DAY 5: We got up and out of our condo early this time because we had a full day of fun planned on the south side of the island. Hawaii Volcanos National Park was our main destination, but we made a few stops along the way to break up the long drive.
Our first stop was Greenwell Farms, a Kona coffee farm. They have free, low-key tours running all day long. We also loved checking out all the different fruit trees (avocado, banana, orange) and their farm store too! The kids were on iguana/lizard lookout the whole trip and were excited to find an iguana in a tree here.
After the coffee farm, its a long drive without much in the way of places to eat. We stopped at an L&L Barbecue because we were hungry and in need of a break, but it was gross. I was wishing we had brought a picnic lunch!
When we finally made it to Volcanoes National Park, it was worth the wait! After a quick stop at the steam vents, we went to the Jagger Museum. This is a fun little place to check out with lots of things to see and touch and, of course, its the best viewpoint of the crater.
Note: If you have school-aged kids, make sure to ask for a Junior Ranger workbook at Jagger Museum. Its free and full of educational fun for kids to work on while they are at the volcano. Once they are done with it, take it back to the museum and turn it in for a cool Junior Ranger badge. Love this program AND having kids that can read/write/inform themselves!
After checking out the crater (and the bubbling lava!), we drove down to the end of the road at edge of the ocean. The drive down is thru many recent lava flows that are pretty cool to see. At the end of the road you can hike it about 10 miles to where the lava is currently flowing into the ocean, but we didn't make it that far with the rugrats in tow. We did hike a good ways on the lava though.
After a fun day at the volcano, we headed up the east side into Hilo for dinner and stumbled upon what ended up being our favorite restaurant of our trip to the Big Island. Pineapples was a great combination of yummy island food, kid-friendly, but not a kid place and awesome service!
DAY 6: This day was all about the dolphins. A few months before our trip, the twins decided to spend the money they received for Christmas on the Dolphin Quest experience. We signed them up for the kid quest. First, they spent about 45 minutes in the education center learning about everything that goes on there with the dolphins and then they had 30 minutes in the dolphin pool with several dolphins. If you ask them, they can tell you all the names and relatives of the dolphins they swam with. It was seriously amazing just to watch and they were beyond thrilled and cherished every minute of it.
After the girls were done with the dolphins, we stayed and played at the lagoon beach at the Hilton where the Dolphin Quest is located. Validated valet parking for the day made that an easy decision. The Hilton is huge and reminded me of Disney. Not sure we would want to stay there, but it was fun for an afternoon. Their lagoon is apparently required to be open to the public since its technically a beach. The kids got to work on some sort of fish trap and us parents enjoyed the beach chairs.
We ended the day with birthday dinner for M at Jackie Rey's in Kona (it was just ok) an chocolate cake back at our condo. Looking at these happy sun-kissed faces all together gives me all the feels.
To be continued with our final days and some other thoughts and tips!