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Hawaii is a beautiful state where rockhounds can enjoy collecting various specimens while leaving the U.S mainland. It is the only U.S. state outside of North America, and it comprises several islands, many of them being volcanic. But where can you go rockhounding in Hawaii, and what can you find?
Some of the best places to rockhound in Hawaii include Mahana Beach, Papakolea Beach, Green Sand Beach, Diamond Head, Hualalai, Honolulu, and Oahu Island, among others. Hawaii is known for its beautiful peridot crystals, black corals, seashells, sea glass, shark teeth, sunstone, labradorite, and more.
It’s easy to get lost in the Hawaiian islands’ beauty and forget about gem collecting; however, we will present to you some of the most popular specimens to collect and places to beach comb and collect rocks in Hawaii. Let’s begin!
If you are interested in checking out the best rockhounding tools I recommend and use you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
Best Rockhounding Sites in Hawaii
Hawaii is made up of eight major islands and countless small islands, which leads to the fact that beachcombing is the most popular for collecting specimens.
Kauai Island, Maui Island, Oahu Island, Hualalai Volcano, Kaunala Island, Ke Iki Beach, Papakolea Beach, Diamond Head, and Green Sand Beach are some of the most popular places to rockhound in Hawaii.
Let’s see what you can find in some of these locations.
The third-largest island of Hawaii is Oahu, located in Honolulu County. Here, the famous green beaches are where you can find peridot or olivine. At the Waimanalo Formation in Oahu, you may find geodes.
Pearls are often found around Honolulu or quartz crystals in the Koolau Range and other locations. Agates, shark teeth, sea glass, or seashells are also found on most beaches on Oahu Island.
The Hualalai Volcano is located on the main island of Hawaii. It is the only region where obsidian can be found, at Pu’u Wa’awa’a; however, natives often shun those who take obsidian from here. Quartz crystals are abundant in this region, and plenty of other specimens may be found.
The ash beds on the island of Maui may host hidden geodes in them. Maui Island is the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands.
Here, at the Au’Au Channel, between Maui and Lanai, is one of the most abundant places where the famous black coral, which is the official gemstone of Hawaii, can be found. Pearls can also be found, as well as agates, shark teeth, sea glass, or seashells, in the many beaches surrounding Maui.
TIP: Do you know want the most common beach rocks are? You can find a lot of beautiful rocks and minerals on the beach but find out the most common ones in the article below:
What Kind of Rocks Are Found in Hawaii?
Hawaii is home to 137 volcanic islands that span over 1,500 miles. Because of this, most of the rocks found in Hawaii are igneous, and you can find specimens such as obsidian, but if you look harder, there are also some regions in which you can find geodes, gabbro, basalt, and agates.
These are just some of the popular rocks to collect in Hawaii, and in the table below, we have highlighted where you might find them!
|Obsidian||Hualalai Volcano, Pu’u Wa’awa’a|
|Geodes||Kauai Island, Maui Island, Waimanalo Formation in Oahu|
|Agates||Ke Iki Beach, Kaunala Gulch Beach, Diamond Head Beach|
In a state like Hawaii, where volcanic activity is so present, it’s only natural that you may easily find specimens of obsidian. However, you can find obsidian in Hawaii in only one place, namely, the cone Pu’u Wa’awa’a, located on the north of Hualalai Volcano. However, it is illegal to take volcanic rocks home, and natives believe it also brings bad luck.
Geodes, on the other hand, might not be the case. Typically rare, geodes may be found in volcanic ash beds or limestone-containing regions. The islands of Kauai, Maui, Oahu, Hawaii contain volcanic ash beds, where geodes might be found. In Oahu, at the Waimanalo Formation, limestone is present, and therefore, finding geodes is very likely.
When it comes to finding agates in Hawaii, things are even more accessible since you can find them on beaches, hiking trails, or even parks.
Agates can be found on most beaches in Hawaii, Ke Iki Beach, Kaunala Gulch Beach, Diamond Head Beach, are just a few examples. Through beachcombing, you can also find sea glass, shells, or shark teeth!
What Gemstones Are Found in Hawaii?
The indigenous people of Hawaii have long made gemstones out of the beautiful crystals and minerals they could find. In Hawaii, specimens such as obsidian, olivine (peridot), pearls, or black coral are considered gemstones and used in jewelry.
In the table below, we have highlighted where you can find some of the popular gemstones in Hawaii.
|Pearls||Wai Momi, Honolulu, Kualoa Ranch|
|Peridot||Oahu Island, Papakolea Coast, Green Sand Beach|
|Black Coral||Au’Au Channel, between Maui and Lanai|
Hawaiian pearls are beautiful, easy to find, and wherever you can find oysters, clams, or mussels, be sure not to bite too hard on them as you may discover pearls! The famous Pearl Harbor, Wai Momi in Hawaiian, is increasingly raising its Hawaiian oyster population.
You may not want to go there; however, pearls may also be found near Honolulu or the Kualoa Ranch.
Hawaii has some of the greenest beaches in the world, and this is due to the presence of olivine. You can find peridot, the gem version of the mineral olivine, in Hawaii in places such as Oahu Island, Papakolea Coast, or Green Sand Beach, which is the most popular on the Big Island!
Eruptions lead to the presence of olivine in these places, which contributes to the greeny imagery of the beaches.
The beautiful black coral is the state gemstone of Hawaii, and it is found alongside reefs. They are abundant in the Au’Au Channel, between Maui and Lanai.
Coral reefs are found throughout the northwestern islands of Hawaii, and this is where you should search for them. Be sure to check first if you can take these specimens, as some zones may be protected by law.
