About MacKenzie State Recreation Area on Hilo & East Island, Hawaii
MacKenzie State Recreation Area is small forested and beachless state park on the coast of the Puna District. The area outside of the park is Malama Ki Forest Reserve and is densely forested too. Because this area is so far off the beaten path and doesn’t have a beach, this park gets few visitors (more on that below).
Although the park is only 13 acres in size the shoreline is open for hiking in both directions outside the park boundaries on a part of the old King’s Highway. An old trail along the shore is still visible in most places. To the northeast the walking is great until you encounter the jagged lava flow from 2018 in about 400 yards. This massive and fast flowing lava flow, which wiped out part of the forest reserve, luckily spared MacKenzie Park. Walking along the shore southwest from the park is open for a mile to where it connects with an old section of road that parallels Highway 137. Look for the ruins of a heiau along this western section.
Don’t try to swim at MacKenzie Park as the waves and currents are too strong. People falling into the water here have drowned before. Instead, just explore the park looking for lava tubes and caves in the rock walls and lava rock floor of the park.
The park is named for Albert J. W. MacKenzie a forest ranger who died in 1938 at the age of 20. He was responsible for planting some of the ironwood trees that still dominate the park today. The park was previously cleared of trees and rocks by prison labor in the 1800’s
The park is located on what is now a dead-end road due to the 2018 lava flow. This is one of the reasons this park gets so few visitors. The best way to get there is from the town of Pahoa. From that town go south on Highway 130 and then turn left onto Kamaili Road which ends at Kapoho-Kalapana Road (Hwy 137) on the ocean. Turn left there and drive 1.4 miles to the park entrance. This last section is quite scenic and sometimes is a one-lane road so pay attention as you drive.
Park hours are 7am to 6:45 pm every day. The state has changed the rules and camping is no longer allowed in MacKenzie Park.
Be forewarned that this park is considered to be haunted and many creepy things have been witnessed here, especially at night. It’s also the site of three separate murders, one of which was never solved. Paranormal investigators have even come to the conclusion that ghosts do exist in the park. Maybe that’s why camping is prohibited!
- 13-6019 HI-137
Pahoa, HI 96778
- Park Name
- MacKenzie State Park, SRA, Malama Ki Forest Reserve
- Other Names
- Paakikii, Kaakepa, Lililoa
- Pet Details
- No dogs allowed in park
- Free parking
- Picnicking, Fishing, Sightseeing, Hiking
- Trails, Restrooms, Picnic Tables, Covered Pavilion, Caves
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