The Island of Hawaii is the only island to have white, black and green sand beaches. This easily accessible black sand beach offers swimming and snorkeling with seasonal viewing of the Hawksbill and Giant Sea Turtles. Located 45 minutes south of Volcano Village off Highway 11. Punalu`u Beach Park is a beach between Pahala and Na`alehu on the Big Island of Hawaii. The beach has black sand made of basalt and created by lava flowing into the ocean which explodes as it reaches the ocean and cools. This volcanic activity is in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Punalu`u is frequented by the endangered Hawksbill Turtles and Green Sea Turtles, which can often be seen basking on the black sand. Visitors must remain 15 feet (4 and 1/2 m) from the turtles at all times. The swimming area is very rocky, and it can be dangerous to swim. The beach also has a large amount of underground fresh water that flows in it. This fresh water is very cold and looks almost like gasoline mixing with the water. Legend has it that in the time of drought, the early Hawaiians living in the area would dive underwater with a jug to get their fresh water.
Taking black sand and volcanic rocks from the area is prohibited.
Local tradition says that if any volcanic rock or black sand from Punalu`u Beach is taken away from Hawai`i, that the person that took it will be cursed by the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele until it is returned. While purportedly an ancient Hawaiian belief, historians can trace this legend only to the mid twentieth century, and it is widely believed to have been invented by park rangers to keep visitors from taking rocks. Nevertheless, the lobby of Kilauea Military Camp (now a vacation area for military personnel) has a cabinet displaying rocks returned by people attempting to atone for the bad luck that has befallen them, and letters describing their predicaments. Camping is permitted at the Punalu`u Black Sand Beach Park.