Although we didn't encounter any problems (this was mainly because we were extremely careful and heeded the warnings) we saw plenty of evidence of other less fortunate tourists.
Everywhere, in road side parking spots we encountered broken car window glass where some unlucky soul had left his/her wallet/camera/equipment while they went for a hike.
If you must leave your vehicle...take all your personal belongings with you.
If you're traveling with luggage, best to stay within eye sight distance to your vehicle.
You can always return to the spot after having checked into your hotel room. Leave all valuables back at your hotel!
Do not leave cameras/wallets/purses in your car. We even made it a point to leave car unlocked.
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.
Gasoline stations on this island seem to be few and far between and there are alot of miles to cover. Don't take a chance of running out of gas like my husband did! Although more expensive than on the mainland at home, bite the bullet and fill up before your meter reads empty or you may be spending the night next to the road!
As everyone knows, the temperature of molten lava is extreme. Even if it is not "red hot," recent lava flow can also be hot just beneath the surface and certain types of cooled or hard lava can be extremely sharp, jagged and slice through skin and shoes. You are advised to wear hardsoled shoes when tranversing any cooled lava flows and just don't even go near the other type!
It's always important to be aware of the sun. Relaxing on a beautiful beach with a breeze can make you easily forget to check you skin for signs of a sunburn. We always slather on the sunblock; usually SPF 100 and make sure to re-apply requently. Liz and I both brings hats to ensure our faces do not fry in the sun.
The best thing to do is avoid peak burn times that are from 11am-3pm. We usaully get ourselves some lunch, drinks and shopping during this time to avoid getting crispy.
Yes, you want a souvenir of your vacation but do not remove any lava rocks. As superstition goes; removal of the rocks angers the volcano goddess Pele and brings bad luck to the person. So just go buy a souvenir from ABC...
"Take only pictures; leave only footprints." "Take only gifts you are given (like flower lei’s); and leave only with Aloha."
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.
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.
One must always have an eye for car break-ins in Hawaii. Some tourists even leave their cars unlocked, and their glove compartments open to show that there is nothing to steal.
That does not always deter the thieves however and you might find your locks smashed anyway just out of frustration I guess.
Often tourists return to their cars to find that their trunk lock has been punched in. So take nothing to any of the beaches or remote locations that you could not do without.
Tanning just isn’t what it used to be. Hawaii's Caucasian population has a higher incidence of deadly skin cancer, malignant melanoma, than anywhere else in the United States. But none of us are safe from the sun's harmful rays: People of all skin types and races can burn when exposed to the sun too long. That means that the one thing you really have to know about sunscreen is—use it.
A major health risk in Hawaii is sunburn or sunstroke. Tourists in Hawaii and other ocean locales aren't only exposed to direct UV rays, but they also get it reflected off the water and the beach areas as well.—enough said. Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 or stronger - especially if your complexion is fair - and apply it liberally on your nose, ears, top of your bald head and other sensitive and exposed areas. Most manufacturers recommend specific sun protection factor (SPF) number based upon skin type, but it never hurts to go big as in more than SPF 30. Apply sunscreen as soon as you get out of the shower in the morning, and at least 30 minutes before you're exposed to the sun. No matter what the label says--even if the sunscreen is waterproof--reapply it every 2 hours and immediately after swimming.
Make sure the sunscreen is waterproof if you're engaging in water sports and limit your sun time for the first few days. To avoid developing allergies to sunscreens, avoid those that contain para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA). Look for a sunscreen with zinc oxide, talc, or titanium dioxide, which reduce the risk of developing skin allergies. For the best protection from UVA rays (which can cause wrinkles and premature aging), check the label for zinc oxide, benzophenone, oxybenzone, sulisobenzone, titanium dioxide, or avobenzone (also known as Parsol 1789).
These precautions will increase the chance that your stay in this Hawaiian paradise will create many, many happy memories and none of those “I got a horrible sunburn” stories you’d rather not need to tell to your friends and relatives back home.
The Big Island does see alot of Rain which at times can be quite heavy, lasting several days. Flooding can occur and walking trains can become unsafe. Make sure to pay attention to trail markers, warning signs and to use good judgement.
During our trip we arrived after a long bout of rain. Sveral roadways still had evidence of flooding and some walking trails were deemed unsafe. Don't make vacation dangerous and be smart about natural hazzards.
This sign has a powerful message, heed! An exploding lava rock hit this sign, which now has a double message, as well as a burned surface. Of course, this sign was once closer to the edge, but moved as lava covered the road. Cooled lava surfaces sometimes have "pockets" and can shift, becoming very dangerous to careless travellers.
I'd read in a guide book that there was a legend that anyone who took a rock home from the Big Island would have bad luck.
My son took that very seriously, and even though I'm the kind of person who is always picking up and keeping rocks and pebbles I went along with him and didn't take any home.
However, I did take some pieces of coral home, which I argued is organic and not rock., over his objections.
I ended up with pneumonia and a roll of my film, the one I took of all the neat steaming vents at the National Volcanic Park was lost by the processor.
Coral isn't rock, is it?????
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!
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