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Things to Do Near Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, Big Island

things to do near punalu'u black sand beach, big island mccallwrites sitting on beach turtles

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, located on the Big Island of Hawaii, is famous for its jet-black shores, studded with sea turtles and framed by swaying palm trees. But the wonders of this area extend far beyond the beach itself.

Let’s explore some must-visit attractions near Punalu’u Black Sand Beach.

Table of Contents

Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

girl at hawaii volcanos national park hawaii

Just a 45-minute drive from Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park offers a breathtaking view of nature’s most powerful forces at work.

Marvel at the active Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes, hike through rainforests, explore lava tubes, and witness the glow of lava at night. The park offers various hiking trails for all fitness levels.

Entry costs $30 per vehicle, valid for seven days.

Remember, volcanic areas can be unpredictable, so always heed safety warnings.

Explore Ka'u Coffee Mill

Explore Ka'u Coffee Mill

A 30-minute drive north from the beach, the Ka’u Coffee Mill welcomes visitors to learn about the process of coffee production, from bean to cup.

Participate in a free guided tour, where you can stroll through lush coffee fields and witness the roasting process. Don’t miss out on the complimentary coffee tastings and the chance to buy some fresh local coffee from the gift shop.

The mill is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Immerse in Local History at the Punalu'u Bake Shop

Immerse in Local History at the Punalu'u Bake Shop

girl at punalu'u bakery hawaii

Located in the small town of Na’alehu, a 20-minute drive from the beach, the Punalu’u Bake Shop is not just a place to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Known as the “Southernmost Bakery in the U.S.A.”, it offers a blend of history, culture, and delicious pastries.

Try their famous Hawaiian sweetbread and malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts). Prices range from $5 to $10 for most bakery items. I highly recommend the passionfruit malasada!

Take a Trip to Papakōlea Green Sand Beach

Take a Trip to Papakōlea Green Sand Beach

girl at green sands beach hawaii big island

One of only four green sand beaches in the world, Papakōlea, is located about an hour’s drive from Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. The green color comes from the mineral olivine, found in the enclosing cinder cone.

The hike to the beach is roughly 2.5 miles each way and can be challenging, but the sight that awaits is worth it.

Access to the beach is free, but hiring a local guide for the hike can cost around $20 per person.

Discover Wood Valley Temple

Discover Wood Valley Temple

Approximately a 35-minute drive from Punalu’u, nestled in the lush forest, is the Wood Valley Temple (Nechung Dorje Drayang Ling). This Tibetan Buddhist temple offers a peaceful retreat and the chance to learn more about Buddhist culture.

Visitors can explore the temple and its beautiful grounds, participate in meditation, or simply enjoy the serenity. Entry is free, but donations are appreciated.

Visit South Point (Ka Lae)

Visit South Point (Ka Lae)

girl at ka lae south point big island hawaii

South Point, or Ka Lae, is a 50-minute drive from Punalu’u and is the southernmost point in the United States. Known for its rugged beauty, South Point offers stunning ocean views, impressive cliff formations, and excellent fishing spots. You might even spot some daredevils cliff-diving into the ocean.

There’s no entry fee, but remember to be cautious around the cliff edges.

Explore the Naalehu Farmers Market

Explore the Naalehu Farmers Market

Every Wednesday and Saturday, the town of Naalehu comes alive with its farmers market, just a 20-minute drive from Punalu’u. This is the perfect place to sample a variety of local produce, from fresh tropical fruits and vegetables to homemade jams and local honey.

You’ll also find a selection of crafts, jewelry, and clothing from local artisans. Prices vary by vendor, but the experience of mingling with the locals and tasting the freshest produce is priceless.

Stroll through Pahala Town

Stroll through Pahala Town

The small plantation village of Pahala, just a 15-minute drive from Punalu’u, offers a glimpse into Hawaii’s past. Walk around the town to admire the historic homes, visit the Ka’u District Gymnasium & Shelter for a bit of local life, or take a peaceful walk in the Pahala Hongwanji Temple’s garden.

Pahala also serves as the gateway to the Sea Mountain Resort, where you can relax in a geothermal hot tub or play a round of golf.

Costs will vary depending on your chosen activities.

Visit the Kula Kai Caverns

Visit the Kula Kai Caverns

Located about an hour’s drive from Punalu’u, the Kula Kai Caverns are a network of lava tubes offering guided tours. Experienced guides will help you navigate the caves, illuminating the features of the lava formations.

Tours range from easy to strenuous, and prices start from $25 for a basic tour, making it an adventure suitable for most budgets.

Whittington Beach Park

Whittington Beach Park

A 20-minute drive north from Punalu’u will bring you to Whittington Beach Park, a local favorite for picnics and fishing.

The park is home to a variety of bird species, making it an excellent spot for bird watching. The remnants of an old pier and stunning coastal views make it a great place for photography.

Access to the park is free, but remember to respect the local flora and fauna.

Are You Heading to Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Soon?

Are You Heading to Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Soon?

Beyond the unique black sands of Punalu’u Beach, the Big Island of Hawaii holds a multitude of attractions that cater to all interests, whether you’re a history buff, nature enthusiast, adventure seeker, or a foodie. Each location unveils a different facet of Hawaii’s rich culture and vibrant natural beauty.

So, whether you’re taking a day trip from Punalu’u Black Sand Beach or staying in the area for longer, there’s always something to do, see, taste, and discover on the Big Island.

Happy travels!

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