Hawai’i Big Island – Puna

Day 5 – Volcano to Puna – Downhill all the way – Rain Squall

After two nights in soft bed we are eager to get back on the road. Just as we leave the village we notice a young couple getting off the Hele-On bus with their cycling gear by the side of the road. They are also from Quebec and apparently two days behind us doing the same route.

Flowers on Puna Road
Flowers on Puna Road

The descend is nice and long. Very long. At Mountain View General Store there isn’t much to buy except an orange and macadamia. Further on we spot the sign of a farmers market and a coffee store attached to it. The $3 cookie is amazing and I get a few bananas and tomatoes from different stands. A couple is playing Hawaiian melodies so we decide to stay longer. We taste samples at the coffee store and sit at a table to listen to the music. Some guy selling flowers begins to chat with us and then a heavy rain starts to pound the huge canopy covering the whole market. The canopy, covered with solar panels, is a neat idea. After a while the rain slows down and we are back on the road, still enjoying the descend. We make a right turn to a secondary road, the traffic goes away, it becomes very quiet and beautiful flowers show up right and left of the asphalt glowing with rising steam.

Pohoiki Road
Pohoiki Road

We ride east quietly for a while until we merge into highway 130 and start to  descend towards Pahoa, which is a big town. We pass through a small pretty village named Kaniahiku and stop at Lava Tree park to have lunch. “Lava tree” is formed when hot lava covers the trees and leaves behind a sculpture of trunks when cooled. The rest of the road to the coast is narrow and covered with tall trees and very nice to ride, although very narrow and you have to contend with occasional car trying to pass. I couldn’t get a permit for the designated campground for this part of the journey so we search for a place for tonight. The guy at one of the yoga retreats on the road points us to a hostel a few miles back, so we turn around to find it. It feels arduous to climb back up where you just came from in the heat. The hostel is a reclamation of an old junk yard and the guy at the front desk doesn’t really care if we stay there or not. He makes up a story about all camping spots being booked and presents us an overpriced private rickety shack.

Isaac Hale Beach
Isaac Hale Beach

We accept our faith, unload our stuff and head for the shore. It’s Saturday and Isaac Hale Beach is busy with unruly crowd. I’m glad we aren’t staying here. There is supposed to be warm springs around but who needs it when it’s already scorching hot. We follow the undulating road west stopping at other parks and view points until we reach Kaimu.

MacKenzie Park
MacKenzie Park

Most of the road is tree covered and was once part of “King’s Trail” which is considered sacred. At Kaimu, once you could see the flowing lava if you hiked a little bit more into the rocky area, but no more. There are still people coming here to see I don’t know what; it feels desolate and has something apocalyptic about it. There is a parking lot over the old lava rocks and a loud crowd is partying in a bar playing western tunes. We stroll a bit over the black basalt and survey the landscape, then a guy roars in with his motocross and pees on the rocks. We are out of there. We climb up highway 130 and make a loop to our hedonistic hotel in the dark. We drink tea and munch on nuts and berries and talk to a Dutch guy who plans to stay here for three nights and drive around. That’s another way of seeing the island.

Isaac Hale Beach
Isaac Hale Beach

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