1. Should I rent a car?
Absolutely. Having a car is a necessity, not an option. There is minimal public transportation on the Big Island (and it is "big"; bigger than all the other islands combined) and even less down here in our rural, coastal area. The nearest restaurant is about 3 miles away, the nearest town 12 miles, and Hilo is about 30 miles away. If you need to call a taxi it must come from Hilo. One-way fare for taxi is about $100 (as of this writing).
2. I heard the air can be bad due to the volcano. How is the air at your place?
If you are sensitive to air quality then you should think carefully about where you stay in Hawaii. Even though we are a short drive away from the lava flow, our location is such that the Trade Winds blow fumes (VOG, or volcanic smog) away from us and towards the Kona-side of the island. In fact, our area is considered to have the cleanest air in the country since the Trade Winds blow across 3000 miles of ocean before reaching us.
Note: Indoor air quality can also be bad in some locales. If you are sensitive to air quality, avoid air conditioned buildings or homes that have pets (our B&B has no pets). The temperate Hawaiian climate on our side of the island allows us, at Absolute Paradise, to have windows open year round and to let in the clean Trade Wind breezes.
3. How is the weather at your B&B?
The Big Island has a variety of micro-climate zones and driving 5-10 minutes can take you from one zone to another. Elevation has a major impact on weather, higher elevations being colder and wetter. Whether you are on the windward or leeward side of our mountains can also affect weather dramatically (Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are the two major peaks, with elevations approaching 14,000 feet) . The windward side (northern and eastern regions of the island) is wetter, whereas the leeward side is typically in a "rain shadow" and is desert-like. Our B&B's coastal, sea level, location means that we typically can get some showers at night and there may also be some daytime sprinkles, lasting no more than a few minutes. We rarely get rain and clouds all day, unless there is a large low pressure front covering the Hawaiian island chain. When that happens, there is rain pretty much everywhere (both windward and leeward). We get enough rain to keep the vegetation lush and green and the waterfalls flowing, but not so much that you can't enjoy a day at the beach.
4. Is there a lot of crime in your area?
Hawaii has one of the lowest personal crime rates in the country. This means it is highly unlikely that you would get assaulted here. Unfortunately, there is a lot of petty theft from cars; cars driven by tourists tend to have nice cameras and luggage and are attractive to thieves. This is true of all the islands, from Kaua'i to the Big Island. Our Hawaii B&B is walking distance to the beach, so you can leave your car here for a worry-free day at the beach. When exploring remote area attractions, tourists are advised to leave their car unlocked... with nothing in it. An unlocked car means a thief won't break a window to see if there's something of value within.
5. Is it really expensive to eat in Hawaii?
Not surprisingly, it depends where you choose to eat. Food in the town of Pahoa is of high quality, made with locally grown produce and fresh fish caught right here in Hawaii, and it is relatively low priced. At the low end of the spectrum, you can get a foot long sub at Subway for $5. We have an excellent Mexican restaurant with dinners starting around $7, going up to about $15. Our two Thai restaurants have entrées in the same price range. At the higher end, we have two nice Italian restaurants that serve dinners from $15 to $25. Furthermore, several of our Pahoa restaurants allow you to bring your own bottle of wine or beer, saving you even more money.
6. Should I book a helicopter ride?
If you are here for only a few days, it might be a good idea. From a helicopter you get a quicker overview of the area and can see more of the volcanoes and coastline. Some trips combine aerial tours of the waterfalls in and around Hilo. Additionally, a helicopter is really the only way to see where the lava is currently coming out of the active vent, unless you don't mind a dawn-to-dusk hike through a rainforest trail and then arduous lava fields.
7. We like guided tours. Can you recommend tour operators?
Certainly. We can recommend organized tours that take you to the summit of Mauna Kea, Kilauea Volcano, bicycle adventures, etc. You don't need a guide to see the natural wonders of the island, but a guide can take you to some of the best out-of-the-way locales and they'll do the driving for you, so you can focus on the beauty of our island.
8. What about bugs?
We attempt to keep our home as bug-free as possible in this tropical climate. The lava rock ground in our area is very porous and consequently there is very little standing water for mosquitoes to breed in. All our rooms are fully screened. If you plan on hiking in wooded areas, however, bring insect repellant with you as you will need it.
9. What are the main reasons guests elect to stay at Absolute Paradise.
There are probably as many reasons are there are guests, but we have found that for many guests the following were at the top of their list:
Proximity to a black sand, clothing-optional beach.
To come see an active volcano and lava flow.
Our pool, large hot tub, and sundeck...all clothing-optional.
To be in a comfortable home-like environment instead of an impersonal resort or hotel.
To enjoy the local (geothermal) activities, as well as our coastal parks and snorkeling areas.
To be able to socialize with other people in Hawaii.
10. Am I required to get naked at the beach near your house or by your pool area?
Of course not. Both are clothing-optional (emphasis on "optional"). Being in Hawaii is all about being comfortable. If you are more comfortable with a swim suit, by all means get comfortable.
11. Can our production company film at your house?
Yes. Our home has been featured in two movies already and we will work with you to help make your shoot a success.
12. You are in a rural coastal area; am I going to be completely out of touch with the office?
Only if you're lucky! Seriously... that depends on what you bring with you. We have a wireless internet network in the house so you can connect to the world, if you want to. With Skype or another VOIP service you can make long distance calls from your computer. Cell phone coverage in Hawaii can be spotty and should not be relied on at the B&B (but there is a cell tower 3 miles away, so a short drive will get you in range). You are welcome to use our land-line for calling-card, toll-free, and local calls. We do not provide computers for guest use, so bring your laptop if you need access to a computer. There is an internet café in Pahoa, 12 miles from the B&B.
13. What should I bring to wear?
Most of our guests arrive with far more clothing than needed or used. Shorts and a casual shirt are good enough for almost all occasions. Leave your ties, dress shirts, and leather shoes at home. Bring a pair of shorts, a few t-shirts and swim trunks. A light jacket is recommended since it can be cool at the top of our volcanoes (if you plan on going to the summit of Mauna Kea, then you'll need a good warm coat and jeans). Sandals are ideal for the beach and casual sightseeing. Sneekers will do for just about any but the most arduous hiking.
14. Does the lava flow represent a danger?
Unlike some other volcanoes around the world (e.g. Mount St-Helens), Hawaiian volcanoes are known as "shield" volcanoes and they are, by comparison, very tame and do not erupt cataclysmically. Instead, during eruptions, they produce rivers of lava that flow relatively slowly. You can typically outrun (outwalk would be more accurate) an approaching lava flow on level ground. The current eruption began in 1983 and, therefore, the volcano has been releasing pressure for decades. Our Hawaii B&B is quite safe for the foreseeable future (but we make no predictions about the next century).
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Hawaii Bed and Breakfast Lodging & Accommodations