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Click on any picture to enlarge

Ahalanui Hot Pond

 

Kapoho Tide Pools

 

Lava Cliffs of Puna

 

Mango Road

 

Star of the Sea Painted Church

 

Slack Key at Uncle Roberts

 

 

 

 

Touring Puna

 

Puna is Hawaiian for spring (of water) and is quite appropriate as the district abounds with springs and thermal ponds heated by geothermal action. There are any of a number of things you might choose to do in Puna some of which are addressed in the suggested driving tours below. For a text only version to print and carry with you click here -> Three Puna Tours.

 

 

Lava Tree State Park -> Red Road -> Kapoho Tide Pools ->

 Ahalanui Hot Pond -> Pohoiki Road

 

From the house head out Maku'u back to the main road. Turn left on Hwy 130 and travel about 7 miles until you come to Kapoho Road (Hwy 132) and turn left. After a couple miles you will come to Lava Tree State Park.

 

Lava Tree State Park - set in a forest of giant ohia trees covered in giant vines this park is quite a visual experience. It has been recently renovated and has an easy paved 0.7 mile loop trail that will take you by the most interesting of the geological features - the lava trees. This unusual volcanic feature is the result of a fast moving lava flow that swept through this forested area and left behind lava molds of the tree trunks. Rest rooms and picnic tables are both available at this usually quiet park.

 

When finished, head out of the parking lot, turn left and after a short distance stay on 132 by taking the bend to the left at the Y. Drive past forests, farms, papaya orchards, and lava flows until you come to a stop sign after 4-5 miles or so. Turn right onto Hwy 137, the Red Road (also called Kapoho Kalapana Road). Travel a mile or so and turn left on Kapoho Kai St. to access the Kapoho Tide Pools.

 

Kapoho Tide Pools - in Kapoho are the Wai'opae Coral Pools and Reef. This area contains a long popular stretch of tide pools in a residential area and is an excellent snorkeling area but be careful how far out you venture. Some of the areas further out can have strong currents as the tide moves in and out. The areas close to shore are safe for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling. To reach the tide pools follow Kapoho Kai around a curve and through a residential area to the end. At the stop sign most people turn left to travel a short distance to a parking area. My favorite area though is across the street from the stop sign where you will spot a large pile of plant debris. You can park on the stop sign side of the road or turn right and park on the road near the parking sign. The pools are not visible from this part of the road. Follow the trail on the right side of the debris through the bushes to a beautiful and usually less crowded area. Pick your spot on the lava and enjoy. Again be careful if you snorkel all the way to the outer most pools. If the tide is going out it can be very difficult to make your way back. The snorkeling in this area can be quite special.

 

When you are ready head back out to the Red Road and turn left. After another mile or two you will come to Ahalanui Park.

 

Ahalanui Park - this pretty and shaded park has a large volcano warmed and spring fed hot pond (90 degrees). It can be quite relaxing to float in the pond and let the warmth sooth your muscles and joints. This is a popular place and can accommodate a lot of people. When you leave and are ready to head back continue on Red Road to the left for one mile and turn right at Isaac Hale Beach Park onto Pohoiki Road.

 

Pohoiki Road -  is also called Mango Road as about a one mile stretch of it gets down to one lane as it winds through a beautiful Mango forest. After 5 miles or so you will connect back up with Hwy 132. Continue straight past Lava Tree State Park to 130, turn right, and head back to the house.

 

Mango Road -> Isaac Hale Beach Park  -> MacKenzie State Park ->

Kalapana (New Black Sand Beach) -> Star of the Sea Painted Church

 

From the house head out Maku'u back to the main road. Turn left on Hwy 130 and travel about 7 miles until you come to Kapoho Road (Hwy 132) and turn left. After a couple miles and a little past Lava Tree State Park Hwy 132 bends left but you want to go straight onto Pohoiki Road. Travel down Pohoiki Road (also called Mango Road) for about five miles to the end. Isaac Hale Beach Park will be right in front of you.

