My main complaint about Hawaii is the big bugs - the grossest? Cockroaches. Yuck. The closer you are to the water the more likely you'll see them. They wander around like they own the place! Keep the doors closed so they don't wander in that way. Also there are big flying bugs in the evening.
The gases emenating from Hawaii's volcanoes are cool -- so unique they even have their own name: vog (for volcanic smog). But they also can be a health hazard -- especially on breezeless days. In fact, the residents of the nearby town of Volcano actually have the same respiratory problems you would expect of someone living in Seoul or Beijing, including a higher than average number of child asthma cases. As a healthy visitor, you shouldn't have any problems, but if you have chronic lung issues, it's best to avoid the park on voggy days. The visitor center will post warnings on those days, as you can see in the adjacent photos.
If you walk out to where the lava is flowing into the ocean you need to be extremely careful. You are basically walking over the top of cooled lava tubes and if you slip and fall the lava rock is sharp enough to cut you to pieces.
Lyme Disease - Caused by a bacteria which is transmitted to animals or humans through a bite from an infected tick. The CDC has reported that the tick that carries the Lyme Disease is found in 48 of the 50 states, Hawaii is one of them.
It is said that in about 50% of humans infected there is a characteristic rash or lesion called erythema migrans which is seen and which will occur about a few days to a few weeks after being infected. Around the same time flu-like symptoms may also develop with headaches, sore throat, stiff neck, fever, muscle aches and pains, fatigue and general malaise.
If left untreated the symptoms may disappear, but more serious health issues may appear months or years later. Neurological or severe joint pain are among the main health problems.
The bacteria can be treated with a serious of antibiotics which should be taken for about three weeks. This is a serious disease and once you are diagnosed your doctor is obligated to report it to the CDC. The CDC may contact you to find out more details of the location of your bite.
During my trip to The Big Island, I must have been bitten by one of these ticks. I never had the characteristic rash, but after having severe knee pains for what seemed like months, I had my doctor run a series of blood work which included the test for Lyme. Much to both of our surprise I was diagnosed with this disease. I was treated with three weeks of heavy antibiotics.
As of this writing, I do not exhibit any signs of lingering Lyme disease according to my doctor and should be cured.
My advice, PLEASE PLEASE wear BUG REPELLENT, you just never know where or when you can be bitten.
For more informaton about Lyme Disease or the Deer Tick that carries the bacteria, check out
If you decide to hike Kileau I would recommend that you come prepared. The terrain is very uneven with smooth and jagged lava formations which can cause you to slip and even take a fall. Make sure to bring a first aid kit.
On our 8+ hour hike to the edge of the lava flow we encountered many dangers and we were glad we did some reading and prepared ourselves for the hike.
During the hike I stumbled on the rocky terrain and fell on my knees (I am admiditely a klutz). I suffered a scrapped, bloody knee, and upon my return home had severe knee pains which turned out to be a shattered knee cap.
Please follow the park rules as the rangers are not there to enforce them but hope that people are smart enough to stay away from danger.
We encountered many people trying to do the hike without any preparations especailly good walking gear.
I was glad I brought my hiking boots which saved my feet. My travel partner had a pair of regular Timberland boots and at the end of the hike had bloody blisters which lasted a few weeks.
Knowledge is the key to safety.
Some people don't know just how brutal the "tropical sun" can be. Even if you have a base tan... WEAR SUNSCREEN! Its a safe precaution anyways, but the sun in the tropics will burn you without you even knowing that you are getting burnt. Becoming a lobster on your first day of vacation is an easy way to ruin the rest of it!!
The distance between Kailua-Kona to Cowboy country - Waimea (a.k.a. Kamuela) is roughly 40 miles. I much rather drive the upper road because of its scenic beauty. The destination, Waimea, is at 2,400 (or 800 Meter) elevation. This town has its own charm, and it's worth the visit. BUT, the driving to Waimea from Kona can be very challenging for visitors due to road's many twists and turns. At night, the fog might roll in, and my goodness, it's dark since there's practically NOTHING between the two communities. So, please do avoid driving after dark. Besides, if you drive at night, you don't get to see majestic Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.
