When I tapped my Facebook network for recommendations of things to do on the Big Island of Hawai’i, the Punalu’u Bake Shop was recommended by several people as a must-visit destination. I desperately wanted to stop on our way to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, but Brian nixed my request because it was starting to rain and he wanted to arrive before dark.
I wasn’t super thrilled because I knew our drive back to the airport in Kona would have us passing the bake shop in the early morning hours before they open for the day. Luckily, on the last day of our Hawaiian vacation, we drove out to visit the amazing Punalu’u Black Sand Beach and were able to stop in the Punalu’u Bake Shop for a snack too!
Punalu’u Bake Shop
Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, halfway between Kailua-Kona and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Punalu’u Bake Shop And Visitor Center is a beautifully landscaped four acre tropical oasis providing travelers a place to take a break from their long drive. Two large gazebos, surrounded by a variety of tropical palms, flowers, and gardens, feature clean picnic tables just waiting for you to sit down, relax, and enjoy a picnic lunch or scrumptious baked treat.
Sitting at Latitude 19 degrees just four minutes north of the equator, Punalu’u Bake Shop is the southernmost bakery in the United States and the most visited bake shop in Hawaii, welcoming more than 200,000 visitors each year.
Punalu’u Bake Shop offers a wide variety of fresh baked goods including sweetbread, malasadas, and anpans, fresh-brewed Ka’u coffee and ice cream, and all sorts of deli items like sandwiches, plate lunches, vegetarian foods, fresh salads, fruit salads, and more. If visiting this spectacular bake shop is on your list of things to do in Hawaii, be sure to arrive as early in the day as possible because by mid-afternoon, they usually sell out of their world-famous malasadas.
Malasadas are Portuguese donuts made from Hawaiian sweetbread that are much lighter than traditional donuts. The sweetbread and malasadas served at Punalu’u Bake Shop comes from a traditional family recipe. It was prepared at a resort in Punalu’u back in the 1970s and became such a huge hit, that the Punalu’u Bake Shop was opened in 1991 to keep up with demand from locals and tourists alike.
We stopped in the bake shop in the early afternoon and the baked goods counter was pretty picked over! After browsing through the gift shop, we hopped in line and bought three different malasadas — mango, guava, and taro — and some bread pudding. Thankfully we snagged an open picnic table outside and sampled our super delicious, sweet treats among beautiful tropical flowers and palm trees. While the bread pudding was sort of soggy, the malasads were incredible, light, and fluffy.
I can definitely see why the malasadas are world famous!
Punalu’u Visitor Center
Attached to the Punalu’u Bake Shop and Restaurant, the Punalu’u Visitor Center offers travelers a large gift shop and retail store with souvenirs and pre-packaged snacks, clean modern restroom facilities, and visitor information on the nearby Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, the Hawksbill Sea Turtles that frequent the beach, and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
Know Before You Go
- The Punalu’u Bake Shop And Visitor Center is located 8.6 miles from the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach on the Big Island of Hawai’i midway between Kailua-Kona and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on HWY 11 (Mamalahoa Highway) in Na’alehu, Hawaii 96772.
- Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
- Enjoy free samples of their famous Hawaiian Sweetbread.
- This is the southernmost bakery in the United States and the most visited bakery in Hawaii, welcoming 200,000 visitors each year.
- There are clean, modern restrooms available — and there aren’t many between Kona and Hilo!
- Two large gazebos sit outside among lush tropical landscaping and a small waterfall, making it a favorite spot to stop and enjoy a meal or delicious bakery treat.
- Don’t leave without getting a bag of Hawaiian sweetrolls to go!