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Fissure 8 Pahoa Leilani Estates Hawaii

Straight talk about Kilauea

We just returned from a fantastic trip on the Big Island! We toured the Pahoa area and spent the night by the Black Sand Beach and got as close as 2 miles away from the active fissure! A once in a lifetime opportunity!

Recent press in regards to the events surrounding the Kilauea eruption have created much concern, so I will try and give some honest, first-hand perspective on the situation.

Initially, I was apprehensive about going - having repeated visions of dying an premature, fiery and unpleasant death at the hands of Pele. After all, the news reports sounded awful - like all of Hawaii would soon succumb to Pele's wrath! I also envisioned the area being like a ghost town with no cars or people for miles.

Soon after arriving into the Pahoa area, there were lots of cars and people which reassured me that it was simply "business as usual" in this neck of the woods. Black beach was full of cars and people visiting, and the town of Pahoa had more people that it could almost handle! The National Guard had closed off access to the entire "active" area unless you are a local resident. This was a bit of a disappointment, as I'd hoped to see some active lava (from a safe distance).

The air was SO CLEAR on the Hilo side, except for the immediate area around fissure, which glowed a orange-red hue in the nearby sky. So cool! At night, we were surrounded by hundreds of people, including locals paying homage to Pele. I didn't see one person wearing one of the white disposable masks, nor could feel any affects of the fissure.

There were some days when the air quality in Kona showed some VOG, so those days we just headed up to the Kohala Coast to swim and hang out.

Consider that he Big Island of Hawaii is just over 4,000 square miles, versus the affected area which is about 10 square miles. The majority of Hawaii island is unaffected by Kilauea and know there is plenty of fun to be had swimming and exploring here.

Remember, Kilauea's been erupting since 1983 near the city of Volcano which is actually closer than the current eruption site. As you can see, the current May 2018 eruption site, near Pahoa, is further away from Volcano and a 2 hour drive away from Kona on the opposite side of the island.

kilauea volcano

We recommend these sites which should help ease your mind on visiting.

  • Volcanoes National Park service website for daily updates on volcanic activity on Big Island
  • Hawaii County Map has current map sites
  • Check Purple Air for current air quality conditions
  • In Google search engine, type in: Kona air quality (or whatever other city you are traveling to)
    Google pulls this information from the EPA hourly.

Kona farmers markets

Farmers Markets in the Kona area on the Big Island of Hawaii.

DAILY MARKETS

South Kona Fruit Stand
Daily 9am-5pm; Sunday 10-4pm
84-4770 Mamalahoa Hwy, Captain Cook

Cooks Bounty Fruit Stand (in front of the Kona Theatre)
Daily 9am-6pm
Small stand with a great variety of fruits, avocados, pineapple, fresh coconuts, juice, canned butters, dried fruits and more!
82-6087 Mamalahoa Hwy, Captain Cook

 

OPEN VARIOUS DAYS

Kona Farmers Market
Wednesday-Sunday 7am-4pm
Huge selection of fruits, avocados, greens, flowers, artisan wood carvings, trinkets, etc. THE largest Farmers Market in Kona.
75-5767 Ali'i Dr, Kailua-Kona

Alii Garden Marketplace
Wednesday-Sunday 9am-5pm
Circle of small vendor booths selling t-shirts, artisan crafts, food, jewelry and more.
75-6129 Alii Drive, Kailua-Kona

Pure Kona Green Market
Sunday 9am-2pm
Good sized market with artists, freshed baked goods, food stalls, food truck, fresh fruits, greens, coffee, fruit butters, jams, and live music.
82-6160 Mamalahoa Hwy, Captain Cook

Ho'oulu Community Farmers Market
Wednesday 9am-2pm
78-128 Ehukai St, Kailua-Kona

Kona Sunset Farmers Market
Wednesday 2pm-6pm
74-5465 Kamakaeha Avenue, Kailua-Kona

Keauhou Farmers Market
Saturday 8am-12pm
Medium selection of fruits, greens, baked goods, seafood, smoothies, tea and coffee.
78-6831 Alii Dr, Kailua-Kona

 

MISC STANDS

Fresh Tamales
Saturday 8am-3pm
Usually a few different varieties - pork, chicken or cheese - come early for best selection!
77-6425 Kuakini Hwy, Kailua Kona in the Sunset Plaza parking lot.

turtle

Each year, millions of people travel to Hawaii to experience its natural beauty and remarkable wildlife. While most people want to experience paradise with all five senses, we encourage hosts and guests to follow all local and federal guidelines when encountering marine life.

