Big Island (officially named Hawaii) is one of the most eye-catching places in the world. Black sand beaches on the Big Island attract more travelers to feel the difference. Most people photograph, write poems, and like to visit the white sand beaches. But, trust me, black sand beaches are also beautiful and different. As we all know, Hawaii is a place where has everything like: volcanoes, beaches, waterfalls, and more natural beauties. So, here is the information about all the black sand beaches on the Big Island.
Black Sand Beaches on the Big Island
Why is there black sand in Big Island /Hawaii?
There are no other places like Hawaii, which has various beaches like white, black, yellow, red, green, and even glass beaches. While most beaches in the world are made with quartz minerals, beaches in Hawaii are influenced by the undersea volcanic environment.
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Specially, these black sand beaches can be seen on the Big Island, Hawaii. But there are some other beaches as well. As mentioned earlier, black sand beaches are all about volcanic activities. And the Big Island is the only place where active volcanoes exist in Hawaii. Obviously, you can mostly see the black sand beaches near the Big Island’s active volcanic areas.
When the volcanoes active and erupt, lava flows into the ocean through the beach. And when hot lava enters the water, instantly it cools down, solidifies, and shatters into large amounts of black sand. Then, the black sand beaches are created. That means when the volcano gets neutral, the lava is not coming through the beach. And the existing black sand will erode every day and take those sand to the ocean. Ultimately, the black beach will vanish.
Therefore, we can say that the black beaches have a short life span, like a few hundred years. Actually, they create instantly and vanish soon if the volcano is not active.
Now you may think, how happened the white sand beaches in Hawaii since it does not have continental quartz. Yes, it has composed due to the calcium carbonate (calcareous) shells of marine organisms, reef derived material (crushed reefs and corals). So, the white sand beach sources are continuous and never stop the formation like black sand.
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Black Sand Beaches on the Big Island / Hawaii
Seeing sea turtles is a bonus for the black sand beaches’ visitors on the Big Island. Because the blank sand beaches are ideal for the nesting purpose of sea turtles, the reason behind that is, if you walk along black sand beaches on a sunny day, then you will realize that it is hot and it exists for a long time. So, exactly the sea turtles attract more to these black sand beaches on the Big Island for their nesting since it is hot. Therefore, you can observe (Hawaiian green sea turtles) and even help save the sea turtles.
Here are the best black sand beaches on the Big Island. Just take a look.
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Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, Big Island
Punalu’u is obviously the most famous black sand beach on Big Island and also in Hawaii. Situating in the south of Hilo (in between Kona and Hilo), and can easily access it through Hawaii Volcanoes Village National Park on the Big Island, Hawaii. One of the major reasons behind the popularity of Punalu’u black sand beaches is you can see Hawaiian green and endangered Hawksbill sea turtles on the beach frequently on sunny days.
Punalu’u black sand beach is such an amazing one lined with coconut trees to provide you the shade since it gets very hot during sunny days. You can even plan a camp on the beach as it is more beautiful at night.
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On the other hand, you can swim and go snorkeling. But be very careful since the ocean bed is so rocky. And even the water gets so warm in the daytime, so get ready for that too. This is a significant place for the Hawaiian people since they call this beach “Spring dived for.”
That means Punalu’u bay is a great fresh underwater spring source. This spring water is so cold and exists on top of the saltwater. Therefore, the swimmers may feel both hot and cool feelings simultaneously in Punalu’u’s black sand beach.
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Pololu Valley Black sand Beach, Big Island
Located on the North Kohala peninsula, Pololu Valley beach is an iconic black sand beach on the Big Island. When you pass eight miles of Hawi, Highway 270 (Akoni Pule Highway) ends at Pololu Valley by offering you an incredible black sand beach view.
This beach view is just insane with the Kohala volcano mountain, sheer green cliffs, pine trees, high dunes, and black sand beach. But sadly, due to the strong tide and location in a remote area, this beach is considered a precautionary place for swimming. Therefore, it is better to walk along the black sand beach, touch the sea waves, and feel the environment’s scenic view.
The reason to create this kind of amazing environment around Kohala is the eruption of the Kohala Volcano that happened a thousand years ago. And due to that, a tsunami and a massive landslide had happened, and the remnants of those landslides are still available underwater a few miles away from the coastline.
The way to the Pololu Valley is an amazing hike. Pololu trail is breathtaking through the cliffs and finally reaching the black sand valley. The whole trail journey will take around 25 minutes. Check for the rain forecast before you go there since the trail gets slippery when it rains. And also I recommend you visit the valley early the day.
There are some large boulders mixed with black sand. So, wear shoes while walking on the beach. And also, bring relevant shoes to swim in if you feel like swimming there since the sea bed is rocky. But I warn you not to swim since the waves are very rough and strong currents are there, which is not suitable for swimming.
