Drive the Scenic Red Road or the Kalapana Kapoho road in the Puna District of Hawaii

The famous Red Road in the Puna District used to actually be a red asphalt road before it was made larger and is now a black top, but the road is still called the Red Road by locals more so than the Kalapana – Kapoho road in which the Kapoho section is now buried under thousands of acres of new lava fields in the lower sections of the Puna coastline.

Drive the Scenic Red Road in the Puna District of Hawaii

A little history of the Kalapana Kapoho road

One of the most scenic drives you can do in East Hawaii, the Kalapana Kapoho road is a famous stretch of road that started from Kalapana to Kapoho area which was inundated with lava in 2018 and now stops at the beach area of Isaac Hale Beach park better known as Pohoiki. The road was originally a real red asphalt road made with red cinders from the area and repaved black to expland the lanes which were mostly one lane red road throughout the district. Even without the red road and the lava destruction through the area, the remaining roadway is magical with tree tunnels, lush forests, hidden coves and beaches and a gorgeous coastline to drive through and spend a day in the many hidden spots like Kehena beach, MacKenzie State Park and the Painted Church at Kalapana.

How to get to the Red Road

The Red Road typically starts at Kalapana – around the end of cul de sac at Uncle Roberts and extends all the way to the new black sand beach at Pohoiki. From Pahoa town, head down from Hwy 130 and left right at the Junction Hwy 137 which you will follow at the start of the Red Road, aka Kalapana – Kapoho road.

How to get to the Red Road

It’s all about the drive on the Red Road

The road winds through lush forests areas with tree tunnels, small beach coves and other hidden beaches and that stunning coastline lined with so many coconut trees swaying to the wind. It’s intoxicating and easy to stop at so many beautiful spots along the way to just enjoy the views and take some amazing photographs of the area.

What to see and visit along the Red Road

Places to visit along the Red Road

Stops to visit along the way

The entire drive on the red road is quite scenic but there are a few must visit places to enjoy along the way that you might want to visit on your red road experience.

1. Kaimu Black Sand Beach

From Uncle Roberts Kalapana, you can hike to the new black sand beach that changes from black sand to rocks and back depending on the tides and season. The hike there is lined with coconut trees and other staple food plants to show the conditions of plants that can be grown for food in the area. There is also a Saturday farmers market in the parking lot area at Uncle Roberts.

Kaimu Black Sand Beach

Kaimu Beach 5

2. Kehena Black Sand Beach

Kehena beach is the main black sand beach that is a popular beach hang out on the Puna coastline and is a clothing optional beach. Nice and secluded with these cliffs you climb down to a gorgeous black sand beach to enjoy. Just be careful and follow the locals into the water because the ocean tides and currents are sometimes difficult to get into the water.

There are a few vendors above the cliffs that sell coconuts and other refreshments or snacks if you didn’t bring any.

Kehena Black Sand Beach

3. MacKenzi State Park

The MacKenzi State Park along the red road towards Pohoiki beach is a fantastic place to do some easy short coastal hikes. The shoreline here is dramatic with rugged lava rock cliffs that end abruptly into the ocean which hits them relentlessly and brings up huge sprays in a water show. It’s fun to walk through and capture some gorgeous vistas of the coastline from here.

Kehena Black Sand Beach

Mackenzie cliffs and coastline
Mackenzie cliffs and coastline

4. Visiting Pohoiki Beach Park

The route going through to Pohoiki Beach park aka Isaac Hale beach park is fascinating and drives over 3 year old lava fields that devastated the area in 2018 and you go from lush forests and tree tunnels in barren and undulating lava rock fields. Finally at the end, make a right into the beach park to explore the new black sand beach at Pohoiki, the expansive beach area and also the many hot pond pools along the perimeter of the beach and jungle area to explore. There’s also a very cool labyrinth right on the beach to do close to the lifeguard station.

Visiting Pohoiki Beach Park

Do the labyrinth at Pohoiki beach
Do the labyrinth at Pohoiki beach

5. Uncle Roberts Saturday Market

The popular Uncle Robert’s Awa bar hosts a fun weekend market at their parking lot on Saturdays with a variety of local vendors selling foods, crafts, massage and other unique finds from the area that you’ll love exploring more of the alternative lifestyle and fun happening Saturday morning to early afternoon in the area.

Details to visiting the Red Road at Kalapana Kapoho road.

Take your time driving the road, the speed limit is just 25 miles here.

There’s lots of lovely turnouts and beautiful coves, tree tunnels and gorgeous views, please park at the side of the road where it is safe to get out.

There’s a few fruit, plant and products stands that are mostly on credit/trust payment, please pay what you owe

If you are parking and exploring, make sure you do not leave any valuables or other personal belongings in the car interior that can be stolen.

Details to visiting the Red Road

Further reading for Puna area attractions

Explore the black sand beach at Pohoiki Isaac Hale Beach Park

Visit the botanical garden and historic Lava Tree State Park

Beach time at Kehena Beach

Enjoy the colorful interiors and history of the Painted Church in Kalapana

Explore old and new Pahoa Town

Explore the new Kapoho black sand beach with no name

Visit the Sunday Maku’u market outside Pahoa

Visit the gorgeous cliffs at MacKenzie State Park

Explore East Hawaii and the Puna District

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Noel Morata this Hawaii Life

Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.