Section 1: Editors' Notes Section 4: Inns for Sale
Section 2: Purple Roofs Travels Section 5: Late Availability
Section 3: Travelers Columns

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Welcome to the November 2006 newsletter. This month, we have the first of two parts of our report on Hawaii - the Big Island. Next month we'll be reporting on our visit to Kauai, Hawaii.

This Month's Travel Articles

This month we have a great column about Savannah, Georgia from Don & Ray. Thanks, guys! We also have a great article from Paul at Earlfield Travel about The Rockies in the Summer - Thanks, Paul!

Innkeepers - write us an article about your area, and we'll include it in a future issue of this newsletter with credit and links to your website and email addresses. Contact for more details.

Late Availability/Special Offer Accommodation Notices

As always, we also have our Late Availability & Special Offer notices (150 offers in 16 countries/regions) all at, or just check your favorite destination page - these notices are also right there on the regular listings.

Travelers - Try a Home Trade Membership for Just $60 for 3 Years...

...and stay for free with other gay, lesbian, and gay friendly travelers around the world. More details on our Mi Casa Su Casa site at:

Innkeepers: Our Inns for Sale Listings are On Sale thru November 15th!

... for just $99 for 6 months - save 25% on these real estate listings:

Seen Our Real Estate and Wedding Sites Lately?

We've been beefing up our realtor, mortgage lender, and wedding vendor listings over the last several months, and now have over 500 real estate professional listings in 45 US states, Spain, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. We have over 500 Wedding Vendor listings in 42 US states, Asia, Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, Mexico and the South Pacific.

Check out our real estate professional listings here:
Check out our wedding vendor listings here:

That's it for this issue.

Mark & Scott, PURPLE ROOFS


Gay Big Island, Hawaii

Click Here to Visit the Purple Roofs Gay Big Island, Hawaii Section

Aerial View Big Island

Click Any Picture Below to See More

Welcome to the Big Island

Flying to Kona from the mainland isn't a direct proposition - you can fly direct into Honolulu, but then you have to transfer to an inter-island flight to the Big Island (note: there are some exceptions to this, depending on where you fly from - check with your airline). Fortunately, the transition is pretty seamless - the gates are close together, and our layover was relatively short. And as a great bonus, you can take some fantastic aerial shots from the plane coming into and out of Honolulu:

Honolulu, Oahu; Kahoolawe Island; Lanai Island

Aerial View HonoluluAerial View KahoolaweAerial View Lanai

The views aren't nearly as impressive when you reach Kona, as the airport is well north of town and the approach doesn't lend itself to great shots of the island. But on the way, watch for the islands of Molokai and Lanai, (and the small island of Kahoolawe)which you'll pass almost directly over, and the island of Maui off to the north of the plane's trajectory.

Kona is a small airport that takes full advantage of the wonderful Hawaiian climate - no stuffy indoor waiting rooms here, and plenty of cover if you get caught in a rain shower. The rental car area is accessible only by shuttle, which is a negative, but it is really close - you could actually walk to it across the parking lot if you really wanted to.

We chose to visit the Hilo side of the island first (and decided belatedly we could probably have flown right into Hilo), but it did give us the chance to see some of the northern and eastern parts of the island. The only significant part we missed was the Kohala Coast.

Big Island Wildlife

Black Sand BeachThe Big Island has a lot of flora and a bit of fauna, including a few of our favorites - sea turtles, mongeese and geckos. Sea turtles are found in the south at Punalu'u black sand beach - we saw one right on the main beach here, and apparently there's a hatching ground with many more just over the hillside on the next beach. We decided this poor little guy had been chosen to represent the herd... he sat there very patiently while we photographed and taped him. For a short video, click here.

There are also many geckoes here - when we first ran across these cute little guys in our condo in Kauai back in 2000, we kinda freaked out - we had these little lizards running around inside the house, and once even had one pop out of the toaster when we were making breakfast - poor little guy was probably as freaked out as we were. But we got used theo them - after all, they do eat lots of bugs - and locals consider them good luck. Here are a few we saw while on-island:


Finally, folks familiar with our websites may know that our web design company is called Mongoose On The Loose - when we decided to move to Hawaii in 1998, we knew we needed something we could do that wouldn't be tied to the volitile ups and downs of the Hawaiian economy. We decided on web design, but still needed a name.

Mongoose On The LooseWhen we returned from Hawaii, we heard about several violent crimes on the ride home from the airport , and we remembered that while we were on-island, the worst thing we heard on the radio was of a possible mongoose on the loose.

Mongoose On The LooseMongooses (I know, I wanna call 'em mongeese too) were introduced to the islands in the 1800's by plantation owners to reduce the rat population, but unfortunately, mongeese are diurnal and rats are nocturnal, so the mongooses instead began to eat the local bird population.

On Kauai, as the legend goes, a longshoreman picked up the crate that had the mongeese bound for that island, and was bitten by one of the mongooses inside. He reacted by throwing the crate overboard, drowning the mongeese inside, and so Kauai is the only one of the major Hawaiian islands without them.

We adopted the mongoose as our mascot, symbolizing both the aloha of the islands and a sense of whimsy we wanted to include in our designs. But we'd never seen one in the wild, until this trip - there were several of these little critters in the bushes outside the Kona Brewing Company, pictured in this section. We were thrilled to see them!

The Coqui Frog

All animal and plant species in Hawaii were at one time invasive species - broght in from somewhere else by wind or sea or human importation. But one of the most recent imports has cosed a great deal of consternation in the Hilo area - Coqui Frogs. These are thumbnail-sized tree frogs native to (and endangered in) Puerto Rico. They came to the island (and to parts of Maui) in the 90's, some folks believe on plants brought in by Walmart, as they are heavily concentrated around the store. They breed like crazy - a breeding pair can create millions of descendants in just a few months, and they don't require water - they have no tadpole stage, so they emerge as little frogs from their eggs.

