Adventure Highlights

  • Snorkel with manta rays off the Kona coast, at night!
  • Explore the waterfalls of the Akaka Falls State Park and Wailuki 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, warm waters of the Kona Coast by kayak.
  • Enjoy a traditional Hawaiian Luau at the historic site of Kamakahonu.

Is This Trip Right For You?

  • There will be a couple of long drives, approximately 2-3 hours in a passenger van, but this will be the perfect time to get to know your fellow passengers.
  • There will be a day of snorkeling and a night of snorkeling in the proximity Manta Rays. You will also come into close proximity with other fish and wildlife. While this is exciting, it also comes with an element of danger, so please participate at your own risk.
  • It will also include a couple of days of hiking with easy to challenging rated hikes ranging from 4 to 5.3 miles.

Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport (KOA)




Places Visited on this Tour

 

  • Trip Outline
  • Trip Includes
  • Trip Excludes
  • Booking
  • FAQ

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; Hawaii 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.

Itineraries

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 Historic Park, a 1160-acre park that lets you explore early heiau (temples), fishponds and petroglyphs.

INCLUDED:
–Airport Transfer

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. Aferwards, 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)
–Kona Coffee Tours & Tasting
–Manta Ray Night Snorkel (includes: beverages, snacks, snorkel gear, wet suits, and flotation devices)

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

Day 3

South Point/ Punaluu Black Sand Beach/ Papakolea Green Sand Beach

This morning, we’ll make our way to the Southernmost tip of the Big Island as well as the US. The entire southern tip is registered as a National Historic Landmark, as it’s scattered with the ruins of heiau (temples) fishing shrines and other cultural relics. A trip here is an opportunity to experience the elements – land, air, and ocean – because that’s what South Point is all about: natures’ raw and powerful beauty. As we drive down the narrow 12-mile road through open ranch land to the point, we’ll pass rows of giant electricity-producing windmills, powered by the blustery winds that the area is known for.

About an hour-and-a-half from downtown Kona, Ka Lae, also known as “South Point,” is just past the lighthouse at the southernmost cliff. It is believed that Ka Lae is the first place Polynesians came ashore when they reached the Hawaiian Islands as early as 750 A.D. There are still old canoe mooring holes carved throughout the rocks that local fishermen use to this day. From here, you can gaze out at the endless Pacific Ocean. It’s a straight shot south over thousands of miles of deep blue waters until you would reach the next continental land mass, which happens to be Antarctica.

Just to the west of South Point is one of the only safe swimming spots in the area, Papakolea or 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 Mhana, a cinder cone that erupted about 50,000 year 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 that 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 to 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! Led by a ranger trained interpretive guide, we will 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, our guide will show you 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.

Afterwards, 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 to Thurston Lava Tube (if accessible)

Hiking Distance at Kilauea Iki Trail: 4 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 bubbles 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 afterwards 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 blow holes 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 makes 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 1800’s 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 of 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

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

  • 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
  • Pricing Name
    Start
    End
    Group (Min-Max)
    Pricing
     
  • Pricing Name Big Island Waterfalls, Volcanoes, and Coral Reefs
    Start Tuesday September 7, 2021
    End Tuesday September 7, 2021
    1 - 8 Pax
     

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