Monday, January 17, 2011

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - Niaulani Forest Trail

45 minutes from Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

At the southern edge of Volcano Village on the Bid Island lies an ecological rarity: a lush, 200-year-old patch of native rainforest unspoiled by glory bush, kahili ginger or other alien species that have invaded forest across the Islands. Few such pimeval forests remain, even in nearby Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Fewer still are so accessible.

The Niaulani Forest was once home to the state's Kilauea Ranger Station, which protected it from the ranching and charcoal-making operations that damaged much of the surrounding forest. When Volcano Art Center took over the station in 1997 to build its new headquarters and educational campus, it signed a voenant to preserve the remaining forest. A short easy trail winds through the four-acre tract, and signage highlights the many native plants, from massive 75-foot-tall koa and ohi'a trees to delicate mosses, lichens and tiny ferns covering the trunks in such profusion that every tree is like a little forest in itself.

Every Monday at 9:30a.m. volunteers lead visitors on a free tour of the forest's treasure trove of native plants. Giant hapu'u pulu tree ferns, with their golden "fur" or pulu, grow alongside the rarer hapuu 'i;i, which have stiff, bristly hairs instead of pulu; sometimes towering above both, slender and graceful, are even rarer meu ferns. In their shade grow all types of smaller ferns: shrub-sized 'ama'u, viny uluhe, delicate, foot-tall ho'io. Visitors frequently hear the distincrive whirring of 'apapane wings as the scarlet-colored native birds flit among the ohi'a trees, feeding on their red blossoms.

Amanda Spaur, who coordinates the tours, notes that the forest walk attracts a different kind of visitor, "People are genuinely interested in knowing what Hawaii really is," she says. "It feels like everyone you share it with is gaining from the experience." Those who can't make the Monday tour can still explore the forest with a tour brochure, available in the Volcano Art Center's main building.

Check the Volcano Art Center's website for details.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hawaii Big Island - Umauma Experience: Zipline, Umauma Falls & Beautiful Hawaiian Up-Country Scenery

About one hour to drive from Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast:

The "Umauma Experience" offers visitors a soul-touching and breathtaking combination of activities: Zipline, the three-tiered Umauma Falls, up-river landscapes, swimming in natural river pools and a Garden of Peace.

Impressive to us as visitors was the holistic concept intended by the owners, where visitors not only experience the thrill of an incredible zipline, but also are introduced to the natural beauty of the waterfalls, gulches, Hamakua coastline and beautifully designed gardens.

 The Big Island Umauma Falls zipline has 9 long lines with almost 2 miles of spectacular zippping through paradise, over waterfalls and ocean views. The zipline includes a 2,200' dual line, where visitors can ride side by side, while watching water falls from 100' above, Mauna Kea with snow on it in the winter and the Umauma River disappear into a lava tube. Each of the 9 lines portraits a different focus of natural wonder on the Big Island. At the end of line #9 by the visitor center you can also take a "Leap of Faith" on the dual-harness giant 90' high swing over the 100' Umauma River Gorge.

All equipment, zipline stations, shelters and harnesses look very well maintained and in excellent condition.

Part of the Umauma Experience are the tropical river garden walks from the Umauma Falls through beautifully landscaped areas, where many local plants and trees, some of them giant and very old are introduced to the visitors. Shelters with pick-nick tables overlooking breathtaking views offer visitors the opportunity to take in the special atmosphere of this original piece of Hawaii. A walk through the Garden of Peace encourages people to rest and find inner peace by letting go of some of the enemies within ourselves like untruth, hate, stress and unknown fears. One of the walks leads down to a huge natural swimming pond fed by the water of the Umauma River and surrounded by big bolders. It is also the place, where a large petroglyph was discovered, one of the very few along the Hamakua coast.

We found that the zipline is not an intrusion into the natural landscape and that all the gardens are created with the idea in mind to allow visitors a glimpse of the authentic beauty of this part of the Big Island. They are carefully designed integrating all the natural elements that were there long before rather than trying to impose something foreign and out-of-place. The idea is to preserve the lands as stewards and to make them accessible to visitors in an eco-friendly manner.