All this wouldn't be a big deal, except that they love to chirp and sing. Loudly. From dusk to dawn. Several thousand can live in a small patch of jungle. Think of a thousand birds right outside your window chirping nonstop for 12 hours. Now some of them have started chirping during the day too - evolution at work as overcrowding squeezes the population.

The county of Hawai'i apparently dithered about the problem when it first arose, preferring to do study after study, and now it's probably too late, as the frogs have firmly established themselves on the island, and were spreading up towards Volcano at our visit. Many locals have organized Coqui patrols, hunting down the cute little buggers by sound at night with flashlights and killing them with Caffeine or Citric sprays.

There are several schools of thought on the island - kill 'em all, or live and let live. The kill 'em all folks are about at wits end with the noise, and/or want to prevent another invasive species from spreading across the island.

The live-and-let-lives think the problem will eventually solve itself, as the local ecology adapts and mongooses and other local predators start eating the frogs and/or the frogs eliminate large chunks of the insect population and start to starve.

The take-away lesson from all this is to ask your innkeeper about the frogs, and if they are in the area, which room is quietest. Many local innkeepers thoughtfully provide earplugs to block out frog noise and street noise as well; some offer a/c so you can close the windows at night and solve the problem. Just be aware that you may run into this with any of the inns in the area, and you'll be fine.

From Kailua-Kona to Hilo

Driving north of the airport, the country along the coast is very dry - in fact, this area is the driest place in the island, with only 15-20 inches of rain a year, making it essentially a desert. There are two highways that run north from the Kona area, 19, and 190 - we chose 19, in part because it followed the coast, and in part because the other highway was a lot harder to get to from the airport, requiring a slow drive across surface streets or a detour south.

One of the first things you notice are the lava flows that abound here. Black lava rock runs along the highway for miles, a remnant of flows from the Mauna Loa Volcano in 1859 and from the Ka'upulehu Crater in 1800-1801. The colors are amazing, from the deep blue hues of the ocean to the black lava rock to the greens and golds of the sparse vegetation growing tenaciously atop and between the rock.

The second thing you notice are thousands and thousands of little white rocks. Depending on who you talk to, these are either a wonderful example of social expression or a plague of grafitti on the land.

According to one of the locals we met, the whole thing started either with someone announcing his or her undying love for someone, or with an announcement of some sort - somebody took some of the white coral prominent in the area and spelled out a message on the black lava rock. Think those little magnetic letters some folks have on their refrigerators gone wild, and you have a good idea of what it's like. Now folks paint little lava rocks white and arrange them in all kinds of messages, and for miles you see things like "Mike loves Dana" or "Hawaiians!!!" spelled out along the road. Grafitti or art, they are kind of endearing, and give you something to look at as you drive the long dry stretch up from the airport.

As you travel north, watch for Mauna Kea to the east - on a clear day, you can see a number of the telescopes perched up there where the air is unusually placid and the city lights are far away and dim.

When you reach Kawaihae, if you want to see the beautiful Kohala Coast, continue northward. We, unfortunately, had other plans, and had to head east, across the island's interior, just north of Mauna Kea. To the north, you'll see a green ridge, the start of the Kohala Mountains. You'll also start to climb up from the coastal plain, arriving shortly in the town of Waimea. Here you'll see the first of the island's 7 Starbucks - if, like us, you have more than a passing addiction to the chain's frappucinos or cafe mochas, you can stop here. Otherwise, remember, Kona is famous for its coffee - take the time to sample the local blends while you are here.

You'll start to notice a change as you pass through this area. The arid but beautiful lavascapes start to give way very quickly to green, and by the time you cross the midpoint of the island, the area looks much more welcoming, with wide meadows and lush tropical growth.

When you arrive in Honoka'a, you've reached the eastern coast. Starting south from here, you'll enter the jungle, where vines filled with red and peach and white and yellow and purple flowers climb over everything, and deep valleys split the hillsides on the mauka (Mountain) side of the road.

This area is fairly sparsely populated until you get down to Papaikou, and the edge of the Hilo area.

Hilo, Pahoa, and the Puna District

Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii

Hilo, Big Island, HawaiiHilo sits between north and south Puna. South Puna is a wide, jungle-covered peninsuyla sandwiched between Kilauea crater/the current lava flow and the ocean. Hilo is on Hilo Bay, along the north end of the peninsula, and has a cute plantation downtown and several resort hotels.

From what we were told by locals, the hotels here are on leasehold land, and so when the leases run out, the hotels may have to be torn down if the lease owners do not renew the leases. So there's little incentive to update and renovate these hotels, and they tend to be old and run-down.

Hilo is also where the cruise ships dock on this side of the island, and there's one in almost every day.

Hilo Farmer's Market

One of Hilo's main draws is the Farmers' Market - a large gathering of local farmers and artisans/craftsfolk selling a huge variety of local fruit, vegetables, flowers, and arts and crafts. We bought some beautiful jewelry from Lily Haywood at Lily's Crafts, a local artist who imports gemstones and other materials from around the world and the local islands to make necklaces, bracelets, and other jewelry.

Hilo, Big Island, HawaiiHilo, Big Island, HawaiiHilo, Big Island, Hawaii

Kaikodo Restaurant

Hilo, Big Island, HawaiiThere's a FANTASTIC restaurant in Hilo - Kaikodo (60 Keawe St., Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii, 808 961-2558) - right in the old downtown.

Hilo, Big Island, HawaiiThe cuisine is an italian/asian fusion, and was excellent, including such specialties as red curry chicken and edamame raviolis - while they sound a bit odd, they were amazing, a blend of edamame paste and cheese that was light, delicious and addictive. We also tried the spring rolls with ginger sauce, and the chicken with red curry sauce was also fantastic.

The decor was nicely upscale, including glass chandeliers imported from Murano and a gorgeous magnolia bar that came from the mainland (New Orleans or somewhere on the east coast, depending on who you ask). There's also a saxaphone player here on Wednesday nights.

