Things to do and see

While staying at The Wright Place, besides relaxing and enjoying the peaceful surroundings, rejuvenating yourself and renewing your spirit, you can also take advantage of everything the Volcano area has to offer. A few minutes’ drive brings you to the two mom-and-pop general stores in the village, each of which also offers a gas station and one of the village’s four restaurants; there’s a post office, a farmers’ market at the community center on Sundays, along with a charming art gallery and a Hawaiian quilt shop.

Just beyond the village is the entrance to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, which is surely the reason you came to Volcano! Helpful rangers at the Visitors’ Center will direct you to beautiful hiking trails (ranging from easy to strenuous), lava tubes, steam vents, and, above all, an opportunity to stand at the edge of the summit of an active volcano and witness the power of nature. There’s also a top-quality art gallery in a wonderful old building, which, many years ago, used to house the Volcano House hotel at the edge of Kilauea Caldera.

For recreation, stop in at the Volcano Winery for wine tasting and, perhaps, book a round of golf at the scenic Volcano Golf & Country Club, with its view of Mauna Loa, the Park’s “other” volcano, looming above the greens. You may see nene, the state bird of Hawai‘i, which frequent the golf course and seem to happily coexist with the golfers.

If you have the time, head south from Volcano, down into the rural district of Ka‘u, with its often stark but scenic beauty: the mysterious Ninole hills looming over old lava flows of black, shiny pahoehoe and brown, clinkery ‘a‘a*, black sand and green sand beaches, and honu (green sea turtle) viewing. Alternatively, head north from the Volcano, down to historic Hilo town, pronounced “hee-low”, which hosts fascinating museums, quaint stores in old Downtown, and a broad spectrum of the world’s cuisines in its many restaurants, along with the Big-Box stores you’d expect in a sizable town (around 50,000). You can also visit Hilo’s waterfalls, then drive north along the Hamakua Coast, turning onto the four-mile scenic drive around Onomea Bay, stopping at the Hawai‘i Tropical Botanical Garden, then taking a smoothie break at What’s Shakin’, returning to the highway and, a little further north, ‘Akaka Falls State Park.

Then, of course, there’s lower Puna, with its blend of multicultural “local” Hawai‘i and neo-countercultural flavors in the town of Pahoa and the warm ponds, tide pools, black sand beaches, and, since March 2008, the County government’s lava-ocean-entry viewing spot.

All of these suggested routes and stops on Hawai‘i Island’s east side are easily accessed from Volcano Village and The Wright Place.

* If you try to walk across an ‘a‘a flow, you will understand why the ancient Hawaiians, in spite of their calloused soles, gave that name to that type of lava; the second “a” is stressed! See the HVO Volcano Watch article, May 27, 1999 for explanation about the two lava types.