In the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it village of Volcano, on the slopes of Mauna Loa and just outside of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, are a handful of B&Bs and cottage rentals (see also Volcano Rainforest Retreat). Among the oldest—but no less charming for its 25 years—is Hale Ohia. It’s a small cottage colony, with guest quarters scattered around a two-acre estate thickly carpeted in emerald-green moss and shaded by stands of soaring sugi (Japanese cedar) trees. The main house, a quirky Queen Anne style Victorian with a miniature turret and stone chimney that make it look like it was lifted right out of a children’s storybook, dates back to the 1930s when the manager of a sugar plantation built it as a summer holiday home. The gardens were planted by the same master landscape architects responsible for the Liliʻuokalani Gardens in Hilo (at one time the largest Edo style garden outside of Japan). All guest quarters are sweetly decorated, in a largely Craftsman style with ceramic tiles and soft woods; some have pretty, stained-glass windows. But on a chilly Volcano night—and most of them are since the town sits at 4,000 feet—nothing is quite as romantic as curling up by the fireplace in one of the three stand-alone cottages, unless, of course, it’s sitting in the garden and watching the dazzling night sky, which is reason enough to stay on this side of the island.
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Volcano Village is a small, sleepy mountain town that’s been a longtime hub for painters, woodworkers, printmakers, ceramicists, and other artists. Their studios are scattered all over town, and their work is often on display at the Volcano Art Center.
Need to Know
Rooms: Eight rooms, including three stand-alone cottages with fireplaces. A five-room cottage is under construction and should be available to rent by spring 2016. From $119. Check-in: between 2 and 4 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: Breakfast is delivered to every room the previous afternoon. It includes coffee, juice, and a delicious, freshly-baked cake disguised as bread (one day it might be a toasted coconut and papaya loaf, the next day, cranberry-banana). For other meals, guests can choose from a handful of nearby restaurants, including the immensely popular Kilauea Lodge, or call Tuk-Tuk Thai, who’ll deliver right to your room. Better still, book a window table at the Volcano House Hotel, inside the park, and stare out at Kilauea crater as you dine. Spa and gym details: There’s no spa and no gym, but there are hikes aplenty at the national park, a four-minute drive from Hale Ohia.
Who it's for: Anyone who doesn’t mind being off the grid (there are no TVs here, and Wi-Fi service is spotty); families who want to spend the day tramping around the volcanoes but crash someplace comfortable at night; couples who prefer the woods to the beach or who want both (the beaches are a few hours’ drive from here). Our favorite rooms: The Hale Ohia Cottage is especially good for families since it has three bedrooms, a living room, a full kitchen, and an outdoor barbecue. For couples, both Cottage #44, a converted water tank now a mahogany-paneled nest, and Cottage Ihilani, with its skylight and reading nook, are cozy and romantic. See the outdoors:Watch the sunset from Volcano House Hotel, off Crater Rim Drive.Go to the park after dark (it’s open 24 hours, and Jaggar Museum is open till 8 p.m.), especially if Kilauea is erupting. Red molten lava isn’t always easily visible, but plumes of red smoke usually are. Borrow a flashlight or two from the front desk at Hale Ohia.