7. Punalu‘u Beach
Located near Pahala
When people refer to “the black-sand beach” in Hawai‘i, they usually mean this world-famous one near the border of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. The deep-black basalt is the result of lava flowing into the ocean, cooling, then being slowly ground down by the water. Palm trees grow right out of the black sand, giving the beach a surreal look.
If you’re coming to Hawai‘i specifically for a black-sand beach, this is a good choice, as it’s easily accessible and much larger than the one at Wai‘anapanapa on Maui. The shore can be rocky, and it’s not recommended as a swimming destination, but sea turtle sightings on land and in the water are common.
Good for: Seeing black sand, picnicking, possibly seeing turtles
Also consider: Lava flows in 2018 created a new black-sand beach at Pohoiki Beach, on the east side of the national park. That offers a very cool chance to see a brand-new black-sand beach, though the rough pebbly shore means it isn’t recommended for swimming either.