During our 12 day stay on the Big Island, we had an awesome time in Kona and the local surrounding area. We did also explore a bit beyond – and there’s *lots* to explore on the Big Island, which when compared to the other Hawaiian islands, does feel quite large indeed! One morning, we woke early and drove across the middle of the island between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa – temperatures get pretty chilly up there! We ended up in Hilo by 730 AM, in time for Mr. Cain Travel to check in for his helicopter flight with Paradise Helicopters. It was pouring when we arrived and the flight before his was cancelled, so we were nervous, but luckily it was a go! Did we mention the helicopter tour was doors-off? He’s a brave man! However, he got some spectacular photos of the active lava flow at Kilauea, and some water falls as well. He said he would do it again in a heart beat! It was a pretty memorable experience, and we only saw the photos!
The beautiful active lava flow at Mt. Kilauea!
A gorgeous waterfall on the Hilo “wet” side of the island!
Where the lava meets the sea is pretty spectacular!
Doors off! Don’t look down!
While Mr. CT was on his flight, we met our friends in Hilo and had a great breakfast at a local cafe and explored the town. It’s very different than Kona – wet, lush, and a cute place! A lot of locals in Hilo have never even been to Kona, which is just under 2 hours away! 🙂 No matter where we live, we tend to get comfortable!
Ken’s House of Pancakes is a Fun Local Spot in Hilo!
After we picked up Mr. CT, we all headed to the Volcano National Park. It was a great day exploring, looking at steam vents, smoke from calderas, learning about volcanos, and hiking through a lava tube! We also walked out towards the active flow where the lava meets the sea, and checked out previous lava lines from history and the craters they created. The kids absolutely loved this part of the trip – it was true hands on science at its best! We wish we could take field trips here all the time, especially when they study Earth Science!
Exploring a Lava Tube!
The entrance to the lava tube
An active vent at Mt. Kilauea, pretty amazing!
On another day, we did an awesome Kona Coffee tour at nearby Greenwell Farms. This was fascinating – as Californians, we’ve all done plenty of wine tours and tasting, and it was cool to see the similarities in the process! The care that goes into harvesting, shelling, and maintaining coffee beans is pretty incredible. Kona Coffee is a true select and very small region compared to many others in the world (even Kauai has millions of trees versus thousands in Kona), and is hard to find without being blended by other companies that they out source to! Our tour guide, Kavana, was awesome and let the kids get as hands on as possible throughout the tour. The coffee was tasty too!
Coffee beans ripening on the plant
Sorting through the seeds during the drying process
Drying the coffee seeds (and beans) is a lot of work!
Throughout our stay, we got to meet a number of locals – both Native Hawaiians and transplants from the mainland. Everyone was so warm and had a different story to tell. It has inspired us to want to revisit Kona and stay for a longer amount of time to really immerse, as we feel we only scratched the surface of what the Big Island has to offer. At the end of our stay we met Kurtis – a transplant from the west coast living on the beach, currently ministering to the homeless population there and spreading light wherever he can. We thought it was a great way to end our trip, and a true capture of our intent to be travelers, not just tourists. We can’t wait to return to the Big Island!
Aloha Kurtis! Keep shining the light!