Venture to Volcano – 36 Hours In The Hawaii Rain Forest

Bike to Volcano Art Center
When you think of Hawaii, of course you think of white sand beaches and beautiful blue water, right? Well, what about rain forests and primordial ferns and volcano calderas? YES! It’s all part of the experience of visiting Hawaii Island.
(And no, I am not a brochure writer for Hawaii, I just love all of the island’s facets of nature!)

Staycation in Volcano:

My husband, Eric and I took a 36 hour “staycation” last week in Volcano, which is the gateway town to Volcanoes National Park and stayed at the Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant. We used the lodge as a jump off point to visit the National Park early in the morning to capture video from the newly opened Jaggar Museum parking lot look out area. This area has been closed since the May 2018 eruption and we were treated to a spectacular view. We also brought our bikes and rode around Volcano Village to check out the art galleries that the town is known for, as well.
We created a video if you want to get your popcorn and see the trip from Kona to Volcano and where we stopped along the way-  as you may wish to put the Punalu’u Bake Shop and Punalu’u Black Sand Beach on your itinerary, too.
You can also see the interior of the Lodge and spectacular views of the Halemaumau Crater and inside the Thurston Lava Tube and some of the art galleries!

Five things I loved about Volcano:

1. The Kilauea Lodge and Restaurant features cozy cottages AND a fantastic hot tub (THAT part didn’t make it to video!) They include some add ons you can get when you book a room to include a bottle of Volcano Winery wine in your room AND a picnic lunch. The sandwiches and brownies were seriously amazing and I wish you could just go there and get that and take it into the park and sit on the edge of the caldera and enjoy it. But you CAN do that if you book a room!
2. Supporting local artists! I loved purchasing a few items for myself and friends at the Lodge gift shop and then at some of the galleries that we visited. The art galleries were amazingly whimsical and created a fun afternoon as we toured the gallery AND the gardens. If we had more time, I would have walked the .7 mile forest tour at the Volcano Art Center.

The Friendship Fireplace

3. The Friendship Fireplace at the Lodge. As I sat enjoying my dinner, I kept looking at the treasure trove of all the interesting items embedded in the wall and hearth of the fireplace. The restaurant staff gave me a “Map” of all the unique pieces of items from all over the world and the story of the fireplace. If you would like to learn more, this blogger did her homework with photos! 

4. The Aloha of the staff at the Lodge was amazing. From check in with the Pinot Noir in the room waiting for us, to sharing a map to all the local galleries with insights, to giving us extra information for the video, and finding a special momento of our time there that was in the basement of the lodge to being a joy to just talk story to about life in Volcano Village. Make sure you say Aloha to Janet Coney, the General Manager!

5. Riding our bikes to the galleries! We live here and could bring our bikes in our SUV, but you can also rent bikes at the Volcano House in the park to bike around the park. Riding to the galleries with the cool wind in our hair, and passing the purple flowers that were blooming everywhere along the road was something out of an adventure ride in Europe!

If you go, bring warm clothes and an umbrella, as the town IS at 4,000 feet and is surrounded by a rain forest, which means it rains at some point almost each day. If it is bright and sunny in the morning, get out and enjoy it! We were so lucky to film in the first part of the day, as the rain DID show up in the later afternoon as we were headed back to Kona.

A hui hou Volcano…I will be back before the holidays to shop for family and friends!


If you love the islands and want to learn more about what it’s like to live here, check out my OTHER site at 

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Meet the Author

Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, blogger and vlogger in Kailua Kona. She created and moderates the “365 Things to Do in Kona” page and the Kona Newbies group on Facebook. She blogs at and and vlogs with her husband, Eric, at “365Hawaii” on YouTube. Julie also authored the books, “How to Move to Kona” and the “Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii”. You will most likely find Julie in Kona hiking, running, biking, taking photos and sharing Aloha.

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