Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach is a beautiful if not unusual beach located between the towns of Pāhala and Nāʻālehu here on the Big Island of Hawaii. The beach’s black sand is actually basalt caused by lava flowing into the ocean that explodes as it reaches the ocean and cools. This volcanic activity is in the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Punaluʻu is commonly frequented by endangered hawksbill turtles and green turtles (Honu), which can be seen relaxing on the black sand almost all of the time. The swimming area has lava rock outcroppings through out the swimming area, it can be a little treacherous to swim depending on the conditions.
The sand is so unusual, you’ll want to take your slippers off and stroll through no matter what. It is bizarre how black the sand is, you expect it to stain your feet somehow. This beach has a brackish water pond and has a fresh water aquifer flowing into the ocean deep under the shoreline. This is the second largest Spring complex on the island. The temperature difference between the salt water and fresh water is quite different and can be very cool compared to what you’ve been used to at our other beaches! According to legend, when times were dry, the people living in the area would send their best divers to dive down below the salt water with a jug to retrieve fresh water for drinking. Puna luʻu means “spring diver for”. Access to this beach is from the Hawaii Belt Road, see directions below. Camping is allowed at the Park. There are the remains of several ancient temples in this area that you can view.
The Sea Mountain Resort golf course is located on both sides of the road going into and out of the park. The greens and fairways are among the ancient temples called, Heiau. Original petroglyphs can also be found near the County Park covered Pavilions in a special protected area surrounded by a rock wall just past the parking area, it’s not very noticeable but if you investigate, you will find them. There is a small shop on site for souvenirs and snack foods. Do not take the sand for a souvenir, in the Hawaiian culture this is kapu. There are bathrooms at this beach but there are not any lifeguards so you will have swim at your own risk. This beach is definitely a featured attraction here on the Big Island. If you enjoyed this informational journey, like us on Facebook or Follow our Tweets and you will get notified when we post new stories, history and other information about the Big Island of Hawaii.
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