A short walk along the green sand made of peridot


Where will the passion for beautiful underground creations—minerals—take you? This time I am taking my readers with me to Hawaii. This is a short sketch about a wonderful natural formation - a green beach!

Mahana Beach on the Papakolea Coast in Hawaii

Imagine walking barefoot on a blanket of sparkling green sand that owes its striking color to peridot crystals (peridot, olivine - take your pick) eroded from an ancient volcanic formation and washed ashore by ocean waves.

Beautiful peridot

Mahana Beach on the Papakolea Coast in Hawaii is one of only three green sand beaches in the world (the others being Talafofo Beach in Guam and Green Beach on Floreana Island in the Galapagos Islands). Beach sand on the undeveloped southern tip of the Big Island is rich in the mineral olivine. Olivine is a common mineral component of Hawaiian lavas and one of the first crystals to form when magma cools.

Locals call peridot the "Hawaiian Diamond" and small peridot stones are sold as "Pele's Tears" in honor of Pele, the goddess of volcanoes. In ancient Hawaiian chants, Pele was described as “She who shapes the sacred land,” and her temper was known to be violent and dangerous as lava.

Those brave enough to take the long walk through the lava fields to the remote crescent-shaped beach of Pu'u Mahana Bay will be treated to one of nature's greatest achievements - a verdant beach that appears surreal against a backdrop of steely gray cliffs, turquoise blue ocean and bright blue sky.

The abundance of olivine crystals that fill the beach come from the eroded interior of Puu Mahana, a volcanic cone formed more than 49 years ago by an explosive combination of lava and groundwater.

Olivine to sand ratio on Green Beach

As tempting as it may be to take home a small sample of green olivine sand, the practice is illegal and carries a fine of up to $100.