The sand comes in many colors in Ka’u – black, green and white. Punalu’u, the most easily accessible black sand beach on the island is a little gem tucked just off highway 11 near mile marker 55. The thick, coarse grains of volcanic black sand, created by the crashing of waves against lava, encrust the waters of this bay. Graceful coconut palms enclose the beach creating a rich strip of beach irresistible to sunbathers of the human and turtle variety. During your visit you are likely to see honu, green sea turtles, lounging on the warm sands or floating in the little crevices near the shore. Please do not touch or disturb these protected animals. Sometimes scientists will rope off areas to observe these gentle creatures. The waters here, while fine for hard-shelled swimmers, aren’t ideal. Rip currents are common and even on calm days it can still be treacherous. Ancient Hawaiians used Punalu’u for more than just a lovely playground. Fresh water springs spout cold, fresh water just off shore. They would swim out to the springs with empty dried out gourds to capture the drinking water. The presence of fresh spring water gives Punalu’u waters a nice chill that doesn’t suit everyone. The parking here is plentiful and there are restrooms, picnic tables and drinking water. The black sand can become steaming hot on sunny days so unless you want a nice tan on the bottom of your feet, bring beach shoes. Resist the urge to grab a fistful of black sand to take home. This is a finite resource and should be preserved for everyone to enjoy.