TIP: Hawaii is full of volcanoes, they are almost everywhere. Volcanic areas are amazing environments for a lot of beautiful rocks and minerals. Find out what the most common volcanic rocks are in the article below:
What Minerals Can Be Found in Hawaii?
The islands, and therefore the state of Hawaii, is quite young, which makes the presence of minerals and crystals a bit of a rarity. However, you can find minerals in Hawaii such as gold, olivine, diamonds, serpentine, and others. In the table below, you can see some of the most popular minerals to collect in Hawaii and where to find them.
|Olivine||Mahana Beach, Papakolea Beach, Green Sand Beach|
Hawaii isn’t particularly known for its gold; at least, placer gold hasn’t been found on the island. Most of the gold found on the island resides in rings, earrings, or necklaces found on the beaches where tourists tend to lose them.
However, you may pan for gold on the beaches and creeks of Hawaii since there seem to be some chances of finding it.
When it comes to diamonds in Hawaii, it is even rarer than gold despite its volcanic activity. The Diamond Head volcano, for example, is named as such since people mistook calcite crystals for diamonds.
Diamonds form beneath the surface, at deep levels. Kimberlite eruptions are occasionally responsible for bringing them up to the surface, which occurred 25 million years ago.
The Midway Islands are the only volcanic chain that is old; however, it is uninhabited, and despite its proximity, it isn’t part of Hawaii.
When it comes to olivine, on the other hand, Hawaii is abundant. This greenish mineral is often found in the gemstone form of peridot in jewelry.
You can find plenty of small olivine specimens on the beaches that have their greenish hues, such as Mahana Beach, Papakolea Beach, or Green Sand Beach. These are among the only green beaches in the world.
Can You Find Crystals in Hawaii?
Hawaii’s terrain is relatively young, hence the reason why crystals or minerals are scarce. However, peridot crystals embedded in olivine and quartz crystals and calcite crystals have been found on the Hawaiian islands.
Diamond Head volcano is particularly known for its calcite crystals, which have been confused with diamonds, while olivine crystals are found around Haleakala National Park.
Quartz crystals in Hawaii are abundant in places such as Hualalai Volcano, Mauna Kea summit region, Honolulu County, Oahu Island, Punchbowl, Koolau Range, Kailua, Keolu Hills, Puu o Ehu Quarry, Kapaa Quarry, Lanikai Hills, Kauai County & Island, Waimea Canyon Volcanic Series, Maui County & Island, Lahaina, and Olowalu Valley.
TIP: Rockhounding is just a first part of the hobby for a lot of people. The second one is rock tumbling. Have you ever thought about starting of tumbling your rocks? It’s not as complicated as it might seem at first glance. Check out the ultimate guide about rock tumbling in the article below:
What Fossils can you Find in Hawaii?
Beachcombing in Hawaii is quite popular since you can find plenty of things such as shark teeth, sea glass, or seashells, and these specimens are found throughout most beaches in Hawaii.
Kamilo Beach is an excellent location if you want to find sea glass; however, you will need a special permit since storms bring human waste to the area, and thus it’s not a particularly pleasant place to visit.
Ke Iki Beach or Mahana Beach are great for finding shark teeth and seashells. Be wary of taking live specimens as it is against the law.
Some of the most popular seashells to collect include Triton’s trumpet, sunrise shells, cowry shells, or horned helmet shells. The best time to collect them is when the tourist season is over since it will increase the chances of finding beautiful and big specimens.
FAQ about Rockhounding in Hawaii
Still did not find the answer to your answers about rockhounding in Hawaii? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:
Hawaii currently does not have an officially designated state rock. Plenty of igneous rocks reside on the islands due to volcanic activity, and one might think that obsidian would have been Hawaii’s state rock. Unfortunately, obsidian has only been found in only one place, at Pu’u Wa’awa’a, Hualalai Volcano. Due to its rarity, it hasn’t been elected as the state’s official rock.
Since the islands of Hawaii are relatively young, there are only fossils of very common specimens. This is the reason why Hawaii does not have an officially designated state fossil, and it will most likely remain that way for many years to come unless a new discovery takes up the public’s attention by storm.
There are a couple of minerals present on the islands of Hawaii, such as gold, olivine, or serpentine, among others. However, since the islands are relatively young, these specimens are rare. Others have failed to develop in the short time frame, hence why Hawaii doesn’t have an officially designated state mineral.
The official state gemstone of Hawaii has been black coral since 1987. It grows near the island’s offshore waters, with some specimens being gold or even pink in color. They are carnivorous animals that live in colonies and feed on animal plankton. There are 14 species of black coral in Hawaii, and only 150 are present worldwide.
Only black corals of less than ¾ inches can be collected from state waters, while the gold and pink variants are entirely illegal to take.
It is legal to take small amounts of seashells from the beach in Hawaii for noncommercial use. However, taking live specimens is strictly prohibited. Moreso, Hawaiians consider that everything on the islands is related, including plants, rocks, and animals. Taking anything from the beaches might serve as an insult to the Hawaiian people.
TIP: It is not so tricky finding sea glass on the Hawaiian beaches. But even you don’t find any sea glass you can make it by yourself at home! Check out this ultimate guide on how to make sea glass with and without rock tumbler in the article below:
Hawaii is a beautiful state filled with beautiful specimens that rockhounds may collect; however, they should be wary of Madame Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes.
It is stated that it is bad luck to take, for example, obsidian from the islands. Overall, visitors should simply enjoy the natural beauty of Hawaii and study its laws, customs, and traditions before trying to collect anything.
BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
TIP: And it’s rockhounding time now! But do you know what tools you need for rockhounding? Check out the list of all needed tools and equipment for rockhounding in the article below: