Hawaii Road Trip: Isaac Hale Beach Park in Pohoiki on the Big Island
Isaac Hale Beach Park is located in Pohoiki on the wild and scenic Red Road that follows the lower Puna coastline. It’s a small and relatively remote beach park that is more popular with local residents than tourists. There’s no stretch of white sand beach here, just a rugged lava shoreline surrounded by lush groves of coconut and mango trees. The 2-acre park can get quite crowded during weekends and holidays as many Puna residents come here for picnicking, swimming, snorkeling, fishing, boating, and surfing. You will see many keikis riding bikes and teens hanging out along the sidewalks. Families and friends gather around the barbeques to celebrate birthdays. Surfers suit-up and talk story with each other before hitting the waves. Because of the strong currents and big waves in the open bay, swimmers stay inside the blue lagoon by the boat ramp. There’s a "no swimming" sign, but everyone seems to ignore it! Protected by the breakwater pier, this pool-like lagoon is calm and crystal clear: you can see many colorful fish and coral (and lobsters!) down in the shallow bottom. There are plenty of shady trees (perfect for taking a nap under) and picnic tables in the park for everyone to enjoy.
Enjoy the Park
This park is named in honor of Isaac Kepo’okalani Hale, a local resident who served in the U.S. Army and died in the Korean War. In 2008, spearheaded by Puna councilwoman Emily Naeole, Hawaii County did some major renovation at the park, adding new facilities including paved parking lots, walking paths, restrooms with showers, and picnic pavilions.
Tour groups often bring tourists to this park as part of their Puna sightseeing itinerary. Vendors also set up tents and lunchwagons by the parking lot to sell snacks, food bentos, and handmade souvenirs.
Whether you come for surfing, swimming, or sightseeing, you will love the mellow and peaceful atmosphere at this unique oceanside park.
From Hilo, head south on Highway 130 (Keaau Pahoa Rd) toward Pahoa village. At the Pahoa-Kalapana intersection, turn left and head east on Highway 132 (Kapoho Road). Stay on the right as the road splits into two and continue driving through the winding single lane Pohoiki Road (also called the Mango Road). At the end of this road (stop sign), go straight for another 100 feet toward the ocean and you will see the park’s parking lot. The boat ramp, breakwater pier, and swimming lagoon, are on the right side of the parking lot. The surfing area is on the left side near the lifeguard station.
Lava Boat Tour
Isaac Hale Beach Park is also where you can catch the Lava Boat Tour around sunset time. This tour consists of a large boat and takes visitors to where the active lava flows from Kilauea volcano draining into the ocean several miles south of Kalapana on the coastline. Up close from the boat, the view of this red-hot lava (the newest land on earth being created) exploding into the crashing waves, is quite dramatic.
Beach Park Tips
- Isaac Hale Beach Park opens all year round. No entrance fees. Free parking.
- Lock your car and take all personal items (camera, purse, passport, etc.) with you as a precaution.
- Watch your footstep along the rocky shoreline and on the breakwater pier.
- Swim and snorkel at your own risk. Lifeguard is on duty only at the surfing side of the park, not at the swimming lagoon.
- Explore the tidal pools along the park shoreline and discover a fascinating world of starfish, octopus, sea slug, hermit crab, eel, and tropical fish of all sizes and shapes.
- There’s a small trail on the right side of the boat ramp which leads you to a warm pond (spring water naturally heated by underground volcanic activity) where you can soak your achy feet or body!
- Respect the posted “Private Property” signs along the trail and do not trespass.
- Don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch or dinner. Sunset is spectacular at this beach park!
© 2012 Viet Doan