Tour leader: Katya Belykh
States: California, Hawaii.
Dates: December 29th 2017 — January 12th 2018
15 days, 14 nights
- Trip itinerary
- About the tour
- Travel plan
- What’s included
- What you’ll need
- Important information about this tour
Los Angeles, CA — Kona, HI — Volcano National Park — trekking to active lava flow — Hilo, HI — Hawaiian Kahuna priests — Waipio Valley — Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa — the famous Kohala beaches — giant Manta rays, whales and dolphins
It is hard to find a place that can be compared to the Hawaiian Islands. These islands are home to the world’s most active volcano and an incredibly high mountain (also a volcano) that rises from the ocean floor. It is the birthplace of surfing as we know it, and hula dancing along with ukuleles’ unique sound have also become famous throughout the world.
Hawaii was the last territory to join the United States. It is also one of the youngest archipelagos in the world. It has beautiful nature, a pleasant climate and friendly local residents. It’s a real Paradise on Earth, with its palm fringed blue lagoons, secluded rivers flowing along the bottom of deep canyons, volcanoes, high waterfalls and virgin rainforests.
The Big Island is the largest and youngest island of the Hawaiian archipelago. It is still growing at an average of 30 square feet per year. Here you can see everything from the tropical jungle in the coastal areas to the snow covered deserts in the mountains. Also located here are the highest mountains in Hawaii and all Pacific region: the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes.
The island’s landscapes are amazingly diverse, including snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, deserts, and jungle. Big Island is also an island with a rich local history and cultural traditions.
This amazing, stunningly diverse world will be surrounding us on every day of this journey.
December 29th, Friday. Arrival to Los Angeles, drive to Hollywood, a stroll on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, dinner. Night in Hollywood, 2.5 star hotel.
December 30th, Saturday. Morning: a walk on the Hollywood Hills to the “Hollywood” sign, city views, lunch. Universal Studios tour. Night in Hollywood, 2.5 hotel.
December 31st, Sunday. Travel from Los Angeles to Kona, HI, check-in at a 2.5 hotel. New Year’s Eve celebration Hawaiian style — a New Year luau feast. Greeting the New Year at midnight.
January 1st, Monday. A day of relaxation, beaches and walks. Tasting of kawa, a drink of Polynesian chiefs. Night at a Kona hotel.
January 2nd, Tuesday. Morning: a boat excursion in Kealakekua Bay, the place where Captain Cook was killed and eaten. The bay is also famous for its coral reefs, dolphins and sea turtles. Snorkeling. Drive to the southern tip of the island, tour of Macadamia Nut Orchards (a farm that grows macadamia nuts). Night at a B&B on the farm.
January 3rd, Wednesday. Morning trip to South Point and the famous Green Sand Beach. Trekking to the beach, 2.5 miles each way. After lunch: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Chain of Craters Road, hikes in the park. Night at the Macadamia Nut Orchards B&B.
January 4th, Thursday. Morning trip to the Black Sand Beach, a volcanic sand beach that is favored by sea turtles looking for food and rest. Trekking across a congealed lake of lava in the Kilauea crater (Kilauea Iki Trail). After crossing the crater we will go underground into the Thurston Lava Tube, a tunnel formed by lava about 500 years ago. Drive to the east of the island to a B&B in the Puna rainforest.
January 5th, Friday. Tour of a tropical farm, tasting things that grow there. Meeting with a Kahuna, hawaiian priestess, ceremony of blessing and bringing offerings to the local gods. Lava Trees National Monument. Exploring the famous Red Road. Interesting places of Puna. Swimming in a warm pond in Ahalanui Beach Park — a place where underground thermal waters mix with the ocean. Famous Kehena black sand beach and the village of Kalapana, which was almost entirely destroyed by lava during the last eruption. Exploring the last lava outbreak and magical stop in the village of Pahoa. Night at a Puna B&B.
January 6th, Saturday. Hilo city tour. Stories about tsunamis (a common local occurrence). Visit to the local farmers’ market: exotic local food tasting and souvenir shopping. Hilo Botanical Gardens, with amazing tropical plants from all over the world. Drive to the top of Mt. Mauna Kea, 4200 meters. The ascent will be gradual, with a long stop at a visitor center (2800 meters) for altitude adaptation and a walk around the vicinity. On the top of the mountain there is a tiny astronomers village, with lots of telescopes. Trekking to the actual summit, which is located just above the observatories. Sunset and moonrise viewing at Mauna Kea. Stargazing after sunset (Mauna Kea is one of the best places on earth for viewing the night sky). Night at a Puna B&B.
