February 18, 2018

Punalu`u Black Sand Beach to Kawa Bay Hike-July 18, 2015

kawa3On Saturday, July 18, Kona Hiking club will hike from Punalu`u Black Sand Beach to Kawa Bay and then return back to Punalu`u.  Approximately 5 miles roundtrip.

The jet black sand on the Punalu`u beach (true black, not gray or salt-and-pepper) was created when the molten lava from Kilauea Volcano flowed into the cool sea causing the lava to break apart into tiny fragments that later washed up on the beach. Plenty of coconut palm trees provide shade and places to relax and enjoy this beautiful beach. One unique feature of Punalu`u is that the water is often a bit colder, and more exhilarating, than the average beach due to the freshwater springs in the area which bubble out of the ocean bottom near shore. The water then rises to the top since it is less dense than saltwater, forming a thin layer of ultra-cool water atop the sea.  Hawaiian green sea turtles are often seen at this beach.


At Kawa Bay, swimming, fishing and surfing are all popular in this spot. Fresh springs feed into the ocean, both from the inlet and the bay itself. Be aware at all times for sharks, which are known to enjoy areas where fresh water mixes with salt water.  The undeveloped shoreline at Kawa protects nesting areas for the critically endangered Hawaiian hawksbill turtle. The land includes the two-acre Ka’alaiki intertidal fishpond, estuary, and spring system-the second-largest on the island.

We will pass an ancient Hawaiian Ke’eku Heiau (luakini), one of the largest intact heiau in the region. (a protected historical site) located on the ridge just before we reach Kawa bay. Do not disturb the site nor move any of the stones in the area.  We will not enter into the heiau.

The Ka’ū District, in this area, is usually sunny and dry. Expect hot, beach-type conditions with relatively little shade. This area can, at times, be quite breezy.  Bring reef shoes for the stream and tidepool crossings or wear shoes you don’t mind getting wet.  Bring lunch or snacks to enjoy at Kawa Bay before we return to Punalu`u Beach.

Participants should wear suitable shoes (both for lava rock surface and water crossings), hats, hiking sticks,  carry 2 liters of drinking water, a picnic lunch/snack, and swim gear. This can be a sunny, hot hike so be sure to use sunscreen/sun protection.

Carpoolers will organize their own carpool (no hiking leader will be present) and will leave at 7:00 a.m. from the Lanihau Center in Kailua-Kona, in the vicinity of Buns in the Sun and should park well away from the businesses. There is no charge, but riders are encouraged to chip in for gas. Others may meet at 8:30 a.m. at the main parking lot at Punalu`u.

If you have any questions, please phone Kathleen @ 557-9246

PLEASE NOTE: All members are welcome to bring guests or pass on information about our hikes to other hikers. However, if you do so, PLEASE make sure that you direct them to the Kona Hiking Club website to review the hike announcement and description. We want to make sure that everyone is prepared for the specific hike we are doing that day, whether we’re facing mud, heat, cold, steep trails, rocky trails, high altitude, exceptionally long distances, etc. We typically hike rain or shine. However, if weather is severe, check the website for updates. Mahalo for helping us keep everyone safe!


  1. susan kempa says:

    what time does the hike begin @ Punalu u?

  2. Thank you to Kona Reef Resort for helping to get hikers out enjoying all the beauty of Hawaii Island.


  1. […] beach. Hawaiian green sea turtles are a very common sight along this hike. Be sure to check out KonaHikingClub for specific details about the […]

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