All you need to know about Black Sand Beach On The Big Island
The Big Island is known for its black sand beaches. When you come visit the Big Island and if you’ve never seen a black sand beach before, you got to check one out. Punalu’u Black Sand Beach is the most famous black sand beach on the Big Island. There’re many other beaches on Hawaii Island that has black sand made of basalt but if you can only see one, Punalu’u Black Sand Beach is the one for you. It’s a beach in the southern district on the island.
How was the black sand formed?
When hot lava from the volcanoes makes its way to the ocean and comes into contact with the cold water, the lava rapidly cools and explodes. This creates black sand and thus forming the black sand beaches around the Island! Endangered hawksbill turtles (honu ‘ea) and green sea turtles (honu) LOVE to hang out on the warm black sand. These turtles can often be seen basking on the black sands of Punaluu beach. We were lucky to spot one when we headed down to the beach a few days ago.
SWIMMING AND FACILITIES
There are rows of coconut palms along this beach. The shade below the palms is a good place to hang out because the black sand can get very hot in the sunlight.
There are underwater freshwater springs in Punalu’u bay. The water from these springs is cold and drifts on top of the salt water. This is because salt water is denser than fresh water. This can sometimes give you the strange feeling of swimming in water of two temperatures (cold and warmer) at the same time. There are also many fresh water springs in the shallow area and where the ocean meets the shoreline, therefore, you may occasionally feel a freezing cold vent of water from below. Those are the underground fresh water seeping out into the ocean.
Punaluu beach park has cold showers where you can rinse off and bathroom facilities.
The Black Sand Beach Story
A Hawaiian Moolelo connected to Punaluu Beach talks about Kauila, the guardian turtle of the area. This is what the plaque sitting at this place says:
KAUILA AND THE SEA TURTLES OF PUNALU’U
THE MYSTICAL TURTLE, KAUILA, MAKES HER HOME IN THE KA’U DISTRICT AT PUNALU’U BAY. ACCORDING TO HAWAIIAN MYTHOLOGY, KAUILA WAS EMPOWERED WITH THE ABILITY TO TURN HERSELF FROM A TURTLE INTO HUMAN FORM AND WOULD PLAY WITH THE CHILDREN ALONG THE SHORELINE AND KEEP WATCH OVER THEM. THE PEOPLE OF KA’U LOVED KAUILA AS THE GUARDIAN OF THEIR CHILDREN AND ALSO FOR HER SPRING THAT GAVE THEM PURE DRINKING WATER.
THE PRESENCE OF KAUILA CAN STILL BE FELT TODAY BY THE SEA TURTLES THAT INHABIT THIS SPECIAL PLACE. THE HAWAIIAN HONU (GREEN SEA TURTLE) CAN BE REGULARLY SEEN IN THE BAY FEEDING ON LIMU GROWING IN THE SHALLOWS. IN ADDITION, THE HONU’EA (HAWKBILL TURTLE) SOMETIMES ENTER THE BAY AT NIGHT TO CRAWL ASHORE AND DEPOSIT EGGS IN THE BLACK SAND.
BOTH SPECIES OF SEA TURTLES ARE FULLY PROTECTED UNDER THE U.S. ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT AND WILDLIFE LAWS OF THE STATE OF HAWAII. ENJOY WATCHING THESE MARVELOUS CREATURES BUT DO NOT TOUCH OR DISTURB THEM IN ANY WAY.
Come check out the Punalulu Black Sand Beach to swim, snorkel and spot sea turtles. If you need an accommodation near Punaluu black sand beach, Green Sand beach, Volcanoes National Park, waterfalls and many famous attractions, check out Volcano Inn. It’s a great home base while you tour around the Big Island.