Aloha, E Komo Mai!

While all the Hawaiian islands are beautiful, the Big Island holds a special place in our lives. Not just because we live here, but because this is the place that calls to our hearts when we travel abroad, this is the place that feels like home – even before it was our home, this is the place that fills my night time dreams and waking moments with thoughts and visions so beautiful and astonishing that words can sometimes fail me. This blog serves two purposes. One, to share our Inn with you. The Palms Cliff House Inn has been a living dream for more than ten years now, and honestly, we still love being innkeepers! So this blog is a place to share our Innformation and InnNews with you.

Second, This blog is a great place for us to share our Big Island with you. Yes, I could have started a separate blog for that, but frankly, I’m an innkeeper first and time is precious, fleeting, and not in abundance. My desire to share our experiences living and playing here on the Big Island is a priority so, my blog will serve double duty.

I hope you will find information about our Inn and our Big Island that will be both useful and surprising. My goal is to enhance your experience during your visit by sharing with you what our Inn and our Big Island have to offer. Let your adventure begin!

-InnGirl

Lake Wai'au

Lake Waiau is a high-elevation lake located at 13,020 feet (3970 m) above sea level on Mauna Kea, on the island of Hawai'i. It is the seventh highest lake in the USA, and one of very few lakes at all in the state of Hawai'i. It is relatively small, only about 100 m across, and varies in size as the water level rises and falls. This photo was taken when the water was very low, you can nee the water line on the opposite shore.  The name means "swirling water" in Hawaiian, though it is usually rather placid. Legend has it that a mo'o lives in the lake and occasionally you can see it swim across the surface. I myself have seen something move across the lake, but as there are no fish in the lake, I guess it was the mo'o.

According to Hawaiian mythology, Lake Wai'au is bottomless and is the portal for spirits to travel to and from the spirit world. In ancient time, a chief would throw the umbilical cord of their first son, as soon as it fell off the infant, into the lake. It was to reserve the place for the child's afterlife as a chief. Rituals are still performed occasionally in present days.

My elders have told me that when they were growing up their fathers would go up to lake Wai'au and fill a water gourd with water from the lake. When someone in the home became sick they would drink some of the water and get better. They also said the water was always very cold, even on the hottest days, if you drank from the gourd it was always cold.

Lake Waiau is a sacred site. Visitors should not disturb, enter or drink the water of the lake.

 

Getting Away From It All – Camping Near South Point

We just got back from a mini-vacation to our favorite camping spot near South Point. We love it because, as you can see, there is never anyone there! Just us and the ocean and the wild goats and pigs…and the fishing is fine!

It’s a combination of dusty two rut roads and treacherous tire eating lava fields that comprise most of the two plus hours of bumping, bouncing, terrain (but if you love 4-wheeling, this is it!) to get there, but boy is worth the effort.

This trip we saw two of the Big Island’s FAD’s pretty close to shore. We guess they came off their chains after the tsunami, but thus far these two are not listed as “missing” so someone in Honolulu must know they have come off their chains and where they are. We’ll keep an eye on that.

As you can see the coastline is simply sublime. It is a combination of sandy coves, rocky lava flows reaching in to the ocean and thick coastal vegetation. Of course we are undo no illusions that no one else goes here. Plenty do, the evidence of other fishermen are literally and unfortunately everywhere. We we leave we usually have one or two bags of trash we have picked up during our visit. But we have been lucky enough to usually see no one but each other when we go.

I love cooking over an open campfire. We actually fight over who gets to do it…I usually win, yea for me!

Meals this trip were courtesy of Halau O Na Pua Kukui. We dined on the left overs from their week long stay with us at the inn…Onolishous! Fried rice with ham and Shou Chicken.

Our camping area offers lots of diversions. There is great opportunity to find fishing floats. This one we found on this trip and was as large as John’s mid-section. We also scored with the ever elusive glass floats and found 2! One was a small green on and one was yellow! I have never seen a yellow one before this one. Fantastic hunting.