When you go to the volcanoes, you can walk to near where the lava goes into the ocean. You start walk there late afternoon and then wait until it's dark so you can see the glowing lava. There are ropes everywhere and you need to stay behind them. People have gone missing here before because "new lava" is very unstable and sometimes whole parts just drop into the ocean. Also, when you return it will be pitch black and you need a (good) torch to get back and it might take up to 2 hours. I ran into someone who had fallen and was pretty cut up from the lava. Not trying to scare you off, but if you feel unsure about this, I'd recommend a helicopter ride instead...
This is more or less debunking a commonly stated danger... Saddle Road that runs across the island isn't that bad at all. Yes you may end up driving through a cloud and around some fairly sharp turns, but if you drive like you have some sense you should make it to the other side.
It may seem superstitious, but it is strongly believed by many that taking rocks/dirt/sand home as a keepsake brings much bad luck to whoever does so.
I'd heard this many times over the years, but it wasn't until I was chatting with the ranger at Volcano Park that I really believed. She took me into a storeroom filled with packages of rocks and sand sent from unlucky visitors with long letters describing the woe that befell them when they left the island with the forbidden rocks. They empty it out every few months to make room for the next batch.
Pele guards her fruit closely!
For years, we have all been told of the importance of water. The general guideline has been to drink 2 litre of water each day. For a person who is not living an active lifestyle this may be enough, but if you are physically active, you need more water than that. That is especially true if you are hiking at the Big Island of Hawaiidue to the fact the average temperature is much higher than other areas and the landscape goes up and down.
Water is essential for everyone, especially if you are hiking. Water helps almost every part of the human body function properly. Our bodies are almost two-thirds water, and proper hydration is essential to keep your body functioning properly during the hike. Some of the things water does in the body are:
* The brain is 75% water; even moderate dehydration can cause headaches and dizziness;
* Water regulates body temperature, which is especially important here in the area where the temperatures can be so brutal;
* Water carries nutrients and oxygen to all cells in the body
* Blood is 92% water;
* Water protects and cushions vital organs;
·* Water converts food into energy (which is something you will need on a 3 to 4 hour hike…);
* Muscles are 75% water, and you will use many muscles on a trail as you climb above the desert floor.
The Big Island has more green turtles than any other island. In the past few years they have started the habit of coming ashore to rest / sunbathe?. For whatever reason they come ashore, please leave them be. They need their rest. It is recommended you stay at least 15 feet away.
Hawaii is essentially nothing but lava rock. From a distance it looks very smooth, but up close lava rock is very rough and coarse - not something you'd want to slip and fall on. When walking about on lava rock it is important to wear appropriate shoes and keep your wits about you to avoid a nasty and painful fall.
The Big Island is beautiful, but driving is dangerous, worse at night and drunk driving is popular. Read these links for more info.
Map of Fatal Crashes on the Big Island, Where to Be Really Careful - North Hawaii Outcomes Project (NHOP)
News Story: Alcohol-related traffic fatalities up on the Big Island
News Story: Big Island traffic deaths lead to call for action
Self Driving the Big Island (Pacific Island Travel site)
Report on Hawai'i County Motor Vehicle Related Death Rate & Efforts to Reduce (NHOP)
Instant Hawai'is tips on "Driving Around" and "Driving Safely"
Government Advice on Driving the Big Island - Scroll down to "Driving Tip"
Excellent Site on All of Hawai'is Highways
And remember, its deserted. Yes there is a toilet about halfways where the roads split. Make sure that your clothes are layered and that you have both combo for hot sun and for a thunderstorm. Its pretty windy up there too. One more very important tip: please take pain killers with you because the air up there is very thin and before you know it you will get hit with a head splitting headache!
The hotel room I had, had a balcony. When I looked to the right, I had a view to the ocean.more
We stayed at Arnott's Lodge since there really isn't much in the way of lodging in Hilo, but we were...more
When we were here, this hotel was closed for remodeling. It might have needed it - my sister visited...more