Ask for Kevin, our favorite server here - he's cute, professional, and friendly, and will take great care of you.

Other things to do in-town include movies at the Kress Theater - second run movies (in theaters elsewhere a month or two ago) for just $1.00. The Palace Theater in town shows more current movies at regular movie prices.

Hilo, Big Island, HawaiiWe also ate at Cafe Pesto after getting several recommendations, and the food was just passable and the service very slow. We hoped for a bay view, but when we asked, they told us the only table near the windows was a six-seater, and they couldn't seat the two of us there. They then proceeded to seat us at a six seater at the back of the restaurant, and gave the next party (three people) the close to the window table. We also had to request the bill three times. needless to say, we didn't go back.

There are a number of devout Christians in Hilo, and we saw the Ten Commandments posted in one shop window and a man walking around with a Jesus T-Shirt at the Kress. But no one was hostile, so we figured live and let live.

Also, the whole town pretty much closes down after 5 pm (except restaurants) and is closed on Sunday.

For groceries, there's a safeway down in the newer part of town.

Just south of Hilo lies the small plantation town of Pahoa and the bulk of the Puna District, a heavily forested tropical peninsula on the Big Island's South-Eastern Tip.

Puna is new land, created by the volcanoes in the last few thousand years. Some areas have recent (last 10-50 years) lava flows that cut through lush tropical foliage, covering entire subdivisions of homes and one beautiful black sand beach. The land is so new that there are no rivers in the lower Puna - they haven't had a chance to be carved. Instead, the water seeps directly into the porous ground very quickly after the rainfall.

If you take Highway 130 south from Hilo, through Pahoa, and down to the sea, you'll reach the edge of the current eruption - it started in 1983 from a vent on the side of Mauna Loa, and has resulted in a number of flows that have erased a long stretch of highway and a small town on the southern part of the island. From here, if you stop and stare west over the miles of new lava, you can often see steam rising from the sea where the current flow is steadily creating new land.

The current flow has created over 600 acres of new land, and the town of Kalapana was entirely covered by the current flow, along with one of the nicest black sand beaches on the island. One of the former residents of Kalapana started a movement to plant palms along a new stretch of beach, and someday it may rival the old beach in beauty. More about Volcanoes National Park in the Volcano section later in this travel report.

Absolute Paradise B&B
12-118 Kipuka St., Pahoa, HI
1 808 965-1828

Absolute Paradise Gay B&B

Absolute Paradise Gay B&BWe met Didier, one of the hosts at gay-owned Absolute Paradise, on a gorgeous fall day in September. The property is close to Kehena Beach in lower Puna, not far from the end of the highway where the hardened lava from the current eruption closed off the ocean-front highway. But don't worry - they're far from the current actual flow. It's about 30 miles from Hilo, and maybe 45-50 miles from Volcano and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The property consists of the main house and pool and a separate guest house - you can rent a room in the main house, or opt for more privacy (with your own separate entrance) in the guest house/cottage. The main house has three rooms, each with ocean views, two with en-suite baths. There's also a beautifully decorated common area, with attractive stained concrete floors. This is a very comofortable, upscale-feeling place.

The Paradise Suite (the guest house) is huge, with two story garden views and a private outdoor shower, one of the perks of the tropical environment.

The property is architecturally fascinating - with the buildings tiled with beautiful blue and white mosaics and the entire property accented by some of the most beautiful volcanic rock walls we've seen anywhere on the islands - the picture above will give you a bit more of an idea. And the property sites next to the 1955 lava flow, so you can walk right outside the main house and onto an old lava field - and hey, the volcanoes are one of the reasons you came here, right?

The clientele is primarily gay men, and the entire property is clothing optional. This property is a great choice for singles and couples who want to get away from it all, but who still enjoy the comforts of civilization.

Click Any Picture to See More

Absolute Paradise Gay B&BAbsolute Paradise Gay B&BAbsolute Paradise Gay B&B

Bay House B&B
42 Pukihae St., Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii
1 808 961-6311

Bay House B&B

Bay House B&BBay House B&B is super-close to downtown Hilo - just across the bridge (the Wailuku River) and across the street from old town Hilo. You're literally less than a five minute walk from the shops, movie theater, Farmer's Market, and restaurants in town.

Christine, one of the innkeepers, is a wonderful host, and has learned how to take great care of her guests over her 10 years in the business. This gay friendly B&B is small, just three rooms, allowing her to provide very personalized service.

The rooms are next to one another on the top floor (with a covered car-park area below), and all feature warm wooden floors, tropical furnishing (including locally-made bed covers, gorgeous wicker furniture, and whimsical touches like the wooden giraffe above). Each room has bay views (including the eastern part of Hilo off to the right) - from here, you can also see the cruise ships when they come in. You're also surrounded by jungle vegetation, especially in the end room. The property is non-smoking.

There's also a hot tub behind the main house, which also has great bay views. Breakfasts here include some unusual local fruits, and are fantastic - we had a chance to sample them on our visit. If you're staying in Hilo and want to be close enough to walk to downtown, this is a great choice - clean, beautifully decorated, and friendly with great water views.

Click Any Picture to See More

Bay House B&BBay House B&BBay House B&B

Hale Makamae
13-3315 Makamae St., Pahoa, Big Island, Hawaii
1 808 965-9090

Hale Makamae

Hale MakamaeIn Pahoa, just 10 minutes south of Hilo, 5 minutes from Pahoa Town, and 30 minutes from Volcanoes National Park, you'll find a beautiful tropical oasis. This gay friendly bed and breakfast sits in the midst of Puna, in a residential development that features huge lots and still has lots of open space. The owners, Petra and John, bought the lot next to theirs, and extended their own HUGE yard into this lot, creating an open, grassy two-acre area that's tailor-made for large weddings or commitment ceremonies, surrounded by carefully tended tropical palms, ferns, flowers and other green growth.

The property features 3 suites (two with kitchenettes). each with private en-suite bathrooms, lovely hardwood floors, and separate entrances. You're miles from the ocean, so no water views, but there are fantastic tropical jungle views.

