hawaii hiking


Hawaii Magazine asked their Facebook fans the following question:  What’s your favorite scenic hiking trail (short or long) on the Big Island? Here are the top five results.



Situated on the northern Hamakua Coast, is lush Waipio Valley, known as “The Valley of the Kings.” It was the boyhood home of King Kamehameha I, who established the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810 and served as its first monarch. Surrounded by cliffs up to 2000-feet high, this deep valley is about one mile across. The Big Island’s tallest waterfall, Hiilawe Falls, cascades down 1,300 feet in the back of the valley. The paved path into the valley is actually a steep access road (4-wheel drive vehicles only). Most hikers park at the Waipio Valley Lookout. From there, a black-sand beach about one mile down the road. Further down is Kuluhine Falls, and at the bottom of the valley there’s a view of Hiilawe falls.  The trail to the beach is public, but much of Waipio Valley is private property. If you plan to explore beyond the public access areas, seek out permission or sign up for a guided tour.

#4  PAPAKOLEA BEACH aka Green Sand Beach

The mineral olivine, found in a volcanic cinder cone at the Big Island’s southernmost point, is responsible for the green sand at Papakolea Beach. It’s one of only two green-sand beaches in the world. (The other is in the Galapagos Islands.) The beach is located near a 710-acre peninsula call Ka Lae (“the point,” in Hawaiian). Known among locals as “South Point,” the peninsula is the southernmost tip of the United States. (The first land due south is 7,000 miles away, in Antarctica.) The hike to the beach is about 2.5 miles (one way). Most hikers park in South Point, at South at the end of a single-lane road where the pavement ends and a rough trail begins.  From here, the trek is limited to hikers and four-wheel drive vehicles. The intersecting ocean currents that make the area’s offshore waters dangerous for nearly all ocean activities make it one of the state’s best, if most remote, places for shoreline fishing.


Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is crisscrossed with more than 150 miles of hiking trails, which range in difficulty from easy walks like Kipukapuaulu (Bird Park) to wilderness areas recommended only to hikers in top physical condition. The 20-minute walk through a thick fern forest to Thurston Lava Tube is among the easy-breezy hikes. It leads to a cave-like tunnel — a 500-foot-long lava tube that once carried fast-moving molten lava. Several hundred years ago, a large eruption near the summit of Kilauea volcano created the lava tube. (Lava now streaming from Puu Oo crater to the ocean winds through lava tubes much like this one.) Lorrin Thurston, a local newspaper publisher, reportedly discovered Thurston Lava Tube in 1913. The lava tube also has a Hawaiian name, Na Huku, which refers to the protuberances on the tube walls. A collapse in the tube’s roof serves as an exit back into the forest.


Akaka Falls State Park is located along the northeastern Hamakua Coast, at the end of Highway 220, also known as Akaka Falls Road. The park — about 3.5 miles away from Honomu, a former sugar plantation town — sprawls over 65 acres with two waterfalls.  There’s 100-foot Kahuna Falls and 442-foot Akaka Falls. The short hike to both is along a 0.4-mile paved footpath loop through a lush rainforest filled with wild orchids, bamboo groves and draping ferns. The trailhead is located just off the parking lot. Few Hawaii waterfalls of Akaka’s height are so easily accessible. Consequently, it’s very popular with visitors and residents alike. In a previous facebook poll, our reader ohana ranked Akaka Falls as their favorite Hawaii waterfall. Some readers noted that it’s a must-stop on every Big Island visit. And even Big Island residents are known to return to its visual splendor again and again.


Our facebook ohana selected Kilauea Iki as their top pick for a Big Island hike (short or long).  Kilauea volcano, in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, is currently ranked among the most active volcanoes on the planet. The park has many trails, ranging from a quick walk through a lava tube to multi-day hikes. Among the most popular with park visitors: Kilauea Iki Trail — a 4-mile loop trail through Kilauea Iki crater, the remains of a massive 1959 eruption. The trail begins off the park’s Crater Rim Drive near the Thurston Lava Tube. Its more than 400-foot descent takes hikers through a variety of scenery—lush fern-filled rainforests, with native birds in the trees, near active steam and sulfur vents and across a long-solidified lava lake. Follow rock cairns across the crater floor. Bring sunscreen as well as rain gear as daily weather can shift from warm and sunny to cool, wet and windy.


Bruce had a great “beach” shot on the Beach Course


Many were shocked that anyone would even think to attempt to carve a golf course out of the rocky coastline, through barren brush and lava fields. Expertly design by Robert Trent Jones, the bulldozers arrived and now many years later Waikoloa is home of two of the finest golf courses in the Hawaiian Islands.

There are two courses located within the Waikoloa Beach Resort. The Beach Course offers more than the expected manicured fairways and greens. It is the perfect course for the casual and relaxed vacation player or the handicapped player looking to conquer the course. All players who experience Waikoloa are enthralled with the eternal sunny skies, cool tropical trade winds, ocean and mountain views and glimpses of dolphins and wintering humpback whales.

The Par 70, 6566 yard course is a design that is gentle to novices as the island trade winds, but challenging enough for the handicapped player to dominate without frustration.

