Lava Viewing On The Big Island!

One of the most exciting adventures on island is viewing Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano. For the first time since 2013, lava from Kilauea’s Pu‘u O‘o vent is flowing into the ocean, providing residents and visitors with an opportunity to see the lava up close.

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Website

There are great options in viewing the current ocean entry of the lava flow: hike in from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park side; hike in from the Kalapana side or via lava viewing boat tour.

Hike in from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

You can hike out to see the lava form the bottom of Chain of Craters Road within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Lava conditions change constantly so check with park rangers before setting out on a hike. This is a strenuous 11-mile round trip hike over rough terrain. Sturdy hiking boots, a hat, long lightweight hiking pants, and plenty of water are absolute musts.

A complete list of safety tips can be found on the Park’s website: https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/safety.htm.

For persons looking to make a multi-day trip, camping in the park is a great option, and there are a multiple campsites to choose from in the park.

Camping in Hawaii Volcano National Park, Kulanaokuaiki Campground

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Viewing from Kalapana side of the flow
At the end of Highway 130 in Kalapana, Hawaii County officials have opened a three-mile stretch of an emergency access road complete with a free parking area in order to view the lava. However, visitors must leave their cars in the parking area and hike in on the gravel road – no cars are allowed. It is a seven-mile round trip hike to view where the lava crossed Chain of Craters Road and entered the ocean. Breakouts in the lava can occur at any time and you may be able to get up close to lava oozing out of one of these breakouts.

The viewing area is open from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily and rangers are on hand to answer questions. As with the hike from the national park side, a hat, water, and sturdy shoes are a must as is a flashlight if you head out in the early evening.

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Ocean lava viewing
Boat tours are an incredible chance to see the lava entering the ocean from just feet away.  There are  guides that offer both hiking and boat tours of the lava and Kalapana area in general. They also offer bike rentals for biking out to see the lava from the Kalapana side.

Whether you view the lava by foot, or boat it is sure to be a memorable experience you’ll never forget. Be careful, be prepared and enjoy! 

The World Famous Mauna Kea Resort!

Did you know that the Big Island was once home to the most expensive hotel in the world? Looking to create the most luxurious hotel possible, Laurance Rockefeller built Mauna Kea Resort overlooking two of the most beautiful white sand beaches on the Big Island: Hapuna Beach and Kauna’oa Bay.

shutterstock_399721810The beach frontage at Mauna Kea Resort is unmatched anywhere along the Kohala Coast, and enables Resort residents to enjoy a wide range of ocean activities.

When the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel opened to the public in 1965 it was the most expensive hotel not only in Hawaii or the U.S., but in the entire world! Celebrities from all walks of life attended the hotel’s glamorous opening.

Today, Mauna Kea Resort includes the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Hapuna Prince Hotel, two championship golf courses, and eight different residential resort communities offering a variety of real estate options. It has the lowest density of any of the resorts along the Kohala Coast and is also the only resort that crosses Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway, extending up to an elevation of 1,000 feet. This means you can choose living close to the ocean or more upland (mauka), enabling you to take advantage of excellent mountain and ocean views, depending upon where you reside.

If you’re a golf enthusiast, you’ll love the two incredible 18-hole golf courses here: Hapuna Beach Golf Course designed by Arnold Palmer, and the Robert Trent Jones, Jr. designed Mauna Kea Golf Course. Each course offers something special. Starting at an elevation of 700 feet, the Hapuna course offers ocean views from almost every hole. The Mauna Kea Course is considered one of the best on island. Golf Magazine ranked it #12 of its Top 100 golf courses in the country!

Golf at Mauna Kea Resort

The resort is home to a truly extraordinary art collection of more than 1,600 Asian and Oceanic pieces – some of them come from Mr. Rockefeller’s personal collection! If you’re interested in learning more about the Mauna Kea Resort’s fantastic art collection, a walking tour of the Laurance Rockefeller Asian & Pacific Art Collection is given every Saturday at 10am. The ADA compliant tour is guided by Patti Cook and begins in the lobby, and takes about 1.5 hours to complete.

The communities within this luxury resort are as varied as the activities you can pursue here. Each of the eight private communities within the Resort has a different feel. The Villas at Mauna Kea contain just 40 condos while the Fairways at Mauna Kea South and Mauna Kea North each have 33 lots, offering detached single-family homes in a variety of styles. The Bluffs at Mauna Kea is close enough to the ocean to hear the surf at night, while the townhomes at Wai’ula’ula are at the highest elevation within the resort, offering stunning views of rolling hills and the Kohala coastline.