Breakfast is served on a screened-in deck beside the main house, where you can also enjoy Petra's collection of exotic orchids. Petra herself was very friendly, making us feel at home during our short visit.

This is a great location for a quiet getaway for singles or couples, and for anyone looking for a place for a Puna/Hilo wedding.

Click Any Picture to See More

Hale MakamaeHale MakamaeHale Makamae

Hilo Oceanfront B&B
11923 Kalanianaole, Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii
1 808 934-9004

Hilo Oceanfront B&B

Hilo Oceanfront B&BHilo Oceanfront B&B is the second-closest B&B to Hilo's old downtown, but it's a bit far to walk - it takes 5-7 minutes to drive, though, so it's still convenient. The property is nestled along the water near the easternmost end of Hilo - quiet, and while not entiely secluded, still with a nice sense of privacy, due mostly to the small creek and accompanying vegetation that grows along its western side.

Hilo Oceanfront is a homestay. This gay friendly B&B has been in the family since the 1970's. Jay, the innkeeper, currently offers two rooms, which were under extensive renovation during our visit in preparation for the winter season. Jay's a really nice guy, and we enjoyed finally meeting him in person.

The studio, at 880 square feet, features a private lanai and bay view, along with a private kitchen and bath. The suite is more apartment-like, sleeping up to nine, with a full kitchen and bathroom, and is perfect for families or larger groups traveling together - the inn welcomes children. You can also rent both units, which share a common deck. Both rooms also feature air conditioning, a great benefit on the sunny side of Hilo.

There's a private path down to the water, where there are several beautiful natural pools for swimming, and there are deck chairs (pictured above) for ocean viewing.

This is a great property for folks on a budget, for families looking for a bit of room, and for folks wanting to be near (but not in the middle of) Hilo, with great views and a private atmosphere.

Click Any Picture to See More

Hilo Oceanfront B&BHilo Oceanfront B&BHilo Oceanfront B&B

Isle of You
Kamalli St., Pahoa, Big Island, Hawaii
1 808 965-1639

Isle of You

Isle of YouThe Isle of You innkeepers, Kelly and Normand, have the distinction of being the first innkeepers to meet us in the alltogether - a fact we quickly grew comfortable with, because they were so obviously comfortable in their own skins. This gay-owned property is clothing optional, and is open to gay, lesbian, and straight folks alike. They also offer work positions - accomodations in exchange for work on the property - see their website for more information. Kelly and Normand are friendly guys who moved here from Colorado 5 years ago.

Located about halfway between Pahoa and the sea, Isle of You is a huge property - 70 acres - ensuring privacy for visitors. Surrounded by lush jungle, Kelly and Normand have carved out a little bit of tropical paradise. The current lodging includes a cabin and a yurt - the first a brightly colored wooden structure, the second a vinyl-sided cylinder on a raised wooden deck. Both have ocean views. The cabin is close to their own home, but the yurt is extremely private, far behind the other two structures. Like many other tropical accommodations, they also offer an outdoor shower.

Isle of You is energy self-sufficient, using a generator and solar panels for all their power. In addition to offering accommodations, the property is also a working farm - in fact, you can find the guys at the Saturday farmer's market between Pahoa and Hilo - just ask for the Banana Boys! :) They also host a clothing optional volleyball game every Saturday.

If you're looking for the ultimate in privacy and want a clothing optional piece of paradise, Isle of You may be the perfect place for you to get away from it all.

Click Any Picture to See More

Isle of YouIsle of YouIsle of You

Our Place Papaikou
3 Mamalahoa Hwy, P.O. Box 469, Papaikou, Big Island, Hawaii
1 808 964-5250

Our Place Papaikou

Our Place PapaikouOur Place Papaikou was our first visit of the Big Island trip, and our only lesbian-owned property in the Puna area. This cozy home features warm wood panelling, views of Kapue Stream, and a friendly atmosphere.

The b&b features three rooms, with access to a large screened-in porch that overlooks the grassy back yard and stream. Ouida and her partner Sharon have run the B&B for 18 years, and provide guests wit a vegetarian breakfast each morning, including juice, bread, fruit, coffee and tea.

If you're a piano afficando, the huge Great Room features a baby grand piano. The property is close to Hilo - about 5-7 miles north in the little town of Papaikou, but offers privacy and seclusion for folks who want to get away from it all. You're also close to great surfing at Papa'ikou Mill, and at the start of the beautiful Hamakua coastline.

Clientele is mixed. This is a great place for folks who want a homestay atmosphere and affordable, comfortable accommodations close to Hilo and the Puna district.

Click Any Picture to See More

Our Place PapaikouOur Place PapaikouOur Place Papaikou

Volcano, Pahala, & Central Big Island

Volcanoes National Park

From Hilo to Volcano

Driving from Hilo to Volcano takes 1/2 an hour to 45 minutes. There's not a whole lot to see on the way other than beautiful Hawaiian jungle, so stock up on tootsie rolls and pepsi beore you head up the hill. You'll find reasonably affordable gas in Kea'au (at least by Hawaii standards) at the junction of Highway 130 and Highway 11, but it's a bit tricky getting back on the highway afterwards.

Volcano itself is a sleepy little town. Most of the town consists of tracts of residential land, many of which have not been built upon, so the places that are there often are extremely private. The "downtown" is a half mile farther west from most of the residences, and it's small, too - blink, and you might miss it.

For restaurants, your choices are slim - we were only here for lunch, and we ate at the Volcano Golf & Country Club, on the western end of town. The food was cold and greasy, and the service poor.

We did hear good things about Kiluea Lodge and Restaurant, which was only open for dinner, and the Lava Rock cafe, which we drove by but which looked very "local". Finally, for a great view, try the Volcano House - we hear the food is average, but the views of the volcano are incredible.

