Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Campground

Big Island, Hawai'i

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Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Campground


  • A turtle on the black sand.- Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Campground
  • Fish ponds.- Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Campground
  • The fish ponds offer interesting foliage.- Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Campground
  • Sunrise at Punalu'u.- Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Campground
  • Fresh spring en route to Kāwā Bay.- Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Campground
  • A turtle on the shore.- Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Campground
  • Punalu'u offers a great spot for catching the sunrise.- Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Campground
  • The lawn offers ample room for tents, but little privacy.- Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Campground
  • Looking at the beach from the shelter.- Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Campground
  • The shelter offers electricity and electrical plugs.- Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Campground
  • Freshwater pools at Kāwā Bay. - Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Campground
Overview + Weather
Ideal spot to observe turtles. Unique black sand beach. Great spot for sunrise. Ocean swimming.
Little privacy. High noise levels at night.
Big Island, HI
Managed by: 
Pets allowed: 
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Reservations possible: 
Current Local Weather:
Campground Description

Campground Description


Punalu’u Black Sand Beach is one of the only easily-accessible beaches on the south side of the Big Island. The sand is black due to the volcanic basalt rock from lava flows. It is common to see green turtles and the endangered hawksbill turtle resting on the black sands, which makes this a popular pitstop while circumnavigating the island. Just beyond the beach are fishponds that boast diverse aquatic life and flora. On the west side of the beach there is a coastal trail (2.5 miles) to Kāwā Bay, which was a popular surf spot for the chief Nu'uanupa'ahu, and is a local surf spot today. Along the coastal trail you’ll pass two heiaus and other ancient structures before reaching the freshwater springs and brackish pools of Kāwā Bay. Make sure you respect these places and do not enter the heiaus or remove rocks. Kāwā Bay used to be a popular local spot to bring children because of the hundreds of tide pools, but a gate now makes it harder to drive into Kāwā Bay.

Because there are no other beaches in the area, Punalu’u can be a great camping option if you want to be close to the ocean. This is also a great option if you are not prepared to brave the colder evening weather of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, where the campsites sit at 3,000 feet. Keep in mind that this is a popular spot for locals to fish at night, particularly on the weekend. You might hear activity throughout the night as fisherman use the showers for rinsing. The shelter has electricity and electrical outlets. There are no real private or secluded campsites, though some more private spots can be found within the vegetation closer to the ocean.

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Field Guide

Field Guide

Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(8 within a 30 mile radius)

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