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Home/Big Island Waterfalls, Volcanoes, and Coral Reefs
Kealakekua Bay

Big Island Waterfalls, Volcanoes, and Coral Reefs

Starting from $3495

Want Your Own Room? Single Supplement Fee is $1350

OVERVIEW

It’s easy to feel awed on Hawaii Island (aka the “Big Island”). From the molten magma flowing from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to the snow-capped heights of Mauna Kea; from the green rainforests of the Hamakua Coast to the jet-black sands of Punaluu Beach; The Big Island is an unrivaled expression of the power of nature. The Big Island is nearly twice as big as all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined. You can travel through ten of the world’s 14 different climate zones on Hawaii Island ranging from Wet Tropical to Polar Tundra, a result of the shielding effect and elevations of the massive volcanoes Mauna Kea and Maunaloa. With surroundings ranging from lava-strewn deserts to tropical plantations and gardens, you can engage in every imaginable outdoor activity here.

ADVENTURE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Snorkel with manta rays off the Kona coast, at night!
  • Explore the waterfalls of Akaka Falls State Park and Wailuku River State Park.
  • Witness geologic oddities with black and green sand beaches.
  • Hike the Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, voted the #3 Best National Park Hike in the USA!
  • Experience the best snorkeling in the entire state of Hawaii.
  • Take a hike in the Waipio Valley, also known as “the Valley of the Kings,” and discover a place that time forgot.
  • Explore the pristine and warm waters of the Kona Coast by kayak.
  • Enjoy a traditional Hawaiian Luau at the historic site of Kamakahonu.

TRAVEL DURING COVID-19

The safety and well-being of our travelers, trip leaders, and suppliers remain our priority.  We have chosen to implement ATTA’s COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines, developed in collaboration with Cleveland Clinic, across all travel club trips. For our scheduled trips, we will require a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination, once they are widely available. If you cannot obtain a test locally, you can purchase one by mail for $109 from Everlywell (receive 25% off with this link https://bit.ly/2MdtOLf). If we have to cancel a tour, you will receive a full credit or refund, your choice. For more information about traveling during a pandemic, please refer to our COVID-19 Travel Resources.

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RESERVE YOUR SPOT

ITINERARY

Day 1: Kona

You are free to arrive in Kona (KOA) at any time. The sunny Kona District stretches for about 60 miles from Kona International Airport to beyond Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii Island’s lava-lined western coast. There are no planned activities today, so you are free to explore this area at your leisure. Our hotel is located in the heart of the historic Kailua-Kona village, just a 15-minute drive south of the Kona International Airport. Home to shops, restaurants, and nightlife, you can conveniently take a walking tour of Kona’s history at places like Hulihee Palace, Mokuaikaua Church, and the Ahuena Heiau. Other significant historic places include Kealakekua Bay to the South, where Captain James Cook first set foot on the island in 1778 and where he was eventually killed. Nearby is Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, a well-restored Hawaiian “place of refuge.” North of Kailua-Kona is the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, an 1160-acre park that lets you explore early heiau (temples), fishponds, and petroglyphs.

Overnight at Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel 

Day 2: Kona/ Honokohau Harbor/ Kona Coffee Farms

This morning, we’ll venture down the Southern Kona Coast to snorkel the pristine Pu’uhonua O’ Honaunau (Two Steps) and Kealakekua Bay (K-Bay) on this 4.5-hour adventure. Our Captain and crew will share the history and culturally significant sites as we journey the coastline, along with the geographically fascinating features of lava tubes and sea caves.

Pu’uhonua O’ Honaunau Bay, also known as Two-Step by the locals, is famous for its crystal-clear water, Green Sea Turtles, and colorful tropical fish. Snorkeling here is some of the best in the entire state of Hawaii.  The bay is located right next to Pu’uhonua O’ Honaunau National Historical Park (Place of Refuge), which is an important Hawaiian ceremonial site bounded on its southern and eastern sides by a massive L-shaped wall, known as the Pa Pu’uhonua (Great Wall), and on its northern and western sides by the ocean. In addition to the Great Wall, within Pu’uhonua are several other important ceremonial structures.

Kealakekua means “The Pathway of the Gods,” and is the largest sheltered bay on the island and it offers some of the best snorkeling in Hawaii. This is a place of beauty, historical significance, and a very sacred site. The crystal-clear bay is abundant in sea life, the waters are calm, and the coral reef is visible up to 100ft. K-Bay, as it is sometimes referred to by locals, has been designated as a Marine Life Conservation District and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also the home of the Captain Cook monument that marks the spot of the first recorded European contact with the Native Hawaiians of the Big Island.

