The spring weather in Hawaii is typically balmy, with rainbow-making showers here and there, and visitors are in good company: pods of migratory Pacific humpback whales still frolic alongside their calves through mid-April. Here’s a look at new or notable experiences on the four major islands. The first: Hawaii’s Big Island.
Amid all the losses during last year’s volcanic eruption in the remote Puna district, something spectacular was gained: a new black sand beach, lagoon (formerly a boat harbor) and thermal ponds at Isaac Hale Beach Park in Pohoiki. It’s a beautiful setting for marveling at the power of Pele. The drive there, from rural Highway 130 in Pahoa to jungly Highway 137 and then over a road carved out of the recent lava, is equally memorable.
Thought about trading the busy Bay Area for the island life? Novato native Marty Corrigan and partner Greg Colden did just that when they left Oakland in 2004 for a five-acre farm in Holualoa. Some of the cacao and coffee they grow makes it into bars of Kona Natural Soap, which Greg crafts on site and sells at Alii Gardens Marketplace. Call to schedule one of his informative, intimate tours held every Thursday. $10, 808.322.9111
Raised on the coast of Brittany, Four Seasons Hualalai executive chef Thomas Bellec has a special appreciation for the Big Island’s marine resources, including salt and shellfish harvested at the resort. His custom Chef’s Table at Ulu Ocean Grill includes wine pairings for dishes such as oysters with lilikoi mignonette, shrimp carpaccio with dashi gelée, octopus terrine, glazed Keahole lobster with puffed rice, steamed Hawaiian snapper with silken tofu and Hilo corn and miso butterscotch pudding. $295, 808.325.8000
Adventurers and romance seekers find an exotic haven in Mahinui Na Lani, a treehouse for two ($295) in lush Volcano. Owner and San Anselmo native Gail Armand also gives tips for visiting dramatically transformed Hawaii Volcanoes National Park nearby.
Guests at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel have easy access not only to one of Hawaii’s best beaches, but also to snorkeling with manta rays in the company of a leading researcher on the elusive creatures. James and Martina Wing take small groups out twice nightly Monday through Saturday ($110). From $595, 808.987.5580