January 7th, Sunday. Exploring the east and northeast shores of the island. Laupahoehoe Point and the story of what happened here during the 1946 tsunami. “Hawaii’s Pearl” — Waipio Valley; viewing the valley from a scenic point at the top, taking pictures. If requested we can descend into the valley and spend time at the beach. Drive to the town of Waimea in the north, relaxing in the cool air with Alpine landscapes around us. Night at a 2.5* hotel in Waimea.
January 8th, Monday. In the morning: trekking into Pololu valley. Beach time. Snorkelling with giant manta rays in the evening. Night at a 2.5* Kona hotel.
January 9th, Tuesday. Introduction to the Hawaiian gods and goddesses in the Pu’u Honua O Honaunau temple, a.k.a. “The Place of Refuge”. Coffee plantation tour — tasting and shopping. Relaxing on Hookena beach. Optional exploring of an underground lava tunnel nearby. Night at a 2.5* Kona hotel.
January 10th, Wednesday. Leisure activities and beach time. Additional activities or trekking at the group’s request. Night at a 2.5* Kona hotel.
January 11th, Thursday. Leisure activities and beach time. Night at a 2.5* Kona hotel.
January 12th, Friday. Beach time. Travel from Kona, HI to Los Angeles, CA.
Included in the trip’s cost:
- guide and driver service
- continental breakfasts in some hotels and full breakfasts in hawaiian B&B’s.
- one dinner at a B&B
- entry tickets to the national parks
- tours and activities described in the Travel plan
The cost does not include:
- international flights
- domestic flights
- USA entry visa
- traveler’s insurance
- any meals other than the ones included
- personal expenses
- expenses for any additional activities
- night in a Los Angeles hotel on January 12th (we can help to book a room if you choose to spend the night there).
We will need things for any kind of weather or occasion. In addition to light clothes we will also need warm ones, for the trip to Mauna Kea and hiking in Volcano National Park. Any questions about the equipment can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each participant must have a working phone and the ability to contact the tour leader, as well as a watch adjusted to the local time.
Every person must bring all the necessary items with them. During the trip there will be some time for souvenir shopping, but none for the purchase of equipment — our itinerary passes through places with no large specialty stores. Please do not forget spare camera batteries, outlet adapters, etc. During the tour we will be able to buy only the most basic things.
If you are taking any medications, please remember to bring them with you as most medications are different in the US.
For the whole trip:
- Small comfortable backpack for day trips. It should be able to hold a camera, water, a snack for the road and more useful stuff.
- Headlight. Hawaii is fighting light pollution, so they have very few streetlights. Also, if we hike out to the lava it will be important to have a source of light and two free hands.
- Insect repellent. Hawaii doesn’t have too many mosquitoes, but if you consider yourself a «tasty» individual that gets bitten a lot, it may come in handy.
- Sunblock lotion with a minimum of 30 SPF. Anything under 30 SPF is not strong enough for the tropics!
- Rainproof jacket or poncho: Hawaii has a tropical climate, so it can start raining anytime and anywhere.
For the Mauna Kea trip (4200 meters):
- Comfortable shoes (ankle boots or sneakers)
- Warm jacket (ski jackets work the best)
- Fleece sweater
- Thick pants
For island excursions on the sea level:
- A light shirt with long sleeves (for those who don’t like insect repellent)
- Insect repellent (optional)
- A hat/bandana
- Sunblock lotion
- Light, comfortable walking shoes
For snorkeling and swimming:
- Swimsuit / trunks
- We advise that you bring a long- or short-sleeved shirt for snorkeling: Ursa Travel club does not recommend using sunblock lotion before going in the water. It is irresponsible behavior towards the planet, and the lotions get rinsed off anyway (even the waterproof ones). Those who swim with sunblock usually get sunburnt, and the best way to avoid that is swimming in shorts and a shirt.
- All snorkeling tours include a complimentary mask, breathing tube and flippers but if you’d like, you can bring your own
The Living Land of Hawai’i New Year’s Eve tour will not consist of beach relaxation only! The main focus of this trip will be the unique nature, culture and indigenous history of Hawai’i. If you prefer to spend your time at the beach, we will gladly help organize and accommodate your vacation with a program that suits your needs. This tour’s itinerary includes a lot of trekking and walking around different landscape and cultural regions of the island. Swimming is scheduled for almost every day, but everything depends on the weather. It is possible that some beaches will have really strong waves that will prevent us from swimming. Beach recreation and/or additional adventures will be possible in the final days of our tour upon request.
The tour is physically active, but no special preparations or training is needed. Will be good for people of any age that enjoy active recreation