The Beach Course is dominated by Par 4 holes and range anywhere from 319 to 447 yards from the back tee. Pair of 5 pars is a part of the front nine while the longest hole starts the back nine. Hole 7 is the signature hole that makes that driver sing off the tee and ends with a green positioned on a lava peninsula with views of playful pods of dolphins. The course is rounded off by a pair of Par 3 holes on the front and back nine. Overall the Beach Course is a well balanced course that has something for everyone. But, certainly all golfers are amazed with the wide open spaces and endless views that can include everything from the highest snow covered peak in the Pacific to glimpses of the summit of Haleakala on Maui.

The never-ending views and wide open spaces of the Big Island’s Kohala Coast have been attracting golfers for many years. Because of the popularity of this picturesque course, early tee times are highly recommended. This course will not disappoint so call today to reserve your beach course experience.

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Su is enjoying a relaxing round with Bruce 



The golf guidance for this post was provided by Shannon Walker

wineryVolcano Winery was originally started in 1986 by retired Oahu veterinarian, Lynn “Doc” McKinney. Having made wine and beer as a hobby for years, Doc planned to open a winery on the Big Island after leaving Oahu. He chose Volcano for its unusual climate at 4000 feet above sea level, and planted 20 Symphony grape vines in the lava-covered land. Encouraged by the Symphony vines’ ability to grow in Volcano’s climate, the 20 vines were followed by planting 14 acres of Symphony Grape Vines.  In the vast wonderland of the Big Island and its abundance of tropical fruit, he also began experimenting with different fruit and grape blends for wine. Soon exotic fruits like starfruit, lilikoi (passion fruit), and even papaya were blended with grapes and transformed into tropical Hawaiian wine. These fruit -blended wines were so original that they were given their own category by the BATF! Doc also experimented with wine made with honey from local Big Island bees who worked the fields of Macadamia Nut and Ohia Trees.

Finally, in 1993 Volcano Winery opened its doors to the public with a selection of some of the most uniquely produced wine anyone had ever made. A lifelong hobby had become a living dream!  Originally, the wines that were offered for sale were two versions of pure grape produced wines from the Symphony Grape, two different honey wines, Macadamia Nut and Lehua Blossom, the Red and Blush wines that are blended with the local fruit called Jaboticaba which grows directly on the bark of the Jaboticaba tree a Guava wine and a passion fruit wine.

Several years passed, and Doc continued to experiment with new wines and winemaking. Volcano Winery had gone from a hobby into a full-time position. Ready to “retire” for real this time, Doc and his family decided to put the winery up for sale.

Original-lineup-of-wines-300x226At the same time, Del Bothof, who loved Hawaii and also enjoyed the taste of wine, was planning his retirement to Hawaii.  A friend that knew how much Del loved Hawaii saw an advertisement about the sale of the winery and sent the ad to him as information.  Del immediately called Doc and after a short discussion visited Hawaii, contacted Doc, and soon the two were talking like long-lost friends. He was introduced to the McKinney family, and before long the sale of the winery was set into motion. Finally in 1999, with much Aloha, Doc passed the torch to Del, and within a few short months what began as a far-fetched idea had truly materialized into reality.

Today the winery is still a family-owned business. Del’s son, Scott, was the winery’s General Manager for seven years, and a daughter and son-in-law also joined the staff for periods during the last 10 years. Two of the McKinney daughters continued to work as managers at the winery for many years and helped grow the winery into a very successful small business.  Alana McKinney, wife of the late founder, still visits the winery and continues to contribute to its success.

In the summer of 2000 there was a fire in the vineyard which destroyed many of the original Symphony vines.   The lost vines were replaced with the French American Hybrids;  Marchael Foch, Chambourcin and Cayuga White.  Also planted was the vinifera varietal, Pinot noir.  In 2006 the winery began growing tea plants (Camellia sinensis) to use in their newest wine. Infusion, a Tea wine made using their Macadamia Nut Honey wine and Black Teas.

In 2011, Del and Marie Bothof moved full time to Hawaii and now spend their time doing what they love to do which is running the winery on a day-to-day basis. If you stop by almost any day of the week, you will see them participating in the wine tasting or in Del’s case often stuck in the back room taking care of the books and finances!

The winery has seen many changes since it first started some 25+ years ago, but the commitment to produce unique, award-winning wines made with Aloha will always remain in the heart of Volcano Winery!  Along with the signature wines which the winery was built on (Symphony Mele, Volcano Red, Guava Wine, Blush, and Macadamia Nut Honey Wine), the winery continues to grow and when it became obvious that the Pinot Noir grape was suited very well to the special cool climate in Volcano, the winery started producing small amounts (about 300 bottles) of Pinot Noir using frozen grapes from California.  Now as their own vines are maturing, the winery will be able to introduce their “Estate Pinot Noir” and “Estate Cayuga White” from vines that were planted 4 to 5 years ago.

Although we will have to sell these small volume produced Estate wines by the glass rather than as a part of our tastings, we hope you will join us for some Aloha and taste the uniqueness of a cayuga White or Pinot Noir wine that was grown, produced, and bottled right here at Volcano Winery!

The Volcano Winery is open 364 days per year and is closed on Christmas Day.  Information for this blog was taken from their website www.volcanowinery.com