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Punaluu Beach Park
This park is known for the endangered Hawaiian green sea turtles that nest here. Easily accessible, the beach is a long crescent of black sand backed by low dunes with some rocky outcroppings at the shoreline. You can see turtles feeding on the seaweed along the surf break or napping on the sand. If you swim with the turtles (they're used to people and will swim right next to you), resist the urge to touch or disturb them—they're protected by federal and state law and fines for touching them can be hefty. Don't venture too far from the shore; avoid going out past the boat ramp as very strong rip currents are active. It's quite rocky in the water, even close to shore—you might want to bring a pair of reef shoes if you plan to swim. Popular with locals and tour buses alike, this beach can be very busy, especially on weekends (the north parking lot is usually quieter). Shady palm trees provide 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. This area used to be a sugar port until the tidal wave of 1946 destroyed the buildings. Inland is a memorial to Henry Opukahaia. In 1809, when he was 17, Opukahaia swam out to a fur-trading ship in the harbor and asked to sign up as a cabin boy. When he reached New England, he entered the Foreign Mission School in Connecticut, but he died of typhoid fever in 1818. His dream of bringing Christianity to the Islands inspired the American Board of Missionaries to send the first Protestant missionaries to Hawaii in 1820. Amenities: parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: snorkeling; walking.