Big Island of Hawaii Black Sand Beaches

The Big Island of Hawaii has several black sand beaches that are popular tourist destinations. Some notable ones include Punalu’u Beach, which is known for its large population of green sea turtles, and Polulu Beach, which features a black sand beach as well as stunning views of the cliffs nearby. Read on for the best black sand beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Big Island black sand beaches
Alexandra T/ Unsplash

What is a Black Sand Beach?

A black sand beach is a type of beach that is characterized by its dark-colored sand, which is typically composed of volcanic rock and minerals. The color of the sand is caused by the erosion of volcanic rocks, which releases tiny fragments of basalt, a dark-colored rock.

Punalu’u Beach

Punalu’u Beach is a black sand beach located on the southern coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. It’s a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling. Punalu’u Beach is a popular tourist destination, so it can get crowded, especially during peak season. There are no facilities on the beach, so it is recommended to bring your own beach gear and snacks. The beach is located in a remote area, so it’s best to have a rental car or arrange for transportation in advance.

Punalu’u Beach is a very unique spot to visit and it’s a very special one as well, it is a nesting site for the honu (sea turtles) and you might be lucky to spot one during your visit. Make sure to keep a distance from any wildlife and to clean up after yourself. A lifeguard is posted and a snack stand is available, along with plenty of parking and picnic tables.

Visitors should be aware that black sand can be quite hot to walk on, so it’s a good idea to bring water shoes or sandals. Additionally, the sun can be intense in Hawaii, so be sure to wear sunscreen and bring plenty of water.

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Kaimu Beach

Kaimu Beach is a black sand beach located on the island of Hawaii. It was formed by lava flows from the Kilauea volcano, which erupted in 1990 and covered the previous white sand beach. The beach is now a popular spot for visitors to see the unique black sand and explore the volcanic landscapes. While it’s not a beach where you see a lot of people lounging, it’s a great option for those looking to explore a black sand beach without the crowds.

If you’re planning to take a swim, make sure you bring proper shoes for the short hike, and slippers for after you swim! Bring lots of water too, so you don’t dehydrate. There isn’t much shade, and in the middle of the day, the sun will beam down directly on you.


Polulu Valley Beach

Polulu Valley Beach is a secluded and remote black sand beach located on the northern coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. It is situated at the end of a rough and rocky road, plus a steep hike down making it a less visited spot compared to other beaches on the island.

It is mostly visited by people who are looking for a secluded spot to enjoy the natural beauty of the area and take in the breathtaking views of the valley and ocean. Entrance is free but parking is limited to 5 spots so plan on utilizing the street parking.

Be sure to carry your garbage out and be aware that there are no public bathrooms or showers at this beach.

Kehena Beach

Kehena Beach, also known as Dolphin Beach, is a small, secluded black sand beach located on the eastern coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. The beach is known for its crystal clear waters and sightings of wild dolphins swimming in the bay. Kehena Beach is included on this list because it’s one of the beaches where visitors can swim, snorkel, boogie-board and spearfish all in one place.

Big Island black sand beaches
Oleg C/ Unsplash Kehena Beach

There is a steep and rocky hike down to the beach, but short around five minutes, so may not be the best for toddlers/babies, or the elderly. Note that this is a clothing-optional beach and people do sunbathe nude here.

Always remember to respect the land and its inhabitants and leave the beaches cleaner than you found them!

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