We truly enjoyed this visit to the Umauma Experience and found it to be a great place for a fun family day. To inquire and for reservations you can call (808) 930-9477 or you can go to the website

After our Umauma Experience, we went up the Hamakua coast a few more miles to Laupahoehoe were we had a lovely lunch at the 50's Highway Fountain Diner.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii - Great Restaurants

Kaleo's Bar and Grill in Pahoa won the Honolulu Magazine's Silver Hale 'Aina Award for the best Big Island Restaurant. At Kaleo's you can enjoy live music nightly and delicious fresh fish, steaks, burgers, vegetarian dishes, and desserts. It is open daily for lunch and dinner. If you stay at Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast you receive a 10% discount on your bill.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hawaii Big Island Kalapana Lava Viewing

Only minutes from Hale Moana Bed & Breakfast:

Visitors to the Big Island of Hawaii eager to see lava from Kilauea Volcano as it approaches the Puna coastline are now getting a better and closer look at the flow.

The current Kalapana coastline viewing area, maintained by Hawaii County Civil Defense, was extended over freshly hardened lava flows. What this means for visitors making the drive to the site from Hilo or Kona is that they are getting the best view of the lava flow in recent months.

According to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologists, one of two current breakout Kilauea lava flows in the Kalapana area had advanced within 100 feet of the end of Highway 130 as of 1p.m., sunday. The trail to the viewing area typically begins near the end of the highway, depending on the position, speed and direction of the lava flow on any given day.

News of the improved vantage point for visitors arrives at an ideal time for Kilauea watchers. The Big Island's second annual Volcano Awareness Month runs through the entirety of January, organized by Hawaiian Volcano Obervatory with Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii County Civil Defense and the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

The park will host evening talks, guided hikes and other opportunities to learn more about volcanoes, especially the Big Island's active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa.

January 3 marked the 28th anniversary of the start of the current Kilauea eruption, on the volcano's east rift zone. The eruption remains as active as ever in two locations - on the east rift zone, and at Kilauea summit's Halema'uma'u crater. In the last year, lava flows from the eruption destroyed two homes in Kalapana Gardens - the same area where lava destroyed 104 structures in 1990.

For a complete listing of Volcano Awareness Month events and activities - and for daily updates on Kilauea volcano activitiey visit the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website.

Today's lead article in the Hawaii Tribune Herald also gives additional information on the history of Kilauea and details events in the Park.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Friends of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - January Program

Sunday, January 9, 2011
from 1:00p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Sunday Walk in the Park. This is the first of a new monthly program (on second Sundays) aimed at bringing together the members of the Friends of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to share in the park's beautiful trails. Led by Nick Shema, this inaugural, two-hour hike will start at the park's Kilauea Visitor Center. We will follow the Crater Rim Trail to the Byron Ledge Trail, proceed down this trail to the curt-off to the Halema'uma'u Trail, then travel up that trail to the 'Iliahi Trail. There, we will take a left toward Steam Vents and then follow the Sulphur Banks Trail back to the Kilauea Visitor Center. Total roundtrip distance is approximately 3 miles with a 400' vertical descent and ascent. The hike is free to Friends members (though non-members are welcome to join the Friends in order to attend). To register, contact Nick Shema at (808) 967-8648 or For more info, visit

Saturday, January 15, 2011
from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Volunteer Forest Restoration Project. This month we will plant native species in the koa forest on the Mauna Loa strip of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We will work in a former cattle pasture that is being transformed into a diverse native forest by planting nursery-reared seedlings. We will also learn about the park's native forest restoration program. Volunteers should be at least 14 years old, and be able to hike at least one mile over uneven terrain through brush in an area with a moderate slope. Because native seedlings have already been planted in the area, we will have to be careful in moving through the understory. Our goal is a crew of 12 people, and a pre-registration is required. To register, contact Friends of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at (808) 985-7373 or For more info, visit