The opportunity to see lava flowing from Kilauea, recently in a state of constant eruption.
The Volcanoes National Park with the "Crater rim drive" and "Chain of craters road."
Visits to Tropical Rainforest and spectacular waterfalls.
The summit of Mauna Kea with its astronomical observatories
Based near Kailua Kona on the dry sunny side of the Big Island, with its white beaches and coral reefs.
2 days at Honolulu: the chance to visit Diamond Head, Waikiki and Pearl Harbor.
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Leave Heathrow on late morning flight to Los Angeles, arriving in early afternoon local time. Continue onward with late afternoon flight to Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii, arriving early evening local time (Hawaii is 10 hours behind UK time). Transfer by coach to the Royal Kona Resort hotel.
An easy day starting with a meeting to introduce people to each other, to the local area and to the variety of possible excursions, then free time to explore the local area, possibly visiting the local town Kailua Kona or one of the local beaches.
An early start, with a coach journey to the Volcanoes National Park area, arriving mid-morning. A visit to the Information Centre, then a route following the "Crater Rim Drive" around the Kilauea caldera, stopping at a number of places including the Thurston Lava Tube. After lunch, we follow the "Chain of Craters Road", and finish with a walk to (hopefully) view the point where lava can be seen at close hand at dusk. This will be undertaken only if National Park Rangers allow access. Please note that while the lava flow has been continuous since 1983, the route the lava flow takes varies from time to time. It may or may not be accessible to view. Conditions are carefully monitored, and if there are any concerns, access may be limited. We return to accommodation in the area for an overnight stay.
We leave after breakfast, journeying up the eastern side of the island. Our first stop will be at Hilo, the main island town. Apart from its reputation as the town with the highest rainfall in the USA, it made the news in 1998 when a lava flow from Mauna Loa reached the outskirts. After Hilo, we visit Akaka and Rainbow falls in the tropical rainforest region, before reaching the overlook Waip'io Valley – one of the most spectacular views in the whole of Hawaii. We return to Royal Kona via Waimea, passing the Parker cattle ranch (the largest in the USA).
We leave Royal Kona after breakfast, heading for South Point, the headland which marks the furthest point south reached by the USA. A short walk from here is the Green Sand Beach, so-called because of the many olivine crystals eroded out of cliffs in the porphyritic basalt behind. Before reaching South Point we have a short stop at the nearby Black Sand Beach, where turtles can usually be seen.
A free morning, with time to spend in Kailua Kona, if desired. After lunch, an optional excursion by 4W/D vehicles to Mauna Kea, with time for stops on the route to the summit. We spend time at the Onizuka Visitor Information Station, to acclimatize to the high altitude, then continue in the vehicles to the summit at 14,000ft. for a panoramic view of the island and the astronomical observatories which are sited there because of the perfect clear skies and cleanest air on the planet. We spend time there to see the sunset. (Because of the high altitude, the authorities exclude people with a range of conditions from participating. For this reason the excursion is classed as optional and is not included in the tour price. It is likely to cost around £80 per person. Further details can be supplied on request.)
Day 7 & 8
Free days. The chance for lazing on a beach, shopping in the Kailua Kona, or possibly taking part in an extra excursion – a flight or helicopter ride over the lava flow, or possibly a boat trip? You may wish to hire a car to explore some of the island.
We check out of the hotel for a morning flight from Kona to Honolulu, the state capital on the island of Oahu. Transfer to hotel in Waikiki, a short walk from the beach. Optional afternoon visit to Diamond Head, an extinct volcanic crater overlooking Waikiki.
Free day in Waikiki. Your chance to take a city tour of Honolulu with a visit to Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial. Alternatively, you may wish to take part in a half or one-day tour of the island of Oahu.
Day 11 & 12
Early morning flight back to the UK via San Francisco, arriving late morning the next day, (Friday). For those who wish, there is the possibility of one or more nights stopover at San Francisco. Another possibility is to arrange to stay on for longer in Hawaii, visiting one of the other islands.
(Please note that this might have to be amended due to local conditions, but hopefully all planned activities will take place. Feedback from previous visits has suggested that more free time on the Big Island would be appreciated, so an extra day has been added.)
The cost of the visit is estimated to be £1960 per person. This will include flights by United Airlines from London (Heathrow) to Hawaii and return (and airport taxes), and the internal flight by Hawaiian Airlines from Kona to Honolulu. It also includes coach transfers and local transport on all the excursions on the itinerary listed above (except those on free days and those stated as optional). Included in the cost is accommodation: Seven nights at the Outrigger Royal Kona Resort hotel and one night in the Volcanoes NP area on the Big Island, plus two nights at the Ohana East hotel at Waikiki. All accommodation is on a room-only basis.
Accommodation is based on two people sharing a room. It should be possible to arrange single rooms for those who require it, but this will involve a considerable supplement, as the cost of rooms is the same whether occupied by one or two people.
All those taking part in the tour are expected to arrange their own holiday insurance, which should be in place at the time of making the booking and can be obtained from any travel agent or insurance broker.