Day 1 You'll See:
Day 2 You'll See:
Day 3 You'll See:
Get ready for three amazing days full of Hawaiian Island culture, history, and wilderness wonder as you explore the hottest spots and coolest corners of this true tropical paradise.
Kealakekua Bay State Park - Aloha, and welcome to Kealakekua Bay State Historic Park. This expansive and extremely scenic state park is located just 12 miles south of Kaika Village in South Kona. Kealakekua Bay is the site of the very first extensive contact between Hawaiians and Westerners, today a traditionally religious and historic site visited by many locals and tourists daily. In 1770 Captain Cook arrived here, at this very spot, the first British explorer to establish contact with the Hawaiian islands. View the Captain Cook monument from across the bay and immerse yourself in all of its surrounding history while here, and excellent culture-filled and educational opportunity for your group. The other great thing about this historic state park is just that, the park. Enjoy the local marine life conservation district, perfect for snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking (there are areas to rent gear). The brilliant blue bay waters are filled with coral and schools of tropical fish right alongside the occasional sighting of locally popular Spinner Dolphins.
James Cook Monument - Now that you’ve learned a little bit about Mr. James Cook, it’s time to stop by and visit the actual James Cook Monument, the small part of Kealakekua Bay State park that you’ve probably already glimpsed from a distance. The statue is located on the shore of the deep-water bay, the area in which snorkeling and dolphin encounters are not only popular, but highly common. Some people even claim this very spot holds the best snorkeling in the world! Getting to this point will be fun in itself, the particular spot accessible only by charter boat or by the steep windy trail beginning just off Old Mamalahoa Bay. While the surrounding waters, land, and scenic panoramic vistas are well worth the visit alone, be sure to save plenty of time to learn more about the history of James Cook, who, on the morning of January 17, 1779, became the first documented person to visit the island!
Pu'uhonua O Honaunau - Your last stop of the day will take you to the gorgeous, historic, and royal 182 acres of federal park land known as Pu’uhonua O’Honaunau National Historic Park. This land preserves the site where ancient defeated warriors, non-combatants, and sacred law breakers of the past found sanctuary. Considered to be a sort of "city of refuge," this land also contained access to Royal Grounds holding various homes of historic alii. This park and bay had one common aim, to make all feel at home, from the scared outcasts to powerful chiefs. Take part in local Honaunau Bay snorkeling, the beach area near here fronted by beautiful large, smooth lava rock flats, providing easy entry into the seemingly endless and vibrant gardens of coral. Explore the shoreline (maybe even with some snorkel gear) and see all the colorful parrot fish, moray eels, and other various local flora and fauna you don’t normally get to see.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - Wake up and smell the sulfur, as you and your group start your second day in Hawaii at the very famous Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This is a truly unique destination to spot live lava flows, lava tubes, and glowing red-hot craters. Here you can really watch the landscape change right before your eyes and see the home of the famed (or perhaps infamous) Kilauea Volcano. This mountain is one of the most active volcanoes on earth, one of the few remaining spots where onlookers can witness the primal process of creation and destruction. Today, it's one of the most popular visitor attractions and sacred local spots in all of Hawaii. There are a total of 330,000 acres of scenic lava-filled wilderness here at the park, from the summit of Mauna Loa to the sea itself, a total of 150 miles of hiking trails through the various volcanic craters, deserts, and rainforests.
Lava Tree State Park - Welcome to Lava Tree State Park and Monument, the locally-loved and outstandingly scenic public park located a mere 2.7 miles southeast of Pahoa in the Puna District. This park works to preserve the lava molds of various surrounding tree trunks that formed when a lava flow infamously swept thru this forested area in 1790. This said flow ravished the land and buried the ohia trees at some places 11 feet deep in molten lava, creating quite the unique and informational, not to mention really cool looking, state park land known as Lava Tree. The entire park encompasses just under 17.1 acres of native plants, trees, and lava tree molds, with various paved trails around the parks entirety, another Hawaiian hot spot (no pun intended) that you should most certainly pack your camera or binoculars. While here enjoy several picnic amenities throughout the entire park and many scenic overlooks at this spot, 500 feet above sea level.
