A Beach is a BeachDespite the change in color, Punalu’u and all other black sand beaches are just like any other beach. Visitors can engage in swimming, snorkeling, coastal hikes, camping (a permit will be necessary in most places), and picnics. Not to mention surfing, bodyboarding, and all of the other beach activities one can think of. Everything is still fair game. Punalu’u has black sand because it is made up of pitch-black fragments of lava and basalt that was created from lava that flowed toward the ocean and exploded as it reached the ocean to cool. Since the sand is colored black, the area can get rather hot during the day time. If you a setting up camp at Punalu’u, it’s best to place your gear underneath one of the shaded palm trees to avoid the hot sand. The entire beach is lined with coconut palm trees, so it should not be too difficult to find a location.
Safety is Still a PriorityAs with many of the other beaches on the Hawaiian islands, it’s encouraged to be careful when going in the water, because there may be strong currents. No matter what beach you are visiting, you should never enter the water if there is a high surf. These scenarios are dangerous and will exacerbate the risk of drowning or putting yourself in danger. This rule applies to all beaches that you visit, not just Punalu’u. It’s very common for tourists to drown in waters simply for lack of understanding of the waves and ocean. We recommend always following the advice and suggestions of the locals, and the rules that have been set for the particular beach you are visiting.
Don’t Let the Water Confuse YouSwimming can cause some trouble due to the rocks in the area, but it is allowed and doable. Guests are encouraged to be safe and consider the dangers, but as we’ve mentioned previously, any unique rules and regulations will be noted at the beach. Simply follow the instructions or signs you see when you arrive. Guests may be confused when they see some discoloration in the water at Punalu’u, because the water can often appear though it is the color of gasoline. This simply occurs due to the black sand of the beach. The waters at Punalu’u are also known for being rather cold.
Snorkeling at Ninole CoveNinole Cove is a popular snorkeling destination that is located near Punalu’u. Visitors take a short walk from the beach to the snorkeling location, and upon arrival, they’ll find a sheltered bay that boasts sand channels which make the snorkeling easy to access. Driving to Ninole Cove is also available. Guests can drive to the location and park below the clubhouse that is located at the sea mountain golf course.
Where is Punalu’u Beach Located?Guests will hear the names “Punalu’u Beach” and “Black Sand Beach” exchanged to reference the beach. Punalu’u is located between Pahala and Na’alehu on the Big Island of Hawaii. Punalu’u Beach is located between Volcano Village and the town of Naalehu, just off highway 11. Visitors can also access Punalu’u from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park,. Facilities at Punalu’u include parking, picnic areas, restrooms, and outdoor showers. Most amenities that can be found at other beaches are also available at Punalu’u. And like many other Hawaiian beaches, there are no lifeguards on duty, so approach your visit with safety in mind.
Punalu’u isn’t just a premiere destination for tourists, but celebrities have visited the beach and even hosted their own events at the destination. Actors Zac Efron and Channing Tatum both took their newlyweds to the beach for honeymoons.