Sandy beach
Hike-in Required
Snorkeling / SCUBA
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Punalu’u Black Sand Beach is exciting not only for its black “sand” but also for the frequency with which the Hawaiian green sea turtles visit it. It can get quite busy during the summer travel season, however, in winter and spring, the lone traveler can likely have all to themselves. There’s a bathroom, a campground, and an outdoor shower near the beach. Dogs are allowed on-leash.

The beach is located near Naalehu, a town that also has the Southernmost bakery in the United States, the Punalu'u Bake Shop, and is only a two-minute drive from the Hawai’i Belt Road, the main road that contours the southern shore of the Big Island.

The black sand is actually broken-down and rounded lava, the stuff that the whole island is made of. This beach particularly has a very low percentage of the “sand” that is made of pulverized coral and remnants of marine life, which gives it its pure black color. Because the magma that turned into the lava rock that, eventually, turned into the sand on Punalu'u beach was predominantly mafic, meaning it had low amount of silica, there is no quartz to make lighter-colored sand.

Out of the five sea turtle species that live in Hawai’i, Hawaiian green sea turtles, which like to frequent this beach, can be the most commonly seen. They are an endangered species of a large sea turtle. The turtles like to bask in the sun and need not be disturbed by people, their four-legged friends, or anyone and anything else. This rest is important for them and they mustn’t be scared off back into the sea.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Wildlife. Shade. Black sand. Easy access. Bathrooms.


Can get busy in summer.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions


Picnic tables
Snorkeling / SCUBA
Flushing toilets
Family friendly



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