To most people from the mainland, the 50th state conjures images of honeymoons, mai tais, and Magnum, P.I.; but along the southeastern coast of the Big Island, you’ll find a Hawaii that has largely managed to avoid tourism and its tired trappings. Here, you’re more likely to see a family of wild pigs foraging on the roadside than a family of golfers headed to tee-off; shirts and shoes are never required for service; conversations are peppered with pidgin; and the way station serves as a hub of local trade. Puna, as the region is known, was already off the beaten path when the 1990 lava flows closed part of the major highway that circumnavigates the island and further isolated this remote stretch. But no one is complaining—in fact, it’s why they’re here.
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