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Kapoho is truly is a swimmer’s paradise. The volcano-heated fishponds are a very toasty temperature. The ocean is warm, too, compared to most locales. There are amazing sights just beneath the surface, so be sure you get out some snorkeling or diving gear and go investigate. You will discover a beautiful, mysterious and fascinating world under the sea.
Here are a few places to swim and dive. Geographically from closest to further away.
Kapoho Beach and nearby Vacationland (see below) are two of the Big Island’s best spots for swimming and snorkeling A fantastic labyrinth of tide pools and volcanically heated swimming holes were formed when lava claimed down Kilauea’s slopes and into the sea.
The pools are permeated by fresh ocean waters that bring with them a vast array of marine life, yet are sheltered from the hammering surf and treacherous rip tides present at many Big Island beaches.
The first group of swimming areas are at Kapoho Beach. Only guests staying at Kapoho Beach have easy access to these spots.
In Kapoho small tide pools dot the entire coastline. These pools are filled to the brim with sea creatures, making them an excellent place for exploration. The Kapoho tide pools boast many different types of fish and a multicolored coral bed. In Kapoho you will find crystal clear water and calm surf conditions which are excellent for children and weaker swimmers.
Regardless of the ocean conditions, these tidal pools are protected from the surf. The calm conditions also allow easy entry into the water. However, make sure you bring sandals / water shoes for the short walk over lava rocks. You will also find lava shelves for sunbathing.
Many of the pools here are interconnected and allow you to snorkel from pool to pool. These tide pools are so close together, that when they are not interconnected, you can simply climb out of one and drop down into the next one. This is a nice trip even if you do not have snorkeling gear. The clear tidal pools and warm sun offer a true taste of paradise.
This map will guide you while you are in the Kapoho Beach Lots community regarding where the swimming accesses into the Kapoho Bay/ocean. My favorite accesses are #1, 5 & 6 access paths ?
If majestic black sand beaches are on your itinerary, take the scenic drive down Red Road to Kehena You may recognize it – it’s often used as a location for TV commercials because of its beauty. Body boarding and body surfing are possible during calmer tides. Kehena is also great for getting tans without lines – it’s secluded and rather inconspicuous location has made it a favorite swimming and picnicking area among the Island’s ‘clothing optional’ inhabitants.This spectacular beach will certainly take your breath away, but don’t let your good judgment follow_ The beach sits at the bottom of a cliff and you mast navigate a fairly steep path down to the beach There aren’t any lifeguards or services. The currents there can be VERY strong (take it from one who found out first hand!), so don’t swim out too far Use caution stay reasonably close to shore (when in doubt, watch the locals) and you’ll have a blast swimming and riding the waves.There are not any signs, but there are usually a number of cars parked here in the small parking lot and along the shoulder of the road. You can’t see the beach from the road, but if you follow the path just before the parking lot and make your way (carefully’) down the slope, you will be rewarded with the sight of one of Puna most striking beaches.To get there: Drive past the gatehouse to the end of the road – Turn left onto Red Road (highway 137) – Proceed for about 11 miles to the 19-mile marker – Unfortunately, there isn’t a 19-mile marker so check your odometer at the 18-mile marker – Park along the side of the road or in the parking lot on the left side of the road.
This bit of shoreline was named for the University of Hawaii, who ‘seeded’ it with many different types of coral after the 1960 lava flow here at Kapoho Beach. The coral has since flourished and is truly a sight to see Tropical fish abound here, and our resident turtle family likes to feed there, too.University Pond and Black Sand Beach can be reached: Follow Laimana Road going out from Kapoho Paradise Home – Turn right towards the lighthouse – Turn right at the end, then – Bare left and follow the loop road onto the lava flow – Take the public access road out – Marked by a small chain and sign saying ‘no vehicles’ – Out onto the lava flow – Follow the path to the ocean and then look to your right – Go over to the little trees and you’ll find the black sand beach – From the shore you usually can’t even tell that it’s a pond unless the tide is exceptionally low.University Pond is also accessible from Champagne Pond: Follow the 4-wheel drive road out around the point towards the lighthouse – The pond is marked by the second patch of green bushes and small trees – The remainder of the areas are accessible by everyone.
The neighborhood just southwest of Kapoho Beach is known as Vacationland Vacationland’s lava flows provide an excellent setting for swimming, diving and picnicking, as is evidenced by the number of locals you will see out on the lava flows with their picnic stuff. The coral and fish laden tide pools here, make for great snorkeling. For the best coral, head out towards the waves at about a 45 degree angle When you reach the coral, turn back towards the shore and you’ll find aces of very old coral that has been spared by lava flows for ages.To get there from Kapoho Beach: Go past the gatehouse – Turn left at the first din (cinder) road – Turn left (about 4 blocks) on paved road called Kapoho Kai Drive – Follow main road to the end – Turn left as the road bends to the left, you’ll see the water – The public access area is on the right.To get there from anywhere else: Go south (towards Kalapana) on Red Road (Rt. 137) – Turn left at fourth road (Kapoho Kai Drive) – Follow main road to the end – Turn left as the road bends to the left, you’ll see the water – The public access area is on the right.
