Visiting the beaches of Hawaii are probably on many people’s bucket lists. It’s a dream to wake up to a beautiful white-sand beach view and a glorious sunrise. Hawaii never ceases to astound visitors with its stunning white sand beaches, which have earned it the moniker “Pacific Paradise.”
However, in addition to white sand beaches, Hawaii is well-known for its black beaches. Black sand beaches can also be found in Italy and Greece. Black sand beaches are unique and leave people in awe.
Why are there black sand beaches?
Black sand beaches can be the result of lava and other volcanic material. This happens when scorching lava runs in cold water and causes an explosion. The tiny fragments of volcanic sand or glass from the blast and the mixture of minerals inside the lava cause the sand to look dark. A once-white sand beach is not impossible to turn black overnight, especially in areas where active volcanoes are present.
Another cause of black sand beaches is the erosion of black volcanic rocks. The black minerals flow down to the ocean and are mixed with the sand. The amount of black mineral causes a variation of color in the sand. The more immense amount of black mineral, the darker the sand looks.
Top black beaches in Hawaii
Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach
The black sand beach at Punaluu is Hawaii’s most famous black sand beach. The word Punalu’u means “coral dived for” in Hawaiian translation.
Location: Found on the south side of the Big Island of Hawaii, close to Na’alehu town. The beach is accessible from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
The beach: Its beautiful icy blue waters contrasts with the jet-black sands. It is a spread-out space with a swimming area that is very rocky, so it is essential to have children with the utmost guidance from guardians. The beach possesses a large amount of underground fresh water that flows in it. Because of this underground water, there could be temperature changes (hot and cold) when a person is soaked in the water. When the waters are calm, snorkeling and swimming can be possible with no problems at all.
Other information: The Punaluu black sand is also home to endangered hawksbill turtles and green turtles. They should not be touched and can be looked upon from 20 feet.
A row of coconut palms is also lined on the beach to keep the shade, especially with the scorching sun.
Pohoiki Black Sand Beach
Location: Located on the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, part of the Isaac Keo’okalani Hale Beach Park in the Puna district. It was named after Isaac kepo’okalani Hale, a U.S. soldier who fought in the Korean War. Pohoiki’s sand is made from basalt formed after the eruption of the Kilauea Volcano.
The beach: Swimming on the beach is not wise as the currents are strong.
Richardson Beach Park
The sand is mainly made out of black lava, and green sand is made of olivine crystals.
Location: Located on the east side of the Big Island.
The beach: The beach is part of a series of beach parks along Kalaniana’ole. The ocean is spring fed by freshwater that also forms many ponds on the beaches nearby. The shallow water and current-free make a good spot for snorkeling.
Other information: This is a beach park type, so tourists can walk in the park, which opens between 7 am and 7pm if they have no plans of swimming.
Waipi’o Valley Black Sand Beach
Waipi’o means “curved water,” which refers to the streams that run through the valley. The valley is mostly wilderness interspersed with taro (a traditional Hawaiian staple food) fields. The Valley is only possible to visit as part of a tour. It will take 30-45 minutes to hike from the lookout to Waipio Valley.
Location: Located in the Hamakua District on the northern shore of the Big Island.
The beach: The black-sand beach is made from water-trodden basaltic lava, making the beachfront stunning.
Other information: The place may be only good for sightseeing, hiking, and breathtaking coastline views, and not for water activities because of strong currents, and there are no amenities given in the area.
Location: Honokalani is Maui’s famous black sand beach in Waianapapa State Park (a 122-acre state park), three miles north of the town of Hana.
The beach: Colorful tropical plants nestled between black lava cliffs frame the beach. Swimming is also prohibited in this area because of strong currents.
Other Famous black sand beaches around the world
Before going to the top beaches in Hawaii, we will look at the different black sand beaches worldwide.
1. Perivolos Beach, Santorini, Greece
Perivolos lies on the southeast corner of Santorini island. Going there would take 20 minutes by bus if you are in Santorini’s main town, which is called Fira. Perivolos Beach is a long stretch of black sand beach caused by a volcanic eruption. There are a few good hotels available in the area which overlook the spectacular part of the coast.
2. Senggigi Beach, Lombok, Indonesia
Senggigi is a 15-20-minute ride north of the island’s capital, Mataram. Senggigi is not a typical tourist town, but it offers enough bars, pool tables, relaxing lounge areas, and beachside restaurants for tourists.
3. Miho – no – Matsabura, Shizuoka City, Japan
Miho-no-Matsubara is a black sand beach that is a sightseeing place in Japan with a nice view of Mt. Fuji. The beach is about 7km long, populated by over thirty thousand pine trees.
4. Karekare Beach, Auckland, New Zealand
Karekare Beach gained vast popularity when it was included in a scene of the film The Piano in 1993. The secluded black sandy beach is on the west coast of Auckland, 35 kilometers from downtown Auckland.
5. Black Sands Beach, Sausalito, California
The Black Sands Beach is located north of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (a U.S. National Recreation Area protecting ecologically and historically noteworthy landscapes surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area) in the Marin Headlands. To get down to the beach, tourists need to hike over 250 wooden steps, which might take 2 to 10 minutes. But this is not a waste of time since the beach features beautiful views of rock formations.
6. Lafayette Beach, Tahiti
Lafayette beach is black sand located near the main town of Tahiti Island named Papeete. Lush tropical vegetation surrounds the beach. On one end of this beach is the Radisson Plaza Tahiti Resort.
7. Playa Jardin, Canary Islands
Located in Puerto de la Cruz and nearby Punta Brava, Playa Jardin offers exotic black sand and gentle waves for snorkeling, swimming, and surfing.
8. Spiaggia di Ficogrande, Italy
Spiaggia di Ficogrande is a 1,600-meter-long stretch of rough and pebbly black sand. It is a 10-minute walk northwest of the hydrofoil dock. One exciting view of the beach is the volcanic rock of Strombolicchio, which was formed over 360 000 years ago.
9. Lovina Beach, Bali
Lovina Beach is a beach facing the Bali sea, located 9 km from the capital city of the Buleleng Regency. Lovina is an 8 km coastline comprising coastal villages. The beach is composed of grey and black volcanic sand.
10. Anse Chastanet, Saint Lucia, Caribbean
Set on 600 lush acres bordering two pristine soft and dark-sand beaches, which have a beautiful view of both the Petit and Gros Piton mountains.
While white-sand beaches are popular and are mostly the types of beaches visited by tourists, black-sand beaches are also a must try beach to visit for a unique experience.