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Saturday, December 01, 2012


My Island Inn Volcano Hawaii
The Yellow room
with a lanai leading to a vast tropical garden
 The spirit of Aloha is alive and well at My Island Inn B&B in Volcano, Hawaii.  There we feel as if we are visiting family.  We are in one of the Garden Rooms, the yellow room, a modest but comfortable haven with a patio leading to a breathtaking tropical rainforest garden, part of the seven acre garden and walk on the property.  The walls of the room are a stunning museum of photographs and paintings—photographs by the owner, Gordon Morse, a retired photo journalist, and paintings by his wife and gifts from previous visitors.  We have a small refrigerator, chilled water, a stocked bookshelf, and a table and chairs. 

My Island Inn Volcano Hawaii
Imagine the peaceful atmosphere
where this paradise is the view from your room

Managed by his daughter Kii and son-in-law Bryon, My Island is a refuge for those visiting Volcanoes National Park or doing any of the myriad outdoor activities this southern section of The Big Island, Hawaii, offers.  The main building of the B&B is the Lyman Missionary House built in 1886, and it is almost a museum in itself.
My Island Inn Volcano Hawaii
The main house--1886--in a beautiful tropical setting

We “met” Kii by phone when we made the reservations, and she told us to make sure we check in before heading to Volcanoes National Park (the B&B is a mile away) so she could give us some helpful tips on getting the most from our visit to the Park, on where to dine in the area, and what other sights we shouldn’t miss.  Her enthusiasm assured us that she wanted to make our visit as complete and as pleasant as possible. 

BUT we arrive at the Park later than we expect and call about a “late check-in.” Kii suggests we come by anyway as they close the office early since they rise very early to prepare breakfast.  We take her advice and drive over.  We are glad we do.

Entering a Hawaiian home, it is customary to remove one’s shoes, and we do.  At My Island there are booties to borrow if we so desire, but what is so wonderful is the feeling that we are not entering a hotel; we are entering a home.

Kii sits down with us and suggests the best viewing spots to see the active Kilauea Volcano—and the best times.  She warns us that restaurants close around 8 PM, and that there aren’t many, so she helps us pick one and then makes reservations for us so that we will be able to go back to see the volcano at night after most of the visitors leave. 

To facilitate our visit even further, there are umbrellas (after all, we are in a tropical rain forest where 200 inches of rain fall annually) and walking sticks to borrow.

We also have the opportunity to meet Gordon Morse, Kii’s father, a wonderfully warm gentleman and a raconteur who tells us some stories about his past.  He has written several books on Hawaii, copies of which were in our room. Yes, before we leave, I buy one of them! 

We also meet Kii’s husband with whom we spend some time the following morning.

Taking Kii’s advice is the best thing we can do.  She is an expert, and her advice is invaluable.  While still daylight, we have stupendous views of Kilauea with the steam clouds rising against a steel grey sky.  We are able to read the information charts along the self-guided drive, to see the sulfur fields, to visit an observatory, and to listen to a native Hawaiian National Park Ranger describe and explain Kilauea to us. 

After an incredibly delicious dinner at Kilauea Lodge (more on this at a later post), we return to the Park (open 24 hours), and stand in the cold, uncrowded overlook to watch the colorful reds, yellows and oranges of Kilauea’s nighttime persona.  Jaw-dropping awesomeness.    

The new day dawns, and Rob and I are off to walk the damp, earthy scented Tropical Rainforest Walk cut through the dense verdant foliage and magnificent flowers.  Hibiscus and anthurium seem to pose and beckon us to stop and admire. 
Big Island Hawaii flowers
This is a floral wonderland

Later at breakfast Bryon tells us that most of what they’ve planted in the gardens thrives wherever the soil is deep enough.  Hawaii is a volcanic island, and whatever soil exists is born of erosion.  Sometimes ash is added to give depth.  This fact boggles the mind because we are surrounded by deep, dark, green foliage, huge ferns—Nature at her untamed best.  Yet the fact is that the soil is not very deep as it sits on its lava foundation.

I want to share some of our photographs.  None is retouched.  No special lighting is used.  This is EXACTLY what we saw.
Big Island Hawaii flowers

Big Island Hawaii flowers

Big Island Hawaii flowers

Big Island Hawaii flowers

Big Island Hawaii flowers

Big Island Hawaii flowers

Pretty Incredible!!!!!

Breakfast is another delight.  The B&B advertises a continental breakfast, but that is an incredible understatement.  In addition to the usual cereals, coffee, and juice, Bryon has baked a variety of breads, and there is even a chocolate zucchini bread baked by their college student daughter.  The jams are delicious—passion fruit, for example.  There is fresh fruit.  We comment to Bryon that the bananas in Hawaii taste different from the ones at home—firmer and sweeter.  He explains that we are eating apple bananas.  (My riddle:  When is a banana not a banana?  When it’s an apple banana.)  Delicious.  Fresh pineapple.  We learn one fruit combination we have since prepared at home.  Halve and seed a papaya.  Squeeze some fresh lime on it.  Put some yogurt in it.  Top with some pineapple bits and chopped macadamia nuts.  Enjoy.

Bryon is an interesting man to talk to, and there is also a German tourist, a young woman who had stayed for five days and hiked and explored Volcanoes National Park.  It is wonderful breakfast company, and a great way to start the day. 

If you are fortunate enough to be in that part of the world, My Island B&B is the place to stay.  If you are coming to Volcanoes National Park, don’t take a daytime only tour.  Stay overnight.  As Gordon Morse might say, Kilauea dances best at night in her finery, and you don’t want to miss it.  

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