Honolulu, BI report, part 2

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Jun 12th, 2004, 09:35 AM
  #1
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Honolulu, BI report, part 2

Flew from Honolulu to Kona. Although we were first headed to Volcano, Kona made sense because we would be ending up at Hapuna Beach. We took the road around the south side of the island, stopping at the black sand beach at Punalu'u. Didn't see turtles there, but got really neat pictures and video. At this point, I was understanding why some people have described the BI as "otherworldly." We continued on to the village of Volcano, where we stayed at the Kilauea Lodge. We had their off-site cottage, called "Tutu's Place," for 2 nights. It's a really cute 2 bedroom house with cable TV and VCR (came in handy when it was raining.) This was the least expensive of our temporary homes. $165/night. A bargain if you have kids with you! The place is stocked with games and videos so they can stay occupied. There's a (expensive) general store down the street. We did get washed out one afternoon, and once again, it meant a lot to have room to stretch out. The lodge itself is really neat. It was a YMCA camp in the 30's. The restaurant there is the best food you're going to find for miles and miles around, but it's going to cost you! We spent more money eating there than at the Halekulani! (Bought an expensive bottle of wine.) Breakfast came with the room, and it was at this point that we got hooked on papaya with lime juice. Since we live in South Florida, we are fortunate that we will be able to grow them.

Volcanoes National Park is a treasure. I'm a huge fan of the National Park system, and this is a great one. The vistor center appears to be readying for an addition, but they really could use some funding for better facilities. There is a hotel and restaurant across the road, which looked okay. I don't know about the rooms, as we didn't see any, but the food was nothing to write home about. It's a buffet deal, and they have an area with hot dogs and chili if you need a quick snack.

The rangers at the park, like most rangers I've dealt with, were very helpful. There's a little art gallery next door, and we were ready to part with some cash there, but just didn't see anything screaming "take me home." We went out the the lava flow after checking in at the lodge, since the weather was okay when we got there. Good choice- we would have been sorely disappointed if we'd waited until the next day. Madame Pele had started her show again a couple of weeks before we got there, and we were able to reach the lava maybe 30 minutes after leaving the car. Wear jeans or other heavier leg covering when doing this. (Heavier shoes as well.) Lava is about 2000 degrees, and if you want to get that picture of yourself right up next to it, you have to be protected. I couldn't believe the people I saw heading out in shorts and even sandals! Lava can also be sharp, and you can get hurt out there. One teenage fellow I saw came away with a big gash across a knee. I was sweating, but I got that picture- me sitting 3 feet from melted rock! Chain of Craters Road is nothing to sneeze at. I couldn't wait to get off it! It's a long haul back to the lodge after lava viewing.

There are plenty of other attractions at the park. 5 days would give you a chance to see most of what's reachable. If you like great hiking, this is the place. If you have time for one, do the Kilauea Iki hike. It's a loop that can take 2 hours if you don't stop and gawk, or 3-1/2 hours if you're like us, and have to stop for every little bird or flower. We took the loop through the rain forest first, and then came across the crater and up the sttep slope to finish. We liked it this way, but we started early. If there were to be a sunny day, you might not want to be walking across a large frying pan in the middle of the day.

Volcano Winery (another rainy day stop) was surprisingly worthwhile. We brought 4 bottles home (I wanted more.)

All in all, you can't do the park in a day. It's worth spending several days, as there are diverse environments to explore.

Next stop, Hapuna Beach, and a dose of indulgence...
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Jun 12th, 2004, 09:48 AM
  #2
bonniebroad
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Birdergirl, we also stayed at Kilauea Lodge, but we were in the new six-room building beside the old Lodge. I loved the tin roof (when it rained at night) and the towel warmers! We thought the food at the Lodge was delicious.....(but we got Mai Tai's rather than wine). Drink a lot of those over there, it seems! I'm looking forward to staying there again in the near future.
 
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