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November 19-21, 2015
Experience an amazing exploration of Hawaii’s Big Island with an exclusive stay at a private Victorian mansion located on Reed’s Island in historic Hilo. Descend in time, and explore Hilo's historic museums, magical waterfalls, authentic shops, galleries, and restaurants. This charming coastal city by the bay is known for its friendliness and diversity of residents. Hilo receives nearly 130 inches of rain annually, making it one of the wettest cities on the planet. Combine all the rain with some sunshine and rich volcanic soil and you have the makings of a tropical wonderland. For a well-rounded experience, this tour will also visit academic institutions and organizations working to advance scientific.
The grand Victorian home, known as Hilo House, is located in the area where native Hawaiian royals used to reside. Built in 1916 by British banker, Thomas Guard, who favored the Victorian plantation style with Greek revival pillars, large lanai (front porch) and spacious rooms; Hilo House is a stunning example of the Big Island’s colonial architecture. The property has been placed on the National Registry of Historic Places and Hollywood director George Lucas stayed here when shooting Indiana Jones in the jungle outside Hilo.
Study Leader Information
Sheyenne Solomon, the Hawaiian local guide, was raised on the Big island of Hawaii in the small town of Kalapana, until lava took his family’s home in 1992. The eldest of 10 children, Sheyenne helped his mom raise and teach his siblings. Having graduated from high school early, at the age of 16, he received a scholarship from San Francisco Academy of Fine Arts. After one year of study, he took a big leap and started traveling to distant horizons, covering more than 27 countries in Asia, Central & South America, India, Nepal, Europe, Africa, and Australia. At various stages, Sheyenne has built 4 properties, three are in Hawaii and one in Indonesia. He landscaped and designed them to be ecologically friendly and sustainable. Even though the world is his playground and classroom, the Big Island is his true love. Being raised in a large Hawaiian family, Sheyenne has had amazing exposure to native Hawaiian culture and legends of the past. Most of all, Sheyenne is a true believer in the preservation of Hawaii’s natural beauty and her beloved cultural heritage. His bright energy, caring heart, and loving spirit will inspire everyone traveling with him through the island of Aloha!
Day 1 | Arrival Day to Hilo
Arrive at Hilo Airport on the Big Island of Hawaii. Transfer to beautiful Reed’s Island, to the private home of Charlotte Xu and her late husband Howard Dewar. Guests will spend five nights at this exclusive historic mansion surrounded by tropical rainforests, waterfalls, rivers carved by volcanoes, and beautiful gardens. The property has significant meaning to Hilo and local communities, and has been placed on the National Registry for Historic Places. Charlotte and Howard dedicated much of their time here to yoga, Taiji, meditation, and other contemplative pursuits, and consequently a sense of tranquility fills this elegant house. The epitome of exclusivity and comfort, this will be your home away from home for the next six days.
In the late afternoon, walk the peaceful Liliuokalani Gardens named after Hawaii’s last reigning monarch, Queen Liliuokalani. Located on Hilo’s Banyan Drive, this authentic, 30-acre Japanese garden was dedicated in 1917 as a tribute to Hawaii’s first Japanese immigrants who worked in the Hawaii Island sugar cane fields. This beautifully landscaped park features arching red bridges over fishponds, rock gardens, pagodas, Japanese stone lanterns and a teahouse. Views of Hilo Bay and Moku Ola (Coconut Island) enhance the beautiful landscape.
Guests spend the evening on their own. Head over to the elegant Hilo Bay Café across the garden. With stunning bay-front views, as land merges into sea, the chef prepares fine contemporary American bistro, as well as Hawaiian and Japanese cuisines.
Day 2 | Imiloa Astronomy Center & Hilo
After breakfast at the House, visit the worldfamous Imiloa Astronomy Center, a public science center dedicated to the mission of sharing and interpreting the astronomy conducted on the summit of Mauna Kea, home of 13 of the largest and most advanced telescopes in the world. Imiloa presents the astronomy done atop Mauna Kea within the framework of native Hawaiian traditions of navigation and exploration. Tour the facilities and learn about the on-going scientific and cultural research within the context of the community. Watch a show at the world’s first 3D digital dome in the Planetarium and stroll through the landscape gardens featuring native and Polynesian introduced plant life.
Visit the College of Hawaiian Language, for an introduction to their Hawaiian Cultural and Language Preservation program. The program is being tested as a template to restore and preserve indigenous language. Lunch is at the award winning Café Pesto in downtown Hilo with a colorful menu of locally grown organic greens, freshly caught fish and delicious pasta and pizza. In the afternoon, tour historic downtown Hilo, Hawaii Island’s biggest small town featuring centuries-old wooden storefronts (many of which are on the National Register of Historic Places) housing a variety of sophisticated galleries, shops, restaurants and cultural sites. Start your walk on Kamehameha Avenue facing beautiful Hilo Bay and discover a variety of local shops, restaurants and attractions including the modern aloha wear at Sig Zane Design, the neo-classical Palace Theatre built in 1925, and the bustling Hilo Farmers Market (not available everyday). You’ll also find a variety of art galleries featuring paintings, woodwork, glasswork and jewelry from artists with a unique island point of view.
The Pacific Tsunami Museum chronicles the cataclysmic natural disasters of 1946 and 1960 forcing Hilo to rebuild further inland using parkland as a buffer. The Lyman Mission House & Museum features a historic house built in 1839 by American Christian missionaries. In the evening, enjoy a home cooked dinner at Hilo House. Guests may enjoy a massage by a local therapist before or after dinner, please reserve in advance.
