Punaluu Black Sand Beach

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Punaluu Black Sand Beach

Punaluu Black Sand Beach

Punaluu Black Sand Beach on Hawaiʻi’s Big Island

Volcano-Inspired Shoreline

Punaluu Black Sand Beach is one of the most unique stops on any Big Island road trip. Picturesque palm trees, smooth lava rocks, and a strong likelihood of sea turtles—you don’t want to miss this! A rental car is really the only way to get there as Punaluu is about an hour south of Hilo and almost 70 miles from Kailua-Kona.

Either way you go, the directions to Punaluu Black Sand Beach will take you past bountiful nature reserves and stunning landscapes. Punaluu Black Sand Beach is in Kau, which is the Big Island of Hawaiʻi’s southern region. While Kau is one of the less frequented areas of the island, Punaluu Black Sand Beach is famous. The awesome forces of nature which come together to create this beach absolutely make it worth the drive.

The Geology

No matter how many miles you travel to get to Punaluu Black Sand Beach, your journey is likely a breeze compared to the way the black sands make their way to the shore. The magnificence of the island’s volcanic activity sends lava into the ocean where it is quickly cooled. The resulting glass is shattered into pieces. Then, these shiny basaltic lava stones churn in the ocean until they are eventually set upon the shore. The result is the shimmering coastline of Punaluu Black Sand Beach.

Water Activities

You’ll find calmer snorkeling waters elsewhere on the island, but experienced swimmers may still want to explore the bay at Punaluu Black Sand Beach on days water entry is permitted. If you’d rather not deal with the rocky shoreline and rip currents, you can still enjoy the beach by walking the shoreline and viewing the waterlilies in the freshwater ponds nearby. If you’re looking for the best picture spot, ask a lifeguard for directions to the old fisherman's trail. A short walk will take you to breathtaking views without the crowds on the main beach.


People aren’t the only ones who know how to get to Punaluu Black Sand Beach. A host of endangered turtles, including the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, the Hawksbill Turtle, and the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal find their way to the shore to warm themselves. The sunshine aids their digestion after feasting on the red seaweed nearby. Keep in mind that these turtles and other species are protected, and it’s best for the ecosystem to admire them from afar.

Parking & Amenities

Punaluu Black Sand Beach may seem a bit remote from your hotel, but it’s easily driveable from either side of the island. Your GPS directions may not take you directly to the parking lot. Parking is about a five-minute walk from the beach, located between the Punaluu Black Sand Campground and the main beach. With a permit, day camping is permitted, and there are restrooms and showers on site. If you’re traveling with a dog, note that pets are not allowed at Punaluu Black Sand Beach—nor are you allowed to take a turtle home with you, as tempting as it may seem.

Hit the Road with GoVibe

Punaluu Black Sand Beach is a must-see if you are on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. It is much more convenient to have your own car to get there, as you can make it a stop along your way to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. GoVibe has reinvented the car rental process to make it simple and stress-free. Our concierge pick-up meets you at the airport with no waiting in line. Plus, all of our vehicles come from local dealerships, meaning our prices are up to 25% cheaper than the national rental chains. Download the GoVibe app and reserve the perfect car for your vacation.

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