Red Road to Puna (Kalapana-Kapoho Road)



The Road to Puna

The Road to Puna (also known as Kalapana-Kapoho Road) is lined with many tree canopies. The windy road made its way mostly along the coast, with frequent views of waves crashing along the shore.


Lava Trees State Monument

Since our hike to see the lava falling into the ocean did not start until 3pm, we started our day on the Road to Puna (Hwy 130 to 137 until the end of 137). This road took us by Lava Trees State Monument, where a short 0.7 mile loop allowed us to walk by trees surrounded by hot lava many years ago. As the lava receded, the lava surrounding the tree stayed, forming pillars of lava standing around a hollowed tree. The tree inside eventually combusted leaving the hollow in the core of these lava tree pillars. There were at least half a dozen of these pillars surrounded by a colorful, moist rainforest. Near the entrance there is a fence around a fissure that seems to run the length of the park. The entrance to this park was free of charge and parking was plentiful during our visit.

Lava pillars in Lava Trees State Monument

Lava pillars in Lava Trees State Monument


Practical Information (as of June 2017):

Our hike: 0.7 mile loop beside lava covered tree pillars

Fee: free

Directions:  Off Pahoa-Pohoiki Road (Highway 132), 2.7 miles southeast of Pahoa.


Kapoho Tide Pools

Our next stop was at the Kapoho Tide pools. It was about a half mile walk in through neighbourhood to get to the tide pools. The tide pools are connected via a network of sharp black lava rocks with small trees growing on it. We were glad we had brought water footwear here, though the flip flops we had were less than ideal. Perhaps water shoes would have been a better idea.

Rock hopping at Kapoho Tide Pools

Rock hopping at Kapoho Tide Pools


The tide pools consisted of lots of colorful baby fish in slow moving clear waters, confirming a sign we saw at the entrance stating that it was a nursery for fish. We spent a couple of hours here, while boys hopped from one rock island to another through shallow waters avoiding fissures just below the water surface, looking for colorful fish. We saw a black and white eel, some grey and yellow striped fish and some black fish. This was the first time we've seen fish in a tide pool. Our previous experiences with tide pools consisted of colorful sea urchins and seastars, which though beautiful, is not on the active moving side.

Rock hopping at Kapoho Tide Pools

Rock hopping at Kapoho Tide Pools

 We didn't bring equipment to snorkel, but saw many snorkelers. We are on the cautious side, so strong ripples in the water makes us nervous.

***UPDATE***I recently read a concerning water quality report of these tide pools dated 2014. Apparently the bacteria counts at these tide pools were higher than the allowable limits. You may want to reconsider your visit here or research further to see if the issue has been rectified. Our experience at these tide pools were ignorantly blissful and am happy to report we did not have any post-visit health issues.****


Practical Information (as of June 2017):

Our experience: Fun, wet, (sharp) rock island hopping to spot colorful baby fishes

Parking: outside a neighbourhood area where coconut trees lined the street

Fee: free

Don't forget: ***Check water quality reports*** for the area, water shoes, sunscreen, hat


Ahalanui Hot Ponds

This is a hot springs mixing with some ocean water, near the ocean’s edge. The hot springs area seem to be protected from the ocean by a rock wall on most sides. We opted not to jump in.

Warning Sign at Ahalanui Hot Ponds

Warning Sign at Ahalanui Hot Ponds


Being a germaphobe and not much of a water-lover, the sign at the entrance was enough to put me off. We spent time around the coconut grove with boys brainstorming how to get coconuts down from the trees.


New land at the end of Kalapana-Kapoho Road

We needed to kill about an hour before the hiking trail to the Lava opened at 3pm.

We drove to the end of Hwy 137 by accident and came upon a small area with some island-style shops and restaurants. Just before it, there was a lava bed that went on for probably a mile to the ocean. Near the ocean, there was a young coconut tree grove taking root on the developing black sand beach. I wonder if trees and their root systems help break down the hard lava rock into fertile soil. We watched waves crash into the black lava cliffs here while the boys explored the coconut trees.

A new coconut grove starting at the new land at the end of Pahoa-Kalapana Road

A coconut grove starting at the new land at the end of Kapoho-Kalapana Rd


The boys saw the different stages of a coconut tree life cycle. They were excited to see how a coconut tree started life. We found a foot high little tree sprouted from a dried coconut. We were surprised to see that the plant hadn't taken root into the ground yet at that point. The boys noted that this little plant is self sufficient (except for sunlight and water) using only it's mother coconut, at least up until this point. I love it when nature provides a spontaneous Biology lesson.


Warning:  All listed adventures come with inherent risks. The information provided is based on personal experience which may or may not be typical. The safety of these adventures are dependent on a variety of factors including but not limited to: terrain, weather, wildlife, hiker skill level, human error, preparation and other foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. As such, we do not assume any liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information provided.  As such, we will not be held responsible for any harm, injury, and/or loss that may result. Your personal preparation and judgement on the safety of each adventure is required at all times. Please use your own discretion and always be safe.

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