VIEW AVAILABLE REAL ESTATE OPTIONS AT MAUNA KEA RESORT

Mauna Kea Resort communities include:

  • The Villas at Mauna Kea
  • Apa’apa’a at the Uplands
  • Kumulani at The Uplands
  • Wai’ula’ula
  • Fairways at Mauna Kea South
  • Fairways at Mauna Kea North
  • The High Bluffs
  • Kauna’oa

Mauna Kea Resort offers a range of luxury real estate opportunities at different price points – condos, single-family homes, townhomes, or vacant land. Get in touch if you’d like to learn more about living in beautiful Mauna Kea!

 

Fifth Annual Big Island Chocolate Festival!

In five short years the annual Big Island Chocolate Festival has become one of the “must attend” food events of the year in West Hawaii. It’s easy to see why. Happening May 13-14 at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel and sites across the westside, the Big Island Chocolate Festival features cooking demonstrations by some of the finest chocolatiers in the world, farm tours, and the piece de resistance—a gala that’s a feast for the senses. 

The Chocolate Festival’s Gala at Hapuna

Most people focus on the Chocolate Festival’s gala, which will be held Saturday, May 14 from 5:30 – 9 p.m. Top chefs, chocolatiers, and confectioners from across the country offer a mouth-watering array of sweet and savory food creations. But that’s not all; there will also be beverage purveyors creating signature cocktails, plus fine wines and handcrafted ales on tap.

Chocolate sculpting by Donal Wressel-Guittard-post

Chef Donald Wressell

This year, the Festival honors the centennial of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park with the theme, “Lavalicious-A Chocolate Salute to the 100th Birthday of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.” Gala culinary stations will be judged on their depiction of the popular park and judged by Cindy Orlando, HVNP superintendent. Also, award-winning Chef Donald Wressell of Guittard Chocolate Company will sculpt one of the largest volcanoes ever created in fine chocolate!  

Add in live entertainment and a silent auction and you’ll see why the Chocolate Festival is so popular. 

Plus, you can have fun knowing that it’s all for a good cause. Sponsored by the Kona Cacao Association (KCA), festival proceeds benefit the ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Assn./University of Hawai‘i endowment fund for the culinary program at Hawai‘i Community College-Palamanui in West Hawaii and programs at Kona Pacific Public Charter School in Kealakekua. 

Local Farm Tours

The Big Island Chocolate Festival also provides opportunities to learn about cooking as well as local agriculture. For instance on Friday, May 13, the Festival offers a guided plantation tour at Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory in Keauhou from 11 a.m. to noon. You can visit the nation’s first tree-to-bar chocolate operation to see cacao growing on trees and how it’s processed into chocolate. This chocolate is sought after the world over and is grown and made right here on the Big Island!

Cooking Demonstrations and Tastings

On Saturday, May 14, at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel there will be several cooking demonstration and tasting, including one on “How to Make An Elegant Dessert Full of Textures,” from 10:45-11:45 a.m. Derek Poirier, Valrhona, an international pastry competitor, will provide pointers on how to create desserts with milk chocolate and hazelnuts. Chocolate Bird

Tickets and More Information

Whether you’re interested in learning more about growing cacao, cooking with chocolate or just tasting yummy food, you’ll want to check out this year’s Big Island Chocolate Festival. 

Pre-sale gala admission is $75 or $100 at the door. Choice of unlimited beer, wine and two specialty cocktails is also included in the ticket price. Find ticket info, including details on the event’s May 13-14 agricultural activities and culinary demonstrations, at www.BigIslandChocolateFestival.com or phone (808) 324-6100.

Chocolate sculpting photo credit: Denise Laitinen

Camping in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park: Kualanaokuaiki Campground

This is a wonderful campground located inside Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. There is no camping permit required, no reservations necessary and is an absolutely beautiful retreat for those wanting to camp in the park.

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There are two campgrounds in the park, but I much prefer this one over the Nāmakanipaio campground site. I have camped in both, and the Kualanaokuaiki, 8 site campground is a much more private setting, where you can enjoy the peace and quiet of the park. Nāmakanipaio, has both drive in/hike in sites, but is located right off highway 11. This campground tends to be more occupied, and has less of a privacy feeling.

Kualanaokuaiki campground is located directly off Chain of Craters road, about 5 miles into Hililina Pali road, at an elevation of about 2700 feet.. Temperatures in the evenings can range in  the 40s to 60s, make sure you are prepared for this. Having a good rain fly on your tent is also a good idea, as light showers can move in quickly.

There is no running water or electricity in the campground, but there is a vault type toilet on site. Be sure to bring what you need! Open fires are not allowed.

This is a beautiful location that is incredibly quite and peaceful, just what you need after a day of adventuring in Hawai’i volcanoes national park!

Enjoy your stay, and I hope you enjoy the campground as much as we did!

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