a small ancient cave dwelling on the western side of the beach high up in the cliffs.
The sand here actually glitters. It’s an amazing green, gold, black combo that has to be seen to be believed.
Still looking for more adventure? (I’m pooped at this point.) Drive 30 minutes more south to see the endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtles at the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach.
Sunset Times on the Big Island
And speaking of hand in hand, romantic Hawaii and gorgeous sunsets go together! Here’s all you need to plan.
|Dates||Approximate Time Range of Sunset|
|Jan 1 – Mar 31||5:50 PM – 6:30 PM|
|Apr 1 – Jun 31||6:30 PM – 7:00 PM|
|Jul 1 – Sep 30||7:00 PM – 6:10 PM|
|Oct 1 – Dec 31||6:10 PM – 5:50 PM|
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