It’s early morning at one of The nation’s most prestigious Resortsour third day enjoying pampered luxury at four Seasons resort hualalai—and we’re standing on a golf fairway as our private helicopter approaches, touching down lightly right on schedule.
Together with one additional couple, we are about to embark on 27 hours of ultra-luxe adventure travel around the diverse and uber-scenic Island of Hawai‘i. Our destination—the world’s most active volcano, Kilauea, which has been erupting continuously since 1983.
The Ultimate Pop-Up Volcano Adventure was introduced by Four Seasons Hualalai in late February, and is a selectively cu-rated tour of the island’s most spectacular locations, many of which are accessible only by helicopter. An overnight stay at a secluded rainforest cottage, completely re-imagined as a Four Seasons experience while retaining the tranquil charm of its location, provides familiar comfort and style to the long day of touring. “Every detail of the cottage has been carefully considered, including the installation of our Four Seasons beds, bedding, bath linens and amenities,” Patrick Pollak, Four Sesons Hualalai Hotel Manager, says. “One of our resort chefs is on-hand to prepare dinner and breakfast, along with two Four Seasons employee ambassadors to ensure our guests’ every needs and wants are attentively cared for.”
While every Pop-Up Adventure is planned well ahead of the guests’ arrival at the resort via detailed phone consultations to customize the journey, the schedule is highly flexible throughout the trip to maximize enjoyment and last minute requests, according to Pollak.
To further tantalize your luxe adventure spirit, our excellent adventure unfolded in the exquisite and thrilling way that follows.
Just minutes before 9 a.m., a chauffeur-driven golf cart arrives at our dreamy guest room and delivers us to the helicopter landing spot on the Hualalai Golf Course—one of two championship courses located at the resort. Within minutes, we are embarking on an adventure of a lifetime that’s beyond all expectations.
Heading north along the dramatic, lava-strewn Kohala Coast with its numerous white-sand beaches and jewel-toned ocean waters, we soon are soaring higher over the Kohala mountains renowned for their lush deep valleys and skyscaper-high waterfalls. In fact, our first stop is at a pristine—and refreshingly cool—pond at the foot of one of these waterfalls.
Surrounded by Jurassic Park-style tropical foliage, we take a quick dip and then sun on large boulders afterwards to relax and dry off. The silence, solitude and beauty are absolute bliss.
Back on board, we head east over the Kohalas soaring through time to view an ancient Hawaiian settlement that remains happily untouched. Descendants of these early Hawaiians—generations removed from their ancestors—continue to live sustainably and peacefully in Waipi‘o Valley today. We view horses running wild along the river which flows through the deep, broad valley to the gleaming black sand beach and Pacific beyond; residents cultivating taro fields in the traditional way; and chickens and pigs running wild to avoid ending up on the evening’s dinner table. While a few touring SUVs are visible, residents travel the dirt roadways in the same way they have for centuries—via foot or horseback.
Heading south now along the verdant and wild Hamakua Coast, we make our second landing in an exclusive, limited access tropical paradise for a catered gourmet lunch—in a word, delicioius! We pause in this magical place before continuing south and landing at Komokuna for a guided hike near the point inside Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, where more than a million gallons of lava flow into the ocean every hour. Th is flow is expanding Hawai‘i Island along its southeast coast. The fiery power of the lava entering the ocean is truly a life-changing experience
Returning to our helicopter we find a surprise guest waiting to join us—one of the world’s foremost volcanologists stationed here. He shares his expertise and answers questions as we fly above the throbbing and lava lake inside Kilauea Volcano’s caldera and view streaming, red hot lava flowing downhill. Unearthly and thoroughly thrilling, it’s a scene we will never forget.
With the sun lowering on the horizon, we arrive just a few minutes later at our home for the night. A charming cottage situated on 30 acres of a preserved 1,000-year-old rain-forest. The Four Seasons team greets us with cool towels and beverages before providing a tour of the enchanting grounds filled with rare bird species and botanicals, and then guiding us through the casually elegant, pleasantly rustic and comfortable cottage.
We enjoy some downtime in our private ensuite room, before rallying for a Champagne reception and evening of culinary delights prepared to perfection by the delightful Four Seasons chef.
Star gazing—complete with telescopes and an expert astronomer familiar with the island skies—and s’mores around the garden’s fire pit cap the perfect day.
With much to see and do on day two, we say good-bye to our Four Seasons hosts following a somewhat decadent, amazingly delicious breakfast reminiscent of Four Seasons Hualalai extraordinary daily breakfasts offered at the resort’s oceanfront ‘ULU restaurant.
Up in the air again with our now familiar pilot, we’re off to explore the Ka‘u Coast’s dramatic cliffs, sapphire blue, deep off-shore waters, coffee and citrus farms. After an aerial view of the Southern-most spot in the United States, we land at a private beach for two hours of swimming and sunning before rounding the Island’s Southern tip and heading north along the historic South Kona Coast (home to the City of Refuge and Kealakekua Bay, the site of Captain Cook’s monument) back to the Four Seasons just in time for lunch …