The State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources and the National Marine Fisheries Service recommend observing wildlife from a distance and under no circumstances touching, riding or feeding sea turtles. You can find a complete list of guidelines here. Any violation of these guidelines is punishable by state and federal laws.

Hawaii is a unique place and we should all do our part to preserve its unique ecosystems. By following the federal guidelines included above and the State’s recommended guidelines that you can access here, and reminding your guests to do the same, we can ensure that future generations have a chance to enjoy Hawaii’s native species and natural habitats.

sunset silhouetteIf you're arriving after 9pm there are a few restaurants and stores open late to ensure you're fed and stocked up for your stay. These can all be found on the way from the Kona Airport to the condo, so after a long day of traveling, you won't need to drive all around to get what you need.

GROCERY & CONVENIENCE STORES

Safeway (next to Walmart)
75-1027 Henry St, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Open 24 hours daily

Walmart (next to Safeway)
75-1015 Henry St, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Open daily until midnight

 

RESTAURANTS OPEN LATE
Besides fast food, there are a number of sit-down restaurants right by the ocean in Kona. The main road - Ali'i Drive - goes along the ocean and will lead you to the condo when heading south.

The first 3 listings below are all in the same shopping center area in Kona off Ali'i drive.

Oceans Sports Bar & Grill
Busy, neighborhood hangout offering fish tacos & daily specials, plus happy hour & outdoor seating.
75-5811 Ali'i Dr, Kailua-Kona
Open daily until 2am

Humpys Big Island Alehouse
Buzzing bar & grill featuring American grub, seafood, dozens of draft brews & live music.
75-5815 Ali'i Dr, Kailua-Kona
Open daily until 2am

Laverne's Sports Bar
Eatery serving burgers, fish tacos & more features 2 bars, dance floor & kitschy Hawaiian decor.
75-5819 Ali'i Dr, Kailua-Kona
Open daily until 2am

Fumi's Kitchen
Comfort food, outdoor seating, small plates
75-5799 Ali'i Drive, #7, Alii Sunset Plaza, Kailua-Kona
Open daily until midnight

lava lavaWe often have folks asking for things to do during the day when they fly out late at night. Here’s a great way to maximize your final hours on the Big Island and what we recommend for an outbound flight at 9pm or later.

Enjoy the sun, surf and sand on the Waialea Coast for the day. This area is generally not as congested as the Kailua-Kona area and there's plenty of beaches and other great attractions to explore.

At Waialea Beach (Beach 69) you can enjoy the surf and sand and once you’re done, rinse off and get clean before the flight home with the on-site showers and restrooms.
Waialea Beach (Beach 69)
Old Puako Rd, Waimea, HI 96743

On the way to dinner, be sure to stop by the Puako Petroglyph Park. The largest concentration of petroglyphs in the Pacific lies within the 233-acre Puako Petroglyph Archaeological District. These Malama Petroglyphs were made thousands of years ago. The field has over 3,000 carvings including paddlers, sails, marchers, dancers, and family groups, as well as dogs, chickens, turtles, and deity symbols.
Puako Petroglyph Park
N Kaniku Dr, Waimea, HI 96743

At around 4 or 5pm, head over to Lava Lava Beach Club which is closer to the airport. The open air restaurant and live entertainment is a great way to unwind and enjoy your last few hours on the island. Relax by the beach and watch the sunset listening to live entertainment. You'll never want to leave! It takes about 30 minutes from here to get back to the airport. If you have a rental car to return, we recommend leaving around 6 or 7pm for a 9pm flight departure.
Lava Lava Beach Club
69-1081 Ku'uali'i Place in Waikoloa Village

luauCome explore the rich history of the youngest (and still growing) Hawaiian Island! From the birthplace of King Kamehameha to the site of Captain Cook's death, Hawai'i Island offers a variety of cultural and historical adventures.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
No trip to Hawai'i Island would be complete without paying homage to the volcano goddess Pele! It's truly amazing to see Mother Nature's power. There's so much to do and see in the park and nearby, you may want to spend a day or two nearby. Don't miss the petroglyphs and lava tubes. If you can swing it, the helicopter ride over the volcanoes is a once in a lifetime experience! The volcano is amazing to view at sunset so you can truly experience the glow. Stop by the Visitors Center for information about the volcanoes, maps and mementos of your visit. Park is open 24/7/365 for your convenience.

