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About Punaluu Black Sand Beach on Kau & South Island, Hawaii

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach Park has a popular black sand beach with a large freshwater pond and rows of palm trees behind it. The setting is stunning and despite the distance from both Hilo and Kona, this beach can get busy.

Swimming can be dangerous at Punalu’u due to rip currents. If you do swim, look out for turtles and stay back from them – a mask helps to see where they are. Note that the top layers of the water might seem colder as the freshwater from nearby springs seeps into the bay. Lifeguards are sometimes provided on busy weekend days, but don’t count on them being present when you get there. There’s a stand with souvenirs and a few snacks that might be open on weekends.

Sea turtles are frequently in the water and on the beach at Punalu’u. Signs make it clear that you shouldn’t approach them, but you can take pictures from about 10 feet away.

In the area by the boat ramp (east end of the beach) there are historical structures including the massive Punalu’u Nui Heiau (aka Kane’ele’ele Heiau). If you hike around up there, do not disturb walls or rock piles of any type or size as they could be a significant site. The trail that leads up to the heiau keeps going eastward all the way to remote Kamehame Beach (three miles one-way).

Punalu’u Beach Park has two parking lots, one at each end of the beach. The south lot is next to the restrooms and picnic areas. The north lot is near the stand and the pond. Creepy abandoned buildings behind the north end of the beach are from a restaurant that was closed down a few years back.

To get to Punaluu Beach, turn onto Ninole Loop Road which has two entrances on opposite sides of mile marker 56 on Highway 11 between the towns of Naalehu and Pahala.

On the hill above Punaluu Beach you’ll find picturesque Hokuloa Church, a small open-air chapel surrounded by a cemetery. The unsigned path to this church begins across the road from the southern beach parking lot.

Ninole Loop Rd
Pahala, HI 96777
Park Name
Punaluu Black Sand Beach Park
Other Names
Punalu'u Beach, Punaluu Harbor
Pet Details
No dogs allowed at county beach parks
Free day-use parking, fees for camping permits
Camping, Snorkeling, Fishing, Wildlife Watching, Beach Exploration, Picnicking
Campground, Boat Launch, Freshwater Pond, Picnic Tables, Restrooms, Covered Pavilion, Showers, Drinking Water, ADA Access, Historic Church
9:31 am, June 18, 2024
temperature icon 82°F
L: 74° H: 82°
Feels like 84.47 °F clear sky
Wind gusts: 6 m/s
UV Index: 8.27
Precipitation: 0 inch
Visibility: 10 km
Sunrise: 5:44 am
Sunset: 7:01 pm
Humidity 64 %
Pressure1020 mb
Wind 6 m/s

Nearby Beaches

Koloa Beach

0.5 miles away

Koloa Beach on Ninole Cove is the lesser-known little brother to popular Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. After visiting Punaluu...

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Kawa Bay Beach

1.8 miles away

Kawa Bay Beach and 234 acres of land behind it are now public property. The state and Hawaii County...

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Kamehame Beach

2.2 miles away

Kamehame Beach is a remote black sand beach that’s only reachable by hiking along the shore eastward from Punalu’u...

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Nearby Attractions

Nearby Lodging


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