The only black-sand beach in the Hilo region provides relaxed swimming, sheltered rock pools and excellent surfing. A house at the beach dates back to the 1920s and was once home to the Richardson family, for whom the ocean park is named. Today visitors to the ocean park can visit the house, now the Richardson Ocean Center, to learn about the marine life of the area.Lava from Mauna Kea has formed a natural seawall at Richardson Ocean Park, making it a sheltered beach that is perfect for young children. Rock pools that fill at high tide make for shallow, detached swimming holes at low tide. Watch the kids as they play in the pools, without the stress of swell or currents. Beyond the seawall, Richardson Ocean Park is a popular surf break. The conditions here are known to be unpredictable and suitable for experienced surfers only. Try body boarding in the shallower waters if you’re not a confident surfer. Rent a kayak to experience the beach in its entirety. Vendors line the beach and rental fees are reasonable. Paddle with Hawaiian sea turtles or try to spot a monk seal, common in the Hilo area. Bring your snorkel and mask to see the fascinating underwater life up-close.Learn about the local marine life at the Ocean Center, located just above the beach. The former home of Elsa and George Richardson has been converted into an education center and research facility.Richardson Ocean Park is located 6 miles (9 kilometers) east of Hilo. The beach is best reached by car and there is ample free parking. There is currently no public transportation serving Richardson Ocean Park however, some chartered tours will take you to the park. The park is open daily and admission is free.