  

The hiking is terrific along the coast with plenty of blow holes to see and deep pukas like this one to scramble into during low tide. Of course you should never turn your back to the ocean, even for a picture…shame on us.  In the eleven years that we have been camping here the fishing has always been fantastic. The one shown here is a Noho, or false scorpion fish. Boy was it good eating too. All dense white meat and tasted like lobster. Love this fish!

The other thing I do when camping near south point is collect salt. It is where all our salt comes from and I ewven gift some of it away.

As I said the hiking is terrific. Nearby there are large petroglyph fields and really crazy lava flows like the one above, all drippy and you would swear that they were still dripping they look so alive. If you go, enjoy the beauty of this area and carry out some of the fishing trash left behind by others.  No, I’m not going to say exactly where it is. That’s our little secret!

Kipukapuaulu: The Bird kipuka

This one mike long looping trail through a hawaiian kipuka is rare in that it is filled with old-growth ‘Ohi’a and Koa trees and is home to three species of native birds. The forest itself is surrounded by recent lava flows from Mauna Loa.

This hike, while still within the Volcano’s National Park, is not inside the park gates. To get to the trail head you drive past the main entrance on Hwy 11 for 5 miles until you reach Mauna Loa Road. Take this to the trail head. There is ample parking and the trail is well marked and easy to hike.

On this trail you will find many signs identifying the native trees and plants as well as what they were/are used for. I find this kind of information really interesting and informative.

 

The park service does lead tours if you are interested, but I thought the trail information was easily presented and easily understandable. There is also a trail guide you can purchase at the park book store for $2.00.

 

The Palms Cliff House Inn to Honor U.S. Military.

Hundreds of Bed and Breakfasts are providing free rooms on Wednesday, November 10th, in observance of Veterans Day (November 11) to honor men andwomen currently serving in the military, as well as those or who have served their country in the past. Over 200 inns in 39 states and Canada have donated rooms for this holiday promotion.  The program was started in 2009 by the West Virginia B&B Association. “We just wanted to say thank you to the courageous men and women from our armed forces”, says Kathleen Panek, owner of the Gillum House in Shinnston, West Virginia and originator of the concept.  “These are trying times for anyone serving or who has served and a good night’s rest is our way to say, thank you.”

Ten B&B’s/Inns from the Big Island are taking part in the Veterans Day promotion. “This is the best way for us to honor this country’s military members”, says Michele Gamble, owner of the Palms Cliff House Inn. “Not enough people realize what our serviceman and women face on a day to day basis in addition to those who have already put their lives on the line for our country and we are happy for them to stay with us as we celebrate Veterans Day.”

The Palms Cliff House Inn in Honomu, AlaKai B&B in Keaau, Aloha Junction B&B in Volcano, Coconut Cottage B&B in Pahoa, Hale Ho’ola in Captain Cook, Hale Makamae B&B in Pahoa, Kalaekilohana, Big Island B&B in Na’alehu, Leilani B&B in Ocean View, Volcano Rainforest Retreat in Volcano, Bougainvillea B&B in Ocean View are the ten Big Island B&B’s/Inns to participate in this special thank you to our service members. Bed and breakfast inns are smaller hospitality businesses that offer a more personal touch than standard motels or hotels.

Reservations need to be made directly with the participating inns. A valid military or Veterans Administration ID will be required for each reservation. Each participating Bed and Breakfast is making at least one room available on the night of November 10 and availability is limited to a first come first serve basis. For more information on the nation wide promotion go to www.bnbsforvets.org. Or contact directly any of the participating Big Island B&B’s /Inns to book your reservation at: The Palms Cliff House Inn – Honomu 808-963-6076 www.palmscliffhouse.com AlaKai B&B -Keaau 800-806-3646 www.alakaibb.com Aloha Junction B&B -Volcano 888-967-7286 www.bbvolcano.com Coconut Cottage B&B -Pahoa 866-204-7444 www.CoconutCottageHawaii.com Hale Ho’ola Captain Cook 877-628-9117 www.hale-hoola.com Hale Makamae B&B -Pahoa 808-965-7015 www.bnb-aloha.com Kalaekilohana Big Island B&B- Na’alehu 808-939-8052 www.kau-hawaii.com Leilani B&B- Ocean View 808-929-7101 www.leilanibedandbreakfast.com Volcano Rainforest Retreat -Volcano 800-550-8696 www.volcanoretreat.com Bougainvillea B&B - Ocean View 808-929-7089 www.bougainvilleabedandbreakfast.com

