EATING!!!: Let's get to the really good things to do first. We aren't Manhattan or San Francisco but we bet you go back weighing more than you did when you left!!!
AKAKA FALLS: About 13 miles north of Hilo, is a very scenic park with a beautiful waterfall.
Atlantis Submarines offers an interesting tour of the ocean to a depth of 100 feet. Very enjoyable, scenic and relaxing and not at all claustrophobic. They saw whales underwater in 1999. They do multiple trips daily and are located across from the Kailua Harbor.
BEACHES:: Who says we don't have beaches? South Point has Green Sands Beach. Past that towards Volcanos is Black Sands Beach. Alii Drive has White Sands Beach for boogie boarding. North of the airport is Kekaha Kai State Park and Kua Bay with gorgeous sand beaches. The Waikaloa Beach Resort area has several beautiful beaches including Mauna Kea, and Hapuna (rated the best beach in the nation more than once). Snorkel, sun bath, boogie board/body surf, swim - you can find it all on the Big Island beaches.
BIRDING: On the property are: Zebra Dove, Saffron Finch, Java Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Yellow-billed Cardinal, Japanese White Eye, Gray Francolin, Common Myna, and Wild Turkeys. (Thanks guests Jan & Bill Deckman.) Also Yellow-fronted Canary and Spotted Dove. (Thanks guests Autumn & Bill Strahle.) Also House Finch and Japanese White Eye feeding from yellow-orange flowers in Silver (Silk) Oak trees (courtesy Richard Begley & Carol Nelson). There is good birding in VOLCANO. See the Maunu Ulu hike on the Volcano page.
BOTANNICAL GARDENS: About 7 miles north of Hilo on the scenic drive to Onomea Bay, has a very wide variety of plants and flowers in a very lush setting on the coast. Private, Fee.
CITY OF REFUGE: Also known by its Hawaiian name, PU'UHONUA O HONAUNAU is a national park. It is about 45 minutes south of us. It was a place where fallen warriors could come to save themselves from certain death. A great place to walk around and end explore. Just outside it the park entrance is excellent snorkeling and generally has turtles. It is at the end of a road just before the park entrance, north of and adjacent to the boat launch. There is an easy entry called Two Step out on the lava; there are usually people standing or sitting around it. There is a superb hike from the south end of the park to a promenade about half a mile away. Just ask at the Park for directions.
DINNER/SUNSET CRUISE: Blue Sea Cruises offers a sunset/dinner cruise on their new, modern, and very stable cataman vessel. The boat has a glass bottom and you can often see manta rays swooping up from the shallows to feed on the plankton when they stop and turn on their underwater lights. Very enjoyable, scenic and relaxing and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
GOLF: There are several golf courses in the area and in Waikoloa. For a list of golf courses on all the islands try Hawaiian Islands Golf Courses
HELICOPTER TOURING: The helicopter tour of the island is a once-in-a-lifetime flight. Make sure you do the whole island and not just the volcano tour. The Hamakua Coast is just as spectacular and impressive as the volcano, if not more. Our choice, if you are in Hilo is Tropical Helicopters , owned by Cal Dorn. Cal used to fly for Mauna Kea Helicopters. They are small and very customer oriented.
HIKING: There are several hikes Near The Ranch both below the property (on the coast) and just above the property. You can get views (a gorgeous view of the Kohala Coast) and solitude. One is a lush fern-lined old cinder cone. Hawaii Forest & Trails offers several half- and full-day hikes into a variety of different areas. Their hikes are very educational and they do a great job.There are some good hikes on the Volcano page (Maunu Ulu & Kilauea Iki). An easy yet spectacular hike is White Road/Waipio Ridge.
HILO Market: Open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the market, although small, is a lot of fun. It is mainly food, flowers, tee shirts and a selection of local artist work.It has a great selection of local fruits and fresh-baked breads. It is in the older section of town opposite the Bay. Combine this trip with a trip to the zoo.
HORSEBACK RIDING: There are several good riding stables in the Waimea area about an hour from the Ranch. Waipio Ridge Stables offers riding in and above Waipio Valley. Paniolo Riding Adventures offers open range riding for all levels in the beautiful Kohala Mountain area. Kings Trail Rides offers a ride down to Captain Cook Monument with lunch and some time to snorkel (bring your gear).
'IMILOA: Located in Hilo, Imiloa is a center for astronomy and Hawaiian cultural traditions. It has a 3-d tour of the universe, and a planetarium/ large-screen auditorium with extremely impressive 2x-daily video shows (akin to IMAX), changing monthly. HIGHLY recommend this for anyone. Open Tuesday through Saturday 9am to 4pm. Entrance fee $14.50; under 12 half-price; 969-9700. Get directions and show times before going.
KAYAKING: A beautiful spot for kayaking is Kealakekua Bay about 40 minutes south of the ranch. Bring snorkeling gear with you as the Captain Cook monument is on the north side of the bay and is a good place to snorkel. The terrain to the north and south is very pretty. Often there are dolphins in the Bay. During the whale season (December through March) you can often get close to the humpbacks. Try Adventures in Paradise for rentals.
