Spending Time at the Kapoho Tide Pools

By Karen Rose

Due to a new volcano eruption starting on May 3, 2018, the entire lava landscape of Hawaii Island is forever changed. Lava has completely covered the Kapoho Tide Pools. The following article remains as an archive.

Kapoho tide pools with vacation homes in the background. Photo: Allison Turrell.


Soak and relax in a hot tub created by Mother Nature herself. Located on the Island of Hawaiʻi’s eastern shore, Kapoho Tide Pools are interconnecting, volcanically heated tide pools extending up to 200 yards off shore. These naturally heated fresh water springs also offer some of the best snorkeling on the Hilo side of the island. In the Hawaiian language, “Kapoho” means “depression” and refers to the many salt water filled depressions, or tide pools, spread throughout the area.

Soak and Snorkel

Snorkeling at the Kapoho Tide Pools. Photo: Makuahine Pai Kii.

A marine life preserve, Kapoho Tide Pools are open for visitors to soak, snorkel and observe the abundant sea life within the naturally warmed pools that can reach temperatures of up to 90 degrees. The waters are typically calm within the inner pools and the water is clear and protected, making it perfect for snorkeling. Protective shoes are recommended as the entire shoreline is made up of sharp black lava rocks.

Where to Access the Pools

Kapoho tide pools. Photo: Edna Winti.


The best way to access the pools are to the right of the parking lot. There are two large pools — one before you reach the fence and a larger one just past the fence. These are good places to enter for snorkeling. Depending on the time of day and water depth, visitors can swim between many of the pools. Some require standing up and walking between the pools, so again, good water shoes are essential to keep from slipping. Take care to avoid stepping on the coral when entering and exiting the tide pools.

Don’t Go Dipping in Private Pools

Home overlooking the natural pools in Kapoho. Photo: Eli Duke.

Be aware that some of the tide pools are located on private property where home owners have incorporated the naturally heated pools into private hot tubs. Make sure you stay in the public areas and not go dipping into a private residential pool.

How to Get There

Road to the Kapoho Tidepools. Photo: Eli Duke.

To get to the tide pools from Pahoa, take Highway 132 east and turn right at the Highway 137 intersection. Turn left onto Kapoho Kai Road just before mile marker nine. When you reach a T in the road, turn left and follow the sign that says ‘Reef Parking.’

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