Did Someone say Lava?

We are here for two days, we explored Volcano Village and the park still isn’t open, so what do we do?

I know I know, I only provided you with a days’ worth of alternatives for my last post.  So here is another day’s worth of adventures.

Let’s get to the nitty gritty shall we?  Do you want to see the lava?  The helicopter tours and lava boat tours are operating again out of Hilo.  They have had to make a few adjustments in their tours, but they are up and running again.

By Air.

Now, I advise you call in advance and made a reservation with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters or Paradise Helicopter tours.  If you wait until the last minute, they might already be full.  They do sometimes get cancellations so CALL NOW if this is the route you think you want to go. Prices run from $225 to $277 a person (plus tax) (Sometimes they have internet specials online, check there too.)  If the weather is too rainy, too cloudy or conditions are deemed unsafe they will cancel, but try to rebook you for another day/time, hopefully you have some additional time in your vacation to accommodate an unforeseen change.  If not, they will provide a refund.

By Sea.

Chances are even better that these guys are sold out already, but don’t know until you try! Prices are about $177 per person (more for the sunrise and sunset times) There are only 4 licensed Lava Boat tour companies;

Lava Ocean Tours

Moku Nui Lava Tours

Kalapana Cultural Tours

Hawaiian Lava Boat Tours

As of now I know Lava Ocean Tours, Kalapana Cultural Tours and Hawaiian Lava Boat Tours are up and running.  I can’t confirm Moku Nui Lava Tours.

If you pick any other tour company ask to see their license, you do not want to go out with an unlicensed charter! The Coast Guard has been out watching for unlicensed charters and arresting captains as they come back in from the tour…not exactly how you want to remember your Hawaiian vacation right?

Since you are already in Hilo, you might as well check out the town!

Up for some snorkeling?  Try the Carlsmith Beach Park.  Not a very sandy beach (well share one of those next) more like small lagoons the ocean mixes with fresh underground springs which in turn creates great water for snorkeling!  The water is crystal clear, but a smidge colder than other parts of the island so don’t say I didn’t warn you!  There are showers, restrooms, picnic tables and grassy areas as well.  Find a spot and make it your own for part of the afternoon.

Less than a mile from here is Richardson Beach Park.  One of the Big Islands’ famous black sand beaches.  Great for snorkeling just like Carlsmith, the water is also a mix of ocean and fresh springs making it a little bit cooler to swim in (but great for seeing the marine life!) Lots of space to lounge in the sun or picnic under the trees.  Facilities include toilets, showers and a lifeguard on site.

If you aren’t into the beach and snorkeling, maybe museums are your thing? 

The Pacific Tsunami Museum  is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM. As a living memorial The Pacific Tsunami Museum is dedicated to those who lost their lives in past Tsunami events.   They share an extensive history of the April 1, 1946 Pacific tsunami and the May 23, 1960 Chilean tsunami which devastated much of the east coast of the Big Island, especially Hilo.  While the museum is mostly self guided, they do have special speakers now and then as well as a 20 minute movie that plays daily.  A great deal at $8.00 a person to learn about another part of the Island of Hawaii’s history.

Another great way to learn about the Hawaiian culture and how astronomy plays a part in it is the Imiloa Astronomy Center.  The center works at trying to build a bridge between science and culture by offering educational and cultural programs for visitors and local residents alike.  They have exhibits, activities and a full dome planetarium. Open Tuesday through Sunday 9 AM to 5 PM.

The Lyman Mission House was originally built for New England missionaries David and Sarah Lyman in 1839.   Nearly 100 years later, in 1931, the Lyman Museum was established by their descendants.  Today, the restored Mission House is the island’s oldest surviving wood framed building  is on the State and National Registers of Historic Places and may be visited by guided tour.  Tours are offered Monday through Saturday at 11 AM and 2 PM.  Reservations are required as they limit each tour to groups of 10 people. The Lyman Museum building, next door to the Mission House, was constructed in 1971 and houses a superb collection of artifacts and natural history exhibits as well as special exhibitions, archives, and a gift shop.  Visitors touring the two facilities can see the old Mission House and life as it was 150 years ago, as well as immersive exhibits on many aspects of Hawaiian natural history and culture…a rare and well-rounded view of the real Hawai`i.  Open Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 4:30 PM.

Right in the heart of “old town Hilo” as we call it, or Downtown Hilo is the Hilo Farmers Market.  There is a Farmers Market everyday, but on Wednesdays and Saturdays it is the MOTHER of all Farmer’s Markets with over 200 vendors from all over the island coming to hock their wares.   Parking is limited along the street, but you can always park across the street from Old Town and walk a ways. Open from dusk to dawn, might be a good place to buy something for the folks back home watching your cat/dog/house…you get the point.

If you didn’t find anything to eat at the Farmers Market then you might want to cruise around Old Town and the shops.  Lots of places to choose from just a few of our favorites are Café Pesto, Pineapples and Cronies Bar and Grill.  Stop into some of the mom and pop shops and art galleries along the way.  You never know what deal you might find!


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