Artsy Pahoa Town

By Karen Rose

Due to a new volcano eruption starting on May 3, 2018, the entire lava landscape of Hawaii Island is forever changed. Aside from Pahoa Village, most of the places mentioned below have been destroyed by lava. The following article remains as an archive.

Pahoa Town, Hawaii Island. Photo: Scott Hess.

Located in Hawaiʻi Island’s Puna District, the quaint town of Pahoa is a laid-back hippie town with old school charm. Unlike the manicured landscapes of many Hawaiian resort areas, Pahoa holds the artsy charm of wooden boardwalks surrounded by rugged, natural beauty.

Vintage Village

Pahoa, Hawaii Island. Photo: Scott Hess.

Stroll the charming “downtown” of the Puna region and take in the wild-west feel of a Victorian village, complete with vintage buildings, New Age boutiques, craft stores, art galleries and a variety of cafes and restaurants. The land surrounding Pahoa once grew timber and sugar cane. Today, Pahoa boasts a number of nurseries specializing in tropical blooms and anthuriums.

Lava Tree State Park

Lava Tree State Park. Photo: Eli Duke.

Lava Tree State Park lies just outside Pahoa and offers visitors a chance to experience a one-of-a-kind rock forest. Previously lush and green, lava flows encroached upon the once rain forest, surrounding trees and burning their insides. Moss covered, hollow stone skeletons are all that remain of the former tropical landscape. The alien terrain attracts both professional and novice photographers who venture into the park seeking that “perfect shot.”

Kapoho Tide Pools

Kapoho Tidepools, Hawaii Island. Photo: Eli Duke.

Beautiful beaches and thermal waters are another must see attraction when visiting the area surrounding Pahoa. Close in proximity to Kilauea Volcano, Ahalanui Beach Park, sometimes referred to as Kapoho, offers thermally heated tide pools where visitors can enjoy a hot soak under the swaying palm trees.


Surfing at Pohoiki. Photo: Hitchster.

Visitors seeking a remote, out of the way beach experience can check out Isaac Hale Beach Park. Sometimes called Pohoiki by locals, this beach is located about seven miles from Pahoa town and offers grassy picnic grounds, restroom facilities and on some days, a decent surf break. Those seeking a beach with a sheltered snorkeling area can check out James Kealoha Beach Park, or Four Mile Beach. Certain areas of the beach can get rough and dangerous, so swimmers are advised to use caution when going into the water.

Clothing Optional?

No nudists at Kehena Beach today. Photo: Hawaiian Sea.

For the especially adventurous traveler, Kehena Beach is a secluded, black sand beach where locals sometimes implement a clothing optional practice. Located on Highway 137 at mile marker 19, this beach is not a county park and is very secluded. If you decide to visit the beach, parking is available along the road. It is advised not to leave any valuables in your car. If you do, there is a good chance they won’t be there when you return!

Lava encroaching on the transfer station in Pahoa, Hawaii Island from the 2015 lava flow. Lava in Hawaii generally moves very slowly. Photo: Jane Thomas.

Whatever sights you choose to visit on your way around the island, Pahoa town is a visually appealing and charming stop along the way.

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