How much would you pay to spend the day at a huge warm mineral springs under palm trees by the blue Pacific? At Ahalanui Warm Pond Park on the Puna Coast the answer is nada, zilch, zero. This beauty about 45 minutes from Hilo is a freebie.
The man-enchanced seaside pool is heated by geothermal energy to around body temperature. An underground channel from Kilauea Volcano's east rift zone provides warm water, which used to be chilly until a 1960 eruption altered the subterranean waterworks. High tide brings slightly cooler water, but the core temperature is set by Pele's (the volcano goddess) mood swings. The park's palm-shaded picnic tables are perfect for lunch.
The Puna Coast offers several other warm pools, as well as one of the most scenic drives in Hawaii. This is also the area to view flowing lava. See Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer for details, pages 156 to 162.