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Punaluu

A great stop on a south southeast-bound trip to the volcano, this easily accessible black-sand beach is backed by low dunes, brackish ponds, and tall coco palms. The shoreline is jagged, reefed, and rocky. Most days, you'll see the stunning sight of large groups of turtles napping on the sand. Resist the urge to touch or disturb them—they're protected by federal and state law and fines for getting too close can be hefty. Removing black sand is also prohibited. Extremely strong rip currents prevail, so only experienced ocean swimmers should consider getting in the water here. Popular with locals and tour buses alike, this beach can get very busy, especially on weekends (the north parking lot is usually quieter). Shade from palm trees provides an escape from the sun, and at the northern end of the beach, near the boat ramp, lie the ruins of Kaneeleele Heiau, an old Hawaiian temple. The area was once a sugar port until the tidal wave of 1946 destroyed the buildings. Developers tried to bring a resort experience here in the early 1990s, but that has mostly failed. (You'll drive by a few abandoned resort buildings on your way to the beach.) Bring your camera and a picnic lunch. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: walking.

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