SIGHTSEEING

There are many other things to see and do on the Big Island, but the following four are at the top of our personal list. If your budget allows, the helicopter tours of the Island are a spectacular experience and the best way to get a full grasp of the diversity and magnificence of the geography. We recommend Blue Island Helicopter Tours for convenience and professionalism.

Here you will get a hint of what Hawaii looked like when the ancient Hawaii culture was at its height. The City of Refuge is a couple of miles south of Kealakekua Bay. There is a one lane shore road that leads between them and if you do one, you should do the other. There is a secret ocean front picnic area just beyond (to the south) of the City of Refuge. You can reach it by driving to the back left hand corner of the City of Refuge parking lot and taking the rough two track road that leads south. This picnic area has tables and charcoal grills and is known only to the locals. It's a perfect place for a sunset picnic.

At 13,550 feet, you are literally on top of the world. You need to plan for this trip in advance because it requires cold weather clothing. Bring your winter sweaters and ski parkers and definitely wear long pants. If you take one of the commercial tours they will provide you with parkas. Mauna Kea is snow capped year 'round.

Maine lobsters in Hawaii? There are several very innovative commercial enterprises at this site.

If you only do one excursion on your visit to the Big Island, this is not to be missed. 10 years from now, this is the one indelible experience that you will remember. The park is approximately 100 miles from Kona Onenalo in either direction around the island. This trip can be done in one day, but we recommend that you take two days and circumnavigate the Island. Make lodging and dinner reservations at the Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant, Volcano, (808)967 7366, and plan to take two full days.

The most spectacular time to see the Volcano National park is at sunset and dawn. The park is vast and there are several must do activities. First, go to the Park Visitor's Center building and watch the movie. If your timing is right you may also catch a lecture from one of the Rangers. Visit the adjacent gift shop and gallery. It is filled with arts and crafts by Big Island artists and this is the best place on the Island to buy a quality, authentic piece of native, or local art.

You can see much of the Park from your car but if you are up to a hike there are two reasonable hikes that are well worth the effort. First is the Kilauea Iki Trail, which takes you down 400 feet into an extinct crater. The second must do hike is out as far as allowed to see the lava flow into the sea. This hike is off the end of the "Chain of Craters Road", across newly formed lava fields.

In both cases, you must be dressed appropriately with sturdy footwear, preferably hiking boots or sturdy running shoes and long pants. Also plan to take water bottles and keep hydrated. Because this is an active volcano, the park or parts of the park may be closed to visitors, so it is essential that you call ahead and get a status update.

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