Punalu'u Black Sand beach
Punalu'u Black Sand beach
4.5
6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Monday
6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Tuesday
6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Wednesday
6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Thursday
6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Friday
6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Saturday
6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Sunday
6:00 AM - 11:00 PM
About
This easily accessible beach lies between the towns of Pahala and Naalehu, and is a popular detour when visiting the Volcanoes National Park. It draws both locals and travelers to its shores for its gorgeous black sand—a result of underwater volcanic activity—and for those hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive and endangered hawksbill and green sea turtles. If you're lucky, you might spot these creatures resting on the warm, black sand. Hawaiian monk seals sometimes make a rare appearance, too. Tours of the Big Island often include a stop at this black sand beach, along with Akaka and Rainbow Falls. – Tripadvisor
Duration: 1-2 hours
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  • Melly Mel
    25 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Never seen anything like it
    Black sand! Amazing to see and stand right in it. The black sand is so beautiful. Hard to believe its all natural. The beach is just as breathtaking. We got to see one turtle resting on the sand. No one was in the water, but there is a lifeguard on duty. We asked him if there was a specific time of day when the turtles come ashore, with attitude he said he had "no clue". Okayyy Mitch Buchannon.
    Visited July 2023
    Travelled with family
    Written 26 July 2023
  • Edward
    Santa Rosa, California2,484 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Striking Looking Beach
    We stopped at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach on our drive between Pu'uhonua O Honaunau and the Volcano House. It is very striking, scenic, and unusual. There appears to be some good swimming as well as rocky areas, but it gets crowded with tour buses stopping here and the groups getting out and walking around. There were two smaller buses there when we arrived and another arrived as we were leaving. There are restrooms and a parking area. We ourselves did not see any turtles but supposedly they are there. The beach is not very large and the sand is on the more coarse and rough side. It is interesting to see and perhaps would be nice for seeing the turtles, but as a beach for swimming and relaxing, it is not that great. I would recommend stopping here if you have the time, but not going out of the way for it, or expecting a great or relaxed beach/swimming experience.
    Visited June 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 14 August 2023
  • County-Hunter
    Tacoma, Washington3,699 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Should have brought the bathing suit.
    We stopped here on our way to Hawaii Volcanoes NP. I thought it was just to grab some pics of the Black Sand and if lucky, maybe spot a turtle. Well, not turtles but there was a nice little area for swimming or snorkeling and there was even a lifeguard on duty. Unfortunately, we hadn't planned on swimming so we didn't have any swimwear. Oh well, next time. Parking was free and it wasn't very crowded. There were a few stands selling food and trinkets. A nice spot for an hour or two.
    Visited August 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 6 September 2023
  • Southwest_Gaucho
    Lake Havasu City, Arizona1,232 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Black beach and green turtles.
    Stopped in on the southern way back from Hilo to Kona. Parked in the little dirt lot not knowing there is a larger lot just down the road. Not a huge beach but nice place to stop. We came in later in the day so the black sand wasn't hot and we were able to take sandals off. If you come when the sun is out though, wear something on your feet. The concession stand was closed and there were some guys climbing palm trees to get coconuts. Entertaining to watch. Found a few turtles on the beach which was nice to see. Worth a stop if in the area.
    Visited September 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written 3 October 2023
  • VncrCanada
    Vancouver, Canada232 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Scenic, and interesting!
    Beautiful, picturesque spot, a small jet black beach framed by gorgeous coconut palms, and a lagoon with water hyacinths planted by a local school to limit erosion. There was a small hand-made sign explaining that. We did not swim as the beach has a lot of rocks jutting into the water and strong currents. We came there as a half day trip from Volcano village specifically to see turtles. Apparently, there is no guarantee to see them as these turtles are not always on the beach, or else they are out in the water, not easy to spot.BUT we got lucky and saw two huge ones resting on the beach! They were as magnificent as I imagined, and larger than we were expecting, having never seen wild sea turtles before. The locals had ‘fenced’ a row of sharp black rocks around the area where the turtles come to rest. You could still get close enough for an excellent view and photos, without harassing or disturbing them. We were there around 9:30 AM when the beach wasn’t too busy, and everyone was being respectful to the turtles, phew! There is larger park at one end of the beach with washrooms, a covered picnic area, and lots of parking. We parked at a smaller, dirt parking lot nesr the lagoon where there were locals selling freshly picked coconuts for a high price $10 each, so we didn’t get one but cool to watch a guy slicing them open! There were some shacks down at the far end of the beach where locals were fishing. We also saw a school group camping near the larger parking lot. The place is a mix of public park at one end of the beach and local subsistence at the other end. We hung out for a long time at the picnic tables by the dirt parking lot. You could move those tables to keep them under the shade of the trees. Be careful of falling coconuts, there is a warning sign about that on one of the trees near the washrooms.
