Hawaii (Big Island) Journals

Big Island 3—Puna, the Wild Side of the Island

A November 2006 trip to Hawaii (Big Island) by rubylu

Nings Thai Cuisine Photo, Pahoa, Hawaii More Photos
Quote: The Puna district, south of Hilo and east of the active volcano, is a rural area with lush jungle vegetation, rugged coastline, and other attractions.

Big Island 3—Puna, the Wild Side of the Island

Overview

Sunset at the volcano Photo,
Quote:
The Puna district is south of Hilo and east of the volcano. It's mostly wilderness. The vegetation is jungle; this is the rainy side of the island. Giant leaves and exotic colorful flowers abound.The area is not heavily populated—it’s directly downhill from an active volcano! Lava flows covered over 180 houses in about 1983-1990, and there's no question that it will happen again at some point. Still, subdivisions have sprung up and are slowly becoming more settled. We rented a house in a quiet neighborhood in the Kapoho area, and enjoyed a leisurely three days exploring the mostly-rugged coastline. We also spent a little time in the only town, Pahoa, which is just a couple of sleepy bl...Read More
Carson's Kapoho Cottage Photo, Hawaii (Big Island), Hawaii
Quote:
Carson’s Kapoho Cottage is a lovely and cozy 2-bedroom home directly across the street from the ocean and a short walk to the Kapoho tide pools. The house has a full kitchen, a nice living room with cable TV and a VCR, and a full front porch with a table and chairs. One bedroom has a double bed, and the other has a double and two twins. The yard is beautiful, with flowers, trees, and a lawn. The price was very reasonable. It's convenient to quite a few beaches and other rural attractions, and very close to the public warm pool. It's a 10-minute drive into Pahoa and maybe 40 minutes to Hilo. In the front bedroom, I could see the ocean in the daytime and hear it all night, even with the loud cho...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 28, 2006

Carson's Kapoho Cottage

Hawaii, Big Island, Hawaii

Ning's Thai Cuisine

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Restaurant

Ning's Thai Cuisine Photo, Pahoa, Hawaii
Quote:
Ning's is one of my favorite restaurants. It serves excellent Thai food in a casual, bohemian, small-town setting. On this trip, we went here every night we were in the Pahoa area, a total of four times. If I'd stayed longer, I would have kept it up.The veggie coconut soup is excellent, seasoned just right. I liked the veggie pad Thai. We tried a couple of curries, and I enjoyed them a lot, though my friend found the pineapple curry too sweet for her taste. On another visit, my friends had a shrimp dish that looked great and that they found perfect. The Thai iced tea was not quite as sweet as it is some places, though still too sweet for my friend - I liked it fine. The only dessert we got, th...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 15, 2006

Ning's Thai Cuisine
2955 Pahoa Road
Pahoa, Hawaii 96778
(808) 965-7611

Lava Tree State Monument

Attraction | "Lava Tree State Park"

Lava Tree State Monument Photo, Pahoa, Hawaii
Quote:
Lava Tree State Park is on Route 132 between Pahoa and Kapoho. It is a magical place where lava flowed over a forest, taking the shape of the trees. An easy walk winds around the lava trees. Signs warn you to stay on the paths, as there may be hidden holes in the ground.

The lava trees are mostly covered with moss now, and are very impressive. The vegetation is lush, with monkeypod trees, a small area of pine trees, and many ferns and flowers. The walk is very pleasant and, with plenty of stops, takes less than an hour.

The park is a peaceful place. Not very many people are usually there. Yet it is a bona fide natural wonder, and well worth seeing.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 15, 2006

Lava Tree State Monument
Off Pahoa-Pohoiki Road Highway 132
Pahoa
(808) 974-6200

Mackenzie State Recreation Area

Attraction | "MacKenzie Park"

Mackenzie State Recreation Area Photo, Hawaii, United States
Quote:
Driving between Kapoho and Kalapana, we'd passed the sign for MacKenzie Park several times. One day we decided to turn in and see what it was like. We drove a short way down the small road to the parking lot. A couple of pickup trucks were parked farther out, right on the top of the cliff, and two or three guys were fishing out there. But our car was the only one in the lot.We walked on the path through the pine trees and lava rocks, and then over to the rocky cliff that runs along the coast there. We had great views in both directions. We watched the waves for a while. It's a beautiful spot. The park is named after a forest ranger who died young in 1938. It has rest rooms, wal...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 15, 2006

Mackenzie State Recreation Area
Kalapana-Kapono Beach Road-Highway 137
Kaimu, Hawaii

Ahalanui Warm Pond

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Story/Tip

Warm Pond Photo, Hawaii (Big Island), Hawaii
Quote:
Ahalanui is volcanically-heated pool that is separated from the ocean by a seawall. It's near Kapoho, on the coast road, Route 137, 2½ mi south of the junction with Route 132. Look for the chain link fence, and turn into the parking lot. There are a couple of covered areas for picnicking, and the pond is a very short walk past them. It's a favorite spot for local families and some tourists - a great place to bring the kids.On previous visits, I hadn't been very enthusiastic about the warm pool. For some reason - maybe I managed to slow down more - I got to like it quite a bit on this trip. It was just a few miles from where we were staying, so it was easy to go take a quick dip. The temperatur...Read More

Steam Vents

Story/Tip

Orchids? Photo, Hawaii (Big Island), Hawaii
Quote:
My friend had previously been to some volcanic steam vents that can be used as steam baths, and wanted to show them to me. Driving from Kalapana towards Pahoa, we parked at a scenic overview area. When we stopped, a couple of cars were already there. One was a beat-up small car with an aging hippie type (common in the area) sitting reading a newspaper. The other was a big pickup truck with a big middle-aged local guy, a stone-face type. We headed down the path through short jungle/tall grass with some beautiful flowers, including one type of orchid, delicate and intricate. Soon the path became a maze of paths winding among the steam vents. We looked at a couple, small lava caves with puffs of ...Read More

Kalapana

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Story/Tip

Lava Rock, Kalapana Photo, Hawaii (Big Island), Hawaii
Quote:
Kalapana used to be a quiet town on the southeast coast of Hawaii. It was destroyed by lava flow on 1990. I like to drive along the coast to where the road ends, buried by lava. You can park in a parking lot there, across from a couple of small buildings. The lava flow destroyed a well-known black sand beach and created a new, smaller one. You can walk from maybe a quarter mile over the lava rock to the beach. I love taking this hike, though it doesn't appeal to everyone. As soon as you walk up from the lot onto the lava rock, you can look to the west and see the plume of steam where the molten lava is hitting the ocean. It is bigger or smaller depending on exactly how the lava is flow...Read More

Exploring the Puna Area

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Story/Tip

Black Sand Coastline Photo, Hana, Hawaii
Quote:
We stayed for three nights in a house right down the street from the Kapoho tidepools. It was a good base for exploring the area. Combined with a later visit, I had five or six days in Puna. It was time enough to revisit places that made a big impression, but not near enough time to check out all the places I’d have liked to see. Still, with that much time, I was able to take things at a relaxed pace that was just right for the area. We spent time at the Ahalanui warm pond, at Kalapana, and in Pahoa town, and visited Lava Tree Park, MacKenzie Park, and some volcanic steam vents (see reviews).The first morning we took our snorkel gear over to the tidepools. I’d never been there before an...Read More