What To Do
Walk behind a waterfall. The forest reserve trail in the heart of the Pololu Valley sits beyond a private sugarcane field, so the only way you can see the dramatic Kapoloa Falls—dropping from 300 feet above you and cascading across the trail to plunge another 200 feet below—is to sign up with Hawaii Forest and Trail. Its unique tour takes you on a scenic drive through the lava desert and then on a cliff-side hike in the lush Hawaiian forest (right). Other Hawaii Forest and Trail guided adventures include exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, stargazing atop Mauna Kea, and traveling the picturesque Kohala Coast via mule.
Immerse yourself in the ocean. Explore striking coral, tropical fish, turtles, sharks, and eels. Or just hang out on a remote black-sand beach. Ocean Sports' marine naturalists teach you how to snorkel and how to identify the abundant and colorful ocean creatures. Diving, kayaking, and whale-watching tours are also available.
Hula at a traditional luau. Yes, it's touristy, but it's an island tradition. Don't miss Nani Lim and her talented family hula group when they perform ancient and modern Hawaiian songs and dances on Tuesdays at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Kohala Coast.
Where To Stay
Guest House at Volcano, Volcano, Hawaii. Choose from five cottages on a six-acre parcel that butts up against a rain-forest preserve. Owners Alan Miller and Bonnie Goodell designed the sustainable village for people who share their environmental ethics: Miller makes fine interior trim from recycled woods, and Goodell is a sustainable planner. Count on line-dried linens, solar-heated water, recycling programs, and a library that houses stacks of Hawaiian reference books.
Waipio Wayside Inn, Honokaa, Hawaii. Located about halfway between the Kona and Hilo airports and set in the heart of Hawaii's sugar-plantation country, the Waipio Wayside Inn provides visitors with antique-furnished bedrooms and private baths stocked with essential oils. Enjoy generous and mostly organic breakfasts, then kick back in a hammock and take in panoramic views of the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii.
Where To Eat
Merriman's, Kamuela, Hawaii. Chef Peter Merriman, a pioneer of Hawaiian regional cuisine, turns local organic produce into signature dishes. Wok-charred ahi served with slaw and dipping sauce comes highly recommended. Indulge in coconut crème brûlée for dessert. www.merrimanshawaii.com; 808.885.6822.
Sam Choy's Kaloko, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.Owned by the best-selling cookbook author and TV host of the same name, Sam Choy's Kaloko offers local Hawaiian comfort food—a blend of flavors inspired by Pacific cuisines. Despite the crowds, locals love this place for the generous portions and Choy's delicious fish preparation.
Thai Thai, Volcano, Hawaii. A new addition to Volcano Village, Thai Thai offers authentic dishes that compete well with those you find in Thailand. The mahimahi curry was a hit. Open for dinner every evening.