There you can access an 8-mile 4-wheel-drive road across Kapapala Ranch and through Kapapala Forest Reserve to the Ainapo trailhead. Limited parking is available. Note: Use of the Ainapo Trail requires hikers and campers to contact Kapapala Ranch at (808) 928-6202 to obtain the combination for their locked gate. This combination is changed on a daily basis. Please contact the Ranch during the “evening” hours of 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. prior to your hikeTrail Distance. The distance from the trailhead to the Ainapo Trail Shelter at Halewai is approximately 2.7 miles (hiking time approx. 2.5 hours). After Halewai, the trail ascends 7.5 miles (hiking time approx. 8-12 hours) to the Mauna Loa cabin on the rim of Mokuaweoweo within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. (This latter section of the trail is considered challenging and should not be attempted by novice hikers or those unfamiliar with the extreme environmental conditions. which may be encountered.) General Information: Rain catchment water is available at the trail shelter at Halewai at the 7.750 foot elevation. PURIFY BEFORE DRINKING. Reservations and a free permit may be obtained from Forestry and Wildlife to overnight at the trail shelter_ Hikers continuing to the summit need to register with the National Park Rangers Call (808) 967-7311 for information or see camping.
Caution: The trail lies within a unit B game management area. Seasonal bird hunting is allowed within Kapapala Ranch.
The Ainapo Trail, from Kapapala to Mokuaweoweo, the summit caldera on Mauna Loa, was pioneered by prehistoric Hawaiians. Vegetation varies from mixed mesic koa/ohia forest to alpine stone desert. Note: The Ainapo Trail to Mauna Loa Summit is rougher and steeper than either of the two Hawaii Volcanoes National Park trails to the Mauna Loa Summit listed elsewhere in this section.
It is home to Kilauea Volcano, Mauna Loa’s dynamic smaller sibling which provides frequent opportunities for lava viewing. For your safety, upon arrival talk to the ranger in the Kilauea Visitor Center about current lava flow conditions. There are a wide variety of walks. hikes. and back-country trails in the Park (see Hawaii Volcanoes National Park trails below). Whenever you hike, let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. Carry adequate water according to the hike’s difficulty. length. and the expected temperature. Most Park trails are well maintained and marked, but some back-country trails are rough, marked only by ahu, which are cairns (piles of rock). Free trail guides and other important information is available at the Park’s Kilauea Visitor Center See camping section for camping and cabins in the Park. For more information, please visit the Park’s Website. (The 7-day park entry fee is $10 per vehicle; $5 per bicyclist or pedestrian; free for Golden Age/Eagle Passport holders.)
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Crater Rim Trail
Trail Miles / Hiking Time: 11 mile loop / All day
The trail begins at the Kilauea Visitor Center.General Information: Bring water and food. Be prepared for hot and dry. and wet and windy weather. Expect sulfur fumes in the Halemaumau Crater and southwest rift zone.Encircle Kilauea’s summit ca/dera, pass through desert and rain forest, view Halemaumau and Keanakakoi Craters and Mauna Loa. Plants, birds, insects, desert, rain forest. steam vents, caldera. craters.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Devastation Trail
•Difficulty: Easy Walk
Trail Miles / Hiking Time. 1 mile roundtrip / 45 minutes roundtrip
Driving Miles / Time from Visitor Center to Trailhead: 4 miles / 15 minutes.
The trail begins at the Devastation Trail parking lot on Crater Rim Drive.General Information: Wheelchair and stroller accessible paved path. Stay on the trail. Do not climb Puu Puai cinder cone.Walk over the cinder outfall and through a forest recovering from Kilauea /ki’s 1959 eruption. Plants, birds, insects, cinder with olivine and Pele’s hair and tears, tree molds, cinder and spatter cone.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Earthquake (Waldron Ledge)
Trail Miles / Hiking Time: 1 mile roundtrip / 45 minutes roundtrip
The trail begins to the left of the Volcano House Hotel.General Information: Wheelchair and stroller accessible trail over paved road surface.Walk over a section of road cracked-up in 1983 by a magnitude 6.6 Mauna Loa earthquake Plants. birds, insects. earthcracks, views of Kilauea Caldera and Mauna Loa.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Halape Trail
•Difficulty: Challenging (recommended for experienced backpackers only)
Trail Miles / Hiking Time: 15 miles roundtrip / 2 days roundtripThe trail starts at the Keauhou Trailhead or at the end of the Hilina Pali Road. An alternate route to Chain of Craters Road is found at Puu Loa parking area via the old Coastal Trail.General Information: Hikers are advised to carry plenty of water and be prepared for heat and high humidity.
