Punalu’u Black Sand Beach & Turtles on the Big Island, Hawaii

Family Photo in HawaiiEighteen members of my family, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters and all were lucky enough to have time off to meet up in Hawai’i for the holidays. We flew in from Korea, my sister and her family from Australia and still more came in from Colorado, Texas and Ohio in the States. To be with family during the holidays is just so precious as so many of my years abroad have seen the holiday season come and go without them. While my friends abroad have made every holiday so special together, being with family is truly special when the holidays with them are so few.Family Photo in Hawaii

When Hawaii was first mentioned, I immediately Googled what we should do and black sand beaches and turtles were high on the list of must-sees. The Punalu’u Black Sand Beach on the Big Island is the largest black sand beach on the island and had it all. Black sand to dig our toes into and even sea turtles basking in the sun were said to be there. There were tide pools for little ones to play and bathrooms and showers to wash up, too. While I’d seen black sand beaches in Jeju, Korea before, this one was quite different. The sand was a bit darker and honestly, you can’t beat a beach with sea turtles in my opinion. Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, sea turtlesPunalu'u Black Sand Beach, The Big Island, Hawaii, USFrom our house in Kona, we took a drive south deciding that we’d take the day to see this black sand beach and the turtles and we’d also hit the nearby Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park as it was in the vicinity and it would take more than an hour for the drive anyway.

The black sand is made of basalt and was created when the lava from Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanoes flowed into the ocean. Rocks go from the beach out into the water, so if you’re swimming be careful and watch where you step. One good thing about the rocks is that they provide some nice tide pools for the babies and they weren’t nearly as sharp and uncomfortable as the lava rocks we’d found in Jeju, Korea so we didn’t need to wear shoes on them. While the tide pools are baby friendly, the water is not. The waves were choppy and swimming in the sea just off the coast here wouldn’t have been all that fun. As our babe played, we also started to notice how much wildlife there was. Because of the black sand and the rocks it was difficult at first, but we soon realized there were little black crabs, black fish and other black sea life in the tide pools that of course our little one immediately got a kick out of.
Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, The Big Island, Hawaii, US, sea turtles

The sea turtles that bask in the sun have their own protected area surrounded by rocks to come up to and visitors are kept at bay, only allowed to photograph the giant beauties. Rare and endangered animals like the hawksbill turtle, honu or green turtle and Hawaiian monk seal come to the area to rest and if you’re lucky you’ll spot some on your visit like we did. We even saw one as he came up to shore and took 30 minutes to make his way up to the beach as the waves pushed him in and then pull him out again before he could finally get ashore. We were sort of astonished at how they all managed to make it ashore at this one location in the protected area as the rest of the beach is open to people. I assume there’s something about the way the water pushes them in and where the rocks are that makes this location easier for them to beach.

There are also plenty of places along the road around the island for everyone to get out, stretch and enjoy some gorgeous overlooks providing views of the sea and the surrounding as well. On the way, we took our time and were sure to enjoy the scenery as we passed the blue sea above. This trip out of Kona was worth every minute and introduced us to how much of the Big Island is empty and devoid of people which gives it a very adventure like feel when you’re out on the roads with very few cars passing by.Overlook on the way to Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Overlook on the way to Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Overlook on the way to Punalu'u Black Sand Beach

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach

Address: Highway 11, Island of Hawaii, HI 96777

Amenities: parking lot, bathroom, outdoor showers

Hawaii, USA: The Big Island: Punalu'u Black Sand Beach & Turtles. Have you ever wanted to see turtles up close and personal in their natural habitat? This is the best place on the Big Island to see turtles AND to take a dip too!

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6 Responses

  1. How lovely to be able to travel with such a large family group and to Hawaii? It’s my dream destination! The turtles are amazing – they look so prehistoric! Gorgeous pics!

  2. You seem like you all had a blast. Those turtles are amazing. My three year old would have died lol.

  3. I love turtles! That is so amazing that you got to see them. I love Hawaii. I’ve been to other islands, but I still need to check out the Big Island. 🙂

  1. February 19, 2016

    […] of our day trips out took us to the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach for some sea turtle watching and the nearby Volcanoes National Park home of Kilauea volcano and […]

  2. September 23, 2016

    […] back at our last trip for a moment. To wrap up our trip in Hawai’i, we hopped over from the Big Island to Oahu for a few more days to soak up the sun on the beaches of […]

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