Waipi'o Valley
Words cannot describe the beauty you'll see here. There's a rich and interesting history described on the placards from the viewing area, so please respect it. You can hike down the valley and also enjoy horseback riding through the valley. Be sure to stop by the world famous Tex Drive-In for Portuguese Malasadas on the way!

Humpback Whale Watching
Humpback whales visit Hawaiian waters each year from November to May with the peak of the season being from January to March. They leave the Alaskan waters in the fall and head straight to Hawaii, taking 6-8 weeks to travel some 6,000 miles, in order to mate and give birth to their calves. It's a testament to willpower, determination and a beautiful reminder of the power these mammals exert during their 45-50 year life span.

Hike & Snorkel at Captain Cook Monument
Visit the place where Captain Cook met his demise at the hands of Hawaiians. Heading towards Captain Cook on HI-11, just after the intersection at Mamalahoa Bypass Road stay straight and you'll be on Napoopoo Road. Around 82 Napoopoo Road in Captain Cook you'll probably see cars parked alongside the road. Park here and hike down to Captain Cook Monument. It’s a winding but well-traveled trail that's about 1.8 miles down. Did I mention you'll be going down?? Way down... which means the way back up - which is mostly in full sun - is UP - about a 1,500 ft difference in elevation! Recommended to go about 7am, swim for a few hours then hike back up before it gets too hot. Bring water, hat, SPF, snorkel gear and wear good hiking shoes.

Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park (City of Refuge)
Archaeological park featuring sacred burial spots, Native Hawaiian temple ruins, royal grounds, ponds and petroglyphs.
1871 Trail in Captain Cook

Maka o Hule Navigation Heiau (temple)
Located on the northern Kohala Coast off the 270 between mile markers 14 and 15, you will need to park and make a short hike (1.8 miles roundtrip) to see these navigational wonders. The upturned stones point with remarkable accuracy to such South Pacific geographic locations, such as the Polynesian Islands, Tahiti and the Marquesas. Located between the 14 and 15 mile markers on Highway 270, turn makai on the road to Mahukona Beach Park. This park has a decent amount of parking, but is at an old industrial site and there is no beach.

Puako Petroglyph Park
The largest concentration of petroglyphs in the Pacific lies within the 233-acre Puako Petroglyph Archaeological District. These Malama Petroglyphs were made thousands of years ago. The field has over 3,000 carvings including paddlers, sails, marchers, dancers, and family groups, as well as dogs, chickens, turtles, and deity symbols.

Hawaiian Food
A variety of Hawaiian food such as poi, taro, poke, haupia cake, lomi lomi, loco moco, opihi, malasada, huli huli chicken, kalua pork, shave ice (get it with Mac Nut ice cream!) can be found throughout the island at various stalls and restaurants throughout the island.

Hawai'i Lu'au
No visit to Hawaii would be complete without attending a luau! Enjoy traditional dinner, tropical drinks, music and traditional Polynesian dance, drum and storytelling. Available on different days at various locations. Advanced ticket purchase recommended. Arrive well before ticket time for best seating.

Watch a Hawaiian Sunset
Sunsets in Hawaii are more than just something that occurs on a daily basis. It's a time to unite with others and bear witness to all we are given. It's a time to reflect upon the day, what we accomplished and all our good deeds. A time for us to contemplate what we are yet to accomplish and things we should have done or said differently. A time to reflect on promises made and maybe not kept. A time to reflect on the possibilities of what tomorrow brings; and things we may do differently. Take a walk down the road from the condo just before sunset and you'll be among locals and other visitors quietly reflecting.

Lei
You can "get lei'd" at the airport or even at the Kona Farmers Market among other places. Part of Hawaiian culture for centuries, Lei's historically have been made from flowers, shells, leaves, seeds, vines or feathers strung together and worn around the neck. A Lei is a gift of aloha and hold special meaning dependent upon when given and the items from which they are made. 

