Punalu‘u Beach on the southeastern shore is one of the most beautiful black sand beaches in Big Island Hawai‘i. A favorite sunning spot for endangered Hawaiian green sea turtles, Punalu‘u has fascinating tide pools, a large, lotus-filled freshwater pond, and a sheltered sand bottom tide pool perfect for small children. Learn more about one of the best Big Island beaches below!
Punalu‘u Beach History
Believed to possibly be the original landing spot of the first Polynesian settlers, the natural resources of Punalu‘u have sustained inhabitants for over 2,000 years. The site of numerous ancient Hawaiian fishing villages, Punalu‘u in the 1700s was the ruling center of Keoua, a prominent chief. Many ancient fishponds fringed the shore until 1868, when a magnitude 7.9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami destroyed them. In the 1840s a stone meeting house was built at Punalu‘u for use as a school and church. Throughout the 1800s, Punalu‘u was a busy shipping port town for cattle and sugar. Punalu‘u took direct hits by massive tsunamis in 1868, 1946, 1960 and 1975, changing the face of the area forever.
Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach Facilities
Paved parking, picnic tables, a large pavilion with a kitchen, restrooms, and showers make Punalu‘u Beach comfortable. You’ll also find a row of family-run snack bars, souvenir stands, and a coffee stall.
Punalu‘u Beach Swimming Conditions
Punalu‘u Beach’s waters are usually murky and quite cold. There is some decent snorkeling past the initial shore break; however, there are often strong currents. As with all Hawaiian beaches, check the current conditions and pay heed to all posted signs regarding ocean conditions and safety.
How to Get There
From Volcano Village, take Highway 11 towards Kona. Between mile markers 56 and 57 is the sign for Punalu‘u Beach. Turn left onto Alanui Road follow it along the loop to the Punalu‘u Beach parking lot.