So You Want to Live in Puna

The Puna District is one of the 9 districts that make up the Big Island of Hawaii. Located on the windward side, Puna is just under 320,000 acres or approximately 500 square miles. This is quite a large district and is bigger than the entire island of Kauai! The influence of volcanic activity is evident with the most recent eruption of Kilauea in 2018 that destroyed over 750 homes along the Kalapana Coast. Interestingly enough, despite the dangers of eruptions, the Puna District is currently the fastest growing area in the entire state, and I believe is the last affordable place to purchase real estate in Hawaii!

Puna Districtpuna district big island

The majority of the Puna District is zoned Agricultural and comprised of dense tropical forests, rocky lava seashores, agricultural farmlands, and huge subdivisions of 1-3 acre parcels. There is tremendous growth happening with both population and housing construction with the availability of tons of single-family homes and residential-sized lots at relatively inexpensive prices. In addition to low prices, Puna’s location is close to Hilo for airport convenience, employment, shopping, and more.

Pahoa, Hawaii

The main headquarters of the Puna District is the funky town of Pahoa. Pahoa is an eclectic little village consisting of whimsical little shops and some great restaurants in the charming older downtown area. Other conveniences include a post office, banks, grocery stores, organic food market, gyms, fast food, and gas stations. The new Puna Kai Shopping Center just opened this year with even more shopping, restaurants and even has a Veterinary Hospital! Although Pahoa is the main town, there are several others that provide all these conveniences for those living in the outlying areas. Keeau and Volcano are two that come to mind that service upper Puna. So, if you choose to live a bit more remotely you will still be close to banks, groceries, hardware stores, and other daily needs located within minutes from the many subdivisions of this area.

puna distict on hawaii island

Beaches in Puna

One question I get quite often is about beaches. There are very few swimming beaches located in the Puna District. Kehena Black Sand Beach is one where you can actually get into the water and swim. That is when the ocean is calm as high surf and strong undercurrents are the norm. This secluded beach is surrounded by small cliffs, and to get there, one has to climb down a rocky trail. Although nude beaches are not legal in Hawaii, please be aware that Kehena is a clothing-optional beach. Other than Kehena Beach, there are several areas known as Mermaid Ponds along the jagged lava coastline. These are essentially large tide ponds that one can get into and cool off when the ocean is calm.

big island black sand beach

Volcanoes in Puna

Most of the Volcano National Park is located in the Puna District, although the entrance is in the neighboring Kau District. Here one can see the Kilauea Caldera currently erupting right now! There are many hikes to be taken here, including the Puna Coast Trail. The Volcano House Restaurant is fabulous and overlooks the Kilauea Caldera. So if you choose to live in Volcano Village, you have this amazing National Park to visit for both hiking and dining just a few miles away!

big island lava flow

Real Estate in Puna, Hawaii

When thinking about real estate, one can choose between the Upper and Lower Puna areas. Both are quite different regarding weather, temperature, and rainfall. Keaau, Pahoa, and Kalapana are located in Lower Puna, offering less rain, higher temperatures, and close proximity to shorelines. Mountain View, Kurtistown, Glenwood, and Volcano are located at higher elevations offering cooler temperatures and more rain. With sufficient rain to keep your catchment tank full and plenty of sunny days, Puna offers many diverse areas to choose from and amazingly affordable living for those who want to live in Hawaii!

puna big island tropical plants

Lower Puna Subdivisions

Some of the main subdivisions of Lower Puna include Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaiian Shores, Hawaiian Beaches, Orchidland Estates, Ainaloa, and Kalapana.

Upper Puna Subdivisions

Some of the main subdivisions of Upper Puna include Hawaiian Acres, Fern Forest Estates, Eden Roc Estates, Royal Hawaiian Estates, and Volcano Village.

Life in Puna

Utilities vary from one subdivision to the next. Some have all, and some have none! Almost all areas use catchment water systems for water unless you live in a town directly. Some subdivisions have paved roads, while others are dirt and gravel. Off-grid living has become more and more common in certain areas with better photovoltaic systems available and better satellite internet developments. I both live and work in the Puna District. My home is on three acres in the rainforest with high-speed internet, overhead electric, and catchment water. I have chickens, dogs, and an established orchard with many fruit trees. Life in Puna is both magical and serene with a wide variety of birdlife, ample rain to keep the catchment tank full, and plenty of warm sunny days too. From the shoreline to the rain forest, there is a place for you in Puna, and I will help you find it!

Want to Know More?

Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have regarding homes and land currently available in the Puna District. I look forward to helping you find the perfect property on the Big Island of Hawaii.

P.S.: Watch for my next blog that will go into more details about the many subdivisions of Puna.

Read More of My Blogs:

Embracing the Big Island Lifestyle
Buying Property in Lava Hazard Zones 1 & 2
Big Island of Hawaii Real Estate Market in Overdrive!

About the Author

Lisa Heaviside

Lisa Heaviside is a REALTOR Salesperson with Hawai'i Life. I have over 20years of experience as a licensed Realtor in the state of Hawaii since 2003. When you choose me to help you Sell or Buy your Big Island Property, you can be confident you are dealing with a knowledgeable and experienced professional who consistently delivers an exemplary level of service. Throughout my career, I have refined my skills as a savvy negotiator and strive to deliver maximum value for my clients. I seek to create lasting relationships with each client I meet with and advise. Consequently, I have turned many satisfied clients into great friends. Please keep me in mind if you should ever decide to sell your Big Island property or looking to purchase. I offer excellent communication skills with a commitment to personal excellence and client satisfaction. You can email me at or via phone at (808) 987-3791.

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August 3, 2021

I think you did a great job with this article and that you are truly an amazing agent!


August 8, 2021

As far as I understand, Mermaid ponds are not accessable anymore


December 28, 2021

Enjoyed your article, you did leave out one or two items. Nanawale Est. Which most people I’ve met didn’t know it has county water supply. Also There is Lava Trees Park, hwy 132. A small but very unique look into the past. Aloha

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