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What to Do

Los Angeles
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What to Do

Hello all,

We visited the Big Island in 2007 and 2008, and plan to return again in May. We've stayed in the Keauhou and Hilo areas, and this time we're renting a house near Pahoa. We didn't see much of Volcano during our other trips, so that's part of the plan.

We have been in Pahoa and driven down to Kapoho (and to South Point). We know about Champagne Pond, tide pools, Alanui, music jams, farmers markets, etc. Other than these places and Volcano, what else can anyone recommend on that end of the island?

We are not big beach people, but do go for most things unexpected and unusual. I understand you can no longer drive to the green sand beach -- and there is a long hike involved -- so we may skip that. Anything that would give us the chance to talk to locals (the ones who want to talk to us) would be welcomed.

Thanks for your help!

Hawaii
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1. Re: What to Do

Hi, sorry to see your topic dropped down the page without replies.

Where are you staying? "Pahoa" can mean a broad area. Which subdivision?

A lot has changed since 2007-8, a lot more population in Puna has come with the real estate crash and low prices, although some left during the lava flow threat.

I think Champagne Pond is dirty and Ahalanui is dirtier. This is a bad area for people having staph infections and then bathing in these warm ponds that breed staph perfectly. I would pass on that.

Uncle Robert's in Kalapana for the night market and Saturday market, Maku'u on Sunday, a Pahoa market on Sunday.

Isaac Hale is a much improved park now, though I think that predates your last stay.

You could never legally drive to Papakolea (most commonly known olivine sand beach). It was always trespassing. Now you cannot drive down South Point Road, which is an additional restriction and to most a dealbreaker, without voiding your rental contract and your car insurance coverage.

There are transplanted residents and there are locals, not to be confused with each other. The older locals (kupuna) often love to talk story and are a delight and a trove of fantastic memories. Sometimes just going in a store or a business, or to any spot where people spend time and are just hanging out, is a good place to talk.

I would check out online calendars and the papers, including free papers like Big Island Weekly that is found in markets and some other places, for announcements of events. Some events are regularly repeated, while others are special one time only that you might luck out to see with your timing.

Punaweb.org forum has an events forum too.

I think events are a great way to see people when they are out and about and up for socializing, plus the event itself will showcase something about the local culture.

Hawaii
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2. Re: What to Do

Ah, I just connected you with your earlier topic, You are staying in Leilani Estates, right? Very close to Pahoa, OK.

Your question here is tough to answer, IMO, because all the public stuff in the lowr Puna area can be done in one day or two. I would stay there to kick back, and wouldn't expect a lot to do beyond what you already mentioned you know about.

There are people gardening, writing, creating art in their homes, which I find interesting, but they are in the private sector. This is the type of area where a B&B with a host can be a good idea because you get introductions. You can certainly try your rental host.

Don't forget Kalani Honua retreat has offerings. Check out flyers and posters in shop windows too. Ask the business owners your question. Go sit in a coffee shop, bakery, bar, any place where people hang when they have time on their hands.

I generally find that paths open up when you ask someone, and they tell you to ask someone else, and you do that, and one thing leads to another. Usually it takes time before you really start to get inside a place like that, time to make connections, receive invitations.

Consider volunteering somewhere for a day. Volunteering shows you have the right spirit and attracts others to you.

Edited: 8:24 pm, December 10, 2015
SW Virginia
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3. Re: What to Do

If you are going to be there on a Sunday, you might want to consider going to a local church, especially a Unitarian-Universalist one, which Puna has. They are usually a very warm and welcoming congregation!

Los Angeles
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4. Re: What to Do

Thanks everybody.

KamaainaK, if Champagne Pond and Alanui are icky, are there other warm pools that are open to the public?

These places were a big draw for me, and it's too bad they may not be as I expected.

Can I conclude from your post that those who've moved to the Pahoa area over the latest 7-8 years may not be very friendly?

I like your suggestions. Didn't know about the retreat, so I will check it out.

I really hope the area hasn't turned into something unpleasant. I remember it as beautiful and quiet.

Edited: 3:37 am, December 12, 2015
Hawaii
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5. Re: What to Do

Hi, no, I don't at all mean that recent arrivals are unfriendly. That sentence started out with one thought and turned into something else, sorry. I just meant there are different cultures of people living in the area that you might encounter and mingle with. Cannot and don't wish to make sweeping generalizations about whether any group is friendly or unfriendly. People are individuals.

"Transplants" here are in some ways facing similar situations to ex-pats, and expats often like to form social groups and talk to each other, although some just want immersion in the new. So they ought to be friendly.

I find it a real treat though to get to see the island through the eyes of someone who grew up here. And the local culture has an easy friendly way.

It's pretty easy to gauge whether someone wants to talk.

The quickest way to turn islanders off is to start talking about life on the mainland. They don't care. Unless it's about Vegas. ;-)

Hawaii
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6. Re: What to Do

I don't swim in any warm pools. As Shea likes to say, petri dishes. Brackish warm water is an optimal environment for staph and flesh-eating bacteria. I've just met too many people with bad experiences. People who point to where toes used to be ...

