Geothermally heated warm ponds to swim in, active wild volcanoes, eclectic eating, and nature at it's most ultimate beauty are just some of the things that can be experienced in the district of Puna. Puna holds secret spots and treasured experiences that are unique to the area, and can't be found anywhere else in Hawaii. It may be one of the lesser visited spots on the Big Island, but it offers some of the best things to see and experience.
To experience the most unique things Puna has to offer, get out your bathing suit, hiking shoes, and camera. The first stop will be your choice of natural ponds heated by the volcanic activity the island has to offer. You have the choice of the Champagne Ponds located outside of the neighborhood called Beach Lots down along the coast about 15-minutes from Pahoa town. The ponds are pure salt water, and depending on the tide range from very warm at low tide to a hide tide pool with the cold edge taken off of open ocean water. The other option is a small salt water pond made of black lava rocks nearby at Isaac Hale Beach Park, locally known as Pohoiki. The warmth of this pond also varies with the tide of the ocean, but is easily accessible at the beach park and surf spot.
Pohoiki warm pond — Photo courtesy of Jade Eckardt
The active volcano and bright red flowing lava is one of the biggest draws to the Big Island, and has been calling Puna home for over two decades. One place to view the volcano is from Kalapana, where you can sit on the hood of your car under the stars and watch the red glow in the sky and the lava come down the mountain. Or, you can hike out to the lava and see it flowing and twisting right in front of you. This is also accessed from Kalapana.
Lava adds and takes Big Island land — Photo courtesy of Jade Eckardt
Just driving along Highway 137, which has always been known as the "Red Road," thanks to the color of brick red it had for decades from pavement made with red volcano cinder, offers some of the most beautiful views the island has to offer. On the drive visitors will pass under natural tree tunnels where sunlight sparkles in through the leaves, a black rocky coast with cliffs and small swimming pongs, and lush jungle dripping with fruit.
Puna Coast — Photo courtesy of Jade Eckardt
You can end the day with dinner at a Thai, Mexican, or Italian restaurant in historic Pahoa Town. Bring the camera and the bathing, and enjoy the pure relaxation that can be found in Puna.