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Big Island Tours!

Green Sea Turtle

What’s the best way to see all that the Big Island has to offer?  A Jeep tour with Epic! Tours.

You will see exactly what you want to see on a customized Jeep tour.  You decide the place, the time and how long you stay at each location.  No rushing around like cattle being herded onto an overstuffed tour bus or van.

We will make suggestions as to the best times of the day to visit each location and areas that you would be most interested in seeing, leaving it all up to you where you go.  It’s a ‘no-holds-barred’ tour.  Not going to find it anywhere else.

James or I can take you to a gorgeous black sand beach, green sand beach, southern most point in the USA, active volcano, waterfalls and the top of Mauna Kea in one awesome, adventurous day!  You tell us what you want to see and we’ll make it happen, all while you relax in a 2014 Jeep Wrangler with four doors and room for five.  Two Jeeps available for larger groups.  Some tours are ‘set’ but the all day adventure is yours to make.

Not only will you see what most folks miss while visiting the Big Island, you’ll learn much of its history from Ron and James.  Visit an old Sugar Mill/Japanese fishing village that was wiped out in the 1946 Tsunami which is also one of the very few places you can swim in a cool, clear mountain stream and pool as it empties into the warm Pacific; swim in a volcanically heated large, natural, outdoor pond right on the coast, with waves lapping over the lava wall and tropical fish swimming around your legs; relax in a hidden, natural lava ‘hot tub’ along the Puna coast that stays around 100 degrees; sit next to Green Sea Turtles at a world class black sand beach; stand at the southern most piece of land in the USA with nothing but ocean between you and Antarctica; see the unreal glow from the Halemaʻumaʻu pit crater in the Kilauea summit caldera at Volcanoes National Park;  stand at the top of Mauna Kea, the highest mountain in all the islands at almost 14,000′ and watch the sun slide into the clouds below you at sunset; visit an unmarked, hidden gem of a black sand beach along the famous Red Road (careful…clothing is optional at this one), and so much more that I could fill numerous pages.  You get the idea, tell us what you would like to see and we’ll make it happen.  I’ll bet we will even surprise you with some areas you’ve never heard about and we can fill you in on some of the ghost stories or ‘chicken skin’.

We have explored the island to find some very cool, ‘local’ places.  I’ve searched with a photographer’s eye and can take you to places that just don’t exist anywhere else in the world.

You can book your adventures at Epic! Tours.

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach…and a bonus

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach is gorgeous, to say the least.  Large beach area, palm trees and green sea turtles. This particular image is not really a great image of the beach, it’s what is behind it, many miles, that is special.  The bonus. Notice the cloud in this distance behind the palm trees?  That’s not a cloud.  When I arrived at the beach the sky was clear and blue.  Suddenly, a large plume of smoke and Sulfur Dioxide rose through the sky.  It’s from the summit of Kilauea, the Halemaʻumaʻu pit crater that is always bubbling and boiling.  A wall must have fallen in or something of the kind causing the smoke to rise like a bomb had gone off. The scene felt like something out of The Twilight Zone.  Here you have a world class black sand beach, palm trees, trade winds and sea turtles taking a nap 25 feet away.  Then, in the distance, an erupting pit crater from Kilauea Volcano.  Beautiful and unsettling at the same time. Punalu'u

Green Sand Beach

This beautiful green sand beach is near South Point and is in the control of Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.  If you are planning a visit, call the DHHL and ask them if you can drive the road.  They will most likely say yes and give you the name of the person who has the authority to control access.  Very nice people.  Only take a high clearance 4×4 if you do drive the road or contact Epic! Tours and we’ll do the driving for you.

Once past the parking lot, continue to the boat launch and make the only left that is there.  Continue on the road, always staying to your left, until you reach the beach.  Now, there are many other roads and some run right next to the ocean.  It would be great to spend all day just exploring those roads and to take in the view from there.  But, if you intend to get to the beach, stay left, left, left.

The water is safe, beautiful and one-of-a-kind to swim in and remember to bring your grill.

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach is just a 45 minute drive from here.  Very easy to hit both a black and green sand beach in the same day.

Green Sand Beach


Spent a little time at Volcano last night and really enjoyed the clear skies.  In my experience, it is unusual to not have clouds, rain and a steady breeze.

