Punalu’u Beach, Hawaii (Big Island)

15 Reviews

Ka’u District

Been here? Rate It!

hide
  • Punalu’u Beach
    by Assenczo
  • Punalu’u Beach
    by Assenczo
  • Punalu’u Beach
    by Assenczo
  • kyoub's Profile Photo

    Palm trees and turtles

    by kyoub Written Jul 6, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Beach

    On this small bay you will find black sand, beautiful palm trees, and green sea turtles basking in the sun.
    There is also a duck pond with some unusal looking ducks.
    Near the park headquarters, the surf hits the rocks and makes some beautiful pictures.

    Related to:
    • Beaches

    Was this review helpful?

  • Suet's Profile Photo

    My First Black Sand

    by Suet Written Feb 9, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Black Sands Big Island....

    I hope this is the Black Sands beach...I haven't asked TG yet... if it IS then it was amazing... I thought black sand would be dirty, but not so... it's ground up volcanic rock, quite large pieces and kinda cleans your feet as you walk on it, better than any pedicure in a salon....

    Funny stuff... you expect sand to be yellow or white.... this was completely different...

    Related to:
    • Beaches

    Was this review helpful?

  • TropicGirl77's Profile Photo

    Black Sand Beach

    by TropicGirl77 Written Oct 6, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Black Sand Beach

    Punalu'u Beach, certainly not the only black sand beach on the island, but ideally located off of Highway 11 on the southside of the island. On the last trip we made here, we found a sea turtle basking on the black sand (poor thing! had to endure all of us TOURIST gawking and snapping away with the cameras). Just yards from the shore break was another 5 or more sea turtles eating the algae from the coastal rocks.
    For those curious, black sand is formed when hot lava flows into the cool ocean where the lava cools and shatters black "volcanic glass"

    Related to:
    • Beaches

    Was this review helpful?

  • Nathalie_B's Profile Photo

    Black Sand Beach

    by Nathalie_B Written Feb 20, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Basking in the black sand
    1 more image

    Everyone who visits the Big Island has two places in mind, Volcano National Park and Punalu’u - the Black Sand Beach with its giant turtles.
    Green Sea Turtles –Honu – are often spotted here basking in the sand, they seem to be used to humans who come here to make photos of these giant reptiles.
    Although a very inviting and relaxing piece of paradise, it is not recommended to swim in this area. The lava rocks are hiding in the water and may easily injure you. Instead, catch a shade under one of the coconut palms and enjoy the views and tranquility.
    I tried to take my shoes off and walk on the sand and it was quite painful, but not that bad. This sand is actually lava that, long time ago, hit the ocean, cooled, turned into a rock, and then turned into sand. But it still feels like you’re walking on rocks.
    Please don’t take any sand with you, as it is prohibited by law. If you really want to bring “black souvenir” home with you, there are two tiny shops where sand can be purchased.

    Related to:
    • Beaches

    Was this review helpful?

  • AKtravelers's Profile Photo

    Turtles &Black SAnd at Punalu'u Beach

    by AKtravelers Written Oct 21, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Sunbathers on the long Punalu'u black sand strand
    4 more images

    A must stop on the Big Island is Punalu'u Beach, between Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and South Point. Not only is Punalu'u a long strand of black sand backed by tall, waving palm trees, but it his home to a large number of green sea turtles, who find its calm waters and abundant food a small price to pay for being gawked at by visitors. Look inte shallow pools by among the shore rocks, and you're almost certain to see a hungry reptile noncalantly chewing away, whether or not tourists are watching. The first time I visited he beach in 1994, I instinctively jumped in the water to swim with them, almost losing my car keys. Nnow my rental company charges $200 for lost keys, so I just watched from the deep black sand.

    Related to:
    • Beaches

    Was this review helpful?

  • sarams's Profile Photo

    Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Park

    by sarams Written Apr 1, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Black Sand Beach
    4 more images

    I was definitely curious to see a beach containing black sand. I ended up visiting Punalu'u Beach on a warm, windy day. There are quite a few things to do and see here, include spotting sea turtles, wading, and swimming. There's even a kitchy souvenir stand if you simply must buy an overpriced knick-knack. For me, I was content to stand on the beach, watch the waves, and dip my toes in the warm water.

    Entrance to this county-run beach is free. Keep in mind: though the black sand is remarkable, it is illegal to take any of it with you.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • jag17's Profile Photo

    Black Sand Beach

    by jag17 Written Jun 28, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    A Must See

    If you go to Hawaii, you have to see a black sand beach! It is the strangest thing to see for the first time. Signs prohibit you from taking the sand (I have heard it brings bad luck), and from disturbing the sea turtles resting on the beach.

    Related to:
    • Beaches

    Was this review helpful?

  • morgane1692's Profile Photo

    Young islands have young beaches. Black ones.

    by morgane1692 Written May 22, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    YEP, THIS SAND SURELY IS PITCH, ALRIGHT!

    The mile markers are a godsend, they really make locating beaches and such, a total breeze. Including this famous black sand beach called Punalu'u. We visited it as part of our circle island coach tour, but you can easily find the place yourself, you and that handy rental car of yours. Just like the man says, the sand here is black. As midnight. This comes as a result of the piping hot lava splashing into the sea and the cold water smashing it up into a million tiny grains. Not that any of that excitement happened yesterday. Don't worry. It's not likely to happen again while you're here, either. ;-O

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Beaches
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?

