Visitors Information in The Big Island Punalu'u
"You could fit all of the other Hawaiian Islands onto the Big Island and still have a little room left over—hence the clever name. Locals refer to the island by side: Kona side to the west and Hilo side to the east. Most of the resorts, condos, and restaurants are crammed into 30 mi of the sunny Kona side, while the rainy, tropical Hilo side is much more local and residential.
Beautiful views make for pleasant drives, and the island's climate and vegetation change rapidly from one region to the next. Turn a corner from west to east on the north side of the island and you move quickly from hot, dry beaches to cool, lush valleys. Directions on the island are often given as mauka (toward the mountains) and makai (toward the ocean)."
The Puna District is a wild place in every sense of the word. The jagged black coastline is changing all the time; the trees are growing out of control, forming canopies over the few paved roads; the land is dirt-cheap and there are no building codes; and the people, well, there's something about living in an area that could be destroyed by lava at any moment (as Kalapana was in 1990) that makes the laws of modern society seem silly. So it is that Puna has its well-deserved reputation as the "outlaw" region of the Big Island. That said, it's a unique place that's well worth a detour, especially if you're in this part of the island anyway. There are volcanically heated springs, tide pools bursting with interesting sea life, and some mighty fine people-watching opportunities in Pahoa, a funky little town that the outlaws call home. This is also farm country (yes, that kind of farm, but also the legal sort). Local farmers grow everything from orchids and anthuriums to papayas, bananas, and macadamia nuts. Several of the island's larger, rural residential subdivisions are between Keaau and Pahoa, including Hawaiian Paradise Park, Orchidland Estates, Hawaiian Acres, Hawaiian Beaches, and others. When night falls the air fills with the high-pitched symphony of hundreds of coqui frogs. Though they look cute on the signs and sound harmless, the coqui frogs are a pest both to local crops and to locals, tired of their loud, shrill all-night song.
"Driving south out of Hilo, then through Keaau, you’re in the Puna (Poo-nah) District in about 10 minutes. This moku on the eastern tip of the island stretches from the sea to the 4,000-foot summit of Kilauea volcano. At one end, roiling ocean, a black-sand beach where people play drums and leave their bathing suits behind, a spring warmed by the volcano’s steam. At the other end, by Kilauea’s summit, more steam, yellow sulfur banks, rainforest, hula dancers giving their gift to Volcano goddess Pele here in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
On the fertile slopes between sea and summit grow an Eden of tropical fruit, flowers and vegetables-orchids, anthuriums, banana, papaya, herbs, macadamia nuts, and more.
Many who live on Hawaii Island say that Puna moku especially is Pele’s workshop, and that our island is her grand work-in-progress as the volatile and tempestuous goddess continuously creates and recreates the very land we live on."