We left earlier than I would have liked when the breeze did start to blow and we could begin to smell Sulfur Dioxide and see that the smoke from Halemaʻumaʻu was beginning to head our way.

Halemaʻumaʻu is a pit crater is located in Volcanoes National Park and is situated within the summit caldera of Kilauea.


Halemaʻumaʻu Up Close

The Day The Moon Stood Still

Just out in the front yard enjoying the trade winds blowing away the Vog the other day and noticed the moon staring back at me.  Could not resist.


Hawaii Moon



Capturing all things big and small.

Capturing as in digital capture.  This not-so-little snail was near the rear of the lava flow the other day.  I doubt he will outrun it.

The snail may be quiet, hidden and very slow…but it’s still wild.


Lava Snail

Red Road Beams and Dreams

This particular location along the Red Road in the Puna District is one of my favorites.

The changing light in the late afternoon along with the mist from waves near the road can create some dramatic views.  Certain times of the year are better than others and this is one of the locations I take folks to, when appropriate, during Jeep tours.  Always a great place to be, see and photograph.

Red Road Beams and Dreams

Lava Flow 2015

The current lava flow in the Puna District began last June and continues, very slowly, to advance across the landscape.  It has traveled almost 14 miles from the source, which is the Pu’u O’o cinder/splatter cone in the Eastern rift of Kilauea.  Lava has been spewing forth from Pu’u O’o since 1983.  If the flow continues to the sea it will cut off over 9,000 people from the rest of the island.  If it flows over a southern ridge, it will eventually cover the Puna District, an area larger than the entire island of Oahu.  This part of old Hawaii would be gone forever.

Public access to the front of the slow moving front is not allowed and all I have to show are images of the cooled lava behind the front.  Updates as things progress.

The lava is very slow moving and builds higher and higher as the flow underneath pushes under the cooling lava, the end result being an incredibly deep, impenetrable layer of solid rock.  The images below show some of the height and were made at the ‘dump’ or transfer station where rubbish is collected and sent by barge to a landfill on the mainland.

lava 4


lava 1

lava 2

lava 3

Cathedral of Trees, Puna District

This section of the Pahoa-Kapoho Road has been on many top ten lists as one of the most beautiful tree-lined drives in the world.  It’s easy to see why as you view images of the way it used to be.

After Iselle blew through in August of 2014, the landscape was forever changed.

Few people realize that the Albizia were planted at the onset of WWII to hide movements of troops, supplies and citizens from planes and dirigibles.  The Albizia have been at home on Hawaii far longer than most of the people.

You will never be able to drive under the canopies and listen to the trees play tag with the breeze, but you can see what once was in the following images.


Albizia 1

Albizia 2

Abizia Gone

Albizia Gone 1

Albizia Gone 2

Where Is The Red Road?

Several people have asked me this question.  Maybe this map will help out a little bit. 

I’ve highlighted the Red Road in red.  Original, huh?  The map shows the area south east of Hilo on the Big Island.  You can see smoke coming from the Pu`u `O`o vent.  No major lava flows right now and that can change in an instant.

map red road

Green Lake

I’ve been wanting to head over to Green Lake since last year and finally got the chance!  It’s also the first REALLY 4×4 road I’ve driven on since we moved to the Big Island.  I swear I could hear the Jeep crying.  Or maybe laughing.  Although the road was not ‘Rocky Mountain High’ it was a trail.  I sure miss driving the mountain roads.  Looks like I’ll need to drive Mauna Kea for a road fix.  That’s for later.

This trail took my youngest son Jake and I up to the top of Green Mountain.  Mountain is a relative term as I believe it’s about 400 feet tall.  Just a little shorter than the almost 14,000 feet of Mauna Kea as seen from Green Mountain.

Mauna KeaThe drive was fun and it really felt like we were in the middle of the mountains and the jungle at the same time.

Green Mountain TrailPretty cool view from the top of Green Mountain looking over the ocean onto part of the Puna District.  You can also see the Cape Kumukahi Lighthouse (Kapoho Lighthouse) in the distance.  According to scientists, that is where the freshest air in the world exists.  They take measurements of the air quality at that point of the island and hold it up as a world wide standard.  You really can feel and smell the difference in the air within that area.

LighthouseWhile the road is red in this next shot, it isn’t the Red Road which is no longer red anyway.  Yeah, I know, confusing.  I think this road leads down to the tide pools at Kapohoho Bay.