See the link for the AP story on this. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39401775/ns/travel-destination_travel/

Touching Heaven

Standing proudly at 13,796 ft (4,205 m) and ranked 15th in the world of prominent mountain peaks, Mauna Kea is the second highest peak in the United States (first being Mount McKinley or Denali in Alaska). Many here on the Big island, we included, call the slopes of Mauna Kea home. As a result we take our fair share of pride in quickly pointing out that while the elevation of Manua Kea is measured from sea level, the mountain actually begins far below the ocean making the true height of the mountain 32,808 feet (10,000 m) making it the tallest mountain in the world. So go ahead, visit the top of the world, you wont be sorry you made the trip.

Also known as Ka Mauna A Kea (Wakea’s mountain) and Mauna O Wakea (the mountain of the God Wakea) who is believed by Hawaiians to be the one whom all things in Hawaii are descended. There are nine Hawaiian Gods and Goddesses (that I am aware of, but I’m no expert) associated with this mountain, thus, it is a very sacred place for the people of Hawaii.

At the summit you will be moved by the expansive views, ok, my eyes got very damp it was so beautiful. The earth simply falls away beneath you no mater what direction you look.

Do not miss the elevation marker showing the 13,796 ft elevation. Take a photo with the marker, after all, you have really accomplished something if you make it this far.

Built originally in 1997 by the Royal Order of Kamehameha the lele at the summit of Mauna Kea is living proof of the people of Hawaii’s continued respect and devotion to the sacredness of Mauna Kea. Please respect the cultural and religious significance of the lele and do not disturb it’s contents. Offerings are made regularly by the people of Hawaii who go there for many reasons, but predominantly to experience the physical connection between heaven and earth, for this is where they meet, and connect with their ancient spiritual past, breathing life into their future. The original lele was vandalized in 2006 but rebuilt that same year.

A hike to the summit of this magnificent mountain is an experience not to be missed. But take the time to prepare before you begin your accent and you will have a much more enjoyable experience. As you will notice in our photos we are wearing hiking boots (not slippers or tennis shoes. While you can drive most of the way up the mountain, the summit can only be reached by hiking. The trail is well marked, but consist of loose rock and gravel and the incline is quite steep.

Because the elevation is so high you will have difficulty catching your breath as you make for the summit, take your time, rest and enjoy the view. Please also notice that we are wearing long pants, and wind-breakers. Though not a requirement and we certainly saw our fair share of shorts and t-shirts on the day we went, but the danger of hypothermia is quite real and should not be ignored. While it was sunny at the summit, the winds were recorded at 20 mph and the air temp was recorded at 7.2 degrees Celsius or 45 degrees Fahrenheit in the sun.

It can be interesting to check the weather periodically and you can do so by visiting the Mauna Kea weather center at: http://www.cfht.hawaii.edu/ObsInfo/Weather/ or http://mkwc.ifa.hawaii.edu/index.cgi

You should also have a hat, sunglasses; I wish I would have had gloves, sunscreen and lots of water. The University of Hawaii, which manages the summit, offers this advice as well because of the low atmospheric pressure and it’s effects on your body: visitors should be over the age of 16, please no pregnant women, or people with high blood pressure, heart, or respiratory conditions, and if you have been scuba diving within the last 24hours of your anticipated visit to the maintain do not go, you will get the bends. Also plan on spending at least 30 minutes at the visitor center to let your body adjust so you do not get altitude sickness and need rescuing. While these warnings may seem silly and easy to disregard, remember, medical assistance is at least an hour away. You can reach the visitor’s center at the 9,200 foot level in a regular car with no trouble, but you should only plan on reaching the summit if you have a four wheel drive vehicle, and of course, obey road condition warnings. In the winter months, Mauna Kea has ground blizzards with flying snow and ice that can reach 70+mph. I danced hula at the summit once for winter solstice and the temp was below -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Brrr, it was darn cold. (But amazing to see stars below me as I danced and awaited the sun rise above the horizon).