The trail descends about 2.200 feet to a small beach and a cliff-backed shelter. A descent to the sea!
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Halemaumau Overlook
•Difficulty: Easy Walk
Trail Miles / Hiking Time: 1/2 mile roundtrip, 10 minute walk roundtripGeneral Information: Warning! Volcanic fumes are hazardous to your health. Visitors with heart or breathing problems. and infants. young children and pregnant women should avoid this area.A short walk to the crater’s edge. Native Hawaiians practice their ancient traditions at Halemaumau Crater. Please respect this sacred Hawaiian site. Do not build rock piles or leave any items that may desecrate this area.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Halemaumau Trail
•Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging
Trail Miles / Hiking Time: 7 miles roundtrip / 3 to 6 hours roundtrip
The trail begins to the right of the Volcano House Hotel.General Information. Bring water and food. Prepare for hot. dry and wet. windy weather. Beware of sulfur fumes: people with heart and breathing problems should avoid this trail.Descend 400 feet through rain forest. cross Kilauea Caldera to Halemaumau Crater Trail ends at the crater or return via Byron Ledge and Crater Rim trail. Plants, birds, insects, pahoehoe lava flows, steam vents, spatter ramparts, crater, caldera.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Iliahi – Sandalwood Trail
•Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Trail Miles / Hiking Time: 1.5 mile loop / 1 to 2 hours
The trail begins to the right of the Volcano House Hotel.General Information: Bring water. Stay on the trail and beware of steam vents. earthcracks and cliffs. Hike through rain forest, past steam vents with views of Kilauea Caldera, Halemaumau Crater and Mauna Loa. Rain forest, birds. insects, steam vents, earthcracks, fault scarps.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Kilauea Iki Trail
•Difficulty. Moderate to Challenging
Trail Miles / Hiking Time: 4 mile loop / 2 to 3 hours
Driving Miles / Time from Visitor Center to Trailhead: 2 miles / 10 minutes.
The trail begins at the Kilauea Iki Overlook parking lot on Crater Rim Drive.General Information: Bring water. Expect wet and windy weather and some steep and rocky terrain. Follow the ahu (rock piles) across the crater floor.Descend 400 feet through rain forest, cross the crater floor, pass Puu Puai cinder cone, and return via the crater’s rim. Rain forest, birds, insects, 1959 lava lake, steam vents, cinder and spatter cone.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Kipuka Pualulu – Bird Park Trail
Trail Miles / Hiking Time: 1.2 mile loop trail / 1 hour roundtrip
Driving Miles / Time from Visitor Center to Trailhead: 5 miles / 20 minutes
The trail begins at Kipuka Puaulu parking area on Mauna Loa Road.Self-guided loop trail along unpaved path through an “island” of forest and meadow rich with rare plants. Old-growth forest of koa and ohia, kipuka, birds, insects. Native birds are uncommon but exotic birds such as the house finch, northern cardinal, Japanese white-eye, kalif pheasant, melodious laughing-thrush, and red-billed leiothrix are often observed.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Mauna Iki Trail
Trail Miles / Hiking Time: 3.6 miles roundtrip / 2 hours roundtrip
Driving Miles from Park Headquarters to Trailhead: 9 1 miles southwest of Park Headquarters on Mamalahoa Highway (Route 11) at Kau Desert Trailhead.Trail leads to an exhibit of the footprints made by Hawaiian warriors in 1790 ash. The trail branches from the Mauna lki Trail. Mauna Iki is a low dome from the 1920 southwest rift eruption. The trail also continues beyond the exhibit to Mauna /ki, with alternate routes into the Kau Desert or to the Kilauea Summit Take care not to disturb the fragile footprints along the trail.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Mauna Loa Summit Trail – Mauna Loa Road Route
•Difficulty: Extremely challenging and strenuous – Recommended for experienced and well-equipped backpackers only.
