Big Island Travel Guide
Globus has three Hawaii itineraries that include the Big Island, one of which is an escorted cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines' Pride of America that includes one day each in Kona and Hilo. Tauck Travel and Trafalgar offer several land-based Hawaii itineraries that include two to three nights on the Big Island, depending on the tour. Both companies offer similar itineraries. In all cases, visits to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are included.
Globus (HI. 866/755–8581. www.globusjourneys.com.)
Tauck Travel (HI. 800/788–7885. www.tauck.com.)
Trafalgar (HI. 866/544–4434. www.trafalgar.com.)
A tour of Kilauea Volcano—the most active volcano on earth— is even better with an actual geologist. With tours tailored to small groups, Volcano Discovery Tours offers detailed information about such geologic features as lava tubes, vents, and fumaroles. Big Island Volcano Tours offers an Evening Eco Tour that includes stops at the Kilauea Iki overlook, black-sand beaches, and the Jagger Museum. Seeing lava flows cannot always be guaranteed.
Big Island Volcano Tours (HI. 808/690–9054. www.bigislandvolcanotours.com.)
Volcano Discovery Tours (HI. www.volcanodiscovery.com.)
Whether you want to learn about Hawaiian arts, history, and culture; astronomy, ecology, or botany; or the geology of the Hawaiian volcanoes, Volcano Art Center can design a program for your group that utilizes the talents of local artists, scientists, performers, historians, park rangers, storytellers, and guides. The staff arranges transportation, accommodations, meals, classes, and lectures.
Volcano Art Center (HI. 866/967–7565. www.volcanoartcenter.org.)
If you're a bicycling enthusiast, you've got exciting options on the Big Island. Bicycle Adventures has a seven-day Hawaii tour that costs $3,395 per person and includes biking, hiking, snorkeling, sailing, and whale-watching. A six-day budget tour is priced at about $2,695 per person. Both include accommodations, meals, and park admissions.
WomanTours has a seven-night bike tour that circumnavigates the entire island. Included in the $3,390 per person price are accommodations, some meals, and guides.
Most airlines accommodate bikes as luggage, provided they're dismantled and boxed.
Bicycle Adventures (HI. 800/443–6060. www.bicycleadventures.com.)
WomanTours (HI. 800/247–1444. www.womantours.com.)
More than 150 species of birds live in the Hawaiian Islands. Field Guides has a three-island, 11-day guided bird-watching trip that focuses on endemic land birds and specialty seabirds. While on the Big Island, birders try to spot forest birds including the Hawaiian hawk, Hawaiian thrush, Hawaiian goose, and the Hawaii creeper. Participants might also get a glimpse of the rare palila, the only finch-like Hawaiian honeycreeper that remains on the main islands. The trip costs $4,575 per person and includes accommodations, meals, ground transportation, interisland flights, and guided excursions.
Victor Emanuel Nature Tours has multiday trips that include the Big Island. The guide for both tours is Bob Sundstrom, who has been leading birding tours in Hawaii and other destinations since 1989. Birders see such indigenous birds as the amakihi, apapane, elepaio, and the comical scarlet iiwi, as well as endemic birds such as the omao, palila, and akepa honeycreepers.
Field Guides (HI. 800/728–4953. www.fieldguides.com.)
Victor Emanuel Nature Tours (HI. 800/328–8368. www.ventbird.com.)
Road Scholar, a nonprofit organization that leads all-inclusive learning adventures, offers several cultural and educational tours of Hawaii. A 14-night tour of the Big Island, presented by experts on local culture, includes lectures, excursions, and performances. Coordinated by Lyman House and Mission House, the tour includes excursions to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, visits to Hilo, and walks around the quaint seaside village of Kailua-Kona. Prices start at $3,498.
Road Scholar (HI. 800/454–5766. www.roadscholar.org.)
Locally owned and operated, Hawaii Forest & Trail, in business since 1993, seeks to educate, inspire, and entertain visitors. The company showcases the island's amazing diversity with adventures to waterfalls, rain forests, and nature preserves. With access to thousands of acres of private land, the company offers truly off-the-beaten-path adventures. Trips include tours of coffee plantations, sunset views of volcanic eruptions, and explorations of the dazzling night sky. Expertise is a point of pride. Prices vary depending on activity and size of group.
Hawaiian Walkways, run by longtime hiker Hugh Montgomery, offers eco-friendly tours of the Waipio Valley, Kilauea Volcano, and other destinations. Personalized tours can be arranged for small groups. Sierra Club Outings offers tours that can include a service-project component, such as restoring critical bird habitat.
Hawaiian Walkways (HI. 800/457–7759. www.hawaiianwalkways.com.)
Hawaii Forest & Trail (HI. 800/464–1993. www.hawaii-forest.com.)
Sierra Club Outings (HI. 415/977–5522. www.sierraclub.org/outings.)
Timberline Adventures has an eight-day tour combining Kauai and the Big Island. It includes visits to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the Kona Coast. The package costs $3,095 per person and includes accommodations, meals, ground transportation, and activities.
Timberline Adventures (HI. 800/417–2453. www.timbertours.com.)