Painted Church of Kalapana: A Breathtaking Masterpiece Blending Art and Spirituality
This beautiful old church locally called the “Painted Church” of Kalapana is correctly called the Star of the Sea Painted Church. It was in the path of lava destruction to the entire region of Kalapana in the 1990s and was saved and towed to its current location with the dedication of the locals in the area.
The entire church was hauled out in one truckload away from the path of the lava and brought down less than five miles to where it sits now. You can now visit this historic church and interior with its folk inspired artwork beautifully painted on the walls and altar sections of the church.
If you are driving down the scenic Red Road of Kalapana, this is a perfect first stop along the way to view this historic and colorful church.
History of lava eruptions and destruction of Kalapana
The area of Kalapana was a very quiet and peaceful ocean front community with a gorgeous black sand beach and Queen’s Bath along with a small village and the Star of the Sea located in town in this lovely community.
The eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano to the area were affected with the lava flows that started from the Pu’u O’o volcanic eruptions flowing to the ocean and destroying the village area of Kalapana in the 1990s. The village of Kalapana is not around anymore but a small community still lives around Uncle Robert’s and areas that were not inundated with the lava close by.
What’s inside the Star of the Sea in Kalapana?
You’ll love seeing the inside of the church beautifully painted in a primitive style that is colorful and very in tune with the spirit and feeling of this church and location. The painted walls in light blue to darker tones with brown to red highlights tie in the details and harmony of the interior design on the walls, alter and other areas of the church. You’ll find angels with the Virgin Mary and Jesus on the top painted alter frieze and this very cool trompe l’oeil effect of Columns deep into the alter to make it look bigger than life.
The folk-art style of the images, stars and swirls work so well in the interior and captures the ocean and marine environment of the Kalapana region. Two of the stained-glass pieces at the entrance are of the two Catholic Saints to Hawaii, Father Damian and Sister Marianne who both who helped Hansen’s disease or leprosy patients on the island of Molokai. They both died from the disease and where later beatified and made saints by the pope of the Catholic Church.
How to get to the Painted Church
From Pahoa town, drive down Highway 130 for about 9.1 miles towards Kalapana and look for the pale green church right by the roadway with markers on the side of the road. From Hilo town the distance is about 28.9 miles from downtown Hilo.
Weather and best time to visit the Puna district of Hawaii
The Puna District of Hawaii boasts a tropical climate that is characterized by warm temperatures and high humidity throughout the year. The weather in Puna is influenced by its proximity to the ocean and the presence of the island’s active volcano, Kilauea.
In terms of temperature, Puna experiences relatively mild conditions, with average highs ranging from the mid-70s°F (around 24°C) to the low 80s°F (around 27°C) year-round. The evenings tend to be slightly cooler, with temperatures dropping into the 60s°F (around 15-20°C). It’s important to note that temperatures can vary depending on elevation, with higher elevations experiencing cooler temperatures.
Rainfall is a significant factor in Puna’s weather patterns. The district receives a considerable amount of precipitation throughout the year, with rainfall levels peaking during the winter months (November to March). The lush vegetation and vibrant flora are a testament to the abundant rainfall in the region.
When considering the best time to visit the Puna District, it’s essential to keep a few factors in mind. Firstly, if you prefer drier conditions and less rainfall, the summer months (June to September) generally offer a more favorable climate. The trade winds also tend to be stronger during this time, providing relief from the humidity. However, it’s important to note that even during the drier months, sporadic showers can still occur due to the district’s microclimates.
Other things worth seeing around Pahoa and the Puna district
A beautiful drive down the scenic red road and other gorgeous areas and towns of Pahoa and the Puna district are worth spending more visiting visiting. Check out some of the highlights of places to visit below.
An entire guide to visiting the Puna District of Hawaii
Explore the New black sand Beach at Pohoiki Beach and drive past new lava fields on a gravel path right on top of the fields to the black sand beach
Explore MacKenzie State park and enjoy the cliffside views, ironwood groves, lava tubes and spiritual presence in the area.
Explore the new Kapoho black sand beach with no name
Visit Maku’u market and other small farmers markets of Puna. Maku’u market in Pahoa is the largest and there are smaller markets around the Puna district that happen on different days of the week.
Discover Old town Pahoa and shop/dine the new shopping areas of Puna Kai Center and Malama for sundries and other conveniences
Explore Lava Tree State Park – an interesting natural park with lava molds created from rushing lava encasing trees in the area and creating this strange looking tree modes in the park to explore.
Conclusion on Painted Church Kalapana
In conclusion, the Painted Church of Kalapana stands as a breathtaking masterpiece that seamlessly blends art and spirituality. Located in the enchanting Puna District of Hawaii, this historic church captivates visitors with its vibrant and meticulously painted interior. The church’s walls depict intricate biblical scenes and motifs, showcasing the talent and dedication of the artist who adorned them.
Stepping into the Painted Church of Kalapana is like entering a vibrant tapestry of religious devotion and artistic expression. It stands as a testament to the intersection of creativity and faith, inviting visitors to explore and appreciate the beauty that lies within its walls.
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