 

Several other cultural and historical sites can be found here

Waipi'o Valley

There's so many fun and diverse things to do from seeing an active volcano to Zip-lining, hiking and scuba diving. You may have trouble narrowing down your list of great adventures you'll want to partake in.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Well worth the drive! It's truly amazing to see Mother Nature's power! There's so much to do and see in the park and nearby, you may want to spend a day or two nearby. Don't miss the petroglyphs and lava tubes. If you can swing it, the helicopter ride over the volcanoes is a once in a lifetime experience! The volcano is amazing to view at sunset so you can truly experience the glow. Stop by the Visitors Center for information about the volcanoes, maps and mementos of your visit. Park is open 24/7/365 for your convenience.

Waipi'o Valley
Words cannot describe the beauty you'll see here. There's a rich history in this area so please respect it. You can hike down the valley and also enjoy horseback riding through the valley. Be sure to stop by the world famous Tex Drive-In for Portuguese Malasadas on the way!

Hike down to Captain Cook Monument
Heading towards Captain Cook on HI-11, just after the intersection at Mamalahoa Bypass Road stay straight and you'll be on Napoopoo Road. Around 82 Napoopoo Road in Captain Cook you'll probably see cars parked alongside the road. Park here and hike down to Captain Cook Monument. It’s a winding but well-traveled trail that's about 1.8 miles down. Did I mention you'll be going down?? Way down... which means the way back up - which is mostly in full sun - is UP - about a 1,500 ft difference in elevation! Recommended to go about 7am, swim for a few hours then hike back up before it gets too hot. Bring water, hat, SPF, snorkel gear and wear good hiking shoes.

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm
Learn about the conservation of several species of seahorses! Interact with them for a truly once in a lifetime experience!
73-4388 Ilikai Place in Kailua-Kona

Beautiful Beaches
Visit some of the amazing colored beaches, off the beaten path or secluded snorkeling beaches. We've compiled a list of the best here!

Lava Tree State Monument
State Park with paths to view the molds of trees burned in a lava flow. Park also has picnic sites and restrooms.

Kohala Zipline
Rappel from trees, swim under a waterfall, traverse 5 skybridges and zoom over the lush tropical canopy in 9 thrilling and scream-inspiring ziplines at Kohala Zipline in Hawi.

Akaka Falls Zipline
Experience 7 incredible ziplines that pass above jaw-dropping scenery, along unrivaled spans, including the only zipline in Hawaii that soars over a 250' waterfall!

Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park (City of Refuge)
Archaeological park featuring burial grounds and a rich history.
1871 Trail in Captain Cook

Kona Ironman
Come bear witness to some of the most fit and inspirational athletes from around the globe as they compete for the prestigious title of Ironman. Generally held the 2nd weekend in October, accommodations fill up months in advance so be sure to book well before summer. The swimming and marathon take place in Kona, while the bike portion is from Kohala to Kona. Considered as the most difficult one-day sporting event in the world, the Kona Ironman is an amazing event to watch. The race includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride 26.22 run without breaks.

Stargaze at Mauna Kea
Hike to the top of Mauna Kea for a truly unique experience! Bring a jacket, gloves, blanket and head lamps or a flashlight. You must have a 4 wheel drive vehicle to go beyond the visitors center. Visit Manua Kea for reservations.

Hike Akaka Falls
The 400 foot falls is accessible via a short hike off the roadside.

blog food

With so many great places to eat, you'll have trouble deciding! Here are a few of our favorites.

Da Poke Shack
Enjoy authentic Hawaiian Poke at Da Poke Shack. A small place for a variety of fresh caught Poke and other local specialties! Eat outside on the picnic tables or take it to go.
76-6246 Ali'i Drive in Kailua Kona

Basik Acai
Last time we were in here this place was packed and for good reason! They have around 6 different acai bowls and about 8 different smoothies. Upstairs from Snorkel Bobs.
75-5831 Kahakai Road in Kona open 8am-3pm daily. 

The Coffee Shack
Amazing breakfast, lunch and of course Kona Coffee! The views here are breathtaking inside or out on the lanai. Be sure to check out the geckos that come to visit.
83-5799 Mamalahoa Hwy in Honaunau

Evolution Bakery (in same location as GetSum Pizza)
Vegetarian breakfast and lunch fare along with excellent coffee, bowls, smoothies and juices. All handmade and some gluten free items.
75-5813 Ali'i Drive in Kona open 7am-11:30am daily. 

