My family and I did a circle tour of the island last weekend and visited one of our favorite spots on the East side of the island near Pahoa, an awesome (and throughly memorable) thermal swimming pond at Ahalanui Park.
The funny thing about this little jungle gem is how few people who have lived on the Big Island for YEARS have ever experienced it! Here is how our pitch went to clerks at the local bank, grocery store, post office and parent friends:
“You know that really great thermal pond near Puna? The one with the 90 degree water in a pond the size of two Olympic sized swimming pools? The one with the sea wall where the ocean crashes in?”, we say. “Uh, no, but it sounds really great!” is the common response.
First off, it’s a long way from Kona off of Highway 137. Second, you obviously can’t ask too many people for their recommendation on this one! Take our word for it, though. It’s awesome. You can bring your snorkel mask and have fun seeing all the tropical fish, especially the ones at the wall closest to where the fresh ocean water comes cascading in.
If you sit near the wall on the far right side, facing the ocean, you will enjoy the HOT thermal water streaming in from aquifers that are heated by the nearby volcano. How often do you get to do that? The resulting effect across the entire pond is an average temp of 80+ degrees..and if you get a bit too warm, go swim near the ocean entry and enjoy the cool 78 degree water there.
Our kids love it because there are stairs to walk right in, many parts of the pond have a sandy bottom in about four feet of water, there is a three foot wide underwater bench that lines the right side of the pond, the fish are abundant, and the excitement of getting into the ocean wash without getting sucked out is great. (there is a rope/chain and two lifeguards that stop people from swimming into the channel that leads to the open ocean).
Personally, I enjoy it because I don’t have to worry about my kids as they are good swimmers, I can float around and relax because its 90 degree salt water, and I can get a VERY good swim in with very few people around, even on the weekend.
We have seen some healers holding people in the water and a host of people coming down the evening we were there, getting ready to swim naked under the full moon. If you love a little throwback to the 60’s, come then!
For families: There are lifeguards and showers and picnic facilities. 30 minutes away is Hilo with a ton of different restaurants, including Subway,the new Zippy’s and the family friendly gourmet restaurant, Cafe Pesto.