The Best 6 Big Island Black Sand Beaches For Your Holiday

There are a lot of things that will impress you on your visit to the Big Island,

but for us, arguably the most exciting thing you will discover throughout your visit is the amazing beaches that it has to offer!

The Best 6 Big Island Black Sand Beaches For Your Holiday

But, if you really want your jaw to drop you during your visit, then you need to make your way over to one of the island’s incredible black sand beaches.

It can be really confusing seeing a beach with black sand,

but they are absolutely stunning up close and in person, and visiting one of them should absolutely be on your bucket list of things to do whilst you’re there.

Thankfully, there are multiple black sand beaches that you are able to visit during your time on the Big Island,

so whether you want to try and visit them all, or just the one you’re closest to.

There are the 6 best Big Island black sand beaches for your holiday! 

Punaluu Beach

We’re kicking off this list with an absolutely excellent beach, Punaluu Beach is found in between Pahala and Na’a’ehu, which is Hawaii, on the coast of the Big Island itself.

Punaluu Beach was one of the black sand beaches that was formed from the lava as a result of the volcanic eruption from Kilauea Volcano. 

This famous volcanic eruption ended up creating a total of 7 black sand beaches across the Big Island,

and because this black sand is actually formed of basalt, it’s officially classed as a black sand beach!

Another reason this particular black sand beach is so popular is because it plays home to some of the island’s rarest animals!

This includes the endangered green turtles, as well as hawksbill turtles too!

Be aware though that you’re not allowed to touch the turtles, so make sure you keep to the recommended 10 meter distance and you should be fine.

There are a whole host of things you can do whilst exploring this beach, whether it’s a picnic, a swim, a hike, or you could even go snorkelling if you wanted to explore what is below the sea!

The beach does have its own lifeguard, which ensures that you’re safe whilst in the sea.

You might be wondering exactly what Punaluu means, well, it’s actually a Hawaiian word that can be translated to ‘the coral dived for’, ‘to dive for corals’, or ‘spring diver’, these are all rough translations though, so they’re not exact!

So, if you think that a visit to Punaluu Beach is in order the next time you visit the Big Island,

then it’s open between 8:30am and 5pm, with plenty of facilities should you need them, including picnic grounds, showers, restrooms, and parking!

Kaimu Beach

Found in the luscious Puna district, Kaimu Beach is another one of the famous beaches that was formed from the lava caused by the eruption from the east side of Kilauea Volcano,

the black sand quickly covered what used to be a typically stunning beach, which now sits underneath the roughly 70 feet of lava that initially covered the beach back in 1990. 

This isn’t a beach we’d recommend for a relaxing time though, as it’s actually quite hard to access, and there’s a ban on tanning, swimming,

and snorkelling, which is all because of the high current found on this beach.

Parking is the main problem however, so you’ll need to find somewhere else to park before you hike your way over, for this, we recommend parking at the car park for Kaimu Kalapanu. 

The rocks formed by the lava are rather high, 7 to 8 feet in most cases, but if you’re making your way over from Kaimu Kalapanu’s beach,

then it should only take you roughly 10 minutes to get to this rugged beach. 

Whilst there’s no facilities on this beach, it does make for a fantastic sightseeing trip,

and if you’re staying in Hilo, it’s an easy day trip that will allow you to see one of the marvellous black sand beaches. 

As you arrive, you’ll soon be greeted with the 6 foot cliff edge at the shoreline, where you’ll be able to see the water crash at the rocks, which makes for a great photo op! 

Pololu Valley Beach 

Initially formed over 100,000 when the Kohala Volcano erupted and then fell into the ocean, this Hawaiian black sand beach is the oldest on the island!

What’s so great about Pololu Valley Beach is that it also features a simply gorgeous cover that is a stunning emerald green cover, which is thanks to the trees and shrubbery that surround it,

and the contrast between the deep blue sea, the black sand, and the greenery is something you just have to see for yourself!

Accessing the beach can be somewhat difficult, especially in the rainy season when it becomes especially slippery,

and the 25 minute hike down to the beach can be strenuous if you’re not used to hiking, as it’s short and steep.

However, the reward waiting for you 0.6 miles at the valley floor is an incredible sight to witness,

so if you’re up for the hike then we’d definitely recommend it to you! 

This isn’t a beach you’ll want to swim at however, as it’s extremely unsafe to do so as a result of the combination of high tides and undertows, so this is a beach that you should just enjoy from the shoreline. 

And since you’re looking out to see anyways, why not try to spot some of the Humpback Whales that are known to frequent these waters if you find yourself here during the winter? 