After our snorkeling adventure, we’ll explore the Kona Coffee Living History Farm, a guided and immersive journey through the cultural heritage of Kona Coffee at a 100-year old coffee farm. This hour-long exclusive program is led by a trained docent who will lead visitors through the coffee land, donkey pastures, and historic structures. You will visit the farmhouse where the family lived, the kuriba and hoshidana coffee mill and drying rack, where they innovated their craft and will even get the chance to meet very special members of the farm’s ‘ohana, our Kona Nightingales, donkeys Charlie-boy, and Shizu.  Afterward, we’ll visit Rooster Farms Coffee, the oldest Certified Organic Coffee farm in Hawaii and the United States, for a tour and tasting.

This evening, we will head to the harbor where we will board a boat for an opportunity to participate in one of the most unique ocean adventures in the world! Manta rays frequent the warm waters of the rocky volcanic coastline in search of plankton, their primary food source. With their giant mouths constantly open, they glide through the water and filter out these tiny creatures. Unlike most of their relatives, Manta Rays have NO teeth, stinger, or barbs and are completely safe to be around. There is one spot close to the Kona airport where mantas congregate in the early evening, and after dark, they are attracted to lights that are placed on the bottom of the ocean in about 30 feet of water. These lights attract clouds of tiny plankton and the plankton attracts the mantas. These giant rays, sometimes referred to as the “Butterflies of the Sea,” gracefully glide, twirl, and do somersaults to swoop up the tiny little food particles, sometimes within a foot or so of the snorkelers!

INCLUDED:
–Meals: Breakfast & Lunch
–Snorkel Pu’uhonua o Honaunau & Kealakekua Bay (Includes snorkel gear, flotation devices, snacks, lunch, shade, nonalcoholic drinks) 8:45am to 1:30pm
–Kona Coffee Tours & Tasting
–Manta Ray Night Snorkel (includes: beverages, snacks, snorkel gear, wet suits, and flotation devices) 5:45-7:15pm

Overnight at Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel 

Day 3: Punaluu Black Sand Beach/ Papakolea Green Sand Beach

This morning, we’ll make our way to the south coast and explore some of the colorful beaches of the island. Our first stop will be at Papakolea Green Sand Beach. A geologic oddity among few in the world, the green sand beach is located in a bay cut by the ocean into a side of Pu’u Mahana, a cinder cone that erupted about 50,000 years ago. The green sand is created by a common silicate deposit of Big Island lava called olivine, which stays deposited on this beach because it is heavier than the other, lighter components of the lava. Once arriving at the parking area, we’ll take an approximately 2.5-mile hike to the beach.  Expect a hot, humid, windy hike to the Green Sand Beach. Look for several ancient sites along the way, mostly heiaus for fishing. The ancient Hawaiians would make an offering of their first catch on the temples to appease the gods. Most of the sites are very eroded and are only foundations. Once arriving at the beach, look for an ancient small cave dwelling on the western side of the beach and higher on the cliffs. There are no facilities of any kind in this area at either the trailhead or the beach. You might want to bring a swimsuit and other beach gear for swimming, but please be aware that the surf is quite strong along the notorious southern shore.

Next is Punaluu Black Sand Beach, located between Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the small town of Naalehu. But, first, we’ll make a stop at Punalu’u Bake Shop, the Southernmost bakery in the United States! But that’s not the only reason it’s a favorite. Try their famous Malasadas to find out why they are a must-visit.

Punaluu Black Sand Beach’s jet-black shores are an unforgettable sight. Coconut palms fringe the upper edge of sand and you may also discover large honu, or Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, basking on the beach. Although it may be tempting, please DO NOT TOUCH these protected turtles.

INCLUDED:
–Meals: Breakfast
–Hike to Papakolea Green Sand Beach
–Punalu’u Bake Shop
–Visit Punaluu Black Sand Beach

Hiking Distance at Papakolea Green Sand Beach: 5.3 miles (in & out); 100ft Elevation Gain, Easy
Estimated travel time: 3 hours
from Kona
Overnight near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Day 4: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Today will be a full-day excursion to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Established as a National Park in 1961, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park displays the results of 70 million years of volcanism, migration, and evolution – processes that thrust a bare land from the sea and clothed it with complex and unique ecosystems and a distinct human culture. The park encompasses 230,000 acres and ranges from sea level to the summit of the earth’s most massive volcano, Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet. Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano, offers scientists insights on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and visitors views of dramatic volcanic landscapes. Over half of the park is designated wilderness and provides unusual hiking opportunities. In recognition of its outstanding natural values, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has been honored as an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site.

