You can do this tour from Oahu if you want to – Big Island One Day Tour – it would be a long day, and you fly in and out the same day. It is not cheap but you may find it worthwhile.
This was by far the highlight of our trip to the Big Island. Let me get one argumentative point out of the way up front. Some Destination Advisors on the Trip Advisor forums – especially the Big Island forum – are very anti tours. They say you should hire a car and drive the circle island yourself. That is one opinion.
Me personally, I disagree. There is nothing I love more than a tour bus and in this instance especially so, sitting back and relaxing next to big picture windows, watching the landscapes change, hearing the tour guide talk about the various lava flows and all kinds of interesting things..
The gorgeous bougainvillaea along the highway
This was a great day out and had we done this in a car I would have absolutely hated it. I would have been stressed out the whole time about the other half driving – was he getting tired, these roads especially later on in the day (from the black sand beach back to Kona) seemed quite scary and curvy to me, and we would have had to drive on the wrong side of the road in the wrong side of the car.
So I am really glad we did the tour instead of hiring the car. I would pick the tour again, anytime, over hiring the car, especially in places I have never been before and in places we would be on the wrong side of the road. Though, I have done tours here at home as well and enjoyed them greatly.
Parker Ranch Center was the first stop and it really was just a toilet stop but there was the Parker Ranch Store there which seemed to be quite a temporal vortex I could have got stuck in as well as a Starbucks if anyone needed coffee. Dayum, we bought terrible coffee before leaving for the day – that is another post.
Rainbow Falls was our next stop and it is just a short walk from the bus which makes it extremely convenient for the tour people and those who are not able to walk long distances. There is a hike to the top of the falls if you want to do that – we chose not to because there was a lot to photograph just near the bottom of the falls.
We like tree, flower, and textures like moss shots and there was a lot of that there. We got stuck in a temporal vortex photographing moss and before we knew it it was bus time again.
There is also a lot of *danger* here at the Rainbow Falls, as you can see from the signage. 🙂
It was just incredibly green here.
Our tour guide Derek was brilliant and hilarious as well as extremely informative. One of the things he told us is that they had changed when the volcano centre was redone was where they take the tours to eat because a Bento at Volcano visitors centre is now something like $19. They take people to eat to Imiloa Astronomy Center because they have great food at very reasonable prices plus a buffet option.
These astronomy programs sound wonderful!
This is one of the places in Hilo I had most wanted the other half to go to in any case so I was thrilled about this. The food was awesome and they did have big serves for less than $10. I chose the BLT with avocado and it was great.
The other half had the bacon cheeseburger, which I forgot to photograph. Of course this was not Aussie bacon (which they call Canadian Bacon here) but was still good. The gift shop was interesting and would rank a 6/10 on my gift shop scale. The other half bought a t-shirt which said “I need my space” – so true!
We were also taken to Big Island Candies which was interesting because you could see into the factory and how they make the chocolates, plus sample their wares. We did buy some shortbread cookies which were coated in soft caramel and then dark chocolate – these were amazing. I forgot to take photos, again. Sometimes you just get involved in what you are doing and forget about the camera! 🙂
Coming up in Part 2 – Volcanoes National Park, Thurston Lava Tube and more.