I am a sand connoisseur. I like to roll sand between my thumb and fingers, squeeze it in my fist, examine the grain in the palm of my hand. I examine the size of the grains, then compare it to the slope of the sand into the water (the finer the sand, the more gradual the slope). Personally, I prefer fat sand grains because they brush off more easily. I thought the Big Island’s Black Sand Beach (actual name Punalu’U) would be cool to see. It was FASCINATING. Enchanting, even.
We arrived a couple hours before sunset—a heavenly time of day. It was cloudy, meaning the black sand and gray sky sandwiched the green palms in moody majesty.
The black sand absorbs sunlight so it’s a popular place among sea turtles for nesting, especially the endangered Hawksbill and green sea turtles. I think we saw both! There was one up on shore and two lunching off the edges of the tide pools. Turtle party! It’s cooler on the Big Island than at home in Oahu, so it felt good to play in the warm black sand as the evening breeze picked up.
The sand grains themselves were probably the largest grains of sand I’ve ever seen that weren’t just pebbles. Their size meant they stuck to…nothing. “Let’s build a black sand snowman!” Eloise suggested. We tried. Instead we made an excellent happy volcano man.
The size of the grain was similar to, but slightly larger than, the sand at Pensacola Beach. That sand is made of quartz. Kailua sand, on Oahu’s Windward side (OUR beach) is crushed up coral and has a much smaller grain size, but it’s still big enough to mostly brush off. THE WORST SAND is San Diego/Coronado sand. It is so fine it practically makes mud and slows the hotel bath drain when you’re bathing two sand babies off after beach play (oops). I do like the mica chips in SoCal sand, and how it looks like there’s gold in the shore break, and of course it makes for those wide, flat beaches that are pleasant to run on. But I like fat sand, and, it turns out, black sand. Enoshima in Japan actually had volcanic origin slate gray sand too but in a very fine grain, and with purple shells and green pebbles mixed in.
I forget why I took an in-depth geology course at Texas A&M, where we did field trips to West Texas to look at rock layers and throw rocks at cliffs and stuff, but it is my most memorable class from freshman year. My kids loved learning about trilobites at the Grand Canyon, so they’re only a step away from geo-nerdiness, and Chris and I said one million times this weekend that we cannot WAIT for our brother-in-law, Justin, to feast his eyes on Big Island geology. He is a geologist or geophysicist or something.
Is anybody still reading? This post would be suuuuuper boring for anyone uninterested in sand or rocks. Ha! That’s a good one. Who wouldn’t be interested in sand?!