KEAUHOU MARKET Open on Saturdays. Smaller than the Hilo market and a more limited selection. All items are either Big Island-grown or baked (yummy). A selection of organic also.
MAUNA KEA: Take a tour or if you have four-wheel drive, drive to the top of Mauna Kea for the afternoon light and sunset. The top is 13,796 feet. The view and the sunset can be spectacular. On Thursday through Sunday nights, the Visitors' Center is open and they have public viewing through 14 & 16 inch Cassegrain telescopes.
MOUNTAIN BIKING: We are not the premier place for mountain biking but there is mountain biking on the island. There are some trails above the Ranch. Ask Rick or contact one of the bike shops.
SCUBA DIVING: Your hosts are certified divers with Rick having a very good knowledge of the diving business and the west coast diving. He is an active diver and underwater photographer and a a former president of the (now defunct) Kona Underwater Photographic Society (KUPS). He would be happy to recommend a dive business or dive businesses based upon your likes/dislikes/needs/experience.
SHOPPING: The big chains of Walmart, Kmart, Safeway, Longs, Ace Hardware, Ross, and Costco are here.
SNORKELING: Kona has the most colorful fish in the world, lots of turtles and lots of dolphins, and beautiful coral. A don't miss activity. In Kona, our favorite is Dolphin Journeys combining whale watching, snorkeling and swimming with dolphins (329-3030), a smaller boat with very personalized service. We snorkeled with Red Sail Sports and Ocean Sports in Waikaloa. Kahaluu Beach off of Alii Drive just before the five mile marker south of town is long, wide and shallow, has a large variety of fish, and is excellent for those who are not strong swimmers.City Of Refuge (pu'uhonua o honaunau) has excellent snorkeling and generally has turtles. It is not in the park but at the end of a road just before the park entrance, north of and adjacent to the boat launch. There is an easy entry called Two Step out on the lava; there are usually people standing or sitting around it. Fair Wind offers an outstanding trip to Kealakekua (Captain Cook Monument) Bay - an absolutely beautiful area. It leaves from Keauhou Bay five miles south of Kona. For the brave of heart, you can kayak Kealakekua Bay to the Captain Cook Monument instead of taking the cruise. This is a wonderful bay to do either or both. The Body Glove offers trips to the north and has a water slide. Want to snorkel an unusual place? Try South Point.
SOUTH POINT: offers green plains with panoramic vistas; diving; snorkeling; cliff jumping and hiking/biking.
TENNIS: The Royal Kona at the South edge of town has several courts, is open to the public and the fees are very moderate. If you want a pick-up game you can hang out at the public courts at the old airport. You can usually find someone to play with any time of day.
UFO PARASAIL: offers an experience similar to hot-air ballooning. We recommend the higher ride (longer rope) and going in tandem if the winds permit. Don't fear the height; it is not the same sensation as looking over the edge of a tall building. They do multiple trips daily and are located across from the Kailua Harbor. Bring your camera up for some great pictures.
VOLCANO: An excellent day or overnight trip. The area varies from moon-like to jungle.
WAIPIO VALLEY: Between Waimea and Hilo, it is a very lush and beautiful valley running back from the ocean. It was a favorite of Hawaiian royalty. The road down is about a mile or two long, steep and paved. It requires four wheel drive. There are tour vans at the site. Be sure to hike out to the beach at the ocean.
WHALE WATCHING: The whale season runs from December through March with January and February the peak season for seeing the Humpback Whales. From Kona, Dan McSweeney of McSweeney's Whale Watching runs a great trip and we recommend him highly. He is rumored to play whale music underwater to attract the whales. Also from Kona and downtown Kailua Bay, BLUE SEA CRUISES offers a combination of whale watching in season and coastal cultural cruisee (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) and a dinner cruise (see above). For a combination, Dolphin Journeys combining whale watching, snorkeling and swimming with dolphins (329-3030), a smaller boat with very personalized service. From the Waikoloa area, where we believe (and so do many other people) there are more whales, Ocean Sports has a gorgeous boat that goes out from A-Bay at the Outrigger hotel. During peak season you will see whales every day from either area but during beginning or end, we recommend the Waikoloa area.
ZOO (HILO): The zoo is a good stop if you are in the Hilo area - especially if you are going to Hilo from Volcano or vice versa. The zoo is just off of the road between Hilo and Volcano and about 4 miles before Hilo. It is a small zoo set in a rain forest area and is very green and very clean. There are a variety of animals, vultures, beautiful parrots and other birds, emu, horses, goats, monkeys, lizards & turtles, black swans, chickens and pigs and more. If you have kids or just have time to spare, stop at the zoo. Saturdays at 1PM, they have a petting zoo for kids (and adults) for an hour. See page two of the zoo pictures for petting zoo pictures. Plan on spending about two hours there and bring umbrellas. Combine this trip with a trip to the Hilo Market. The duck pictures are of the Nene bird.