I love visiting the state of Hawaii. Although I have enjoyed all the Hawaiian islands I have visited (Oahu, Kauai, and Hawaii Island), my favorite island would be Hawaii Island (aka the Big Island). The diversity of the Hawaii Island appeals to me...from the dry sunny lava-lined Kona District on the western coast, the high summits of the volcanoes Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea in the interior, the tropical lush (and wet) eastern coast of the Hilo region, the active Kilauea volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and last but not least, the black sand beaches.
Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Park is located on the southeastern Kau coast. How are black sand beaches created? When lava contacts water, it cools rapidly and shatters into black fragmented debris of various size. Much of the black debris is small enough to be considered sand. A large lava flow entering an ocean may produce enough lava fragments to build a new black sand beach almost overnight. The famous "black sand" beaches of Hawaii, such as Punalu'u Beach and Kehena Beach, were created virtually instantaneously by the violent interaction between hot lava and sea water. Since a black sand beach is made by a lava flow in a one time event, they tend to be rather short lived since sands do not get replenished if currents or storms wash sand into deeper water. For this reason, the state of Hawaii has made it illegal to remove black sand from its beaches. Be aware that walking barefoot on black sand can result in burns, as the black sand absorbs a great deal of the sun's energy.
Coconut palms fringe Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, adding extra beauty to the place. As you enjoy the view, keep your eyes peeled to the beach, for if your lucky enough, you may discover large honu, or Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, basking on the beach.
Although it may be tempting, touching these protected endangered turtles is strictly prohibited.
This was my third visit to Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Park. Upon my first visit I saw two Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. Upon my second visit I didn't see any. I guess it's true that "third times the charm".
Punalu'u Black Sand Beach's jet black shores and Hawaiian Green Turtles are an unforgettable sight. Although swimming isn't ideal, there is a picnic area and restroom facilities so you can have lunch while you enjoy the scenery and (if the black sand isn't too hot) experience the unique feeling of black sand between your toes.