Upon arrival to the park, we’ll stop at the visitor center before proceeding onto Jaggar Museum, Kilauea Overlook, and the Steam Vents, Steaming Bluff, and Ha’akulamanu – Sulphur Banks for some photo ops. Next, we’ll proceed to the Kilauea Iki Overlook where we’ll start our hike. The Kilauea Iki hike is famous for its breathtaking views of the Kilauea Iki crater and the last eruption which occurred in 1959. It also happens to be voted the #3 Best National Park Hike in the USA. The trail is the easiest way to access and thru-hike a volcanic crater in Hawaii! We’ll ascend through a lush rain forest to the floor of the solidified, but still steaming Kilauea Iki Crater lava lake. At the bottom of the Pu’u Pua’I cinder cone, you’ll see the remnants of the vent that erupted to a height of approximately 1900 feet in 1959. It was the tallest lava foundation ever recorded in Hawaii.

Afterward, we’ll visit the Thurston Lava Tube. A 20-minute 1/3 mile walk through a tree fern forest and lighted prehistoric cave-like lava tube awaits you. This is an excellent place to stop and listen to the birds. Watch carefully and you may see the red apapane feeding among the equally red ohi’a blossoms. This lava tube was discovered in 1913 by Lorrin Thurston, a local newspaper publisher. At that time, the roof of the tube was covered with lava stalactites, but those soon disappeared to souvenir collectors. As we walk through the tube, consider that several hundred years ago a river of red lava rushed through. Watch your head in the tube as there are some spots with a low ceiling.

This evening, we will head to the East Coast of the island to the town of Hilo.

INCLUDED:
–Kilauea Iki Trail Hike in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
–Visit Thurston Lava Tube (if accessible)

Hiking Distance at Kilauea Iki Trail: 3 miles (loop); Moderate to Challenging (Steep and rocky, 875 ft elevation gain/loss with steps and switchbacks)

Estimated Travel Time: 40 minutes to Hilo
Overnight at Grand Naniloa Hotel Doubletree by Hilton

Day 5: Akaka Falls State Park/ Wailuku River State Park/ Kaumana Caves Park/ Hilo

Today will be dedicated to exploring some of the caves and beautiful waterfalls on the Big Island. We’ll head to the other side of the island and first visit two gorgeous waterfalls in Akaka Falls State Park, located along the northeastern Hamakua Coast. The pleasant 0.4-mile uphill hike will take us through a lush rainforest filled with wild orchids, bamboo groves, and draping ferns. As you follow the paved footpath, we’ll first see the 100-foot Kahuna Falls. Continue to follow the loop around the bend, and you’ll discover towering Akaka Falls which plummets 442-feet into a stream-eroded gorge. Beautiful Akaka Falls is perhaps Hawaii Island’s most famous waterfall. Easily accessible, this hike takes less than an hour.

After a stop for lunch in the town of Hilo, we’ll take a short drive west on Waianuene Avenue to Wailuku River State Park. Here we’ll discover the easily accessible Rainbow Falls, which has an 80-foot drop and is known for the rainbows that are formed in the surrounding mist. As we travel further upland along the Wailuku River, we’ll find Pe’epe’e Falls, which feeds the famous pools knows as Boiling Pots. These terraced pools bubble as if they were boiling, connected by a series of cascading water flows alongside hexagonal columns formed by the slow cooling of basalt lava. As beautiful as Rainbow Falls (Waianuene) and Boiling Pots are, these areas are not safe for swimming.

Continuing our drive west, we’ll visit Kaumana Caves Park, a lava tube that was created by an 1881 flow from Mauna Loa. You can explore the caves a short way in both directions for about 2 miles. These caves are one step up from the Thurston Lava Tube and to reach them, you need to climb 20 ft. down steep stairs. To the left starts with a big hall that appears to be an open dead-end. Look to your right to see a small (4 to 5 ft) opening that you can work yourself through. The cave opens up afterward and you can follow it for another 15 minutes or so.

