Big Island Travel Guide

Big Island Sights

Punaluu Black Sand Beach Park

  • Hwy. 11 Map It
  • Naalehu
  • Beach–Sight
  • Fodor's Choice

Published 01/20/2010

Fodor's Review

A must-do on a south–southeast–bound trip to the volcano, this easily accessible black-sand beach is backed by low dunes, brackish ponds, and tall coco palms. The shoreline is jagged, reefed, and rocky. Most days, large groups of sea turtles nap on the sand—a stunning sight. Resist the urge to get too close or disturb them; they're protected by federal and state law, and fines for harassment can be hefty. Removing black sand is also prohibited. Extremely strong rip currents prevail, so only experienced ocean swimmers should consider getting in the water here. Popular with locals and tour buses alike, this beach park can get very busy, especially on weekends (the north parking lot is usually quieter). Shade from palm trees provides an escape from the sun, and at the northern end of the beach, near the boat ramp, lie the ruins of Kaneeleele Heiau, an old Hawaiian temple. The area was a sugar port until the 1946 tsunami destroyed the buildings. Developers tried to bring a huge resort experience here in the early 1990s, but that has mostly failed. (You'll drive by a few abandoned resort buildings on your way to the beach.) Bring your camera and a picnic lunch. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: walking.

  • Turtles, Punaluu Black Sand Beach Park, Kau, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

    David Lousick / Shutterstock

Sight Information


Hwy. 11, between mile markers 55 and 56, Naalehu, Hawaii, 96772, USA

Map It



Published 01/20/2010


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