You can find this beach relatively easily, as it’s at the very end of Highway 270 in Kohala. Just be cautious however, as there are no facilities or lifeguards on watch at this beach. 

Pohoiki Beach

Pohoiki Beach

Located in the Puna district, Pohoiki Beach is a part of the Isaac Kepo’okalani Hale Beach Park,

and is an incredible black sand beach that we think you should definitely add to your list of things to do during your time on the Big Island! 

You might be wondering where this name originates from, well, it was named after Isaac Kepo’okalani Hale, who died fighting for the U.S during the Korean War. 

Pohoiki Beach was another of the black sand beaches that was formed from the lava from the Kilauea Volcano eruption,

so as the lava wept out of the volcano and met the sea, it solidified and resulted in the creation of the black sand!

Previously, you could access this beach after an incredibly difficult hike, which made it rather inaccessible, however in 2018 a road was built, which makes accessing this beach incredibly easy. 

There are some facilities on this beach, such as restrooms, but it is worth noting that picnics and camping aren’t allowed on this beach,

but you can fish! And whilst not directly banned, we don’t recommend swimming on this beach due to really strong currents,

which can be dangerous considering there’s no lifeguards! 

So, if you want to visit this beach, then it’s open everyday between 9am to 6pm! 

Kehena Beach

Also known as Dolphin Beach, you can find this gorgeous black sand beach on the eastern shore of Hawaii.

It earned the Dolphin Beach nickname as a result of the Spinner dolphins that are so often seen in the waters around the beach.

This beach was created by lava from the Kilauea Volcano eruption that occurred in 1955, which is why it has such beautiful black sand!

This beach is recognizable to many because of its long and narrow shape, as well as the rocks that are located at either side of the beach which actually limit the water flow. 

Finding this gorgeous beach is super easy to do, and if you want to visit, all you need to do is take Highway 137, as this beach is located in the Puna District.

There is somewhat of a hike to the beach though, which can be strenuous, so just be wary to bring appropriate hiking shoes if you plan on visiting this beach. 

There is one unique thing about this beach that you might want to be aware of before you consider visiting it during your trip to the Big Island,

and that is that it is what’s known as a ‘clothing optional’ beach!

So if you find yourself surrounded by nude sunbathers during your time at Kehena Beach!

You are allowed to swim on this beach, but in comparison with some of the other black sand beaches it does have a much smaller swimming area,

and can also be prone to some particularly strong currents too, so just be sure to be careful if you do want to go for a swim!

Waipio Valley Black Sand Beach

Meaning ‘curved water’ when translated for Hawaiian, you can find this illusive beach at the end of what is known all around for being easily one of the steepest roads in the entirety of the United States.

In fact, accessing this beach is practically impossible unless you have a 4×4, and even then a lot of the rental cars you’ll hire won’t be allowed to access this beach,

which means you’ll have to check in with your rental car company before you go planning a trip to this beach!

Even once you reach the end of this steep road, the journey isn’t over!

You’ll then have to put on your best hiking shoes and walk for around 40 minutes to reach this beach.

Be careful however, as this hike is one of the most difficult on the island, and is also extremely steep, which leads to an incredibly intensive hike. 

Once you arrive, the first thing you’ll notice is that this beach is divided in two, and is done so by the Wailoa stream, which creates both the divide between the northern and southern beaches.

The water isn’t safe here due to the extremely strong currents and the high tides. 

There are absolutely no facilities or amenities to be found on this beach, so if you do plan on visiting then you should plan in advance and be sure to pack everything you might need.

Despite this, if you’re an avid hiker or camper, then this beach is a prime location for you to visit on your visit to the Big Island, and for some people it’s a bucket list location to visit,

so you should definitely make time in your trip to visit if you think you can handle it!

It is worth noting that as of February 2022, this beach has now been closed indefinitely to tourists,

and at the moment is only open to residents of the island, this is mainly due to erosion and the danger that high amounts of traffic on this road poses.

Hopefully within the next couple of months however things will soon change so that tourists can once again visit this stunning black sand beach! 


As you can see, there are a whole load of different black sand beaches that you are able to visit on the Big Island,

whether you’re looking for a nice relaxing beach to soak in some of that amazing sunshine, swim, snorkel, fish, camp, or even take your clothes off!

There is something for everyone on these beaches.

When you do visit these beautiful beaches though, you should always remember to bring everything you need with,

as there will be no guarantees about what amenities you will have access to during your stay,

and you should make sure that whatever you bring with you to the beach comes home with,

as littering can damage the beach environment and the wildlife that call it home!

Mylene Mace