Black Sand Beach at Punalu'u Hawaii
A Unique Beach
On the southeast coast of the Big Island of Hawaii is a little park with a beautiful black sand beach.
As I described in my Hub The Island of Hawaii and its Six Volcanoes the black sand is the result of the continuing volcanic activity on the island. The black sand is created when hot, black lava from a volcano is suddenly cooled when it falls into the ocean and the sudden cooling causes it to shatter into sand and small rocks.
With six live volcanoes on the island of Hawaii and a seventh just off shore and still under water, nature continues to produce black sand in the area around the island. Currently the Kilauea volcano, located just up the road from thePunalu'u's Black Sand Beach, in the Volcanoes National Park, has been active and spewing lava into the ocean since April 2008.
Normally, black sand would be washed out to sea by the waves and tides leaving the more common tan sand behind.
This is what happens on most beaches over geologic time. But for now the volcanoes on the island keep replenishing the black sand leaving an all black beach.
The sand itself is is very course and not at all like the fine grained sand found on most beaches. It is not very comfortable to walk barefoot on.
And, if you play and body surf in the waves be careful not to let the surf wash you in to the shallows where your body will scrape bottom.
The effect on your skin from this will be the same as a brisk massage with a piece of very course sandpaper.
Sea Turtle Coming Ashore
Honu - Green Sea Turtles
Like some other beaches on the Island of Hawaii, green sea turtles, or Honu as they are called in Hawaiian, are frequent visitors to the black sand beach at Punalu'u.
These turtles make an impressive sight, but they are a protected species and the Hawaiians are especially protective of their turtles. Visitors to the beach can look at and photograph them but are not suppose to touch them let alone threaten or harm them in any way.
At the right is an engraving of Kauila carrying a sleeping child on her back. Kauila was mystical turtle that made her home in the Ka'u district where Punalu'u bay and the Black Sand Beach are located.
According to Hawaiian legend, Kauila had the ability to turn herself into human form which she did regularly.
However, unlike some other mythical animals that had this power, Kauila's intentions were always good and she never sought to harm or cause trouble for people.
Kauila liked people, especially children, and when in human form she would play with the children on the beach and, in either form, she would always watch over and protect the children along. This has endeared her to the native Hawaiians ever since.
Green Sea Turtles
Links for More on Hawaii
- Hawaii and Tsunamis
I first encountered the term tsunami as a teenager while reading James A. Michener's epic novel, Hawaii. In one part of that book he describes an off shore earthquake in a remote area of the Pacific which...
- The Island of Hawaii and Its Six Volcanoes
Volcanoes, like their close cousins earthquakes, are responsible for both massive destruction as well as for the creation of many of the beautiful landscapes on our earth. The Earth as we know it today was...
- A Visit to the Punaluu Bake Shop - Southernmost Bakery in the USA
Traveling along State Highway 11 around the southern tip of the island of Hawaii, the Big Island in the island chain that makes up the State of Hawaii, one encounters spectacular scenery but few towns. One...