Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
Punalu’u, Big Island, Hawaii
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.