I am completely in love with Volcano Village and the Hawaii Volcano National Park area. In addition to the awe inspiring Kilauea volcano, there is native flora and fauna to appreciate, as well as art and cultural experiences to be had. The National Park is constantly offering Native Hawaiian cultural events and activities, and the Volcano Art Center in Volcano Village offers various creative classes, music, nature hikes and art shows. I couldn’t be any luckier to live where I live, and it’s pretty damn amazing.
Some of the things that make me love this area are the places I frequent often. One of those places is the Volcano Farmer’s Market, located at the Cooper Center, on Sundays from 6:00-10:00 a.m. It is cozy and small, just like the atmosphere is here, and has everything from vegetables to Ka’u grass fed beef, local artisans, hot food, and a book store/thrift store. My favorite thing to do is to grab a cup of Ka’u coffee and browse the thrift store for a good deal. I frequently pick up food magazines such as, Saveur or Bon Appetit, and then boldly try something random from their pages for our Sunday dinner.
Volcano Village has a rather ‘artsy’ reputation, and deservedly so. Every year during the three day Thanksgiving weekend the local artists hui (group) gets together to host an art studio tour and sale. They have everything from paintings, jewelry and pottery, to prints, hand blown glass and metalwork. Maps to the studios and exhibit locations are available at some businesses and galleries in Volcano Village. I have come away with such treasures as Christmas ornaments, paintings, and handmade soap. It’s much more relaxing and visually stimulating than shopping online or going to a crowded store for Black Friday. More info can be found here: http://www.volcanovillageartistshui.com/studio_tour.html.
One of these local artists has a wonderful café that serves vegan and vegetarian fare that we like to take our visiting “veg” friends to, it’s called Café Ono. The café is in a lush, colorful, garden setting with delicious (or ‘ono’) food served in generous portions. Additionally, you can check out the Volcano Garden Arts gallery that is attached to the café while you wait.
My other favorite thing to do is actually considered part of the National Park, but you don’t currently need a park pass to enjoy it, and that’s Namakanio Paio. It’s just a few miles past the entrance of the Park on the right side of the road. They have bathrooms, a pavilion, camping areas and small cabins for rent. I love this place so much, that I’ve camped here many, many times even though I live only a few minutes away! The surrounding area can be enjoyed with a short day-hike as well. There is a gravel lot to park your car near the bathrooms and we usually go explore the area up over the hill behind the building. It is fun to cross over the large crack in the earth and walk out of the forest to see the view of Mauna Loa behind the camp ground. You can take a lunch and explore for a long way and not see a soul, it’s heavenly.
It would be impossible to live here and not fall in love with it.