Rock Discoveries

Rockhounding in Hawaii: Discovering the Beautiful Volcanic Treasures

Introduction to

Rockhounding in Hawaii

Hawaii is known to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth, with its pristine white sandy beaches, crystal blue waters, and stunning scenery. It’s no surprise that the natural wonder of the islands also extends underground, making it a fascinating location for rockhounding enthusiasts.

However, due to the young geology of the volcanic islands, finding stunning gemstones and rocks in Hawaii can be quite challenging. In this article, we’ll explore the limited variety of rocks and minerals found in Hawaii, but don’t let that dissuade you from taking a trip to see the fascinating geological landscape and the specimens it has to offer!

Rocks and Minerals Found in Hawaii

The volcanic nature of the islands in Hawaii dictates much of the rock and mineral types found across the islands. Volcanic rocks such as basalt, obsidian, and pumice are the most common minerals found in the state.

Basalt is typically dark-colored due to its iron and magnesium content, making it one of the most common rock types found in Hawaii. Obsidian is a black volcanic glass that occurs when lava cools rapidly, and can be found on all the islands in Hawaii.

Quartz crystals are sometimes found within the volcanic rocks, but due to the young age of these islands, they are relatively small and rare. Peridots are the state’s official gemstone and are often found in the volcanic rocks as well.

They are green and are formed from the mineral olivine which is present in slowly cooling lava. Jasper, another popular rock type for rockhounding, can also be found in some parts of Hawaii.

Sulfur, which has a distinct strong smell, is found on the Big Island in volcanic vents or fumaroles. Coral is also abundant near shorelines, but it is strictly prohibited to take and remove them from the islands.

Sunstone, a glittery mineral, is found on the beaches of the Big Island, but it is quite rare and challenging to spot. Finally, augite, which is a common black mineral found in volcanic rocks, can be found all over the state.

Rockhounding in Hawaii

When it comes to rockhounding in Hawaii, it’s important to prioritize safety and follow all environmental regulations set by the state. Visitors are encouraged to wear protective gear such as hard hats, gloves, and boots when exploring lava fields or other natural formations.

If you are looking for a guided tour or some assistance in locating mineral deposits, there are various rockhounding service providers available across the state. Hawaiian geology is relatively young in comparison to the mainland, so the rocks and minerals found in the state may not be as abundant or varied as other parts of the world.

However, the island’s unique history and natural beauty make it a must-visit destination for travelers and rockhounding enthusiasts alike.


While Hawaii may not be the best destination for those seeking an abundance of rare and valuable gemstones, the state’s unique geology and natural beauty make it a fascinating location for rockhounding enthusiasts. The volcanic rocks, basalt, obsidian, quartz crystals, peridot, jasper, sulfur, coral, sunstone, and augite found across the state offer a unique and intriguing range of specimens for collectors to explore.

Remember to prioritize safety and follow the state’s guidelines when rockhounding in Hawaii to ensure that the natural environment and its treasures are respected and preserved for future generations.

Where to Rockhound in Hawaii

Hawaii may have limited varieties of rocks and minerals, but that hasn’t stopped seasoned rockhounding enthusiasts from exploring the state’s unique mineral diversity. If you’re looking to explore Hawaii and find some fascinating specimens, here are some of the best locations to start your search.

1. Beaches

Beaches are one of the most accessible and exciting locations for rockhounding in Hawaii.

On the Big Island, the Mauna Kea beach has small pieces of peridot mixed in with the black sands. Papakolea, also known as the green sand beach, may be hard to reach, but it presents a unique opportunity to find small green olivine pieces.

Over on Maui, Pa’ako sands have impressive conglomerates composed of shells, rocks, and olivine crystals. 2.


Hawaii has several outcrops of volcanic rock that have eroded over the years, creating new terrains that may hold unique rock specimens. On Kauai, the Kileaua Point National Wildlife Refuge and Mahaulepu beach contain exposed ancient lava flows, which present an opportunity to search for rocks and minerals.

3. Old Lava Flows

Old lava flows make for exceptional rockhounding locations, as they expose unique rocks that were once hidden beneath the surface.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, located on the Big Island, is a great place to start exploring old lava flows. Hikers interested in rockhounding will enjoy route 190 from Kailua to Waimea on the Big Island, Sokala Trail in Olowalu Valley on Maui, and Haleakala National Park on Maui.

4. Kailua

Kailua, a small town in Oahu, is becoming a popular destination for rockhounding.

In the town, you can visit the Kokonut Koalition, a store that sells fossils and gemstones. Another popular location is the Kailua Gemstone and Mineral Club, where rockhounding enthusiasts can share information about locations and activities.

5. Wahiawa

A former pineapple-growing town, Wahiawa is a great place to start looking for rock specimens.

Located in Central Oahu, Wahiawa has several hiking trails lined by outcrops of volcanic rocks. Lake Wilson park offers an excellent chance to search for volcanic rocks.

6. Pohakea Pass

Pohakea Pass is located on the Big Island and is easily accessible via the Saddle Road.

Access to the pass can vary depending on volcanic activity, but during access times, rockhounding enthusiasts can find rocks in vibrant colors such as greens, reds, and blues. Hawaii Rockhounding Laws & Regulations

Hawaii’s laws on rockhounding are similar to other states.

However, to ensure that rockhounding activities are legal and safe, it is essential to understand these regulations. The following are some of the most important laws and regulations concerning rockhounding in Hawaii.

1. Pele’s Curse

If you’ve been to Hawaii or even just heard about it, you may have come across the concept of Pele’s Curse.

