Trip Rport on Big Island - Activities

Old Nov 15th, 2006, 06:15 AM
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Trip Rport on Big Island - Activities

I must have missed posting this from our trip in OCtober. Better late than never.

Big Island Activities

VNP -this was where my DH had wanted to go most of all and we couldn’t wait to get out there. We drove from what was probably THE farthest point away and back in 1 day. As we wanted to be there at sunset, we didn’t back to Hapuna Beach until 11:30 pm [after stopping for an hour for dinner in Hilo]. I don’t suggest this to anyone – it was a long drive/ride home in the dark on some VERY windy, narrow roads. Not being familiar with them didn’t help any. Next time, we’d stay a few nights in either Volcano or Hilo.
We drove on Crater Road to Kilauea Overlook and viewed Halema’uma’u Crater. It was immense! We saw people hiking across it. We took the Chain of Craters road, taking out time and stopping at various sites along the way. We went through the Thurston Lava Tube. It was about 8’ high, which really surprised me. When you get to the end of the lit portion, you can exit or you can go through a gate into the unlit area, but be sure to have a flashlight. We went until we couldn’t see any light from the entrance [I kept ducking thinking I was going to clunk my head despite repeated comments from DH that that wouldn’t happen! Then we turned off the flashlight and it was absolute total black darkness! I truly couldn’t see my hand in front of my face! We didn’t stay long…but it was strangely eerie and calm at once.
Crater Chain Road
Blue Hawaiian Helicopter –this was my birthday present to DH. After having hiked in the day before, I knew this would be a once in a lifetime chance to see the same thing from above [who knows where the lava will be next visit?]. We flew with Blue Hawaiian on an Eco Star helicopter. We did the 2 hour island tour. Neither of us had been on a helicopter before and it was unbelievable! We were lucky enough to sit in the front seats next to the pilot so we had great views out of the front and side windows. Our pilot, Steve, was knowledgeable and very entertaining along with being an excellent pilot. We flew over bubbling calderas and saw lava flows [albeit small ones] and then followed the lava tubes to the ocean where they empty into the sea.
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Old Nov 15th, 2006, 06:33 AM
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Sorry that was older unedited version -dont'know how that got in.

It should have included :

We then took our time driving down Chain of Crater road until we got to the end of the road where the ranger station was and where the lava blocked the road. We stopped along the way to view different flow areas etc.

We walked out to the viewing area which had markers the entire way and did help a bit in the dark on the way back [reflective bits of plastic]. We then decided to continue on out past the third blinker. This is NOT marked except for the blinkers. It was a tough walk over the lava.

We hung out there for a while and decided to walk back to the observation area before it got dark. You could not see any lava during the day either coming down the mountain or entering the sea.

Heading back was a good idea as it started to rain and the rocks got slippery. We hung around the observation peak as it got dark and then the show began. At first we could see little "thin" streams of lave coming down the mountainside. They would get brighter and dim and you could see [with binoculars] as it branched out into other rivulets.

And once it got dark, you could see the orange glow of the lava as it entered the ocean! It was the wind would blow, the steam vapors would move and it would look like a witches caldron illuminated with a birght orange look to it. We watched this for about 30 minutes and then headed back to the car.

I recommend hiking boots. The lava rocks that you have to climb over are a good size, sit in precarious positions [think twisted ankle heaven] and if it starts to rain as it did while we were there, lava gets slippery.

Another suggestion: wear long pants and long sleeves. You may be hotter than if in shorts, but slipping on those rocks will smart. And they provide some warmth if it rains, which chilled me to the bone in my shorts. Carrying poncho is an idea too as well as wearing gardening gloves to protect hands. If you are staying after dark, flashlight are a must [bigger is better and one for each of you and I would recommend the kind you strap on your head to keep you hands free. It is SO dark on the rocks once the sun goes down.

Be sure to take: rain gear, water and heavy foot wear. We saw folks with gardening like gloves on which we thought was a good don't want to fall on the lava rocks! And putting your hands down to catch yourself would hurt big time too, hence the gloves. And of, course, bring camera and binoculars.

We stopped in Hilo for dinner at Harrington's on the Ice Pond and had a great meal before heading back to Hapuna Prince.

Also, there's a really nice little town at top northeast part of the Big Island called Waimea. Nice shops and some top notch restaurants. We'll probably stay here next time...The Jacaranda Inn next to Parker Ranch looked like a winner.

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Old Dec 20th, 2006, 10:03 AM
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Why did you use the helicopter company that you used, isn't there one at the Hapuna Prince? We're going next week and I think I should reserve a spot now is there any advice you can offer on that? Also what do you thing about VNP with kids (7 and 3.5)?
I look forward to your advice - you seem really detailed and organized.
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Old Dec 20th, 2006, 10:39 AM
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VNP should be fine for kids. Make sure and save some time for a stop at the Petroglyph site down. You should not take the kids out onto the lava field at the end of the road, IMHO. The lava is too rough, it's too hot, and they won't appreciate it. If someone wants to do the hike out to the most remote place, make sure and wear long pants, have proper boots, bring LOTS of water, and I also recommend some type of gardening glove for protection from the rough lava. I saw several people on my brief hike with nasty cuts and scrapes on their arms, hands, and legs from where they slipped on the rough lava. The rough bits that you hit are as sharp as glass. The rangers said they routinely have to send people to the hosptial in Hilo for stitches from lava lacerations.

I did the trip to VNP in one day from Hapuna, but I started earlier and didn't stop to have dinner in Hilo, although I would have liked to. I did not want to drive back down from Waimea in the dark ( I don't care for that road). VNP is so interesting, and the atmosphere is so nice up there that I would agree with taking a night or two around that area to enjoy it all.
Old Dec 20th, 2006, 11:24 AM
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There is no helicopter service at Hapuna per se {the tour desk has some kind of trip] and Blue Hawaiian is a short ride from HP in Waikoloa

They do not have child's prices for those over 24 months. It will be very costly for 4 tickets. Think about it. If your kids freak out in the would be really unfair to the others on the flight. I'mnot sure what they would do in a situation like that. It was a bit disconcerting to me as an adult -- all glass all around you.

There is plenty that you can do driving in VNP that would be easy enough for the kids. The visitor center is informative too.

I would drive down Chain of Craters, but I don't think I would wait until dark to see the lava flow into the sea. There is absolutely NOTHING for the kids to do while waiting. The walk to the observation area is over rough lava and while they might be okay on it during the day, it is tricky in the pitch black. And it is a long ride the VNP and back -- hope your kids are okay in car for that long and on twisty road [ie. carsickness].

If I can answer anything else, feel free to post here or email me directly.

Hope this helps...
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