Otherwise, the main attraction here is Volcanoes National Park. The Park is like nothing else you've ever seen (unless you've been to the Haleakela Crater on Maui). You enter the park from Highway 11, about a mile past the town of Volcano. The park features a big loop around the main caldera, passing several craters along the way, along with other interesting features. We've reproduced the map the Park hands out below:

Volcanoes National Park

We started out at the visitor center and turned eastward, coming shortly to the Thurston Lava Tube. This is a must-see - lava tubes are just really cool, and when will you ever have a chance to walk through one again? Basically, lava flows from the volcanic crater toward the sea. As more and more lava emerges from the crater, the top level cools and hardens, insulating the lava still flowing underneath. Amazingly, this cooled crust of lava provides superb insulation - lava loses just 20% while traveling through the tube to the ocean miles away. Eventually, the eruption ends, and the last of the lava drains out of the tube, leaving a long cave hidden underneath the new earth.

Volcanoes National ParkVolcanoes National ParkVolcanoes National Park

The Thurston Lava Tube is reachable from the road via a five minute hike on a paved path. The floor has been smoothed and the tube lighted, and it extends for several hundred feet. But what's really cool is that, if you bring a flashlight, you can explore into the darkened part of the tube another 1000 feet, and see what a lava tube really looks like.

Volcanoes National ParkThis stop also offers some great views of Kilauea Iki Crater and the larger Kilauea Caldera beyond on the other side of the road - see the photo at left and the larger picture at the top of this section.

Volcanoes National ParkNext we stopped at the Pu'u Pua'i Overlook - while not as spectacular as the view of Kilauea from near the lava tube, this spot offers another perspective on the Kilauea Iki Crater. We also stopped at Keanakako'i Crater, the least impressive of the craters we saw up here, but still worth a look.

You'll also see different colors of lava along the way, depending on the composition of minerals in the molten lava when it hardened - take a look at the beautiful red and orange lava we found in the Kilauea Caldera at right.

Between here and the next stop, Halema'uma'u Overlook, you'll see where the lava crossed the highway in 1982. The road has since been rebuilt through this section.

Volcanoes National ParkHalema'uma'u Crater is next - this circular crater still steams ominously. It's a decent 5 minute walk out to the crater rim from the roadside, through a barren, steaming, rocky landscape inside the Kilauea Caldera. Peering down into the crater, you'll see sulphur vents where the bight yellow mineral has been sprayed across the crater. You'll also see steam to the north along the crater rim.

Volcanoes National ParkFinally, we stopped at the Kilauea Overlook on the north rim. There are two steam vents here right by the road - the steam is acidic, so be careful with deleicate equipment (cameras, for instance) and be aware that steam is HOT!

A short walk through fields of orchids will bring you to the north crater rim, with a view of the Kilauea Crater and the Halema'uma'u Crater.

Steam rises from odd places to your left and right, thorugh a dusting of amber grasses that grow along the rim.

Volcanoes National ParkVolcanoes National ParkVolcanoes National Park

One thing you probably won't see is flowing lava. The Pu'u O'o vent, where the current eruption originates, is a four mile hike from any road. But if you have the time, stop by the visitor's center to find out where the current flow is - there may be a place you can drive to so you can see it up close. And if you're up for the hike to the vent (which apparently winds through some seriously beautiful forest before reaching the devastated area), buy the Hawaii: The Big Island Revealed for directions - see the resources section at the end of this travel report for more info on this guide book.

From Volcano to the Sea

Driving from Volcano down to the sea at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, the land descends rapidly, changing from jungle to open grasslands with beautiful mountain backdrops. About two-thirds of the way down, you'll find Pahala, where one of our properties is (a little warmer than Volcano, but still close to it and the sea) - see Hale 'O Luna below.

When you reach the ocean, look for Punalu'u Black Sand Beach. This is where the sea turtles, mentioned at the start of this travel report, are, and if you've never seen a black sand beach, this is your chance. The sand is made up of lava rock that's been ground down by the sea (unlike the usual white sand beaches that mainly consist of shell fragments and bits of ground rock) and provide a dramatic backdrop for photos. See the picture below (click on it for larger pics) to get an idea what this beach "sand" is really like.

Black Sand BeachBlack Sand BeachBlack Sand Beach

Artist Cottage
19-3834 Old Volcano Rd.
1 808 9985-8979

Artists Cottage - Volcano

Artists Cottage VolcanoThe Artist Cottage at Volcano Garden Arts is a vacation rental cabin in Volcano, just down the road from the very small downtown area. Volcano Garden Arts is an artist compound that showcases contemporary Hawaiian art and fine crafts, and includes wandering garden paths, an on-site art gallery, and a beautiful 15' x 30' redwood grove for ceremonies and other events. The property was originally part of the 1908 Hopper Estate, and the main farmhouse has been converted into the gallery. The property also features a natural foods cafe.

The romantic, gay-friendly Artist Cottage sites on the edge of the 3 acre compound, and offers a fully equipped kitchen, separate parking, and a cozy feel. The property, like all of Volcano, is just a mile from Volcanoes National Park, and is on the north side of Highway 11. Cottage amenities also include a spacious bathroom, queen-size bed, and wireless internet access.

This is a great place for couples to enjoy a private, romantic island getaway, where they can also stroll and enjoy the oudoor art and tropical grounds.

Click Any Picture to See More

Artists Cottage VolcanoArtists Cottage VolcanoArtists Cottage Volcano

Bamboo Orchid Cottage
11-3903 10th St., Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii
1 808-985-8920

Bamboo Orchid

Bamboo OrchidJust south of Highway 11, which bisects the town of Volcano, Bamboo Orchid Cottage offers 4 rooms, all en-suite, and three with fireplaces - a bonus, especially in the winter, as it can actually get rather cold up here! There's also another room available above the garage, a large, airy and bright space that has a bed and a separate daybed - perfect for families with kids.

