10 Best Black Sand Beaches in the Big Island of Hawaii

Are you planning to visit the Big Island soon? We are going to tell you about the best beaches on the Big Island. These beaches have different types of sand, including white, black, and green sand. Also, there are important things to know about each one!

Before we went to the Big Island, we were unsure about what the beaches would be like. The island is the youngest among the Hawaiian islands and is always changing because of volcanic activity. As a result, the coastline is rockier and doesn’t have as many long stretches of white sand beaches like Maui, Oahu, or Kauai. But, we were actually really happy with the beaches we found.

We really enjoyed the fact that the island had fewer white sand beaches (but there are still plenty to visit!). While it may not have white sand beaches, it makes up for it with its unique and differently colored beaches. We don’t enjoy spending the entire day on the beach, and we prefer to have a variety of experiences when we travel. The beaches on the Big Island offered a wide range of options. We visited a total of 8 best beaches on the Big Island during our trip. The beaches varied in color, ranging from white sand to black sand to green sand. Each beach was beautiful and had its own unique characteristics.

In this blog, we will share the 8 best beaches on the Big Island based on our personal experience and research. The beaches on this island are located all around and have different colored sand. Some beaches are easily accessible by parking and walking up, while others require hiking.

10 Best Black Sand Beaches in the Big Island of Hawaii

Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach

Punaluʻu is ranked first on this list because it has a great location, high-quality sand, lots of wildlife, and convenient amenities like lifeguards, restrooms, vendors, water fountains, and plenty of parking.

Punaluʻu is located near Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park and has some of the best black sand in the islands. The beach has a rocky shoreline and lots of tall palm trees. There is plenty of space to lay out a towel. You are almost certain to see sea turtles at Punaluʻu. There are designated areas where they can come ashore and rest.

Throughout the day, you can expect a lot of people coming and going. Most of them will take a quick walk and some photos of the turtles. If you want to stay for a longer time, we suggest finding a spot on the northern end, away from the main parking lot, where there are fewer people walking by.

Punaluʻu is a great place for a picnic because it has lifeguards, restrooms, and picnic tables. Go to the nearby Punaluʻu Bake Shop to get some supplies.

Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach

If you’re driving to Hāna or just want to visit different beaches, make sure you don’t miss Waiʻanapanapa on the northeast coast of Maui. The state park has dark black sand and a rugged, black volcanic landscape. It has large rocks and sea arches, all surrounded by a lush green jungle. The Park is home to sea birds, blow holes, and heiaus. There are also small walking paths that you can use to explore the coastline.

10 Best Black Sand Beaches in the Big Island of Hawaii

Waiʻanapanapa still requires reservations in order to visit, even for the day. This is because of the lingering effects of the pandemic and to prevent overcrowding. Click here to find out more and secure your spot. The reservation system can be a bit boring and can take away from the element of surprise, but it is also important because it helps manage the number of visitors to ensure everyone can enjoy the natural space. Don’t allow it to discourage you from visiting this untouched natural area.

You can go tent camping or rent a cabin at Waiʻanapanapa (you need a permit). If you love the outdoors, it’s a great idea to spend the night here and enjoy the beach after all the day-trippers have gone. There are two types of camping: regular beach camping and camping on a black sand beach!

One’uli Black Sand Beach

If you are looking for a black sand beach with great snorkeling on Maui, Oneʻuli is a great option.

Oneʻuli is a peaceful spot located on the southwest shore of Maui. It is known for its mostly calm conditions and a vibrant, thriving reef. The beach is not very big, but it has a relaxed atmosphere. Some parts of the beach are bordered by reddish sea cliffs. If you have your own snorkel gear, bring it with you. Otherwise, you can rent snorkel gear in Kīhei. There are no sellers at the beach.

Makena Beach State Park is located just south of Oneʻuli and is more well-known. With its soft-white sand, it perfectly complements Oneʻuli. We suggest that you visit both places while you are in that part of the island.

Also Read: 10 Essential Tips How to Pack Light for Your Trip

Kaimū Black Sand Beach

If you’re interested in volcanic history and the formation of black sand beaches, Kaimū is a must-visit. However, swimming and snorkeling are not recommended there.

10 Best Black Sand Beaches in the Big Island of Hawaii

Kaimū Bay, which is in Kalapana, was covered in lava during a volcanic eruption in 1990. This eruption caused damage to property and changed the shape of the coastline. Today, you can reach the beach by taking a short hike across the lava fields, which makes it even more interesting.

For more information about the history of Kaimū Beach and how to explore it, please refer to our comprehensive guide. Wear shoes that cover your toes so you can walk or hike along the coast and explore this newly paved area.

Richardson’s Beach

If you want to find a black sand beach that is easy to get to and suitable for kids, Richardson’s Beach in Hilo is a great option. The bay is a safe place for snorkeling beginners because it is protected by big rocks and is a marine conservation area. This beach is supervised by lifeguards and has many tidepools, making it a great place for families to spend a half day or more exploring and having fun.

