When you get back to Highway 137 in Puna take a left and head south toward our next stop, Ahalanui Park. The road begins to narrow after mile marker 10, so be prepared to scoot over a bit to let others by. Also, it is considered good form to allow other drivers who are in more of a hurry to pass you. Ahalanui and its thermally heated waters is makai between the 10 and 11 mile markers. The 1.3-acre park is sublimely peaceful with its giant swaying palm trees and ocean views. It was opened by the county in 1993 and features a large thermal pond with a sandy bottom which has been outfitted with cement walls and access ladders. A small inlet allows ocean water to flow in and out with the tides while keeping the temperature around 90 degrees. There are picnic tables, barbecue pits and portable toilets available. The parking lot is open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Not to rain on your relaxation parade, but there are a few things you should know about thermally heated ponds. The comfortable warm water presents a threat.. bacterial infection. While it doesn't sound glamorous or paradise-like in any way, it is nevertheless a fact of life. Many types of bacteria can breed in warm water. While some are harmless, others like Vibrio vulnificus are resistant to antibiotics and have resulted in death. Do not swim in heated pools if you have open cuts, sores or a compromised immune system. Pay close attention to any warning signs and feel free to ask the life guard on duty about any potential risks. Eels also make their homes in the rock crevices along the pool. While not extremely common, the eels do bite when disturbed. Take Highway 130 south from Pahoa. When it dead ends at Highway 137, turn right. The Park is located on the left, just past Mile Marker #10.

Article Edited/Contributed by: John C. Derrick

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