Along the Big Island’s easternmost tip lies the region known as Puna, a colorful and eclectic area that’s teeming with natural wonders. But there are things about Puna that only those who call it home are in the know on. Visitors are certainly welcome to explore and take in the near-impossible to define atmosphere and vibe of the region, so if you want to experience Puna for all it is, you’ll make a point to visit the area for yourself during your Big Island stay.
With the heavy tourist and commercial activity of Kailua-Kona and Hilo, many locals who have called the Big Island home for generations have decided to relocate to more affordable areas like Puna. While the ever-looming threat of lava flows exists in Puna as much as any other region bordering Kilauea, those who call Puna home enjoy under-market home costs.
There’s Less Tourist Traffic
Despite the gorgeous natural scenery and proximity to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Puna doesn’t see nearly the same tourist traffic as the western side of the island or even its northern neighbor in Hilo. This results in a quiet, peaceful atmosphere that keeps the region relaxed and comfortable like nowhere else.
Amazing Coastlines and Rugged Beaches
Beach parks and coastal hiking trails abound in Puna. In Isaac Hale Beach County Park and Kehena Black Sand Beach, locals and visitors alike have access to sprawling, colorful beaches. While the former is more established and includes a boat launch, the latter is as rugged and unpredictable as you can get. Visitors to Kehena will often see spinner dolphins, sea turtles, and humpback whales during their visit, but they may also witness a few humans in their natural mode – families be warned.
Tight Knit Local Community
While many people talk about the aloha spirit, the true value of experiencing life in Puna over a lengthy stay is intangible. The community, people, and atmosphere of the region is unmatched. A close-knit group of locals call the region home and are fiercely protective of Puna, but are welcoming of respectful visitors and greet them with genuine warmth.
Wonderful Food and Agriculture
Puna is a productive generator of macadamia nuts, but the local farmers grow a huge assortment of other delicious crops. That makes the eateries in Puna a good opportunity to experience truly local meals at an affordable price, and the farmer’s market in Maku’u on the weekends makes for a rewarding treat, too.
There’s Cultural Relevance at Every Turn
Due to the prolific volcanic activity in Puna, many locals believe the region to be Pele’s Workshop. The goddess of fire, Pele is a well-known deity in Hawaiian culture and is said to control the forces of the volcanoes throughout the islands. Because of this, the volcanoes and the surrounding areas are considered sacred. While there’s few state-sponsored monuments to Pele, the locals and multigenerational Hawaiians will tell you the legends of Pele and the challenges she provided early Hawaiians.