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August 28, 2009

In addition to spectacular white sand and black sand beaches, the Big Island of Hawaii boasts a unique green sand beach.  Green sand is formed from the gemstone olivine, or peridot.  Through volcanic action the olivine is brought to the earth surface.   As the olivine weathers, it is broken into small fragments, which eventually becomes sand.  The green sand is heavier than the white or black sand and remains on the beach when the ocean currents sweep away the lighter weight sands.  It is a unique phenomenon that occurs at the south point of the island.

The green sands beach contains the oldest know evidence of human habitation in the Hawaii island chain.  It is rich with ruins, petroglyphs, and ancient fishing spots.  Hawaiian mythology believed the green sand to be the tears of the Goddess Pele.  It was used in many healing ceremonies.

The students were guided by Kawika, an expert on the local environment and culture.  Kawika is native to Hawaii and enthusiastically entertains the students with legends and pertinent scientific information (including geological, anthropological, cultural, ecological etc.).  Kawika is a valuable resource and many of the students look forward to adventures with him.

The weather on Friday was fabulous.  The group traveled down the scenic highway and turned south on the coastal road toward the beach.  Although the bay is well protected, the ocean was too rough for swimming that day.  The students ate lunch on the beach and enjoyed the scenery.  Besides being unique for its green sand, the beach is also the furthest southern point in the USA.

On the drive back to Pacific Quest the group toured on scenic Ka’u roads.  They made a couple of stops to pick lilikoi, guava and macadamia nuts.The students also went to Punalu’u black sand beach.  They saw three giant sea turtles resting in the sun.  Check them out in the pictures!

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