Whatever you choose to do, if you have a break in your skin, keep it very clean and that is not the time to go in any ponds.

Burr Ridge, Illinois
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7. Re: What to Do

Here is an interesting link that gives good advice on enjoying and being careful with the warm pools on the Big Island.

http://www.lovebigisland.com/hot-ponds/

Proper precautions can make hot ponds and springs an enjoyable experience. As this piece explains, "There are hundreds of people (including many tourists) using the ponds each day that are not affected."

If concerned about infection, which you should be, then swimming in any warm water can be a problem with a cut. Here is a news report on dangers of swimming in warm ocean water. "But now a survey of state health departments by NRNS finds the number of wound infections increasing rapidly in more northerly states." https://www.dcbureau.org/20070522711/natural…

Here are some other swimming holes that may interest you. http://www.swimmingholes.org/hi.html

Visiting the Big Island without jumping in a hot pool is like visiting New Orleans and not eating a beignet because they make you fat. For me, I don't like public pools or hot tubs, but that is me.

Hawaii Water Dangers – Tsunami, Waves, Jellyfish, Urchins, More! Is a good read. aimforawesome.com/hawaii/…

This year more people have been bitten by sharks, stung by jelly fish, and lost in currents on the Hawaiian Islands than have lost body parts enjoying popular hot water swimming on the Big Island.

While I'm not going to jump in a public hot tub research shows that with proper precautions these pools aren't any more dangerous(repeating -with proper precautions), than getting in the ocean or the hotel hot tub at the end of the day.

Read. Research. Make the decision to do what is comfortable for you! One dip with care will not kill you - probably! Then again, life without calculated risk isn't worth living.

Edited: 11:11 am, December 12, 2015
Burr Ridge, Illinois
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8. Re: What to Do

KamaainaK - While my response isn't Hemmingway prose, thanks to your input I'm working on improving my posts! I know you are an avid reader and I respect that as I'm a voracious reader and a half @$$ed writer.

I appreciate your input as I strive to improve!

I'm headed to the Big Island this week for a few days before the holiday and I hope I can check out these ponds as it has been a few years. But, no swimming for me.

Big Island, Hawaii
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9. Re: What to Do

All it takes for me to decide to skip it is seeing all of the - well, let's be kind and go with "less than clean"- people using Ahalanui as a bathtub. Between that and the not uncommon flesh eating bacteria, there are about 1,054 things I'd rather do while on the island. A beignet (or malasada, if you will) it is not.

Hawaii
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10. Re: What to Do

Epicurean, your prose is excellent. Don't be silly. If I spar with you a little on logical leaps, it's because I respect your intelligence and think you are up to it.

You're right that one dip is not odds on to kill. Very true.

My awareness of MRSA and necrotizing fasciitis spiked after moving here. First I watched one of sons go through a battle with recurring MRSA, and listened to what the medical pros said to him about the warm ponds. They told him they see it from the warm ponds all the time.

When my son's MRSA recurred, he went to urgent care and they told him that vancomycin is the last line of defense and it was in such short supply and required a hospital bed (for the IV), that it was reserved for patients with an imminent risk of death.

When I first moved here, the doctors used Augmentin, an augmented form of a cillin AB. Not long after, I was told by urgent care they don't bother any more. The staph here is too resistant. They go straight to clindamycin, or some stay with Bactrim. I am allergic to Bactrim, so I have to be careful.

Around that time, the now out of print Hawai'i Island Journal ran an excellent article on how the warm ponds of the island were perfect breeding grounds for CA-MRSA. (Community acquired MRSA).

I've talked to various nurses and physical therapists and others, and I see patterns. One very fit young yoga teacher and massage therapist told me how within an hour of swimming at Richardson's one time, an infection set in that was growing in leaps and bounds, that required her to stop everything and go get a shot of AB. Her immune system was still perfect. Not everyone responds.

I've been told how "all the kids" who lived in Keaukaha would go back to school after summer vacation with staph infections.

My husband got one from some little puncture in the yard, that went septic in a matter of hours, such that they put him in a medically induced coma for 2-3 weeks and he barely survived. So a pond is not required!

I was sitting in the Pahoa Bay Clinic parking lot waiting for a friend to come out of an appointment. This 20-something kid was telling his friend how tired he was of recurring MRSA, and treating it again. He was currently doing all his MRSA-infected laundry at the Pahoa laundromat next door to the clinic while getting seen for it. That made me feel ill. I hope the water at the laundromat is very hot.

My friend who is an herbalist at the natural foods store, says he constantly sees people with open staph sores who refuse to take antibiotics and want a natural cure. Very common here. Problem is this stuff is very contagious.

Lots of people in Puna don't have homes; they are camping or squatting. Or don't have power of any kind. They get infections. They use the warm ponds as bathtubs. People with oozing infectious sores. Too graphic? People have the idea that soaking in the ponds is therapeutic, so sick people flock to them.

I was swimming at Champagne Cove and Wai Opae in 2005-07. There were just too many horror stories around so I decided to take my risks elsewhere. That does not mean that it's certain death. But conversely, the fact that people take dips and come out just fine, does not mean the concerns are unwarranted.