Day 3 | Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Garden
In the morning, tour the famous "Garden in a Valley on the Ocean" located on the lush Hamakua Coast’s 4 Mile Scenic Drive. The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is a museum of living plants that attracts photographers, gardeners, botanists, scientists, and nature lovers from around the world.
The Garden’s collection of tropical plants is international in scope. Over 2,000 species, representing more than 125 families and 750 genera, are found in this one-of-a-kind garden. The 40-acre valley is a natural greenhouse, with fertile volcanic soil, and natural protection from tradewinds. Throughout this garden valley, nature trails meander through a true tropical rainforest, crossing bubbling streams, passing several beautiful waterfalls and exciting ocean vistas along the rugged Pacific coast.
Return to Hilo and enjoy a walk on Richardson Beach by the Bay, with miles of rocky seawalls and parks where you’ll find locals swimming, diving, surfing, fishing and picnicking. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. There is an optional tour to the Mauna Kea Summit Observatories departing in the late afternoon from Hilo House.
The Mauna Kea Observatories are an independent collection of astronomical research facilities located on the summit of Mauna Kea at almost 14,000 feet high. The location is ideal for astronomical viewing because of its dark skies, towering position above most of the water vapor in the atmosphere, clean air, good weather and an almost equatorial location. It is an optimal location for submillimeter, infrared and optical observations. Because of the high altitude, please consult your physician to make sure you are fit for this tour.
Day 4 | Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park encompasses two active volcanoes: Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes; and Mauna Loa, the world’s most massive volcano. The park gives scientists insight into the birth of the Hawaiian Island and ongoing studies into the processes of volcanism. Experience the dramatic volcanic landscapes and rare flora and fauna found here. In recognition of its outstanding natural values, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was designated as an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. The best and closest place to observe a volcanic eruption is from Jaggar Museum overlook, and other vantage points at the summit of Kilauea that provide views of Halema’uma’u Crater.
During daylight, the robust plume of volcanic gas is a constant and dramatic reminder of the molten rock churning in a lava lake beneath the crater floor. After sunset, Halema’uma’u continues to thrill visitors with a vivid glow that illuminates the clouds and the plume as it billows into the night sky.
An optional four-mile hike of Kilauea Iki trail through the crater and lush plants is invigorating for an intimate experience of the volcanic terrain and ecology. A box lunch with fruit and sandwiches is provided. After an afternoon exploring the park, settle in for a sunset dinner. Then, emerge to watch the volcano glow at night near the crater.
Day 5 | Akaka Falls, Waipio Valley
After breakfast, tour Akaka Falls State Park, 14 miles away along the northeastern Hamakua Coast. Visit two gorgeous waterfalls on one short hike. The pleasant 0.4 mile uphill hike will take you through a lush rainforest filled with wild orchids, bamboo groves and draping ferns.
Follow the paved footpath to the 100 foot Kahuna Falls. Continue to follow the loop around the bend, and you’ll discover towering Akaka Falls which plummets 442 feet into a stream-eroded gorge. Beautiful Akaka Falls is perhaps Hawaii Island’s most famous waterfall. Easily accessible, this hike takes less than an hour.
Drive to Waipio Valley (45-minute ride), a dramatic landscape one mile across and over five miles deep, and surrounded by cliffs up to 2,000 feet high. This is the childhood home of King Kamehameha I, and an important center for political and religious life in Hawaii. Waipio Valley was once the home of thousands of Native Hawaiians. Today, there are less than 100 residents living amongst the waterfalls, taro fields and rivers permeating the valley. Hawaii Island’s tallest waterfall, Hiilawe Falls cascades down 1,300 feet in the back of Waipio.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. The rest of the afternoon is free. In the evening, enjoy a special farewell at Hilo House, where a delectable Hawaiian banquet accompanied by lively Hawaiian musicians will make for the perfect end to your authentic Hawaiian experience.
Aloha Room - $2,390 (Single Supplement - $890)
Deluxe Room - $2,690 (Single Supplement - $990)
Private Suite - $2,990 (Single Supplement - $1,390)
Mention Historic Hotels of America when booking your tour and receive three $100 gift certificates, each good toward a $100 refund when you book through HistoricHotels.org and stay for at least two-nights at a Historic Hotels of America hotel.**
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Terms & Conditions
Included in tour cost: Double occupancy accommodations; All meals listed in itinerary; All sightseeing, entertainment, and cultural activities listed in itinerary; Local tour guides; Gratuities to local guides and drivers on main tour; Preparatory materials; Services of a Property Manager and Local Guides
Not included in tour cost: Airfare; Airport transfers; Meals not included in the tour; Excess baggage charges; Travel insurance; Liquor, wine, & beer, and other items of a personal nature
**Maximum of one $100 certificate may be claimed for a refund with a minimum two night stay booked through HistoricHotels.org following the return of your tour and completion of your hotel stay. The refund will be issued within 45 days of the completion of your stay upon submitting a Great Experiences & Tours $100 refund application. Refund application must be submitted with a copy of your hotel folio receipt, the original confirmation number from your booking on HistoricHotels.org, and the Certificate number issued to you for booking your tour through Historic Hotels of America. Certificates issued are a promotion only valid toward future reservations made through HistoricHotels.org and do not have any cash value. One certificate may be used per room per two night or longer stay at the same hotel. Eligible rates include rates publicly available at time of booking. Reduced rates, rooms included in another travel or tour package, employee rates, advance purchase rates, and certain last minute sale rates are not eligible for this promotion.