Once you arrive, grab a small amount of sand and examine it carefully. The beach is mostly covered in black sand, but there is also green sand made of olivine crystals.

There are a few other beach parks nearby, such as Lehia Beach Park and Leleiwi Beach Park. Take the time to visit and discover them while you are in the vicinity. If you want to have a picnic for lunch, you can get some poke to-go from Suisan Fish Market in Hilo.

Kehena Beach

If you want to go to Kehena, you will need to travel far into the Puna District on the southeast coast of the Big Island. If you want to visit a place that is not crowded with tourists, Kehena is a good option because it is located in a remote area.

Kehena Beach is a small cove that is located next to steep sea cliffs. It is surrounded by lush green foliage and trees that offer shade. The beach is often crowded, especially on weekends, because it has a cozy atmosphere and is popular among locals. Additionally, it is a clothing-optional beach. If you’re looking for a bit of newfound freedom, Kehena is a great place to find it.

You can usually go swimming at Kehena, but there is no lifeguard available. If you are unsure, it is best not to swim.

Waipi’o Beach

Some people may say that the sand at Waipiʻo Beach is more gray than black, and we agree. It is not as dark as some of the other beaches on this list. The surrounding scenery of this place is truly breathtaking. It includes tall cliffs, giant waterfalls, and a lush green valley. This is why it deserves the last spot on this list.

10 Best Black Sand Beaches in the Big Island of Hawaii

Make sure to visit the Waipiʻo Valley lookout for a great photo of the coastline. If you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, you can drive down into the valley. Otherwise, you can walk down to the beach and explore. Make sure you stick to the public roads and access trails because a large portion of the valley is owned by the public.

The road that goes down into Waipiʻo Valley and leads to the beach is very steep and can easily be damaged. It is frequently closed to people who don’t live in the area. Make sure to check the condition of the road before you visit.

Kua Bay

Among all the beaches we went to, Kua Bay (also known as Manini’owali Beach) was definitely one of our favorites! Kua Bay is situated approximately 20-30 minutes to the north of Kailua-Kona. The beautiful blue water makes it worth the trip out of town. The beach is located in a small area that is surrounded by rocks made of hardened lava. However, there is still a sufficient amount of soft sand to enjoy. However, it’s not the biggest beach we went to and it can get crowded. Make sure to arrive early so you can find a parking spot and a good spot on the sand.

When we went, we saw around 4 dolphins swimming far away (amazing!) and saw some really big waves. We sat and watched many local people boogie boarding and surfing the waves. It was very enjoyable to watch! The water is usually calmer than when we went, but it is still generally good for boogie boarding. If you need to freshen up, they also have multiple beach showers and restrooms available. This beach is definitely one of the best on the Big Island.

Makalawena Beach

To get to the beach, you will need to drive to the Mahai’ula Beach parking lot (located nearby!). Next, go through a yellow gate to get to the “trail,” which is a field of lava. This trail will take you to Mahai’ula Beach, which is incredibly beautiful. Keep going beyond this beach and across the lava field to get to Makalawena Beach. The path to the beach is completely open to the sun and has a lot of rocks. Make sure to bring plenty of water and wear comfortable shoes. The round trip takes approximately 20-30 minutes.

10 Best Black Sand Beaches in the Big Island of Hawaii

Makalawena Beach is incredibly beautiful, although it may be a little challenging to reach. The beach is not as crowded as other beaches in the area because it requires some effort to reach. There are many small beaches to enjoy and there were only a few people there about 2 hours before the sun went down. The water at Kua Bay is very blue and clear, and the sand is very soft. This beach was definitely one of the best ones we visited during our trip!

Magic Sands Beach

Magic Sands Beach, also known as Laʻaloa Beach, immediately caught our interest when we first learned about it. It has a really cool name and is definitely one of the best beaches on the Big Island. You might be wondering, “what makes it magical?” and the reason is really cool! During the winter months, the waves can become very powerful and wash away the sand from the beach, revealing the lava rocks underneath.

When we went to the beach, the waves were a nice size, and there was still plenty of sand for us to enjoy. This beach is likely the smallest out of all the beaches on the list. We really enjoyed the tropical Hawaiian atmosphere, with plenty of palm trees, beautiful blue water, and lovely golden-white sand. If you come early, finding a parking spot should not be a problem. You should be able to find a comfortable place to relax. Just a heads up: the waves might be strong, but there is a lifeguard on duty to ensure everyone’s safety.

There is a restroom at the beach, but it is not very clean. There is also an outdoor shower available for you to use after you finish sunbathing and playing in the water. If you want to have your lunch away from the sand, there are picnic tables available. We had a great time at this small beach. If there is sand on the Big Island when you visit, it is definitely worth checking out!

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