Trail Miles / Hiking Time: 36.6 miles roundtrip / 4 days round-trip
The trailhead is located at the end of the Mauna Loa Road. which leaves Mamalahoa Highway (Hwy 11). about 2 miles west of the park entrance. The trek begins at the top of Mauna Loa Strip Road at an elevation of 6.662 feet.General Information: It takes two days to climb to the south rim of Mokuaweoweo Caldera at 13.250 feet. Most hikers spend the first night in a cabin at Red Hill (10.035 feet) and proceed to the summit shelter on the second day. It takes an additional half day to hike around the caldera to the true summit at 13.677 feet. Snow, wind and altitude sickness can be hazards.Vegetation vanes from mixed mesic koa/ohia forest to alpine stone desert. The trail is less steep and rough than the Ainapo trail to the summit.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Mauna Loa Summit Trail – Mauna Loa Summit Trail – Observatory Route
•Difficulty: Strenuous – Recommended for experienced and well-equipped backpackers only. Trail Miles / Hiking Time: 26 miles roundtrip / 2 days roundtrip
The trail begins at the Mauna Loa Weather Observatory at the 11.000-foot level The Observatory is located at the end of Observatory Road. off the Saddle Road (Hwy 200). one-half mile east of the Mauna Kea Road Junction (6 miles one way).General Information: Before taking this trail. hikers are advised to spend the night in their cars at the end of the road near the observatory since no accommodations are available. (Breathing during sleep automatically acclimatizes the body to the higher altitude.) Good hikers can do the trail in one day. but it’s better to spend the night at Mauna Loa. Snow. wind. and altitude sickness can be hazards. The trail is a shorter mute to Mauna Loa Summit than either the trail leaving from Mauna Loa Road or the Ainapo trail. However. this trail traverses a more desolate area due to recent lava flows and there is very little vegetation along the route.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Napau Trail
Trail Miles / Hiking Time: 14 miles roundtrip / All day.Driving Miles / Time from Visitor Center to Trailhead: 8 miles / 25 minutes.
The trail begins at Mauna Ulu parking lot on Chain of Craters Road.General Information: Bring water and food. Expect rain, wind and sulfur fumes. Follow the ahu (rock piles) and stay on the trail. Wear sturdy shoes.
Hike over pahoehoe lava flows and through rain forest, pass Puu Huluhulu, Mauna Ulu and Makaopuhi, and view Napau and Puu Oo. Pahoehoe lava flows, kipuka, lava trees, pit craters, cinder cones, rain forest. birds, insects.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Puu Huluhulu Trail
Trail Miles / Hiking Time: 3 miles roundtrip / 2 hours roundtripDriving Miles /Time from Visitor Center to Trailhead: 8 miles / 25 minutes The trail begins at the Mauna Ulu parking area on Chain of Craters Road.General Information: Bring water. Prepare for hot and dry or wet and windy weather. Follow the ahu (rock piles) over the lava flows. Sulfur fumes may be strong on some days.
Cross ’73 and ’74 lava flows, through kipuka. past lava trees. and climb 150 feet to the summit of Puu Huluhulu. On a clear day, view Mauna Loa. Mauna Kea. Puu Oo and the Pacific Ocean. Pahoehoe lava, kipuka, lava trees, cinder cone, lava shield, pioneer plants, panoramic vista.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Puu Loa Petroglyphs Trail
•Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Trail Miles / Hiking Time: 2 miles roundtrip / 1-1/2 hours roundtripDriving Miles / Time from Visitor Center to Trailhead: 20 miles / 45 minutes.
The trail begins at the Puu Loa parking area on Chain of Craters Road.General Information: Petroglyphs are fragile. Stay on the boardwalk. Bring water. wear sunglasses and hat.
Coastal trail traverses older lava flows to the most extensive petroglyph field in all of Polynesia. Pahoehoe lava flows.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Thurston Lava Tube
•Difficulty: Easy Walk
Trail Miles / Hiking Time: 0.3 mile loop trail / 20 minute walk roundtripDriving Miles / Time from Visitor Center to Trailhead: 20 miles / 45 minutes.
A fascinating walk through a tree fern forest and prehistoric cave-like lava tube. Watch for native forest birds – ape pane are usually abundant.
This lovely pond is another of Kapoho’s treasures. An inlet from the ocean allows tropical fish and an occasional sea turtle to come and go as they please.
You’ll feel different degrees in water temperature as you move through warm, volcano heated springs and refreshing ocean currents.
Farmer Markets & Dates: Open around 8am-2pm
The Maku’u Farmer’s Market: Big Farmer’s Market close by is on Sunday Off Hwy 130
Keaau Town Farmer’s Market: located daignal from McDonalds (Everyday until 5pm & is smaller)
Down Town Hilo Farmer’s Market: located down town next to Cafe Pestos & Rueben’s Restaurants (Everyday until 5pm & is smaller)
Pahoa Town Farmer’s Market: On Sunday in the Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant Parking Lot
Uncle Robert’s: Night time Farmer’s Market from 6pm to whenever they are done, Located at the end of Hwy 137 where the lava flowed over the road, Lots of crafts, already made food, entertainment, etc…
There are so many more Farmer’s Markets all around the island to explore :)…..