The main rooms share a common area and breakfast room, where Melanie, the gay-friendly innkeeper, serves a buffet breakfast every morning. She also welcomes gay retreat groups - you can take the whole house for your event if you'd like. Bamboo Orchid also features another small but nice feature - a wrap-around driveway, so you don't have to back up to exit - like we said, a small thing, but significant, especially after a heavy rain.

The accommodations sit on 1/2 an acre, but the lots on either side are currently undeveloped, so you have lots of privacy. The property also features a top-deck jacuzzi.

This is a great choice for hosted accommodations, beautifully decorated, perfect for singles, couples, or families looking for clean, well appointed, and warm-in-the-winter accommodations in Volcano.

Click Any Picture to See More

Bamboo OrchidBamboo OrchidBamboo Orchid

Hala Kahiki Guest House
11-3790 7th St., Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii
1 808 985-9851

Hala Kahiki Guest House

Hala Kahiki Guest HouseOur second lesbian-owned property on the Big Island, Hala Kahiki offers a full house rental in Volcano - with three bedrooms (queen beds, TV's, heaters, robes and slippers) a large great room with an electric fireplace and a flat screen TV. The hosts, Angela and Cheryl, provide a continental breakfast every morning. For $50 plus cost, they will also stock the refrigerator and meet most special food requests (vegetaraian, etc) you may have.

Hala Kahiki also features one of the MOST GORGEOUS bathrooms we have ever seen in our property visits - see the picture at left for a sample look. These innkeepers know how to create a warm, welcoming feeling in their accommodation, and they're very friendly too - we were greeted warmly upon our arrival, and would love to have spent more time with them.

The house also features a large deck for breakfast or just for relaxing on a beautiful afternoon, and a jacuzzi (for even more relaxation).

This is a great place for groups or families looking to rent a home here in Volcano - beautifully decorated, large, with full cooking facilities, and a great base for exploring the region.

Click Any Picture to See More

Hala Kahiki Guest HouseHala Kahiki Guest HouseHala Kahiki Guest House

Hale 'O Luna
936181 Pikake St., Pahala, Big Island, Hawaii
1 760 327-1339

Hale 'O Luna

Hale 'O LunaHale 'O Luna, the only mid-island accommodation we visited that isn't in Volcano, is still just a 25 minute drive west of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Located in the small town of Pahala, The B&B is also just 10 minutes from the Punalu'u Black Sand Beach (sea turtles) and the Ka'u coast, the longest undeveloped coastline in Hawaii. Because you're not in Volcano, the temperature usually 10 degrees warmer and sunnier than up on the mountain.

Danny, the host, is a really nice guy, and he's done great work here - the home is beautiful, clean, well decorated, and has a host of great features.

This gay-owned B&B, open just a year, is a beautifully restored 1932 plantation home, with warm hardwood flooring and bright tropical sunlight. Hale 'O Luna offers two guest rooms, both with private baths, and a huge kitchen stocked with fresh fruit and locally grown coffee. You can also rent the whole house.

The B&B also offers wireless intenet access, and while the house itself has garden views, you can see the ocean from the large, grassy back yard. Hale 'O Luna offers discounted lodging to folks willing to volunteer to protect the Ka'u area while they are here - ask about this if you're interested.

This is perfect for folks wanting to see the Volcano area, especially if you want to stay somewhere warm and also have easy access to the beach and the sea - and because of it's size, it's great for both singles anc couples and for families or groups traveling together.

Click Any Picture to See More

Hale 'O LunaHale 'O LunaHale 'O Luna

Volcano Guest House
11-3733 Ala Ohia St., Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii
1 808 967-7775

Volcano Guest House

Volcano Guest HouseVolcano Guest House, a gay friendly B&B run by Bonnie and Alan since 1985, is a large, 6 acre compound south of Highway 11, offering five rooms in several different buildings across the property.

One complete suite has a full kitchen, another suite has no kitchen, a two story cottage can sleep up to six, and the remaining 2 cottages are both single story. Each unit has a rice cooker, refrigerator, stove, microwave, toaster, traditional mismatched utensils, a phone, TV, VCR, and games.

The grounds are lushly landscaped, with several sunny sitting areas, and there's also an enclosed hot tub on site. Volcano Guest House is wheelchair accessible, and is also very kid friendly - and stresses eco-friendliness as well, with solar heated water, line drying, and recycling. And Maggie, their sweet dog, will greet you upon arrival.

This property is great for families and groups, especially folks on a budget, looking for a bit of space and/or a kitchen to cook while you're in town.

Click Any Picture to See More

Volcano Guest HouseVolcano Guest HouseVolcano Guest House

Volcano Inn
11-3832 2nd St., Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii
1 808 967-7773

Volcano Inn

Volcano InnAlso south of Highway 11, Volcano Inn is a gay friendly property run by Ron Ober. Ron's a nice guy, and a genius with wood - his three rooms feature beautifully carved and finished wooden door handles, banisters, and much more. Never satisfied with anything, Ron was working on an overhaul of the property when we were there, and the rooms, which were fairly nice to begin with, should be fantastic when he's finished.

There are three rooms available - 1 full suite, and two smaller rooms with ensuite bathrooms that share a building. All feature huge windows with gorgeous foliage views - see above for a sample. The jungle also provides great privacy.

Volcano Inn is also very reasonably priced, with accommodations available currently as low as $48.30 a night. There are other properties with similar names, so be sure you go to They're also open for one-night stays, which many properties do not allow.

Volcano Inn is a great place for folks who want private Volcano accommodations that offer a lot at a budget rate, without compromising quality.

Click Any Picture to See More

Volcano InnVolcano InnVolcano Inn

Volcano Village Lodge
19-4183 Road E, Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii
1 808 985-9500

Volcano Village Lodge

Volcano Village LodgeNorth of Highway 11, gay friendly Volcano Village Lodge is simply elegant. Kay Lee, the innkeeper, provides world class hospitality here, and she modestly calls the property rustic, but we'd say it's rustic only in location - this is a beautiful, upscale property.