On Saturday and Sunday there is a free 4-Wheel Drive tour of the summit that starts at the visitor’s center at 1:00. Participants must be 14 or older and you will need your own vehicle. The highlight is that you can get into Keck 1 observatory! A rare experience as all the observatories are privately owned.

The 4th Saturday of each month is also cultural night on the mountain at the visitor center. Programs start at twilight and are free. For more information about Mauna Kea you can call the visitor center at 808-961-2180 or visit the visitor website at: http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/vis/

Enjoy you adventure to the summit!

Hiking Kilauea Iki Trail

Located in Volcano National Park, the Kilauea Iki Trail is both popular and worthwhile. John and I hiked this trail for the first time this past Tuesday and looking back I have to ask myself “What took me so long!”

I’d put this hike at the top of my list for Big Island Hikes. Why? Because you will not only hike along a crater rim, and gaze at spectacular vistas and descend onto the floor of the crater to see the scale of volcanic power up close and personal; but you will also be treated to wonderful walks through old growth ‘Ohi’a forests filled with native I’iwi and ‘Apapane birds that will serenade you with their lovely native songs.

   To begin the hike you will park at the Kilauea Iki Overlook. The Trail starts off to the right (you will be traveling counter clockwise). I recommend hiking the trail as suggested in the trail guide (available for purchase – $2.00 at the visitor’s center). While you are on this hike you will see many people headed toward you – they are folks who have started at Thurston’s lava tube and headed down for a quick jaunt to the crater floor. Few of them will actually do the entire hike. Also of note is that the climb out of the Kilauea Iki Crater is much easier if your hike the trail as the guide suggests.

I should take a moment here to advise that you wear hiking boots, not tennis shoes, crocks, or flip-flops (yes we saw all the above and it was obvious their owners were walking in pain) . Also, I drank 48 oz of water on this hike and was still really thirsty once we got back to the car. So wear a light pack and carry lots of water. We also ate our lunch on the trail – it was plenty cool enough and relaxing. The entire hike took us 2 hours and 50 minutes (including a good 20 min. lunch break). I would rate the trail as moderately difficult, only because walking on crumbly lava requires your attention and where there are steps on the trail down into the crater they are in poor condition, so again, you must pay attention to where you are stepping. Having said all that, as you can see I am not in the best physical condition and I completed the hike with energy to spare.

I recommend using the hiking guide, please purchase a guide at the visitor center as the $2.00 helps support the park and will provide you with information about the 15 points of interest along the trail. There are quite a few opportunities to catch a glimpse of the venting gasses over at Halema’uma’u crater. Amazingly the steam rising from the Kilauea Iki crater floor is steam caused by rainfall and not escaping poisonous gasses. You still need to use care when looking into the steam vents as the steam is very, very hot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The forest is so beautiful it is difficult not to stop every ten feet to take a photo! But it is a wonderful opportunity to see many of Hawaii’s native species in their native habitat. Don’t forget to look up ans see if you can see any of the native birds. You will hear them, they will sing to you for most of the hike.

Once down on the crater floor I was surprised at how cool it was. there was a strong breeze blowing through the crater so we never felt hot, except when visiting a steam vent of course. In the photo above, the tiny specks in the center of the photo are other hikers. Kind of gives you some perspective of just how big the crater is.

Once across, it is back up into the forest. The shade feels wonderful after the sun in the crater (oh yea, take a hat!) but it is slower climbing out. Take your time and and enjoy the forest again. This forest is a bit different from the first one you waled through. It is younger and thus has fewer native species (meaning more invasive non-native plants) It is still quite pretty though.

 

 

I hope we have inspired you to take this hike when you visit Volcano National Park. There are so many hikes in the park that are worthwhile, but this is a favorite of mine. I hope you will enjoy it as well. -InnGirl