Punalu'u Black Sand Beach is the largest black sand beach in the state. Located south of the Volcanoes National Park on the coastal Highway 11 it is a beach that is basically fairly far from populated areas and most people will decide to enjoy a quick visit when they take the southern route to visit the volcanoes if they are staying in the Kona region. This is good because, although it is a beach that would easily find its place on any "top ten" list of beaches to see in Hawaii, it would actually fit into the category of a novelty beach to see, visit, take pictures and then move on because swimming and snorkeling here can be somewhat dicey if not downright dangerous.
The big draw to this beach is of course the black sand, and it is truly remarkable if you have not witnessed black sand before. You can hold the large black granules in your fist and allow them to fall in a stream from your hand to totally enjoy the texture and its rich deep color. Though it may be a temptation to take some of the sand home with you there are signs posted over the beach asking that you don't do so and in fact it is widely told that removing the black rocks and sand from Hawaii beaches will bring you bad luck ( at one point years ago when I first started my tour business in Lahaina on Maui a box was delivered to me from the post office by a person who had sent back a grapefruit sized lava rock along with an anonymous note that explained the severe difficulties that had befallen her since she brought the rock home with her).
The beach itself is a large crescent shape that is ringed by large palm trees. These trees give the beach much of its charm but you may notice that many of the trees have large coconuts that have not been trimmed recently and if so you should not decide (as we saw others do) to walk or sit directly underneath them.
The water of the beach is very beautiful but often quite wavy and there are numerous rocks in the way of making a water entry easy. In addition there are strong rip-currents that run along the beach making it even less desirable for a swim.
Another very interesting aspect of Punalu'u Beach is it penchant for attracting colonies of both the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles and the Hawksbill Turtles. They nest in this area and can often be seen laying about on the sand enjoying the warmth of the Hawaiian sun or bobbing their heads about in the surf as they make their way across the length of the beach. Every effort should be made to leave them alone as there are evidently dangers associated with the introduction of human contagion to the turtles that do not have the systemic immunity to deal with the possible infections.
Punalu'u Black Sand Beach has great facilities including clean bathrooms, showers and changing areas and there are large parking areas. This beach is located right off the highway so it is probably the most accessible black sand beach on the island.
Be advised that all beaches and ocean locations in Hawaii can be dangerous including this one. Be completely aware of the ocean conditions prior to entering any Hawaiian waters however it is not advised that you enter the water at this location. Also, all shorelines and beaches in Hawaii, including this one, can be frequented by sharks, jellyfish and other sea creatures which can provide potential harm to people entering the water. There are no lifeguard towers at this location.
Kikaua Point Beach is a tiny but very beautiful beach that is located about ten miles north of Kailua-Kona. Kikaua Beach is perhaps the calmest beach on the Big Island being protected from the open ocean by a series of huge boulders and rocks that provide a rim for the pond-like beach within.
La'aloa Beach Park in the town of Kailua-Kona is also referred to as Magic Sands Beach, White Sands Beach and Disappearing Sands Beach. Though its Hawaiian name has implications suggesting it is a beach of sacred nature the other three more popular names refer to the propensity of the beach to lose its sand each winter and early spring to the currents, waves and storms that extract the white sands from the shoreline portion of the beach and temporarily deposit them further out to sea exposing dangerous exposed rocks in the process.
The Old Kona Airport landing field became obsolete in the early 1970's but the one-mile landing strip still exists. This huge stretch of asphalt lies right next to the ocean just north of the city of Kailua-Kona and today serves as the gigantic parking area for the Old Kona Airport Beach.
If it wasn't for the fact that Spencer Beach was located so close to Hapuna and Mauna Kea Beach, it would receive more notoriety than it does. Although it is a beautiful white sand beach with a sand bottom allowing for an easy water entry, it just lacks some of the luster and beauty associated with its nearest beach neighbor.
The Big Island often gets a pretty bad rap when it comes to beaches. Yes, it is true that it is the newest of the Hawaiian islands and as a result it has not had enough geological time pass by to jump-start the laws of physics and allow nature to work its magic on creating the type of amazing beaches that can often be found on other islands of the Hawaiian chain.
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