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Punalu’u black sand beach

On the way to Volcano last week, we stopped at Punalu’u Beach Park for a brief walk and some lunch.  Punalu’u is along the southern shore of the Big Island, halfway between Na’alehu and Volcano.  It’s a lovely spot that is popular with locals and tourists alike, but maintains a relaxed feel.

The black sand at Punalu’u is created by the ocean battering the nearby lava flows into submission.  Although some larger rocks survive, overall the sand is very smooth with rounded, soft edges.  In your hand, it feels like tiny glass marbles (or petrified caviar).  I decided to shuck my shoes and wade for a few minutes.  No swimming, however, since the currents can be vicious.

As with many Big Island beaches, Punalu’u often plays host to Hawaii’s green sea turtle, locally called honu.  The green turtle has been listed as threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 1982.  It is illegal to harrass or touch the creatures, as human bacteria can kill them.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop eager tourists from collecting around them, often within the recommended separation distance (which I think is 20 feet).

The hawksbill turtle and Hawaiian monk seal also occasionally make appearances here, but alas they were not present for our visit. Maybe next time…

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