Tide PoolsWe could not see Green Lake from top of the ‘mountain’ due to the heavy jungle growth so we made our way back down the trail and decided to poke around a little bit near base.  We found a two-track trail in the tall grass and took that as far as we could and still no lake.

Tall GrassWe did come across this abandoned truck.  I’ve seen more old, abandoned vehicles on the Big Island than I have anywhere else.

TruckAfter poking around for bit we did find the trail that led down to the crater lake (Green Lake).

Green LakeThis is all on private property and you will need permission to enter as well as paying $5 to see the lake.  Swimming is allowed.  Clothing optional.

Message for more info.

Rock On

Whenever I go to Honolulu Landing (Puna District, Big Island) I take the time to check out the rocks that have been stacked along the coast.

Rock On

Akaka Falls

This is from last year, but it’s still a good one.

Akaka Falls is North of Hilo and at the end of the road through old sugar cane fields.  It’s one of the falls I wanted to shoot the first time I saw a photo of it years ago.  Looking forward to getting back there sometime soon.Akaka Falls

Lava Tree State Park

Hundreds of years ago, a lava flow engulfed a stand of ‘O’hia trees on this site. The lava surrounded the trees, burned them out and left vertical, hollow, lava tubes where each tree once stood. Nice trails go throughout the park and you would be smart to stay on them as the ground has numerous cracks and fissures, some seen and some hidden.

You can see the impression left by the bark inside some of the lava tubes. Enormous Monkey Pod trees are also inside the park while some of the giant specimens have recently been cut down. It does allow for more light inside the park. No cost to go inside. Located in the Puna District on HWY 132.

Lava Tree

Lava Tree 1

Lava Tree Bark

It’s a nice, slow walk around the park and worth your time if you are in the area.

The Red Road Is No More

The Red Road is gone.  Vanished.  Well, the pavement is still there but the RED pavement has been ripped up and replaced with black asphalt.  All of this was done quickly and quietly.  The last part of the Red Road that was actually red has now slipped into memory.  And blogs.


Red RoadAfter.

Red No MoreI’m glad I had the chance to drive it while ‘Red’ and shoot numerous images and capture some video.  I’ll be posting more on the old Red Road soon.  I guess that will be it’s new name: Old Red Road.

You Can’t Get There From Here

We just missed this big boy by a few minutes.  These limbs are falling about every couple of weeks from the Albizia trees and blocking the road.  I’m surprised that we still have any trees. This is HWY 132, also known as the Pahoa-Kapoho Road and Old Government Road.  Tropical Storm Flossie also knocked over a few trees and snapped limbs causing the road to be closed for a day while the county cleaned up the mess.  Someone said that the trees should all be cut back from the road to lesson the dangers of driving….I think they where thrown over the cliff into the sea.


The Star of The Sea

The Star of The Sea is an old, wooden Catholic Church that has been physically moved to avoid being disintegrated by lava flows.  The church is in Kalapana which is on the Big Island. I’ve been wanting to shoot the inside for a while and took a little time today to do just that.  A photo of the church being moved is here.  

The original Star of The Sea was built in bamboo by Saint Damien, his 1st Hawaiian ministry.  The fact that the residents took it upon themselves to save the church is wild!
The Star of The Sea Catholic Church at Kalapana,Hawaii copy

Wild Hawaii: The Red Road ebook

The ebook will be ready very soon and will contain more than 60 images from the Red Road!  The ebook will be a photo centric ebook, with numerous full page images and a brief history of the Red Red.

The Red Road is one of the most beautiful drives you’ll find anywhere on the planet, complete with rocky coastline, tide pools and black sand beaches.  Almost all of the areas are family friendly and accessible.  Stay tuned!


Red Road Beams

Well, the Mother Ship came by the Red Road today and beamed everyone aboard.  If you are reading this, you didn’t make it.  Good luck.



Kehena Beach

This black sand beach is a gem on the Puna Coast.  The sand is jet black, soft and plentiful.  The beach is an unofficial ‘clothing optional’ beach, so you might want to check it out before taking the family.

Kehena is pretty much hidden along the Red Road.  If you don’t know where it is you simply won’t find it.  There are no signs showing the way.  If you want to check it out while you are travelling the Red Road, drop me a line via the comments and I’ll tell you how to get there!

Kehena 2012