Hawaii Road Trip: South Point, Panualu’u Bake Shop and Black Sand Beach, Onomea Scenic Drive

Big Island – Day 3

After attending my cousins wedding the previous night, we got up slowly and prepared for a long day. We checked out of our condo to head to the apartment we rented via VRBO.com on the Hilo side of the island in Honomu near Akaka Falls. It would be a 1.5 hour drive if we drive across the north end of the island, but I though it would be our opportunity to explore other parts of the island on our way to Honomu.

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So our 1.5 hour drive turned into a 4.5 drive (if we didn’t make any stops). In one day, we drove from boring Kona, through lush greenery, and then gloomy rain.

1. From Island Lava Java Bistro and Brew to Costco = ~34 Minute Drive

After breakfast at Island Lava Java Bistro and Brew near our condo we headed south to Costco to pick up water and snacks. The drive basically takes us pass all of the resort area entrances, and the Kona International Airport.

Driving in Kona is boring and is not the image of Hawaii we would usually imagine. It’s like driving through a dessert (but is amazing when the ocean is in the horizon).

2. Costco to South Point = ~1 Hour 45 Minute Drive

We had already explored the south western side of the island by going to a coffee farm, and a couple beaches in the area. We simply drove pass that and headed to South Point. South Point wasn’t originally on my agenda but I read about it in a magazine at our condo and decided to go check it out.

Kalae South Point, The Southern Most Point in the USA, Cliff Diving Spot

The southern coast of the Big Island

South Point (Ka Lae in Hawaii) is the southernmost point of the Big Island and in the United States. The area is registered as a National Historic Landmark District under the name South Point Complex. It is known for its strong ocean currents and winds, and I guess that makes the area perfect for a wind farm.


A lone car on a narrow road and the wind farm.

Check out my next post for more about Kalae South Point

3. South Point to Punalu’u Bake Shop = ~28 Minute Drive

After finally having enough of the wind we backtracked up South Point Road and headed to the “Southern Most Bakery in the USA!”, Punalu’u Bake Shop for some malasada donuts.


Their sign says it all! Thank you Dad for getting this picture of the sign for us.

After having some amazing malasada donuts at Leonards in Oahu, I wanted more and read quite a few reviews about this place. It’s a perfect stop for anyone heading to the Volcano Park from Kona.


We picked up a box with an assortment of flavors and tried some of them in a gazebo right outside of the bake shop. They were good, but not as good as the fresh malasadas we had at Leonards. The biggest difference was that the flavors were in the dough instead of the filling (some of their malasadas has flavored fillings but we didn’t get very many). It just wasn’t as doughie as I preferred.

We ended up so disappointed that we did not try out the third malasada place I had on my list: Tex Drive-In. Or should we have gone to Tex Drive-In anyways?

Pictured below is a malasada with apple filling, and the other is the taro malasada. Punalu’u Bake Shop also sells quite a few other baked goods, coffee, and souvenirs.

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Punalu’u Bake Shop
5642 Mamalahoa Hwy
Naalehu, HI 96772

4. Punalu’u Bake Shop to Punalu’u Black Sand Beach = ~11 Minute Drive

Since we were already in Punalu’u, why not head over to the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. We’ve been to quite a few white sand beaches and saw a green sand beach at South Point, and now for a Black Sand Beach.


Just like any beach with palm trees in the background…just with black sand.

I really wanted to come here because I was told that we will definitely see Sea Turtles and I knew my Sister would be super excited about that.


The black sand was even darker then I imagined

The black sand was absolutely beautiful. It felt like the soft white sand except it wasn’t white sand. Beach goes were just enjoying their afternoon on the beach just like any other beach. And I was starting to get a little disappointed because I didn’t see the turtles as promised.

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A few sea turtles just lined up on the back relaxing. It was actually kind of fun just waiting for one to move. One finally lifted its head a little (that’ll do)

As we walked along the beach, there they were! There were 4 sea turtles lined up facing us on the beach and several others in the water.

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
Ninole Loop Rd
Hawaii 96772
LoveBigIsland.com (one of favorite sources for Big Island info)

5. Punalu’u Black Sand Beach to Onomea Scenic Drive = ~1 Hour 30 Minute Drive

After playing at the beach for a little bit, we were getting ready to head to our apartment in Honomu, but we made a quick detour first. Instead of continuing on Hwy 19, I turned onto a smaller street labeled as “Scenic Route.”

140831e_OnomeaScenicDrive11I’d read about this scenic route a few times while doing research and had originally planned to go down this road when we were going to the Botanical Garden (located on the Onomea Scenic Drive) but I couldn’t help but to take the “Scenic Route” when I saw the sign. I was actually a little concerned with not being able to find it.


One of the few single lane bridges. Stop and watch out for cars before proceeding onto the bridge.

The route is only a 4 mile route along the Hāmākua Coast and as this blog (Instant Hawaii) stated it is a “must do drive.” It is a curvy and narrow (sometimes only enough for 1 car) road that hugs the coast but that’s not all, you’ll find yourself driving through a forest with streams running through. We didn’t make any stops during this drive but we sure did want to stop for some pictures.

6. Onomea Scenic Drive to Hilo Sharks Coffee Onomu = ~12 Minute Drive


The weather changed, and just before it started to rain


Our car parked right outside of the Hilo Shark Coffee Honomu. Our apartment on the second floor. Doesn’t look like much, but it’s quite nice and clean inside.

As we were leaving the Onomea Scenic Drive, it started to rain (the Kona side of the island rains a lot). By now, I was kind of rushing because we needed to get to Hilo Sharks Coffee Honomu by 4:30pm (the coffee shop closes at 4:30) to get the key to our apartment upstairs from the coffee shop.

We got there at 4:40pm and they were closed. I called our contact and she gave me the code get the key from the lock box. So in the end, there was no need to rush…by then I was exhausted from all of the driving and didn’t really want to do anything. We had picked up some instant noodle (not from Costco) earlier and that made for a dinner in our apartment.

Hilo Sharks Coffee (Honomu)
28-1672 Old Mamalahoa Hwy
Honomu, HI 96728

P.S. We made it all the way around the island (in 2 days). We drove back over to the Kona side of the island the next day. Check out my next posts to see why.


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