Experience Hawaii’s Big Island with an exclusive stay at a privately owned historic mansion located in Hilo. From the rugged volcanic landscape to the vibrant hues of flora and fauna, the scenic beauty of the Big Island is undeniably impressive. Explore Waipio Valley, observe the majesty of the Akaka Falls, hike Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and visit the Imiloa Astronomy Center.
Arrive in Hilo and
Arrive at the Hilo Airport on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Meet your guide and transfer to Reed’s Island, where you will spend five nights at an exclusive house, surrounded by tropical rainforests, waterfalls, rivers, and gorgeous gardens. The epitome of exclusivity and comfort, Reed’s Island will be your home away from home for the duration of the tour.
In the early evening, take an optional walk through the peaceful Lili’uokalani Gardens, named after Hawai’i’s last reigning monarch, Queen Lili’uokalani. Located on Hilo’s Banyan Drive, this authentic Japanese garden was dedicated in 1917 as a tribute to Hawai’i’s first Japanese immigrants, who worked in the island’s sugar cane fields. This beautifully landscaped park features arching red bridges over fishponds, rock gardens, pagodas, Japanese stone lanterns, and a teahouse. Views of Hilo Bay and Moku Ola (Coconut Island) enhance this remarkable landscape.
Following the garden tour, join your fellow travelers at an optional dinner at the elegant Hilo Bay Café, featuring stunning bay views and fine contemporary American, Hawaiian and Japanese cuisines.
‘Akaka Falls, Honoli’i Beach, &
Carlsmith Beach Park, Welcome Dinner
Enjoy breakfast, served daily on the open veranda, or lanai, of the Thomas Guard House. After breakfast, tour ‘Akaka Falls State Park, 14 miles north along the Hamakua Coast. Visit two gorgeous waterfalls on a pleasant 0.4-mile uphill hike that takes you through a lush rainforest filled with wild orchids, bamboo groves, and draping ferns.
Follow the paved footpath to the 100-foot Kahuna Falls. Continue to follow the loop around the bend, where you’ll discover towering ‘Akaka Falls, dropping 442 feet into a stream-eroded gorge. Beautiful ‘Akaka Falls is perhaps the Big Island’s most famous waterfall.
Later, visit Honoli’i Beach. Popular among the local surfing crowd, Honoli’i beach is a mix of black sand, coral rubble, rocks and beach glass. Return to Hilo for lunch at a local restaurant, then visit Carlsmith Beach Park, with a black sand beach and beautiful views of Hilo Bay and Mauna Kea. Watch locals swim and surf. Take an optional swim, conditions permitting, and perhaps see a honu, or Hawaiian green sea turtle! Later, return to the Thomas Guard House for a home-cooked dinner, prepared by a local Hawaiian chef and featuring fresh farm-to-table delicacies.
‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, Downtown Hilo and
Optional Mauna Kea Summit
In the morning, visit the world-famous ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, a public science center dedicated to sharing and interpreting the astronomy conducted on the Mauna Kea summit. ‘Imiloa presents the astronomy atop Mauna Kea within the framework of native Hawaiian traditions of navigation and exploration. Tour the facilities and learn about the ongoing scientific and cultural research within the context of the community. Watch a show at the world’s first 3D digital dome in the planetarium and stroll through gardens that feature native and Polynesian-introduced plant life.
In the afternoon, enjoy lunch on your own and free time in Hilo’s historic downtown. Featuring century-old wooden storefronts housing a variety of sophisticated galleries, shops, restaurants, and cultural sites, Hilo is the Big Island’s biggest small town. Start your walk on Kamehameha Avenue facing beautiful Hilo Bay and discover the variety of shops, restaurants, and attractions. Choose to visit the Pacific Tsunami Museum, which chronicles the cataclysmic natural disasters of 1946 and 1960 that forced Hilo to rebuild farther inland using parkland as a buffer. Or explore the Lyman Mission House and Museum, and Hawai’i-based natural history museum founded in 1931.
