Just over an hour drive along route 11, or Mamalahoa Hwy southwest of Hilo, and about a half hour past Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, is Punaluu Black Sand Beach. This is the easiest and maybe the most beautiful black sand beach to access on the Big Island. When you first witness volcanic black sand against the azure of the ocean, it will take your breath away. This beautiful beach is adorned with palm trees that add to the tropical sensation of this environment.
The ocean at Punaluu Black Sand Beach is not recommended for swimming, but if conditions are calm, you may find a spot in a little cove east of the first entrance. The water here can feel cold because of freshwater springs bubbling up just offshore. You are almost guaranteed to find sea turtles at this beach park, very large ones. Sea turtles and sometimes monk seals can be seen sunbathing in the sand and on the rocks. Please do not touch the sea turtles as they and monk seals are protected species by law.
If you are in the mood to explore, there are some coastal trails and tide pools to the south of the pavilion to satisfy your interest. To find Punaluu Black Sand Beach turn left onto Punaluu Road after passing mile marker 55. You’ll see the green sign indicating a left turn. If you see the tsunami evacuation sign you're on the right road. Punaluu Road eventually turns into Ninole Loop Road. The first entrance you come to will put you right in the middle of Punaluu Beach. There is a second larger entrance further down the road that has more parking and a pavilion with picnic tables.