On our recent trip to Hawaii, we stayed in a flipkey accommodation on the Puna Coast near Pahoa. On a Wednesday night, after seeing the black sand beach at Kaimu and visiting the night markets, I drove the long way home up Highway 137, also know as the “Red Road”.
The sun was setting and the road was fairly deserted, which was lucky as it can get pretty narrow. As you drive under the various tree tunnels it also gets quite dark. I almost ran over two wild pigs that ran out in front of my car.
Now a proper paved road, the ‘Red Road’ got its original name from red cinder pavement used in the past to create the surface of the road. The route takes you right past the ocean and lava cliffs, with many spots to pull over and explore the cliffs and swimming spots, the most famous being Kehena Black Sand Beach, where clothing is optional and the climb down is rough. Since I was on my own doing this drive, and it was getting dark, I didn’t want to climb down to the beach and have some sort of accident (which is highly likely) so I chickened out, and just looked at it from the car park above. We would be visiting other black sand beaches on our trip so I wasn’t too disappointed.
The trees that create tunnels on the road are just amazing, you’ll want to pull over many times to get photos. It was much darker under the foliage than in these images.
I ended up detouring down a very narrow and dark tree lined street to get back to Pahoa, but you can follow the dirt track all the way up to Hawaiian Beaches, past recent lava fields and past more remote and secluded swimming spots. We drove the dirt track during daylight hours, in search of a swimming spot called ‘Natural Lava Swimming Pool’ but even with specific directions we didn’t find it. Instead we drove on to the Champagne Ponds and Kapaho tide pools.
After driving the Red Road I wasn’t going to attempt another off road adventure up the dirt track in a hire car, on my own, after sunset!
Sunset with black beaches and palm trees
The bumpy winding road of Highway 137
Incredible tree tunnels that you may be lucky enough to have all to yourself
Plenty of spots to pull over and explore the cliffs
I never got up early enough to see sunrise, but it would be spectacular from this side of the island.
Dense foliage, where the two black pigs scurried into after crossing the road right in front of me.
Another spot with palm trees silhouetted agains the sunset
Further up Highway 137 you cross some lava fields
This view was seen from the dirt beach access road from Hawaiian Beaches to the paved section of HWY 137.
My ‘ wrong turn’ road, looked ominous but did lead me back to Pahoa!
Lava cliffs just metres from the road
A sign in the front yard of our Hawaiian Beaches accommodation.
Sunset over the Pacific
I never grew tired of looking at the palm tree views
A panorama of the cliffs at the end of our street.