When Kilauea erupted in 1960, the entire town of Kapoho burned to the ground with the sole exception of a lighthouse. Nearly 100 homes were swallowed by the lava, and the entire community opted to move elsewhere as opposed to rebuild the town. Ironically, however, while nature may have destroyed this town, it’s also the reason that visitors to Hilo still flock here with masks, fins, and snorkels.
Along the coastline where Kapoho once stood, a series of tidepools offer the best snorkeling on the eastern shore of the Big Island. Unlike Hilo which can be rainy and wet, this eastern outpost is often sunny when Hilo is drenched in drizzle, and the protected tidepools offer clear waters that teem with colorful fish. Nearby, at the Champagne Pond, thermal vents help heat the water of this naturally spring fed pool, and it’s the perfect spot for unwinding in nature when the mists of a storm roll in. More easily accessible than Champagne Pond is Ahalanui Park, a public park where a volcanically heated pool sits right on the edge of the ocean. The temperatures can rise to 90degrees and the pool has a soft sand bottom, and small fish can enter the pond through a narrow connection with the sea.