Thursday, October 3, 2013

So Many Wonderful Things To Do

This fabulous area on the Big Island,(Puna) has so many hidden secrets most visitors to Hawaii seldom discover. They don't even show details of Puna area on the car rental maps. All the better to keep the place magical. Here are some of my nearby favorites:
Great snorkeling at Kapoho tide pools, also called Wai Opae. Just about 15 minutes down the road (137) from here, off Kapoho Kai road. The waters are protected and clear. The gorgeous coral make viewing the colorful reef fish a feast for the eyes and senses. Wear reef shoes, snorkel and mask, no fins needed and helps protect the coral and your feet from the lava rocks. Champagne ponds also in Kapoho, good for snorkeling and enjoying the tiny bubbles that naturally percolate up from the water. Ever wanted to sit in champagne bubbles? Here is your chance, and the water is warmed up from the geothermal activity thanks to Pele.
There is now a night market on Wednesday and Friday in Kalapana from 5- 9 pm. Enjoy a true locals scene with music, spontaneous Hula dancing, and some really good grinds (food). The locals artisans have their wares out and others are selling produce from their land. The locals are serving up some great food! So grab a plate, and enjoy the music and fun. Uncle Roberts Awa (Kava) bar is a must. Saddle up to the bar and get yourself a coconut bowl of Awa. Nothing like a natural, relaxing, island drink. Kalapana is at the end of the road ( Hwy 137) where the lava flowed over and is home to a traditional Hawaiian family. They were miraculously spared and have turned the end of the road into a destination. The locals have planted a coconut lined path to the ocean over the black lava. Very dramatic to see the landscape and the new lava coastline.
Ahalanui Warm Pond is just 5 minutes down the road (137). Enjoy a beautiful soak in the naturally heated, swimming size pool at the edge of the ocean. Again thanks to Pele we have a geo-thermally heated pool, that feels like a soft warm bath. Hard to get out it is so comfortable. Very beautiful and relaxing setting with shade trees and picnic tables. There is even an outdoor shower to rinse off after a nice swim in the warm ocean water. Little fish like hanging out there too, as they get washed in on incoming tides over the break. Lava Tree State Park is nice for a stroll, just a few minutes up the road from the house. The small park with walkways through beautiful flowers and lush greenery, shows trees that were cast into lava from the lava flow years ago.
Pohoiki Beach Park (Isaac Hale Beach Park) is just 1 mile down the road at the ocean. A local favorite for surfing and boogie boarding (intermediate level). The boat launch area is a nice protected place just for a swim. The lovely little secret there is a natural lava rock warm pool. Just head down along the shore from the boat launch on the right and in about 100 yards on the right you will find a beautiful little warm pool, perfect for soaking in after a swim in the ocean. (Remember there are no signs for the hidden gems. You just have to go exploring to discover them.)
There is a large pool shaped by the lava flow at the edge of the ocean with waves washing up in to it. Nice for a private swim and snorkel. It is a very dramatic coastline of black lava, blue ocean, green forests and white clouds. It is called Orr's beach, but again there are no signs. The ocean can be mellow or dramatic, so it is important that you make sure the surf size is safe wherever you are on this amazing coastline. There are lots of stories of people being washed out to sea by large waves. Needless to say they usually don't have a happy ending. So always keep a healthy respect for the powers of the ocean. Take the ocean road (137) towards Kapoho and continue straight on until the pavement ends, and go about 1.5 miles down the cinder/dirt road to where there is a little piece of pavement again. You will be driving through a magnificent old growth mango tree forest. Park and walk down a dirt path towards the ocean, through a mana filled forest. Veer to the left when you see the ocean (path is about 1/4 mile from the car to the water). Scramble over some lava rocks and you will find the lava pool.
I also like "splash beach". Drive down the ocean front road (137) towards Kalapana, and when you see Malama Ki forest reserve sign on the right (small sign) a few miles down, just before mile marker 13, park and walk towards the ocean about 50 yards. I like to just sit with a nice sun hat on and watch the waves create a symphony of white water crashing up against the lava cliffs. So dramatic and beautiful. Bring a lounge chair for real viewing comfort as you hang out on the black lava field.
Also out of Kalapana is a guided night hike out to see the lava flowing. Check in with them at the end of the road for details. Check out guide books on all the wonders of the Hilo area, including Rainbow falls, Akaka falls, Pe'epe'e' falls. See the new Imiloa astronomy center and other museums. Hawaii tropical Botanical Gardens, the scenic drive it is located on, and the What's Shakin' tropical shake are a fabulous day outing.
There are new farmers markets popping up all over the area. Saturday morning over in Sea View, as well as Sunday in Pahao. Ask a local about the details. The farmers markets have the best local produce and home made foods you will find.

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