Punaluu Black Sand Beach
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
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