We arrived on a rainy morning, and were offered tea in the beautiful common room, above. Then Kay gave us a tour of the grounds - Volcano Village Lodge offers two suites for rental, both with fireplaces and dehumidifiers, which help keep that damp smell out of the air, a big plus in such a humid environment.

Hardwood floors, high thread-count sheets, and 360 degree garden views help round out the feeling of luxury the property provides. There's also an outdoor, covered jacuzzi, and a soothing green carpet of hills and ferns that provide the backdrop for the property, which sits at 4,000 feet above sea level, a thousand feet above the volcanic caldera.

Wooden decks connect the cottages and the great room, and a dolphin fountain and pond form the heart of the property, providing a beautiful, trickling undertone.

This is a great place for anyone looking for a beautiful tropical getaway in Volcano, but it is especially suited for a private romantic getaway for couples.

Click Any Picture to See More

Volcano Village LodgeVolcano Village LodgeVolcano Village Lodge

Kailua-Kona, Captain Cook, & the Western Coast

Kailua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii

From Volcano and Pahala, we continued our clockwise trip around the island, driving on Highway 11 around the southwestern tip and back up toward the Captain Cook/Kailua-Kona area. The southwestern tip of the island is fairly empty, despite several developers' attempts to bring homes to the area - several multi-million dollar attempts to create new suburbs have completely or partially failed, including one that started with a $30 million investment and ended with a $3 million fire sale. Yet another community is now being proposed near Punalu'u Back Sand Beach.

Kailua-Kona, Big Island, HawaiiAs you swing around to the western coast, you start to see more in the way of civilization, a few houses and shops scattered along the higway. It's not until you reach Honaunau that you really see much in the way of real towns, and most of the development is based around the central coast, in Captain Cook and Kailua-Kona.

Kailua-Kona has most of the shopping, including the local Starbucks, a Hilo Hattie, and the one gay bar on the Big Island, Mask (75-5660 Kopiko St., Kailua-Kona, HI, 808 329-8558), a small but friendly gay bar in a shopping center behind Hilo Hattie.

We only had a short time here, but next we come back to the Big Island, we plan to spend a lot more time exploring the west coast.

There are many restaurants here, and we discovered a few great ones:

Kona Brewing Company

Kailua-Kona, Big Island, HawaiiThe Kona Brewing Company (75-5629 Kuakini Hwy, Kailua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii; 808 334-1133) is a great place for lunch. While the inside is nice, they also have a great outdoor courtyard that's protected from sun and rain by umbrellas. The courtyard is surrounded by tropical vegetation, and is a great place for mongoose and gecko watching - both mongoose pics and one of the gecko pics above were taken here.

Kailua-Kona, Big Island, HawaiiAnd the pizza was really good too.

Don't let the location fool you - it's at the back of a warehouse in an industrial area, and is a bit tricky to find - although the address is on Kuakini Highway, you actually have to take the highway north from the Palani Road intersection and then make a right on Kaiwi Street, then make your first right into an alley/parking lot - follow this back toward Palani Rd., and when it dead-ends, park - you'll see the restaurant on the right.

Though we don't drink much beer, we hear they have great locally made ales too.

Ke'ei Cafe at Hokukano

Ke'ei Cafe at Hokukano (South of Mile Marker 113, Hokukano, Big Island, Hawaii; 808 322-9992) was mentioned to us by several innkeepers, and we had dinner there on our last night on-island. The current location is a relatively recent development - the restaurant developed a reputation while still a hole-in-the-wall establishment, and moved to the new digs just a few months before we visited. Ke'ei Cafe is no longer a hole in the wall. The restaurant now features beautiful decor, very friendly service, and fantastic food... one of our favorite places on the Big Island. One small caveat - it's south of Captain Cook by a few miles, and weeknight traffic can be extremely heavy - it took us over an hour to travel the seven miles or so from Keauhou where we were staying. So plan accordingly, but don't miss this one.

Hale Kipa 'O Pele
Kailua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii
1 808 329-8676

Hale Kipa O'Pele

Hale Kipa O'PeleHale Kipa 'O Pele was the farthest north of the accommodations we visited in the Kailua-Kona/Captain Cook area, which is to say it's actually very close to Kailua-Kona, in a residential area just a little bit inland.

This gay owned bed and breakfast offers four rooms and four and a 1/2 baths, each decorated in tropical colors amd beautifully furnished, with a great Hawaiiana esthetic - simple, clean, comfortable. The main room also features a home theater.

There's an ocean view deck off of one of the rooms, perfect for relaxing and sunbathing, as well as a large, wrap-around lanai on the lower floor. There's also a beautiful central atrium inside the main house, that has a beautiful koi pond, for folks who want a more zen-like environment to relax in.

The tropical grounds also feature an outdoor hot tub - soak in blissfully warm water and stare up at the beautiful Hawaiian night sky.

This is a great place for singles, couples and groups or families who want to spend a relaxing holiday in Hawaii - you can stay here for days for utter relaxation, or venture out to be in Kailua-Kona or Captain Cook in just 5-15 minutes.

Click Any Picture to See More

Hale Kipa O'PeleHale Kipa O'PeleHale Kipa O'Pele

Horizon Guest House
86-3992 Mamalahoa Hwy, Captain Cook, Big Island, Hawaii
1 808 328-2540

Horizon Guest House

Horizon Guest HouseOn to the farthest south accommodation we visited on the West Coast - Horizon Guest House. This huge, gay owned 40 acre property extends up from the Mamalahoa Highway (remember, a highway in Hawaii is like a back country two-lane road on the mainland), but the main house is well up from the road. The property is surrounded by the 15,000 acre McCandless Ranch, helping to ensure peace and privacy.

As you walk into the common area/greatroom, you're immediately struck by the panoramic view. The entire ocean side of the room is open to the air with a high volume ceiling, with emerald green grass sloping down toward the sea, and features a luxurious seating area and stained concrete floors.