Cafe Florian
Casual joint with excellent baked goods, salads, sandwiches and Kona coffee with wifi.
81-6637 Mamalahoa Hwy in Kealakekua

Broke da Mouth Grindz
Monday-Saturday 11am-3:30pm, 5pm-8:30pm
Authentic Hawaiian and Philippine foods are the specialties here - the Garlic Furikake Chicken is amazing and a must try!
74-5565 Luhia St B-2, Kailua-Kona

Rebel Kitchen
Generally only 3 people working in this fabulous cafe which equates to a wait. However there's beer, wine and usually life [ukelele] music to help pass the time.
79-7399 Hawaii Belt Rd, Kealakekua Open 11am-8pm daily

Lava Lava Beach Club
Open air restaurant and live entertainment. Relax by the beach, enjoy traditional haupia cake, watch the sunset and hula dancer while listening to live Hawaiian music. You'll never want to leave!
69-1081 Ku'uali'i Place in Waikoloa Village

Tex Drive-In
On the way to Waipaio Valley, stop by the famous Tex Drive-In for deep-fried Portuguese dough balls called malasadas. Also enjoy Hawaiian food and burgers.
45-690 Pakalana St. in Honokaaa open daily 6am-8pm

Punalu'u Bake Shop
Famous bake shop on the way to see the Volcano offering sweetbreads, cookies, souvenirs and other novelties.
Just off HI-11 in Naalehu open 9am-5pm daily

Makalawena Beach

We've compiled a listing of the best beaches, places to swim, lounge in the water and snokel on the Big Island of Hawaii based on our experiences. Let us know if you've found a favorite! Tell us why and we'll add it to the list!

  • Kahalu'u Beach Park just across the street from the condo. The most popular place on the island for snorkeling and swimming. Restrooms, food, coral and lots of sea life waiting for you! Watch the sunset with the other locals and tourists each nice and enjoy the splendor of true Hawai’i!
  • Magic Sands in Kailua Kona (1 mile north from Condo)
  • Punalu'u Black Sand Beach home to lots of sea turtles! Good parking, restrooms, some vendors selling food and busy!
  • Papakōlea Green Sand Beach in South Point (the southernmost point in the United States!) is only accessible via a 4WD and 2 hour hike.
  • Pebbles Beach at the bottom of Kona Paradise is absolutely stunning to snorkel or dive since the black "river rock" pebbles make for an amazingly different dive. You'll see soft coral, starfish, thousands of tropical fish, eels and more! Also the sound the ocean makes when receding over these pebbles is so meditative and tranquil, you'll never want to leave. HOWEVER, the surf can be treacherous - no joke - and can change at a moment’s notice. Many people have lost their lives here just walking on the beach. Proceed with caution. If it's calm, you're good. If no one is swimming, there's probably good reason.
  • Pae'a (aka "Two Step") in Captain Cook. Just outside and to the right of Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park. You'll park along the road and walk to the lava rock formation. You'll see everyone lining up at one end of the lava rock where it's 2 steps down and you're in the ocean! Amazing coral for snorkeling here. Lots of locals and sometimes even an outrigger club may be practicing so stay out of their way when exploring.
  • Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park
  • Ahalanui County Beach Park has volcanically heated tide pools along with lifeguard, picnic areas and BBQ grills. Lots of room to park and a treasure that mostly only locals know about.
  • Kohanaiki Beach Park north of Kailua Kona
  • Manta Ray SCUBA diving at night
  • Mahai'ula Beach Bay and Makalawena Beach are both down the same "road". You'll need to drive through treacherous lava fields (we did it in a standard size car - just go VERY VERY slow). For Mahai'ula Beach you can either walk from the lava rock parking area (recommended) that you'll reach first or proceed down to the parking lot along the beach where the restrooms are. You'll walk the path northeast about 7 minutes towards the beach. Further down, another 10-15 minute walk via a harsh lava rock trail, will bring you to Makalawena Beach. The walk here is a slipper destroyer, therefore, running shoes are recommended. The beach here is white sand and usually there aren't many people fighting for beach space.
  • Manini'owali Beach (Kua Bay) - take the Kua Bay access road down to the parking area. There are restrooms for changing, sometimes a food truck and white sands awaiting. The beach is a nice size, not usually too busy and plenty of great waves.
  • Kukio Beach lots of sea turtles, coral and not too crowded.
  • Hapuna Beach State Park has wide white sands and plenty of space to surf, snorkel, swim or lay in the sun.

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