The district of Puna includes the small towns of Mountain View, Kurtistown, Kea`au, Pahoa and Kalapana, which was lost to the lava over two decades ago. Puna is beautiful, and has earned the reputation of the Big Island's answer to the Wild West. The nickname comes not from gun wielding paniolo (Hawaiian cow boys), but from the seclusion people enjoy out here that make's it it's own little world. The towns are small with historic buildings boasting a run down look, there's no big box stores or large malls. Business are small and locally owned, and the seclusion sets it apart from the rest of the island.
See & Do
For over two decades Kilauea Volcano has been erupting wildly down the Puna Coast. Having taken over the beautiful beach town of Kalapana in the early 90s, the lava now runs through old hardened lava fields while adding on more land to the already big island, in the ocean. You can see the red glow in the sky at night, or drive out to and then walk to the fresh flowing lava close up.
Puna has what is perhaps the most unique mix of restaurants on the Big Island. Home style Italian, Thai, Mexican, and Hawaiian, all owned and operated by people from the country the cuisines hails from. From the Royal Siam to Ning's Thai Cuisine in Pahoa, great Thai food is available all over Puna. These hole-in-the-wall family run restaurants serve up some of the best dishes on the island.
There are no large hotels or resorts in the district of Puna, which has helped preserve the natural look and feeling of the area. However, relaxing and unique accommodations in the form or vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts, and ocean side retreats offer lovely places to stay. At Kalani Oceanside Retreat, small custom cabins dot beautiful lush acreage near the sea. A sauna and hot tub, pool, and places to eat also call the property home. For a vacation rental, the Kaimu Bay Vacation Home is nestled in the jungle near the ocean and the old black lava fields, yet just a 15-minute drive to Pahoa town that offers everything you could need.
Shopping in Puna doesn't mean stocking up on designer labels at large malls. Shopping in the various towns that make up Puna means small boutiques decorated with unique clothing and home decor. You'll find some of the most unique souvenirs to bring back from Puna, as much of the findings are locally made or imported from places like Bali and Thailand. From batik clothing to hand carved wind chimes and paintings created by local artists, you'll find enough shops to have a shopping spree.