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Punalu'u, Ka'u, Hawaii
Punalu'u is a black sand beach just south of the village of Pahala on the southern end of the big island. Note that Pahala is not Pohala on the northern end of the island. The whole area down here was populated more heavily in ancient times since there were fishing villages on virtually every inlet and cove. Then the sugar industry boomed with emigrant labor and shipping ports resulting in even more population. Coastline destruction resultant from earthquakes and tsunamis, the demise of the sugar industry, and recently drought have all combined to turn virtually all of Ka'u (pronounced Ka oo) into the ghost district of the big island. It still gets traffic though, since people who rent cars in Kailua all come this way to see Volcanoes National Park. Some of them stop here. There is a rather nice resort called Sea Mountain (after the newly forming Hawaiian island still submerged) Golf Course that has lodging and golf at extremely reasonable prices for this type of resort in Hawaii. (pictures taken March, 2001)
Click on a picture below to blow it up!

"The black cinder sand beach at Punalu'u is situated at the head of a small bay formed by two rocky points. Atop the northeastern point, Kahiolo, are the ruins of a large heiau and a huge, flat-topped sacrificial stone. A small storm beach of black sand called Keone'ele'ele lies to the east of the heiau at the head of a rocky cove. The southernwestern point of the bay, Pu'umoa is the site of Punalu'u Beach Park (pictured), a county park complete with parking, showers, restrooms, picnic pavilions, drinking water, electricity, and camping sites." ~ from Beaches of the Big Island by John R.K. Clark (the undisputed best source of beach info here)

I visited quite a while with this local craftsman while I was here. Following in the tradition of weaving coconut palms to make baskets and hats, he works hard to earn a living. Hats are $6. I hope you can buy one from him.

About five miles inland of Punalu'u stands a massive hill, Pu'u 'Enuhe, "caterpiller hill', one of several large flat-topped hills that are remnants of the ancient Ninole volcano which ceased activity about 100,000 years ago. Stream erosion cut deaply into the Ninole shield, forming a series of large valleys separated by flat-topped ridges. But the valleys have almost completely been covered by more recent flows of Mauna Loa, leaving only the tops of the ridges showing.

Alternative budget accomodation is available about 4 miles north of the Village of Pahala on Wood Valley Road at the Wood Valley Buddhist Temple. They have dorms and private rooms available.