This was also one of only two places we visited on the Big Island with a pool, a stunning infinity pool that seems to drop off to nothing, complete with built-in hot tub - see above and at left. The property is immaculate, and each of the four guest rooms furnished with local bed covers and warm woods. The entire property also offers wireless internet access. There's also a gas barbeque and outdoor shower available to guests, and picnic coolers, ice and beverages are provided for your adventures around the island.

Horizon Guest House is far away from the busy towns on the west shore, but close enough that you can be in town in 15 minutes. The property is also a working farm, with cows, goats, and horses, but you'll probably never see them, as they are well away from the main house, and this property in no way feels like a farm - it's an exceptional, upscale, beautiful property perfect for couples or singles wanting a quiet, serene Hawaiian getaway. It would also be great for a Hawaiian weding or commitment ceremony.

Click Any Picture to See More

Horizon Guest HouseHorizon Guest HouseHorizon Guest House

Kealakekua Bay B&B
PO Box 1412, Kealakekua, Big Island, Hawaii
1 808 328-8150

Kealakekua Bay B&B

Kealakekua Bay B&BOne of three properties we visited in the Kealakekua/Captain Cook area, Kealakekua B&B is a beautiful, warmly furnished gay friendly B&B that's been open now for 6 years. Kealakekua sits on a gentle slope running from the Mamalahoa Highway to the sea, and the B&B is near the bottom of the slope, close to the sea on a beautiful grassy 5 acre parcel.

The property offers 3 rooms in the main house and one in the Ohana cottage (which offers 2 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, and a full-szie, equipped kitchen), each with a private bath and a small refrigerator. There's also a two story common living area decorated in hot reds, oranges, warm woods, and off-white tones - see below.

The property is perfect for weddings and other events, with the huge lawn area and the ocean as your backdrop. From here, it's just 5-10 minutes to Captain Cook, and 20-25 minutes to Kailua-Kona.

This is a great place for singles or couples looking for a place with ocean views, close to Captain Cook and the central Kona coast.

Click Any Picture to See More

Kealakekua Bay B&BKealakekua Bay B&BKealakekua Bay B&B

Luana Inn
82-5856 Napo'opo'o Rd, Captain Cook, Big Island, Hawaii
1 808 328-2612

Luana Inn

Luana InnLuana Inn is a gay friendly B&B a little higher up the slope from Kealakekua B&B, with a fantastic view - a green, lush slope leading down to the gorgeous blue pacific ocean. Luana is blessed with several things beyond the wonderful view: it was built as a bed and breakfast by the original owners, who sold the property to the new innkeepers just before completion. It's brand new, having opened in the last year, so everything feels fresh. And the innkeepers are wonderful folks.

Ken and Erin welcomed us warmly into their inn - as a couple, they're young, dynamic, and enthused about their new lives as innkeepers. They have their own suite on-property, so they're always availabe for guest needs. And they've created a warm, friendly environment at Luana Inn, with an upscale, elegant feel and simple, zen-like furnishings. It features wifi throughout the property, and a/c in every room.

The B&B sits on 1.5 acres, with several rooms in the main house and a smaller cottage at the back with several additional rooms. The great room features a two story ceiling, and is a welcoming place to hang out, read, listen to music, or play a board game wth your friends, family or partner. There's a washer and drier for guest use - handy for longer visits. And there's a pool and hot tub here overlooking the ocean, as well as a beautiful koi pond and waterfall with some of the largest koi we've ever seen. You can also walk from here down to Napo'opo'o Beach, where you'll often find dolphins swiming in the bay.

But beyond the amenities, the great innkeepers, and the wonderful environment they've created here, Luana Inn is all about the views. Ocean views from most rooms and from the common areas, including the gorgeous kitchen and breakfast area, make this a great choice for a Hawaiian vacation.

Click Any Picture to See More

Luana InnLuana InnLuana Inn

Rainbow Plantation
81-6327 B Mamalahoa, Kealakekua, Big Island, Hawaii
1 808 323-2393

Our Place Papaikou

Rainbow Plantation B&BRainbow Plantation, just off the Mamalahoa Highway in Kealakekua, is a gay friendly, working farm and B&B offering 5 rooms, each with en-suite bathrooms. The Plantation is bustling with activity and life, from the fruit trees that dot the large, verdant property to the animals that help make this such a fascinating place to visit.

When we arived, we were greeted by a beautiful peacock, peering into the busy common room through a high window. We also met a cute pig (see below) and several chickens on our walk along the meandering trails that run through the plantation. There are also horses, a parrott, and koi on the property.

The Rainbow Plantation thrives on its rustic feel, a down-home atmosphere that's carried through into its large, comfortable accommodations. Our favorite - the ship foom - an actual boat that was brought up the hill and refurnished as a private, unique rental accommodation. And there's a central outdoor kitchen for guest use.

Marianna, the innkeeper, is a delight to talk to, and fits in perfectly with the bustle of the place. Rainbow Plantation is great for folks who want something a little out of the ordinary, not just another sterile hotel room stay.

Click Any Picture to See More

Rainbow Plantation B&BRainbow Plantation B&BRainbow Plantation B&B

Here is a resource we found helpful during our visit to the Big Island. Please remember that the advice in any listed resources is AYOR.

Hawaii: The Big Island Revealed

This is our favorite guidebook series. While not a gay guide, these books are beautiful, featuring tons of full color photos, and are easy to thumb through to find great, interesting places and things to see all over the island.

Another big plus - these books, unlike most of the books we've seen, detail the mile markers on the highways where you can find each of these sights - a huge help in a place like Hawaii that's not big in street numbering.

Pick up this book before you go, or stop by a bookstore on-island to get a copy after you arrive.


Innkeepers and travelers, please send us your stories to share - to!

Out on Vacation: Traveling in Our Fabulous World:
"Savannah, Georgia"

Written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams - copyrighted and used with permission
Email Don & Ray
Visit Don & Ray's Website
Visit the Savannah, Georgia section of the Purple Roofs Website