Punalu’u Village

Abandoned Punalu'u Hotel - Big Island, Hawaii


With a prime location on a Hawaiian black sand beach, the Punalu’u Village Restaurant and Ka’u Center of History and Culture deteriorates into the elements.



    Historically the land on the southeastern coast of Hawaii’s Big Island was that of the Ka’u Kingdom. In the late 1800’s, this area was connected to other parts of Hawaii by commercial shipping, allowing the land to build a large economy based around sugar plantations.

Prior to the completion of the island’s first railroad in 1878, which connected the village of Punalu’u in the Ka’u District to the town of Keaiwa, Punalu’u harbor and landing would be the primary access used by these communities. Punalu’u, a black sand beach, made a natural spot for a landing for the steamer ships that transported people and goods as it was one of the few sandy beaches on an otherwise unforgiving coastline shaped by volcanic activity of Mauna Loa.

In 1910, one of the main sugar plantations would be purchased by the C. Brewer & Co. who would run the plantation and much of the local community constructed around housing workers until the sugar industry in this area would close for good in the late 1900’s.


abandoned punalu'u restaurant resort - punaluu black sand beach - hawaii


  In the 1970’s, the Brewer Company – one of the five largest landowners in Haawii – would begin work on a resort beside the beach. Seeking to build in land just above a freshwater lagoon that once served as a royal fishpond, the Brewer Company ran into opposition from the community regarding developing the area, with community members citing the sacred history of the grounds.

The ponds were a natural habitat that only exists in the United States on Hawaiian islands, with brackish water filling and moving through collapsed lava tubes, and connected to the sea through tunnels and cracks in the rocks. 


sea mountain resort - punalu'u village restaurant and ka'u center of history and culture
Tropical environment taking root in the rock foundations of the buildings

The development would open in 1972 as the Punalu’u Village Restaurant and Ka’u Center of History and Culture. The property fronted a series of walking paths with wooden bridges the crossed the lagoon and connected the buildings to the black sand beach. The beach was already an attraction for tourists, known for its snorkeling and sea turtles who can often be seen swimming in the cove and laying in the sand. A gift shop, interpretive signage, and spacious restaurant with artworks by well known Hawaiian artists stood throughout the property. Plans were in the works to develop hotel rooms. However much of this changed just three years after it opened…   


abandoned punaluu hotel resort - hawaii


  On November 29th of 1975, an earthquake struck off the coast of Hawaii. Locals along this section of coast reported hearing rocks tumbling from cliffs as a result of the shaking. In less than 2 minutes, waves measuring about 5′ rolled against the shore. However it was a second quake that same evening that would send 26′ waves against the Big Island coast, washing some Punalu’u homes from the their foundations. The incoming waves put flooded the restaurant, leaving a layer of mud when it eventually retreated.    


ruins of the punalu'u village restaurant in hawaii
Viewed from overhead, the sand leaves two structures nearly entirely buried
The restaurant reopened, however plans to expand the property into a hotel were scrapped. The restaurant would carry on until the 1990’s, when it was closed for good.
Over the past 25 years, ownership changed hands, and focus on developing tourism in the area has shifted to the Sea Mountain Resort just a little bit south of the beach. However the 2018 eruption of Kilauea led to the closure of portions of that resort, which remain until today.
abandoned punaluu beach restaurant - herbert kawainui kane painting mural
The wall where the Herbert Kawainui Kane mural was displayed before being removed
Talk of developing the old restaurant property remain tumultuous, as some locals would like the resort to respect the sacred history of the land. 
More recently, a mural in the main restaurant area by famed Hawaiian artist Herbert Kawainui Kane was cut out from the building. While many have voiced that the mural was stolen, another idea mentioned by locals is that the mural was saved from suffering the same fate as the rest of the building now covered in spray paint and decaying to the elements. Locals say that the building owners have had the opportunity to clean up the property and preserve that mural, but have chosen to leave it as a deteriorating eyesore near one of the island’s beautifully unique beaches.  The mural has not been found or turned up anywhere since.
abandoned punalu'u village resort within sight of the black sand beach
The resort front a former royal fishpond adjacent to the Punalu’u black sand beach
bridge ruins in hawaii's punaluu
A series of bridges connecting the restaurant to the beach lay in ruins
abandoned punalu'u beach hotel resort buildings
overgrown hotel ruins at punaluu black sand beach on the big island, hawaii
abandoned punaluu beach resort restaurant hotel ruins - hawaii
exploring abandoned hotel in punalu'u beach, big island, hawaii
ruins of abandoned beach hotel, hawaii
punaluu abandoned hotel, big island, punaluu beach
abandoned punalu'u sea mountain resort, punaluu beach, tsunami
Ka’u Center of History and Culture
abandoned tsunami building, punaluu beach, hawaii
Abandoned since the late 1990s
punaluu restaurant, punaluu beach, abandoned resort, big island
Restaurant fireplace
abandoned punaluu hotel, hawaii
Patio deck outside of the restaurant
abandoned building, punaluu beach
Employee area
restaurant kitchen ruins, punaluu restaurant, hawaii
remains of hawaii C. Brewer Company's ruined punaluu resort
brewer company, hawaii big island resort
abandoned hotel punalu'u beach
abandoned tsunami hotel hawaii
abandoned tsunami hotel hawaii
After leaving, the owner had boarded up the roof and windows of this home to protect it…
abandoned punaluu sea mountain resort, hawaii
abandoned punaluu sea mountain resort, hawaii
kitchen in abandoned big island restaurant, punaluu
ruins of closed big island hotel restaurant, trespassing exploring
ruins of closed big island hotel restaurant, trespassing exploringDining room
ruins of closed big island hotel restaurant, trespassing exploring
abandoned punaluu beach resort buildings




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