We hit the ground running on our first full day in Hawaii! As a hired photographer I was ready and excited for any adventure that the bride and groom had planned. All I could think of when heading to this beach was,"The contrast of the black sand against the aqua blue water and white waves is going to be incredible!" Now the other part of me was thinking how much faster my pale skin was going to burn there. Let me tell you, these beach is beautiful. It is a must stop for anyone visiting the Big Island.
PUNALU’U BLACK SAND BEACH
Tucked off to the side of the beach is what felt like a hidden jungle path. Laced with giant Fig Tree roots and large green palms, this was the perfect location for a sweet gift from the groom to his bride to wear on the wedding day.
This is a great beach to see endangered Hawksbill Turtles and Green Sea Turtles. Lifeguards set up cones to maintain distance, but at 15 feet away you can still enjoy viewing them! I was told by a local, that turtles rarely bask in the sun, but Hawaii is one of the places they do!
The bride had her niece and nephews in Hawaii for the wedding and they had a great time at the beach. This beach is not a great swimming beach due to the rip tide, but the black sand makes for some cool sand castles!
We were ready to leave the Black Sand Beach and we realized we were not too far away from Hawaii Volcanos National Park so we headed in that direction. One thing about driving around on the Big Island that I quickly learn was that locations really were not that far apart but the zig zag roads made your trip take much longer. The drive up to the park entrance was much less scenic than most of the other areas due to all the volcanic rock. It costs $30.00 per vehicle to enter the park, but all attractions inside the park are free to explore!
Kīlauea Volcano: Most active volcano in Hawaii
The last eruption from this volcano was only in 2018! That'll raise your heart rate a bit....So worth it though. There are many things to see while visiting the park. The volcano is location on Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. At the park you can visit active steam vents, Kalauea Caldera, and Thurston lava tube.
Thurston Lava Tube
A short drive away from the caldera is a beautiful trail to the lava tubes. This was a 1/2 mile walk through lush, green jungle. It was softly misting which made the smell and view so fresh and bright. The entrance to the tube tunnel was down a step set of stairs but led you to a mysterious tunnel covered in giant ferns. The lave tube is pitch black except for the small walkway lights installed. It is crazy to think that the tunnel you are walking through was formed from intense hot flowing lava.
Take away tips:
- Stop at road side fruit stands along your drive.
- Visit Punalu'u Sweetbread- US Southernmost Bakery. Yummy food in a beautiful garden.
- Bring bug spray to black Sand beach
- Pack snacks- there are not many places to eat near.
- Bring a rain jacket or poncho and hiking shoes to visit the volcano.