A walk along Punalu’u Black Sand Beach

March 7, 2020/Jonathan Rundle/5 Comments

One of the Big Island’s must-visit attractions is Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. As we continue our drive around the Hawaii Belt Road, it’s an easy detour through an abandoned golf resort.

You’re here for the sand, everyone is. However, this beach is so much more.

Punalu'u black sand beachPunalu'u black sand beach panoramaRock tower at Punalu'u black sand beach

What is black sand?

It’s lava, you dingus! This is basalt that was lava that flowed into the ocean and exploded. It isn’t sand-like at all; it’s more in the style of small rock you’d use in an aquarium.

Black sand close-up

Sea turtles at Punalu’u Black Sand Beach

Honu, the Hawaiian name for the green sea turtles, are often resting on this beach. We’ve lucked into a sighting during our visit today. I never get tired of seeing them just snoozing on the beach. I’d sit there all day with it if I could.

Turtle at Punalu'u black sand beachTurtle at Punalu'u black sand beachTurtle at Punalu'u black sand beach

Even though the honu has made a remarkable comeback from its days as an endangered species, they are still protected. Remember to keep your distance.

Plumeria is one of the most popular flowers in Hawaii, you’re sure to see it on the grounds of every resort. This lonely little flower settled on the black sand, so naturally, it must be picked up and tucked behind a pretty girl’s ear.

Girl with Plumeria flower in hair

Exploring the shoreline

Once you get past the black sand and the turtles and the palm trees… there are still all kinds of interesting things on the shore. From sealife to rock formations to vegetation, it is worthwhile to explore the shore.

Punalu'u black sand beachMoss on the beachMoss on the beachmoss on hawaiian beachvegetation at Punalu'u black sand beach

And if you really love it here, pitch your tent and stay awhile. If I were camping I think I’d choose a beach on the Kohala coast.

camping Punalu'u black sand beach

Visiting Punalu’u Black Sand Beach

There are no signs to Punalu’u from the Hawaii Belt Road, so be sure to plug it into your GPS. Once you’ve had your fun in the sun at the Black Sand Beach, be sure to stop by the nearby bakeshop for some tasty malasadas!

Comments (5)

  • MeiLing . February 2, 2021 . Reply

    Pretty much grew up at this beach. We’d be there every single day from keiki time helping my grama sell hand made leis and hawaiian jewelry from the leistand. Danced hula and Tahitian at the restaurant before it got destroyed by the tsunami in the 70s. Now it looks like it’s haunted but our good ol memories will never be forgotten. We still go to gather with family and friends, fish, throw net, swim, go foraging, eat. So beautiful.

    • (Author) Jonathan Rundle . February 2, 2021 . Reply

      Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Marlene Martinson Seymour . November 29, 2020 . Reply

    Grew up in Ka’u; I miss Punalu’u, walks on the coast line, family parties at the Pavillion❣

  • Delia . September 20, 2020 . Reply

    This is my happy place. Going through the back Rd. There’s KAPU sign and I would go sit on the edge of the cliff and listen to the waves hitting the rock. Oh no matter what pilikia I had going there. I had only aloha wen I was pau sitting there. Mahalo, Punalu’u… ALOHA…..

    • (Author) Jonathan Rundle . October 19, 2020 . Reply

      Thank you for sharing that story. It’s easy to imagine letting troubles melt away in this place.

Leave a Reply