As the bonus offer of Pololu Valley, if you visit in the winter (from December to March), you have the chance to see the humpback whales. So, do not miss the opportunity.
Kaimu Black Sand Beach, Kalapana, Big Island
Before 1990, this beach was one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. From 1990 to 1992, it covered the whole beauty with lava about 50 feet by the eruption. So, now you can see yet beautiful but a young black sand beach in Kaimu. Actually, the locals try more to get the beauty back like: by planting coconut trees along the coast.
First of all, I must say this beach is also not for swimming since the strong current effects are there. Even this is not a good beach for tanning since the floor is getting hotter. So, just come and visit the beauty of the black coast and the volcanoes.
But if you visit here, you have the chance to observe the rebirth of a black sand beach with the changes in the environment. Since it is very young, it is clean and pure to see. You can also ask the locals how about the previous beach and where it was (where you park your cars now). And also see the power of the Kilauea volcano. Finally, you will realize that the glory on the beach will return with a considerable amount of time.
Kehena Black Sand Beach, Hawaii
Located in the Big Island’s Puna district, I think this is the sexiest beach in Hawaii. Of course, Kehena beach famous for nude sunbathing. I know what you think that nude sunbathing is illegal in Hawaii. But, since few police officers are in the area and it is a kind of remote place, people tend to get that European tradition of nude bathing.
On the other hand, as the bonus of visiting this black sand beach, you can see spinning dolphins everywhere as a dolphin show. Therefore, locals call this beach “Dolphin Beach.”
Kehena black sand beach was formed in 1955 when the eruption occurred, and lava flowed down to the ocean. But in 1979, a strong earthquake hit Kehena, and now the beach is above 10 feet from sea level.
Swimming is possible in Kehena beach, but the strong current effect and hard sea bottom effect are still there. Especially when in the high surf time, you should be very careful. So, I recommend you plan a picnic and watch the black sand beach’s beauty where you can get access from the Kehena lookout point.
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Waipio Valley Black Sand Beach
Nearly 100 miles away from the north side of Punulu’u, the beautiful Waipio Valley is located. Visiting Waipio Valley is just like reminding ancient Hawaiians since some historic communities had lived in this area. It is filled with waterfalls falling through the valley’s walls into the ocean over the black sand beach. Isn’t that crazy to see. Yeah, it is amazing.
This black sand beach is gorgeous, and the environment decors it more. The color of the sand is not so dark, but it is like dark grey. The beach is in the down of the valley walls, and you need to plan a hike to reach the beach or have a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Since this is a very remote area, please plan before you visit; otherwise, nobody is there to rescue you.
You can even plan a helicopter tour of Waipio Valley to see this natural beauty from the Hawaiian sky. It will be an amazing experience.
Pohoiki Black Sand Beach
Again, located in the Puna district, Pohoiki black sand beach is the youngest one on the Big Island. It all happened on 9th August 2018, and it took only 1 minute to cover the Isaac Hale beach park and finally flow the lava into the ocean. The result is this beautiful Pohoiki black sand beach.
The newly formed beach became a popular surfing spot, and also, there are ocean thermal ponds. Although the former beauty of the park vanished, yet there’s some beauty with this black sand. But, still, the beauty of this new beach is also uncertain since the uncertain climate.
Oneuli Black Sand Beach, Big Island
Well, the meaning of Oneuli is “dark sand” in Hawaii. As a result of volcanic eruptions, Oneuli black sand beach and Red Hill / Earthquake Hill or Pu’u Ola’i Cinder Cone were created. On the other hand, this place is wonderful, and green sea turtles are available frequently. Not only that, you can do snorkeling and even observe small sharks as well.
Can you bring black sand home?
Taking Sand from Hawaii beaches is illegal. According to NSA, it is illegal, and you do not try to bring them home. But, I know how you may think that who’s watching at you all the time on the beach while taking a small hand of black sand. Yes, nobody. Of course, you can steal.
But, there’s a myth of most people that taking black sand home will bring you bad luck. And also, most of the people who took them home and commented that they really faced a lot of bad things like accidents. Also, they mentioned that Once they put them back to the beach, they got rid of those troubles. Normally I don’t believe those myths. But, the fact is true that most real travelers have shared their experiences of bad circumstances.
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Volcanoes in the Big Island
When we discuss the black sand beaches on the Big Island, we cannot forget about the following volcanoes: those beaches’ creators.
Mauna Kea Volcano
Mauna Lao Volcano
Well, that is all about black sand beaches on the Big Island. Not only Black, but there are also some other colorful beaches on the Big Island as well. Like: Green, Grey, white and many more. Discover them all.
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