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You're one step closer to paradise...
Kim Steutermann Rogers
Hawaii Island, Kauai, Maui, Oahu
Article Source: Blog Post
Hawaii (Big) Island
Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
Watch as fiery red lava pours, steaming, into the ocean; stare in awe at nighttime lava fireworks; and hike across the floor of a crater at Volcanoes National Park.
There's nothing quite like the aerial view of a waterfall that drops a couple thousand feet into natural pools, or seeing lava flow to the ocean, where clouds of steam billow into the air. You can get this bird's-eye view from a helicopter or a small fixed-wing aircraft. Although there have been a few cases of pilots violating flight paths and altitudes over resident communities in recent years, most operators are reputable and fly with strict adherence to FAA safety rules. How to get the best experience for your money? Before you hire a company, be a savvy traveler and ask the right questions. What kind of aircraft do they fly? Do they have two-way headsets so you can talk with the pilot? What is their safety record?
From the cafés, stores, and restaurants selling Kona coffee, to the farm tours, to the annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, coffee is a major part of life on this side of the Big Island. More than 600 farms, most from just three to seven acres in size, grow the delicious—and luxurious, at generally more than $25 per pound—beans. Only coffee from the North and South Kona Districts can be called Kona.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Catch the lava fireworks at night and explore newly made land, lava tubes, steam vents, and giant craters.
If you are keen on astronomy but don't have time to go all the way to the summit, visit Keck Observatory headquarters right in Waimea, with its educational exhibits and informed staff. You can see models and images taken from the twin 10-meter Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea and learn about the latest discoveries. www.keckobservatory.org. OPEN: Tues.--Fri. 10--2 (Docent Program).
Local produce, flowers, crafts, and food products are available every Sunday morning at one of the better farmers' markets on the island. It's best to get there early, before 7 am, as vendors tend to sell out of the best stuff quickly. There's also a great bookstore (paperbacks 50¢, hardbacks $1, and magazines 10¢), and a thrift store with clothes and knickknacks. There are also more prepared-food vendors at the Volcano market than Hilo's, with such temptations as fresh-baked breads and pastries, vegetarian lunch items and homemade Thai specialties. www.thecoopercenter.org. OPEN: Sun. 6--10 am.
This historic church, now a community center, was moved to its present location in 1990 just ahead of the advancing lava flow that destroyed the Kalapana area. The church, which dates from the 1930s, was built by a Belgian Catholic missionary priest, Father Evarest Gielen, who also did the detailed paintings on the church's interior. Though similar in style, the Star of the Sea and St. Benedict's were actually painted by two different Belgian Catholic missionary priests. Star of the Sea also has several lovely stained-glass windows.
The site of Kona's first Catholic church, built in 1840, is marked by a small thatch structure to the left of the present church, which dates from 1850. In front of the church a coral grotto shrine holds 2,500 coral heads, harvested in 1940, when preservation was not yet an issue.
The definition of "quaint" with its crisp white and blue trim, this tiny old-fashioned steeple church sits on the rocks overlooking the ocean near Kahaluu Beach. It has appeared on many a Kailua-Kona postcard, and its charm and views bring hundreds of visitors every year.
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