    Visited October 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 3 November 2023
  • smhr
    Pickering, Canada298 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Fantastic beach. Turtles are there. Amazing views. A must do if you are in the Big Island
    This is a must do if you are in the Big Island. The sand was black. There were turtles basking on one side. What a serene and beautiful place There was a guy selling coconuts for $10 per coconut There is ample parking there. No entrance and no parking fees
    Visited November 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 14 November 2023
  • Monty D
    66 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Black Sand Beach
    This is a cool place, if for no other reason, of the black sand. As you can see from my pic, the sand is course and a lighter black, in color (see my pics). The beach itself was relatively flat and, on this day, had very low waves. In this area, there were some tidal basins. We enjoyed the slow-paced stroll of walking around the tidal basins looking at all of the small sea life. In the area where we parked, while it was close to the beach, there were only a few spaces. Also the snack stand was closed. So may want to plan accordingly.
    Visited November 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 13 December 2023
  • NicoleAD119
    Lake Orion, Michigan18 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Make the stop!
    I read a travel review or blog that told me to skip this beach. I had removed it from my itinerary but as I drove by my gut told me to stop. Man am I glad I did! I left the beach and my trip could have been over and I would have been ok. I knocked 2 bucket items off the list in one spot. I walked up and it was beautiful then I see a crowd and got to watch sea turtles come up on shore. One of the highlights of my trip! Make the stop!
    Visited December 2023
    Travelled solo
    Written 16 December 2023
  • kevan j
    Norman, Oklahoma1,484 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    A beautiful black sand beach.
    This beach is very beautiful and definitely has black sand. I definitely recommend stopping and checking it out. The beach is right near the highway, and the parking lots are right next to the beach, so you don't need to walk very far. And it was really cool to see the sea turtles sunning themselves on the beach and swimming among the waves. There are good bathrooms, a shower to rinse off the sand from your legs, and a lifeguard. The beach is not so good for swimming, but it seems pretty good for snorkeling. There's also a souvenir shop right there on the beach. Definitely worth a stop if you're driving around the far south part of the island.
    Visited December 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written 22 December 2023
  • Mitzi B
    5 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Beautiful Experience at the Beach
    I was on the island for a conference and my spouse and I took this road trip on a day off. We had a great time at the beach. It was overcast that day, but temps were still mild. I loved wading in the black sand. The views around the beach were magnificent. What a treat to experience a beach like no other I had ever seen.
    Visited January 2024
    Travelled on business
    Written 18 January 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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531
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143
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Ken K
1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
I think this is worth the trip...coconut palm-fringed beach with very unique sand and a half dozen sea turtles basking in a protected area. The large rocks to the right provide a truly instagramable spot!
Written 11 March 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Frank P
Eugene, OR1,136 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
for three reasons one is just seeing a black sand beach is really spectacular. Two there is normally sea turtles on the beach. Be sure to stay 10 feet away from them it is the law. And third you are very close to Punalu'u where you can eat at the southern most restaurant in USA, drink at the southern most bar and eat at the southern most bakery in the USA.
Written 14 February 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Kevin
Denver, CO61 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022 • Couples
The black sand beach is very scenic. We saw four amazing turtles relaxing on the beaches. The one star is because we also saw one very irritated middle age white woman yelling at the tourists who she thought staying too close to the turtle. During the exchange, I overheard she told the tourists Hawaii does not need tourists. tourists are not welcome at that beach. As Hawaii opens up for tourism with fewer restrictions, there will be more tourists on that beach. I understand and admire this lady who claims she is a local there for the love of the turtles. However, her behavior reflects badly of the local people there, and can lead to more unnecessary confrontation that may escalate into future unfortunate events. This also ruins other tourists that are there to admire the beauty and the tranquility of that beach.
Written 5 June 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Kimbers08
Santa Cruz, CA82 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2019
My husband and I visited Punalu'u Black Sand Beach in hopes of seeing the beautiful Honu (green sea turtle) and we were not disappointed! But, let me start at the beginning.