  • Anniko's Profile Photo

    Native Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles

    by Anniko Updated May 4, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    So Close!
    2 more images

    Because of constant volcanic activity, you'll find a beach with black sands. Located on the southeastern Kau coast, “Black Sand Beach” (Punaluu) is one of the most famous black sand beaches in Hawaii.

    Located between Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the small town of Naalehu, Punaluu Black Sand Beach's jet black shores are an unforgettable sight. Coconut palms fringe the upper edge of sand and large honu, or Hawaiian Green Sea turtles, bask on the beach.

    The Green Sea Turtles are native to Hawaii. During the past few years, green turtles have begun to crawl out onto the sand to “bask” primarily during daylight hours. It is illegal to touch these protected turtles.

    Public transport is at a minimum, so it's best to hire a car at the airport.

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Beaches

    Was this review helpful?

  • etfromnc's Profile Photo

    One of Hawaii's most unusual beaches

    by etfromnc Written Aug 11, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Narrow and almost secluded

    On the east end of the Big Island, Punalu'u Beach is one of Hawaii's finest but it has almost no sand. What most visitors regard as black sand is actually small pieces of glass originated by the flows from the nearby volcanoes. Nevertheless, whether we call it sand or glass, it is very soft and has been shown to have some healthful benefits. It also provides a very excellent breeding and egg laying area for sea turtles. The soothing massaging feeling of the lava granules under foot is an experience every human should enjoy.
    Punalu'u is also a good swimming beach, but watch for the current just outside of the bay. It can be dangerous. There is a small curio shop there which sells post cards, shell leis, and other tourist goodies.
    Another popular activity in this area is throw net fishing which is very productive and occasionally tourists can find a fisherman who will let them give it a try.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Fishing
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • ArenJo's Profile Photo

    Gorgeous and Fun

    by ArenJo Written Jan 16, 2014

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Me and my son enjoying the waves
    4 more images

    My family loved this. The waves are perfect (not too strong or too tame). There are lots of little play areas for kids, little ponds removed from the waves where the kids enjoy using buckets and shovels. Local teenagers are also constantly seen jumping off the cliffs.
    One word of warning though, wear shoes if you are going to walk around exploring because we were told there are sometimes scorpions spotted around the trees.
    No fees here which is awesome.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Family Travel
    • Beaches

    Was this review helpful?

  • leafmcgowan's Profile Photo

    Punalu'u Black Sand Beach

    by leafmcgowan Updated Dec 8, 2009
    4 more images

    One of the most famous beaches on Big Island is the Punalu'u Black Sand Beach. It is the most expansive and accessible stretch of black sand beach on the island. Tourists from all over come here to see the sand, the sea turtles, and to snorkel/dive. Located right off Hwy 11, Ninole loop road off the entrance to Sea Mountain Resort, in the Puna district south of Hilo, between Pahala and na'alehu. Most famous for the Hawaiian Green Sea turtles that frequent the beach as much as the tourists. Endangered species - they are protected as much as the sand that is made of basalt and created by lava flowing into the ocean that explodes when it reaches the ocean and cools. Don't touch or disturb the turtles and take no sand. The waters are protected by the small cove embracing the beach. There is a large paved parking lot with full facilities. Swimming area is very rocky, best to be careful as it is dangerous grounds. Beach has alot of underground fresh water flowing into it which is very cold. Legends have it that the early inhabitants would dive underwater with a jug to get fresh water. Other local legends warn of taking the sand or the rocks from the beach - for if one does, they will be cursed by the Goddess Pele until it is returned. (Myth may have been generated by 30 year Park Service veteran Russ Apple who was restoring Hawaiian cultural resources in the parks) Evidence of shifts of the use of the beach area by indigenous peoples vary through time. Monumental architecture in forms of large heiau complexes (ritual centers) speak to the powers of na ali'i (chiefs) and the social stratification of the ancient Ka'u district. Camping is permitted at the Beach Park.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Diving and Snorkeling
    • National/State Park

    Was this review helpful?

  • Assenczo's Profile Photo

    King of Black Beaches

    by Assenczo Written Aug 28, 2013
    3 more images

    Black beaching looks exiting especially when white bodies are strewn on its dark background. Plus, the turtles love it too probably because the sunrays heat up the black crystals even more that the “conventional” ones.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Black sand beach.....and turtles too!

    by TravelBugg Written Jun 23, 2003

    This is one stop you should make just to see the black sand on that beach! It's very smooth sand. Here's a description I found on the back of a post card: "Hot lava flowed into the ocean forming chunks of black lava, which the tide eventually crumbled into grains of sand." Lots of palm trees there too, of course. Very nice scenery.
    There are also large sea turtles there! They can be seen pretty close up. The local people there and some signs warn you not to get too close, as you might scare them away. However, they do allow you to get pretty close to them. Certainly something interesting to see!

    Related to:
    • Beaches

    Was this review helpful?

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo

    Black SAnd

    by BruceDunning Updated Feb 3, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Standing in black hole
    1 more image

    It really is black too. The cause is from the volcano eruption in this area with rock a different color

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel
    • Beaches

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Hawaii (Big Island)

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

61 travelers online now

Comments

View all Hawaii (Big Island) hotels