Oscar's Hot Springs Photos
(page 2 of 6)

The photos on this page were taken on my visits to Hawaii, in October 1999 and May 2000. All are from the Puna district of the Big Island of Hawaii, southeast of Hilo and downhill from the Kilauea volcano. They cover some hot springs and steam caves that until recently were relatively unpublicized in the hot springs community. The 2001 edition of Marjorie Gersh-Young's Hot Springs and Hot Pools of the Southwest guidebook added a chapter on Hawaii, to which I contributed some of the photos shown below, and other information. Skip Hill also published an article in the Winter 2000 issue (#28) of the Hot Springs Gazette (as well as also contributing to the Gersh-Young guidebook's new Hawaii chapter), about his own hot springs tour of the Big Island.

The two springs pictured below are the best-known sites in the Puna district, Pohoiki in Isaac Hale Beach Park, and Ahalanui in an adjacent county park. But there reportedly are dozens more hot or warm springs along the coast between Cape Kumukahi and Kaimu (not counting the ones southwest of Kaimu, and also one near Kapoho, overrun by recent lava flows, such as Queen's Bath near the former coastal entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park). One of them, the Champagne Pond near Kapoho, was spotted by another soaker, and written up in the 2004 edition of the Gersh-Young guidebook.

I looked for but could not find a hot spring said to be along the coast about three miles northeast of the Isaac Hale park. Another is supposed to be in Opihikao. Those and others await adventurous hot springers visiting the Big Island.

The water in these springs comes mainly from a large "lens" of volcano-heated groundwater, which floats atop subsurface salt water (salt water also seeps into the springs from adjacent ocean waters), as discussed in a short article by the Hawaii Volcano Observatory.

There is also a group of steam caves and vents in a state forest off highway 130 southeast of Pahoa, which make nice natural saunas. Those caves are pictured and described (with GPS readings for two of the larger ones) below. In addition, there reportedly are other steam vents in various places around the Kilauea volcano, which I have not visited, that might also be good steam baths.

In addition to my visits to the Puna district's hot springs and steam caves, I took a few pictures of black-sand Kehana Beach on the Puna coast, which seems to be a favorite beach of many of the people who also visit the springs and caves.

NOTE: In case you want more detail, you can click any photo below to view an enlarged, higher-quality (less .jpg compression) version. Those alternate versions have larger file sizes, so please be patient while they download.

Go back to photos page 1 (Colorado)
Continue to photos page 3 (Alaska)
Continue to photos page 4 (Puerto Rico)
Continue to photos page 5 (California)
Continue to photos page 6 (Arizona/New Mexico -- some artistic nudity)

Warnings: Many of Hawaii's hot springs and steam caves/vents, besides the ones pictured below, may be on private property and closed to the general public. Watch for "kapu" (Hawaiian for "no trespassing") signs.

Also, the steam caves and vents below, and others in the area, can be dangerous to the incautious, especially for those who stray too far from cave entrances or slide too far into vents, and are overcome by the heat before they can get out (one woman died that way in 1992), or who fall on the steep and/or slippery trails up into the basalt cones where the caves and vents are usually located.


The small but oft-visited Pohoiki Hot Spring (sometimes called "Warm Pond") in Isaac Hale Beach Park, on the coast east of Pahoa. It's an easy walk about 400 feet down the shore from the park's boat ramp, and about 50 feet inland. The spring is about 98°, about four feet deep (plus or minus a foot), with room to comfortably fit about half a dozen people. (October 1999)
Another view of the Pohoiki spring, this time with me in it, on a busy weekday morning just after a few fellow soakers stepped out to dry off. (May 2000)

GPS: 19° 27.492' N, 154° 50.602' W

The Pohoiki spring is close enough to the ocean for you to watch the surfers ride the waves.


More popular is the nearby, larger and more developed (even has a lifeguard, most of the hours it's open) Ahalanui Hot Spring (also called Pu'ala'a) in a county park about one mile north of the boat ramp at Isaac Hale Beach Park. The spring has a narrow outlet to the ocean, so its temperature and depth (up to 8 feet at its deep end, but usually wadeable at its shallow end) vary with the tides. (October 1999)
An ultrawideangle view of the Ahalanui pool, from its shallower southern end, near the inlet to the ocean (on the right, behind the barricade). The temperature in the shallow end ranges from 95-97°. (May 2000)
A closer look at the ocean inlet for the Ahalanui pool, as a small wave trickles from the ocean into the pool. (May 2000)


Pahoa Steam Caves

Steam rising from the basalt cones in the woods of the Keauohana Forest Reserve southeast of Pahoa off Highway 130, where the Pahoa Steam Caves are located. The caves and vents are within 500 feet of the highway, from the "scenic view" pulloff at milepost 15 (the road has since been straightened and so the mileage is off, but Hawaii DOT assures me the mileposts are going to stay put for awhile). (October 1999)
This small one-seat open-air steam vent appears to be the closest to the road of the several vents and caves in the area. (May 2000)

This is the steam cave most distant from the road (also the hottest and most humid -- the temperature feels like it's over 150°, making for a good natural sauna -- though temperature and humidity vary quite a bit day to day, and sometimes the heat and steam are too much to bear). Volunteers provided not only a ladder down to the cave entrance, but also a changing bench up top, and a small bench to sit on inside the cave The cave itself holds about three or four people maximum, with a low ceiling -- not for claustrophobes, and certainly the wrong place to be if Madame Pele (goddess of fire, said to be now hanging out at the nearby Kilauea volcano) is having a hissy fit. (May 2000)
Me, climbing down the ladder to the cave entrance, about 15 feet down from the changing bench. (No need to bother with the glasses, they fog up really fast down in the cave.) This cave, like the others, is in a small volcanic splatter cone, reportedly created in the 1950s in one of many recent eruptions of the Kilauea volcano. This is about 25 miles from the main caldera, but right on top of Kilauea's East Rift Zone which is also very active. (October 1999)

GPS: 19°26.431' N, 154°56.527' W

This second steam cave, about 150 feet closer to the road than the previous one, is also roomier, better lit (with the skylight), cooler, and less humid. (May 2000)

GPS: 19°26.418' N, 154°56.555' W

On the other hand, the cave entrance is much smaller. This skinny young woman (yes, really -- I couldn't get a more flattering camera angle) could easily crawl in on all fours, though most find it easier to slide in on their backs, feet first. "Rounder" people like me have to slide in sideways. (May 2000)
Another view of the cave entrance, with my walking stick to the left. (May 2000)


Kehana Beach photos

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 or go directly to:

Page 4 (Puerto Rico) · Page 5 (California) · Page 6 (Arizona/New Mexico -- some artistic nudity)

my Hot Springs main page · my favorite springs, and others I've visited ·
more hot springs information

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© 1999-2002, 2004, 2006-2007 Oscar Voss