Rainbow Falls - Welcome to the crown jewel of Hilo, the 80 foot tall Hawaii State Park wonder, Rainbow Falls. Rainbow Falls is located along the Wailuku River, an easily accessible series of spots with extraordinary natural beauty within the surrounding gorge landscape. The land around the falls are lush and dense with tropical rainforests alongside sparkling turquoise pools. You will see the abundant native wild ginger and Monstera, as well as what the park is most known for, as the name suggest, the rainbows that form around the falls’ bountiful mist. Grab your poncho, grab your camera, and maybe even your umbrella and enjoy one of the most iconic postcard views in Hilo. On a sunny morning, your group can see the best rainbows set as the forefront of the giant native banyan trees near Rainbow Falls, and in the afternoon the overlooks in any part of this land are bursting with colors you won’t want to miss.
Hilo Farmers Market - Start your morning of at the locally loved and truly quite intriguing Hilo Farmers Market, the twice weekly outdoor open-air market. This market takes place each Wednesday and Saturday on the corners of Kamehameha and Mamo Street, 6 am to 4 pm. There are over 200 local vendors here, each providing the very best in local and fresh produce, artisan foods, local handicrafts, and more. Enjoy exploring all the wonderfully local, handmade jewelry, baked goods, and even family-owned food trucks, a year-round local island shopping paradise that goes by the motto "from dawn till it’s gone." Be sure to bring plenty of cash for all the amazing fresh food and craft options here, wear good walking shoes, and your sense of adventure. Our suggestion? Save time to go stop by the Green Papaya Salad Food Truck, your taste buds and stomach will thank you!
Pacific Tsunami Museum - One of the most interesting local history museums in all of Hawaii will consume your next stop, the Pacific Tsunami Museum. This Hilo original museum is dedicated to the history of the infamous April 1, 1946 tsunami and May 23, 1960 Chilean tsunami, both of which devastated much of the east coast of the Big Island. The various exhibits inside explore the impact of the two historic regional tsunamis, the museum doing its part as a whole to educate the public about the dangers and local history of these catastrophic events. As the museum staff say, "we believe that no one should die due to tsunami, and work to prevent this through a promotion of awareness and preservation of history regarding the subject." While here your group can partake in a self guided tour around the entire museum, or a one hour group tour, with a 30-45 minute presentation on science, city history, and personal survivor accounts.
World Botanical Gardens - You and your group are in for a real treat as you head to the World Botanical Gardens, the out-of-this-world gorgeous set of gardens and falls located between Umauma and Hakalau, near Mamalahoa Bay. Powered by Botanical World Adventures, this commercial botanical gardens has several impressive onsite waterfalls, as well as both paved and unpaved trails for your group to take advantage of, providing the best opportunities for exploring local tropical flora and fauna. This is seriously a "true Hawaiian eco-adventure," the perfect way to immerse yourselves into raw Hawaii and enjoy the wonder of nature. Not only will you be exploring all the scenic plant and forest land, but there are also zipline courses, segway tours, and children's mazes within the gardens! There are several stop-worthy 360 vistas within the gardens, from such spots as the Mauna Kea Volcano, the ocean itself, the onsite Panola style cattle ranch, Kamala Falls, and the gardens full of thousands of exotic plants from around the world.
Waipi’O Valley Overlook - Last stop, the Waipi’O Valley Overlook, located in sunny and scenic Waimea, Hawaii. More specifically located along the northern Hamakua Coast, this boyhood home of King Kamehameha is a very important site for Hawaiian history and culture. The valley is considered sacred, both religiously and historically, to locals and international tourists. Remember all that you have learned about King Kamehameha in the past few days and culminate it all into this scenic overlook stop. This valley contains Hiilawe Falls, the tallest in the region at 1,300 feet above sea level. Bring some binoculars or a camera to really enjoy and capture the moment, the view from the overlook of the surrounding rivers, valleys, gorges, volcanoes, and sandy ocean beachfront is truly breathtaking!