Mid-afternoon, depart for an optional excursion to Mauna Kea – the world’s highest volcano! Enjoy a hot picnic-style dinner from a remote outpost, watch the sunset from the top and in the midst of world-class observatories, and view the nighttime Hawaiian skies with a local interpretive naturalist.
Please Note: The Mauna Kea excursion is a high-altitude activity, where you will spend several hours between 9,000-14,000 ft. Because of the altitude and the quick ascent from sea level, this tour is not recommend for those with respiratory, circulatory or heart conditions, who are pregnant or in poor health, or for those who have scuba dived in the previous 24 hours. Although not a
hiking tour, you should also be able to walk on uneven or rocky terrain.
For those not participating in the Mauna Kea excursion, your Tour Director will help you plan the rest of your day. You can relax at your house, explore downtown Hilo, with fun shops, galleries, cafes and markets, or enjoy a traditional lomi-lomi massage at the local spa.
(B, Picnic dinner for those on the Mauna Kea Excursion).
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park encompasses two active volcanoes: Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, and Mauna Loa, the world’s most massive volcano. In recognition of the need to preserve Hawai’i’s outstanding natural environment, in 1980, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park was designated as an International Biosphere Reserve, and in 1987, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park gives scientists insight into the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and is the location of ongoing studies into the processes of volcanism.
Spend the day experiencing the dramatic volcanic landscapes and rare flora and fauna. Take an easy one-mile walk through Kīpuka Puaulu, or Bird Park, to look for native birds and koa trees. Stop at the Kīlauea Visitor’s Center and the Jaggar Museum, built on the edge of the Kīlauea Cauldera, for a breath taking panoramic view of the Halema’uma’u Crater. With its robust plume of volcanic gas, Halema’uma’u is a constant and dramatic reminder of the molten rock churning in a lava lake beneath the crater floor.
For lunch, enjoy a picnic of island specialties, including delicious tropical fruit. Later, take an optional four-mile hike of the Kīlauea Iki trail – the most beautiful hike in the park! The lush crater is an invigorating and intimate way to experience the volcanic terrain and ecology. Or opt for a scenic drive along the Chain of Craters Road, stopping at various scenic locations to view wildlife and the beautiful surroundings.
Then, watch the sunset overlooking Halema’uma’u, which continues to thrill visitors into the nighttime with a vivid glow that illuminates the clouds and the night sky. Enjoy dinner from a scenic location overlooking the crater.
Waipio Valley, Tropical Botanical Garden,
Cultural Performance, & Farewell Banquet
This morning, drive to Waipi’o Valley, the childhood home of King Kamehameha I, and an important center for political and religious life in Hawai’i. Though Waipi’o Valley was once the home of thousands of Native Hawaiians, today fewer than 100 residents live among the waterfalls, taro fields, and rivers permeating the valley. Stop at the lookout for breathtaking views of the valley, cerulean, ocean, local villages and the farms that Native Hawaiians have cultivated for centuries.
Immerse yourself in the dramatic landscape, with cliffs thousands of feet high and the Big Island’s tallest waterfall, Hi’ilawe Falls, which cascades down 1,300 feet to the valley floor. Continue onto Kalōpā Natural Forest State Park for short walk through Native Hawaiian rain forest, followed by a delicious picnic lunch.
In the afternoon, tour the famous Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Garden. This 40-acre “garden in a valley on the ocean,” situated on the lush Hamakua Coast, is a naturally formed greenhouse benefiting from fertile volcanic soil and natural protection from trade winds. Photographers, gardeners, botanists, scientists, and nature lovers from around the world are drawn to this museum of living plants. Over 2,000 species, representing more than 125 families and 750 genera, are found in this one-of-a-kind garden. Throughout this garden valley, nature trails meander through the tropical rainforest, crossing bubbling streams, passing several beautiful waterfalls, and offering exciting ocean vistas along the rugged Pacific coast.
This evening at the Thomas Guard House, enjoy a special Hawaiian Cultural & Music Presentation, performed by an award-winning husband-and-wife team, followed by a special farewell banquet – the perfect end for your authentic Hawaiian experience!
After breakfast, one of your guides will accompany you to the Hilo Airport for your departure. Check-out time is 10:30 am.