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Punaluu…Black Sand Beach, Big Island


In an earlier post, I talked about my favorite place on the Big Island, South Point.  In it, I mentioned Papakolea, the green-sand beach.  I thought I should probably make you aware of a much more  accessible black-sand beach.  (If you remember, reaching Papakolea required a 2.5 mile hike each way or a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get there.)

Punaluu Beach State Park is located about 20 miles from South Point, toward Hilo.   You simply take a short drive off of Mamalahoa Highway, between the towns of Naalehu and Pahala, and you can just about drive onto the beach.  Do not attempt to do so, as this is also a favorite resting spot of the Hawaiian green sea turtle, a protected species.

Punaluu is a great spot to take a break from the long drive between Hilo and Kailua-Kona.  There is a protected inlet located behind the picnic pavilions that usually provides a calm, shallow, sandy bottomed area that’s just great for the little ones.  (My granddaughter was a year old when we took her there and she was as happy as can be walking around this safe haven.)

There are other black sand beaches on the Big Island, specifically on the eastern shores, south of Hilo.  This is a very lightly visited area of the Big Island, simply because it requires veering off of Mamalahoa Highway on the around-the-island drive that many undertake to make in a day…a big mistake.  (See Drive Around the Big Island posts #2 of 3.)

You take Highway 130 South at Kea’au, go down to the town of Pahoa and can take Highway 130 to the beach or take one of the many side roads that all end up at the water’s edge.  Be sure to pick up a map.

Punaluu remains my favorite black sand beach, although except for the kiddie area, its really not the best swimming beach.  But, it is a great spot to observe the many sea turtles that frequent the area, except for mating season when they head to the islands of the French Frigate Shoals, part of the Hawaiian Island Archipelago, where 90% of the green sea turtles lay their eggs.

Fare Buzz


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