It's Hawaii's newest beach and one of its largest, but it attracts no swimmers and few sunbathers.

Except for naturalists or small groups of tourists who come for a quick look and snapshots, it's usually deserted."Kamoamoa is now the largest of the black sand beaches," said Reggie Okamura, assistant scientist in charge of the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

The new beach was formed after lava from the eruption of Kilauea Volcano began flowing into the ocean three years ago.

More than a half-mile long and about 25 yards wide, it is bigger than Kaimu, the famed Kalapana black sand beach nearby, Okamura said.

"Kamoamoa was formed the same way all other black sand beaches are formed," he said.

`'When the molten lava pours into the ocean, the cooling effect of the water shatters the rock," he said.

Ocean currents then push the minute particles to shore, he explained.

The 23-mile coastline of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is now pocked with small black-sand beaches, he said.

A 25-foot cliff previously formed the shoreline boundary of the Kamoamoa Campground, located six miles west of Kalapana, a village on Hawaii Islands's southeast coast.

Now, the wide beach with its steep slope to the water adjoins the campground.

"The sand was pushed up against the cliff." Okamura said. "The cliff is now buried under the sand.

"I think the beach enhanced the campground," he said. "It's a beautiful place to camp."

"The campground is the nicest on the island, but is not heavily used," said Jon Erickson, chief naturalist at the national park.

"Before the lava flow, it was little used; we get a few more campers now, mostly island people who come to see the lava," he said.

From the grassy, palm tree-lined campground and the adjoining beach, visitors can see the huge smoke and steam plumes which waft out to sea from the points where the 2,200-degree lava pours into the 60-70-degree water.

However, the beach is not very inviting to sunbathers. The sand formed by the lava particles is coarse, with sharp edges on the larger particles.

"It takes a lot of wave action to round out the particles," Okamura said. "Right now, it's not very comfortable to walk on the sand barefoot."

"We tell people going to see the flow to stop in at the beach," Erickson said. "On a normal day, several thousand people visit the flow area but only 20-25 percent visit the beach."

Signs posted by the National Park Service prohibit swimming because of high surf and dangerous currents.

Beaches began forming almost immediately after lava began flowing into the ocean in November, 1986, according to Erickson. Kamoamoa began appearing in mid-January 1988.

Most of the sand is from the original entry point into the ocean about two miles east Kamoamoa, Okamura said.

Lava recently was entering the ocean at four points, the closest just one mile from the big beach, he said.

Kamoamoa is 1 1/2 miles west of the Wahaula Visitors Center, which was destroyed by lava on June 22, 1989.

The new beach could disappear if and when the volcano, the source of the sand, ends its nearly seven-year-old eruption, Okamura said.

"Once the eruption stops, who knows how long the sand will last," he said. "The beach is steep. Erosion or wave action probably will take it away," he said.

However, no one knows when the eruption will end.

"Right now, the activity is as vigorous as ever," said Erickson.

Kilauea Volcano's east rift zone eruption began on Jan. 3, 1983. Lava from the Pu`u O`o and Kupaianaha vents has flowed into residential areas on numerous occasions, destroying 74 homes.