The roads of Puna offer a magnificent cross section of topographical, meterological, and historical diversity as ever did connect any small ward of eden. Alternately they test both vehicle and operator, and then, often on a few yard's notice, offer a smooth and cooling exhileration well deserved and appreciated.
The tour busses that take the main road on down to the remnant Kalapana never do see Puna, what it is or what it was. In dedication to those unfortunate multitudes, I offer these few shots. Moreover though, I hope to inspire a few to experience what it was to explore this Hawaii - say 50 years ago.
This is a lovely, cool, pine-needle paved, oceanside stretch just out of the Hawaiian Beaches subdivision.
|The Puna Trail
This is the condition of the old beach road just a few hundred yards after you have departed Hawaiian Beaches subdivision (south of here). On the map they call it the Puna Trail.
Out this way are some retired people living the rough life (without electricity unless they have a generator) but they love it. There is accessable ocean front property for sale here about as cheap as you will find in the entire Hawaiian islands. Drive by and jot down the numbers of the real estate agents.
You can actually drive quite a ways in this direction before 4 wheel drive is a must. It is fortunate that there is no traffic here - meeting another vehicle can be a problem.
|In Search of Ancient Canoe Sheds
Again referring to the map that you may load from the Puna page, I noted the point of interest designated as Old Hawaiian Canoe Shed. Attempting faith in my mission of providing you with a Puna pictoral, I looked for this canoe shed to photograph. I failed. I found the location, but only have pictures of rocks and water. So I need to do a little more homework before my next forray into the unknown.
What I think I did discover though, is the beach access point on the main road. As you travel a few short miles into the canopy tunnel from Kapoho, you will happen upon this Mango in the middle of the road. You should not attempt driving down to the beach without 4 wheel drive, but there is room to park your car on the road and walk down.
|The Farm on the Beach
Just a short bike ride from my home down old Beach Road (which is labeled Puna Trail on the map) is a cattle farm that has been here for a very long time and actually is for sale if you happen to have a spare three million dollars or so.
Driving to the Hawaiian Beaches subdivision from the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision requires a four wheel drive vehicle, but can be done with a bicycle, and I have walked the whole distance and back rather easily.
Since traffic is restricted by the condition of the road, the forest preserve area between these two subdivisions may be the most pristine you will find on the island. If you can find the beach access turnoff, you will be rewarded by the nicest grassy beach area I have seen.
|Evidence of Ancient Walls
Driving north of Kapoho on 137, the modern highway comes to an abrupt conclusion and you continue on into a tunnel that bores all the way through the canopy until it surfaces at Hawaiian Beaches.
Shortly after entering the "tunnel" from Kapoho, you will see remnants of walls overgrown so that they are barely recognizable as man made. Here on the left (looking back southward) is such a wall.
In the 1823 journal of William Ellis, first European to visit here, he relates as actually walking on top of these walls as a roadway! These match his description of being 4 feet high and 3 feet wide.