I grew up thinking most sand was a light brownish color… except for the fake sand in stores for aquariums. As I’ve traveled and learned about different countries, I have found there are many colors of sand on different beaches around the world from pink to purple, green and what I find to be one of the most intriguing - black.
Why is the sand black? Black sand is made when lava from a volcano hits the water, explodes as it cools and fragments into tiny pieces. Black sand is usually hotter to walk on that other colors of sand.
I was fortunate to visit a black sand beach when I was in Hawaii. The Big Island is where you will find one of the most famous black sand beaches, Punalu’u Beach. It’s huge and easily accessible located between the towns of Pahala and Naalehu in Kau. It’s in a park so there’ are restrooms and outdoor shows. You might also want to pack a lunch to enjoy in one of the picnic areas. With a permit, you can also tent camp. Coconut palms on the perimeter of the beach provide shade.
Swimming is not recommended at Punalu’u Beach because of the large rocks and cold water. However, it’s a great place to find sea turtles since they often build their nests on black beaches. Sea turtles, which can weigh up to 400 lbs. as adults, are an endangered species so please observe and don’t touch. Panalu’s Beach Park is located less than 20 miles from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park which should be on your list of things to do.
On the island of Maui, you will find the Waianapanapa (Glistening Waters) State Park which is also home to a beautiful black beach, Pailoa. You’ll want to plan on enjoying other activities in the park which covers 120 tropical acres and includes many unique opportunities including: lava tubes, blowholes, freshwater caves, and a natural stone arch. The park also allows tent and camper van camping with a permit and fees. There are also twelve cabins available for rent.
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