 

Isaac Hale Beach Park - is ocean front but doesn't have a real beach. The surf here is pretty wild and you would be wise to stay out of the surf unless you are an experienced surfer. If you would like to go in the water do so at the boat ramp where it is protected from the waves. As you stand and look at the boat ramp notice the trail to the right that runs in front of the red house. If you take that trail leading into the jungle a short distance you will come to a pool that is about 7 feet wide, and 4 or 5 feet deep. This natural hot tub is very warm, because it is heated by a volcanic spring. It is set among lush jungle greenery, hanging vines, and singing birds. To continue the tour drive out of the park and head to the left on Hwy 137, (also called Kapoho Kalapana Road) to head towards what is left of Kalapana.

 

MacKenzie State Park\ Red Road - after about 3-4 miles you come upon MacKenzie State Park. This is a low cliff, wild volcanic coastline with wonderful views and is a good picnicking spot. You'll recognize the ironwood trees as the same invasive non-native trees you see near our house. There is an old Hawaiian coastal trail that traverses the park. When ready continue along Hwy 137.

 

Kalapana and the new Black Sand Beach – at the end of highway 137 is what’s left of Kalapana. The original beach here was covered in a  volcano flow in 1990. If you have time park the car and hike out to the new beach. The water is quite dangerous here so I have never dared to venture into the ocean and suggest you stay out of it too. The original beach was one of Hawaii’s most picturesque. What we have now is a very young, wild black sand beach. Make note of the many small palm trees that have been planted and which some day will provide shade. In the far distance you should be able to see Pu’u O’o crater venting smoke. When ready head towards Pahoa on Hwy 130 and after one mile you will come to the Star of the Sea Painted Church.

Star of the Sea Painted Church – on highway 130 between the highway road makers 19 and 20 is the Star of the Sea Painted Church. This church was saved from the 1990 lava flow by the people of Hawaii that swallowed much of the area. Stop and take a tour of the uniquely painted interior. Open daily 9am-4pm, free. When finished continue on Hwy 130 back to Pahoa and our home.

 

 

Off the Grid

 

First a word of caution. Some maps will make you think that certain roads connect up certain areas when in fact even with a 4 wheel drive they can be quite challenging. Avoid both Railroad Ave. and Government Beach Road as routes in and out of Hawaiian Paradise Park. If you would like to take a drive through an off-the grid area then follow this tour - provided it's not raining.

From the house head out Maku'u back to the main road. Turn left on Hwy 130 and travel about 5 miles and just past Longs turn left onto Kahakai Blvd. Follow this road all the way to the ocean, about five miles, where it ends in Hawaiian Beaches (sorry no beaches here). Turn right at the ocean onto Government Beach Road (yes this stretch is OK to drive but parts are rough). The route will travel along the ocean before heading inland. It’s an interesting area with many homes creating all their own electric and capturing all their water from rain. After 8 miles or so it connects back up with highways 132 and 137.

 

You can turn right at the stop sign to head back towards Pahoa and the house or you can turn left instead and drive out as far as you can to park your car. You are now at the easternmost point of Hawaii. Also located here is an important global air quality monitoring station.

 

 

Uncle Roberts

 

Uncle Robert’s Awa Bar and Farmers Market in Kalapana: is the worst kept secret in lower Puna. The market is held every Wednesday night from 5-9 p.m. at the end of Kapoho-Kalapana Road and is more a festival than a market. This is as close to real Hawaii as you will experience on your vacation no matter which of the main Islands you visit. It’s the only nighttime farmers market on the island and is also one of the busiest with vendors offering locally grown produce, baked goods, hand made jewelry, gifts, freshly cooked food, and great live music. This is the place to go in the hope that you will hear some great Hawaiian Slack Key guitar. You can park on the side of the road but it may be easier just to drive to the lava lot at the end of the road ($2) to park. Plan on eating dinner here while enjoying the live music. Bring a flashlight for the walk back to the car.

 

Click on any of the pictures to enlarge.

 

 

 

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