INCLUDED:
–Meals: Breakfast
–Visit Akaka Falls State Park/ Akaka Falls & Kahuna Falls
–Visit Wailuku River State Park/ Rainbow Falls & Pe’epe’e Falls
–Visit Kaumana Caves Park

Estimated travel time: 1 hour
Overnight at Grand Naniloa Hotel Doubletree by Hilton

Day 6: Hilo/ Waipio Valley/ Waimea/ Kona

This morning, we will make our way back to Kona with our first stop being the Waipio Valley. Take in a spectacular view of the Hamakua Coast on the way to the most famous lookout on the island.  Then, hike down 800 ft into the ‘Valley of Kings,’ or Waipi’o Valley considered one of the top-5 short hikes in Hawaii. This hike will take you from the overlook into the valley, to the black sand beach, and back up. The total length of this hike is 4.75 miles with 1,417 ft elevation gain and is rated moderate.

From here, we’ll continue our drive to Kona via Waimea (also called Kamuela), which is unlike any other place on the island of Hawaii. Known as paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) country this historic area full of rolling, green pastures is still home to cattle, cowboys, and ranches. We’ll make a stop here for lunch to try some Hawaiian style barbecue.

INCLUDED:
–Meals: Breakfast
–Hiking in Waipio Valley

Hiking Distance at Waipio Valley: 4.75 miles (Out & Back); Moderate 1,417 ft Elevation Gain, Est 2 hours
Estimated travel time: 1 hour from Hilo to Waipio Valley; Waipio Valley to Waimea 30 min; Waimea to Kona 1 hour
Overnight at Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel 

Day 7: Kona/ Keauhou Bay/ Kuamo’o Bay (Thanksgiving)

This morning, we will explore the pristine and warm waters of the Kona Coast by kayak. This adventure will include dolphin and whale watching, exploring sea caves, snorkeling, and possibly cliff jumping! After leaving Keauhou Bay (birthplace of Kamehameha III) we head south along the cliffs toward Kuamoo Bay. Along this stretch, we will look for dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles, and whales. Humpback whales are in the area from late November through March and they are not intimidated by kayaks. Humpbacks can be up to 50ft long and weigh up to 50 tons, and it’s spectacular to see them breach out of water.

There are interesting arches and blowholes along the cliffs. At Kuamo’o Bay, there is a sea cave/ lava tube that often allows us to go inside it. Often, this cave catches ocean swells that make this stop an exciting highlight of our adventure. Heading south along Kuamo’s Bay, we follow the coastline, and paddle over coral gardens and underwater lava tubes, till we arrive at the next cave which is almost always calm and cool. This is a dry lava tube that extends deep into the earth.

Next, we’ll head to a cove to snorkel and explore the reefs where tropical fish are abundant, and if you look, you may see octopus, uhu (parrotfish), yellow tang, butterflies, wrasse, or even a crown of thorns. There may even be wild parrots flying overhead as you enjoy snacks and cold drinks. Often, you can walk over to the tide pools to watch the eels hunting a’ama crabs. Exiting the water here, we climb up to a vantage point above the cove where we’ll enjoy our snacks and cold drinks. From the vantage point above, you may also have the opportunity to jump from the 12 to 25-foot cliffs into the water below.

After a refreshing break of an hour or so, we’ll pack up and head offshore, where we hope to ride the trade winds home. Upon returning to the hotel after our kayaking adventure, you’ll have the rest of the day at your leisure to relax, go shopping, snorkeling, or possibly enjoy another hike.

This evening, we’ll enjoy a traditional Hawaiian Luau at the historic site of Kamakahonu, home to the ancient King Kamehameha, who conquered and united the Hawaiian Islands in the 1800s and made this location his home and headquarters, ruling all of the islands from this very location. Here King Kamehameha worshipped his gods and sought advice from his advisors. This location is the most sacred place of all of Hawaii and is never to be developed in any way. Our evening will start with a shell lei greeting and a picture taken with one of the Hula and Fire Dancers. At the start of this Hawaiian Luau, you can take part and see ancient Polynesian arts and crafts demonstrations and then meet the talented cast of performers that you will later see on stage performing. You can learn to Hula and learn how fast it takes to prepare a coconut before the luau. You can also enjoy all you can drink Mai Tais and other beverages. Big Island Luaus are the best luaus in Hawaii!

INCLUDED:
–Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
–Keauhou Kayak Tour (Includes: snacks, fresh fruit, Hawaiian juice and bottled water, life jackets, backrests, and paddles) 9am-12:30pm
–Traditional Hawaiian Luau Dinner w/ roast turkey, stuffing, giblet gravy, baked ham, and pumpkin tart in addition to the scrumptious Polynesian Feast.