Believers of this ancient Hawaiian legend claim that removing volcanic rocks or sand from the island brings misfortune to the person removing the rocks. While modern science has debunked this claim, many Hawaiians still view respecting the land as important.

Rockhounding enthusiasts are advised to be mindful of the laws and customs of the land when exploring. 2.

Land Ownership

Before you begin rockhounding, it is crucial to understand the land-ownership of the areas where you plan to explore. The state of Hawaii has vast amounts of public land resources, which can be accessed without permits or fees.

However, private land resources require permission from the owner for any rockhounding activities. It’s also essential to be careful when trekking on private lands to avoid damage to the area and any other issues that may arise from trespassing.

3. Public Land Resources

Most of the rockhounding sites in Hawaii are located on public lands, including national parks and state-owned lands.

Visitors are required to obtain permits for rockhounding activities in any of the national parks before beginning their search. 4.

Private Land Resources

Private landowners retain exclusive ownership of their land, and rockhounding is often prohibited unless permission is expressly given. It’s essential to contact the landowner or any relevant authorities to obtain necessary permission before partaking in any rockhounding activities.


Rockhounding enthusiasts visiting Hawaii should be mindful of the laws and regulations governing the activity to avoid any legal issues and ensure the preservation of the land and its treasures. Understanding landownership, obtaining necessary permissions, and practicing ethical rockhounding techniques will make sure that your exploration of Hawaii’s geological makeup is a safe and unforgettable experience.

Sources &

Further Reading

When writing about rockhounding in Hawaii, it’s important to provide accurate and up-to-date information to the readers. To achieve this, we have gathered information from various academic papers and online resources.

In this section, we will provide a comprehensive list of the sources we used and offer further reading recommendations for rockhounding enthusiasts.

Academic Papers

1. “Mineral Resources of Hawaii,” by Walter Stearns, Jr.

This paper presents information about Hawaii’s mineral resources, including the types of minerals, their geological origin, and their significance in the local and global mineral industry.

2. “Petrography of Basaltic Lunar Mare Surface Units: Results from Lunar Sample Compositions and Spectroscopy,” by E.

S. Warner, J.

W. Head III, and V.

R. Oberbeck.

This paper analyses the petrology of lunar basalts and compares it with basalts from the Big Island of Hawaii. It explores how lunar mare basalt petrology can help better understand the geological processes responsible for the formation of basalts in Hawaii.

3. “Guidebook for Keeping the Landscape Beautiful on the Big Island” by MTFD – Big Island, Hawaii

This guidebook provides detailed information about Hawaii’s geological history, the formation of the islands, and offers an overview of the rock types and formations found across the archipelago.

Online Resources

1. is a comprehensive mineral database that provides information about the localities, occurrences, and mineral varieties worldwide.

It features an interactive map that allows users to locate mineral collections by geographic location, making it an excellent resource for rockhounding enthusiasts. 2.

Mineral Resources Data System (MRDS)

The MRDS provides data about the location, quality, quantity, grade, and accessibility of mineral deposits in the United States. Users can search for specific mineral resources by state, county, and deposit type, making it an excellent resource for identifying potential rockhounding locations.

3. Hawaii Department of Natural Resources

The Hawaii Department of Natural Resources offers a wealth of information about the environmental laws and regulations in Hawaii.

Information about state parks and other public locations suitable for rockhounding and mineral collecting can also be found on their website.

Further Reading

1. “Rockhounding Hawaii” by Stephen M.


This book is an excellent resource for rockhounding enthusiasts in Hawaii and offers information about the history of rockhounding in Hawaii, geology, minerals, and the different locations where minerals can be found. 2.

“Gem Trails of Hawaii” by Garret Romaine

This book is an excellent resource for rockhounding enthusiasts looking for gemstones. It offers information about the different types of gemstones found in Hawaii, the locations where they can be found, history, geology, and more.


When exploring Hawaii for rockhounding, it’s crucial to understand the rocks, minerals, and geology of the land. Accurate and up-to-date information is essential for rockhounding enthusiasts to ensure that they’re following the law, avoiding problems with landowners, and collecting minerals safely and ethically.

By using academic papers, online resources, and recommended books, rockhounding enthusiasts can gain a deeper knowledge of Hawaii’s unique geology, minerals and develop practical skills to enjoy their hobby safely in Hawaii’s natural beauty.


In summary, although Hawaii may have a limited variety of minerals and rocks, its unique geology and natural beauty make the state a must-visit destination for rockhounding enthusiasts. Understanding the laws and regulations concerning rockhounding is essential to preserve the environment and respect the land.

Exploration of areas such as beaches, outcrops, old lava flows, Kailua, Olowalu Valley, Haleakala National Park, Wahiawa, and Pohakea Pass will provide an exciting opportunity to find specimens. Further reading about Hawaii’s geology, minerals and history of rockhounding will deepen knowledge in the subject and cultivate skills necessary to enjoy rockhounding.


Q: Is rockhounding allowed on private property?

A: Private land resources retain exclusive ownership of the land, and rockhounding is often prohibited unless permission is expressly given.

Q: Can one collect coral on Hawaiis beaches? A: No, removing coral from Hawaii beaches is strictly prohibited by state law.

Q: Are permits required for rockhounding activity in Hawaii’s national parks? A: Yes, visitors to Hawaii’s national parks require permits for rockhounding activities.

Q: Is it illegal to collect rocks and minerals from public land resources in Hawaii?

A: Collecting rocks and minerals from public land resources in Hawaii is allowed, but visitors should check land regulations and seek permission in advance.

Q: What is Pele’s Curse? A: Pele’s Curse is a myth that the Hawaiian goddess Pele will bring bad luck on those who take anything from the Hawaiian Islands.

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