We drove to Punalu'u from Hilo, which took just over an hour. Upon arrival at the beach, there was a small parking lot and bathrooms for public use. Beyond the bathrooms were these amazing tide pools made from old lava flow from Kilauea. It was so cool! You can actually walk out on it and see the folding and turning of the lava as it cooled and you can almost imagine the sound of the boiling lava hissing as it meets the cool waters of the Pacific. Within these tidepools, you can find crabs and urchins a plenty. There were even the occasional warped and almost unrecognizable melted pieces of barbed wire mixed in with the hardened lava flow.

When you leave the tidepools and head onto the beach you will be amazed by the beautiful black sand. If you are looking to get rid of those foot calluses, kick off your shoes and walk around. My feet felt so soft after, though my husband said his feet were a bit raw (better not leave the shoes in the car!). There was an area blocked off (using all-natural materials found on the beach) where seven Honu were sleeping. They ask that you maintain a 30-foot distance from these beauties, but, while everyone I saw respected the boundaries, they (and I) were all closer than 30 feet from the turtles. We got some great pictures and even saw one yawn!

As you move past the Honu, you will soon realize that the beach is like a little peninsula situated in between the ocean to your right and a large pond on the left (complete with lilypads, ducks, and mosquitoes). The "peninsula" that is the beach is lined with beautiful coconut palms and wasn't too crowded. It was quite picturesque and unique. At the far end of the small beach is a snack stand that does sell little trinkets and sodas as well.

The water was chilly for my liking (we were there in November), but it was nice to wade in. There were some calm pools created by a lava rock barrier, which seemed to have some warm water seeping into them from below (you could feel it on your feet). These pools would be great for kiddos! There were people playing in the surf as well.

I would recommend this beach to any Honu or animal lover or anyone looking for beautiful scenery, a unique environment, or just a relaxing day under the palm trees. Aloha!
Written 29 January 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Christopher M
Brookfield, WI200 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020 • Family
We truly enjoyed our time at this beach. Bring water shoes the sand gets hot! The sand is large and grainy pieces. My toddlers thought it was fun digging in it. The parking is free. There is an area to access the water and there was another section with a small lava stone barrier that the turtles were going to. We saw 8 turtles. There were a lot of people, but it seemed like people stay at the beach for short visits. Most people were by the turtles, but everyone was courteous moving so people could take pictures or videos. There is a pavilion with bathrooms. There was also a local selling coconuts. Delicious fresh coconut water. The coconut came with cool souvenir bamboo straws with the beaches name on it.
Written 22 June 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sue J
Boise, ID398 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
I have always seen turtles when visiting here. Love the black beach and usually sunny location. The water us pretty rough so I wouldn't recommend it for swimming, tho an occasional local is out on a boogie board.
Written 2 March 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

gmksanjose
San Jose, CA71 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2021
We just had time for a brief stop here on the way to Volcanoes National Park.
It is truly black sand! Very cool. Not crowded on the day we were there and water was calm for swimming and family play, which we observed. If we had more time, we would have snorkled and looked for turtles.
Written 26 June 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

MissNona
Wildomar, CA64 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2021 • Couples
A beautiful black sand beach with lava rocks to explore and a small cove to snorkel. We were fortunate to see a turtle lounging on the rocks the day we went.

There is a unique lagoon located directly behind the beach covered in lilies and hyacinths called Anchialine ponds that are apparently a rare habitat. If you look closely over the pond you can see the jungle ruins of an old tsunami-ravaged resort! There is a trail at the south end of the beach that leads back through the trees and vines, so you are able to view the abandoned resort a little closer. A really cool little walk!

I recommend exploring responsibly and safely; I did not cross any of the bridges which seemed unstable or enter the actual buildings themselves which were in serious disrepair. Do not throw anything into this rare, sensitive habitat. Give the turtles their space to relax in peace. And please remember to take only pictures and leave only footprints. ✌️
Written 13 November 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Addisson P
Glens Falls, NY6 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2022 • Family
We went here early in the morning on a walk to see the sun rise over the ocean on our first day. It did not disappoint. It was amazing
The weather was perfect we went through the first entrance and walked all the way down to the second. Just an absolute beautiful site. The ocean, the lava rock, the mountains behind you, the smoldering exhaust from volcano in the background, and sea turtles.... Just go, enjoy.
Written 13 February 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

VncrCanada
Vancouver, Canada232 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2023 • Couples
Beautiful, picturesque spot, a small jet black beach framed by gorgeous coconut palms, and a lagoon with water hyacinths planted by a local school to limit erosion. There was a small hand-made sign explaining that. We did not swim as the beach has a lot of rocks jutting into the water and strong currents. We came there as a half day trip from Volcano village specifically to see turtles. Apparently, there is no guarantee to see them as these turtles are not always on the beach, or else they are out in the water, not easy to spot.BUT we got lucky and saw two huge ones resting on the beach!
They were as magnificent as I imagined, and larger than we were expecting, having never seen wild sea turtles before. The locals had ‘fenced’ a row of sharp black rocks around the area where the turtles come to rest. You could still get close enough for an excellent view and photos, without harassing or disturbing them. We were there around 9:30 AM when the beach wasn’t too busy, and everyone was being respectful to the turtles, phew!
There is larger park at one end of the beach with washrooms, a covered picnic area, and lots of parking. We parked at a smaller, dirt parking lot nesr the lagoon where there were locals selling freshly picked coconuts for a high price $10 each, so we didn’t get one but cool to watch a guy slicing them open! There were some shacks down at the far end of the beach where locals were fishing. We also saw a school group camping near the larger parking lot. The place is a mix of public park at one end of the beach and local subsistence at the other end. We hung out for a long time at the picnic tables by the dirt parking lot. You could move those tables to keep them under the shade of the trees. Be careful of falling coconuts, there is a warning sign about that on one of the trees near the washrooms.
Written 4 November 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Punalu'u Black Sand beach - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024) - Tripadvisor

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