Overnight at Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel 

Day 8: Kona/ Departure Day

Today is departure day and there are no scheduled activities. At the appropriate time, your trip leader will take you to the airport for your flight home or to your next destination.

INCLUDED:
–Airport Transfer

Trip Leader
3-Star Accommodations (4-nights in Kona, 1-night at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, 2-nights in Hilo)
5 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Van transportation for all included activities & airport transfers
Manta Ray Nigh Snorkel
Pu’uhonua O’ Honaunau Bay & Kealakekua Bay Snorkel Tour
Kona Coffee Tours & Tasting
Hike to Papakolea Green Sand Beach
Visit to Punalu’u Bake Shop
Visit to Punaluu Black Sand Beach
Visit Akaka Falls State Park
Visit Rainbow Falls & Pe’epe’e Falls
Keahou Kayak Tour
Hiking in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hiking in Waipio Valley
Traditional Hawaiian Luau Dinner

Airfare to/from Kona International Airport (KOA)
Beverages & Meals not specified
Optional Activities
Tips for your local guides
Personal Expenses
Travel Insurance
Airport taxes and excess baggage fees

The planned hikes are all rated easy to moderate, with the longest being just over 5 miles. This trip is intended for those with an average level of fitness to enjoy. You should be comfortable being active approximately 3-5 hours a day.  Additionally, there will be a few long drives, approximately 2-3 hours in a passenger van, but this will be the perfect time to get to know your fellow passengers.

World Nomads is our trusted travel insurance provider. Receive a no-hassle online quote in less than 2 minutes.

Travel insurance is mandatory to participate in any of our international trips. The minimum requirement must provide coverage of $200,000USD for medical expenses including repatriation and emergency rescue. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment, and loss of luggage and personal effects. Some credit card companies offer travel insurance, but proof of coverage will be required. Contact your provider for details.

FAQ

Absolutely! Our travel club trips are designed for the solo traveler. We offer free roommate matching so you are never required to pay for a single supplement and will match you with a same-sex roommate. However, if you would like to have your own room, you will need to pay the single supplement fee.

Our itineraries are designed to offer some flexibility in the schedule and could change without notice if the weather becomes an issue. It is best to always be prepared for the weather.

We’ll be traveling from destination to destination in a 12-15 passenger van.

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ITINERARY DISCLAIMER

Adventure People reserves the right to modify trip itineraries at the discretion of your tour director as necessary due to weather, conditions, illness, injury, group dynamics, safety, or other unforeseen incidents. Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary.

PAYMENT POLICIES

Our travel club trips require a NON-REFUNDABLE deposit of 25% of the total trip cost in order to reserve your spot. You will have the option to pay the deposit or the entire balance at booking. Payment is due in full 90-days prior to the start date. If you book a trip within the 90-day timeframe, payment will be due in full in order to reserve your spot. Pricing is based on double/triple occupancy. Solo travelers are never required to pay a single supplement fee unless you want your own room. Adventure People offers roommate matching to pair you with a same-sex roommate. Should there be an odd number of men to women, you may be asked to join a triple occupancy room if you are one of the last to sign up. If you’d prefer to have your own room, please be sure to add a single supplement to your reservation when you book.

CANCELLATION AND REFUND POLICY

All cancellations must be advised in writing. We calculate your refund on the day we received written notice of cancellation. The applicable cancellation fees shall be determined with reference to the date on which the request to cancel is received by Adventure People. All refunds will be processed within a few days of your cancellation. Cancellation of a tour or failure to join a tour will result in retention of funds by Adventure People, as follows:

91+ days prior to departure: Full deposit shall be held by Adventure People
90 to 61 days prior to departure: Full deposit and 50% of the total trip price shall be held by Adventure People
60 days prior to departure: Full deposit and 100% of the total trip price shall be held by Adventure People

No exceptions will be granted to our Cancellation Policy.

We reserve the right to cancel trips with inadequate participant attendance, in which case all money paid to Adventure People will be fully refunded. Adventure People CANNOT be held responsible for any personal expenses, such as airline tickets due to changes in itineraries or tour cancellations.

COVID-19 POLICIES: Please refer to our COVID-19 POLICIES for details.

Please be advised, Adventure People reserves the right to decline or dismiss any person as a tour participant should such a person’s behavior, health, or mental condition impede the operation of the trip.

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Date

Nov 19 - 26 2021

Cost

$3,495.00
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