HoloHolo Adventures: See the Big Island your way

Experiencing Hawai’i with active kids means finding a like-minded guide. We did in HoloHolo Adventures. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

As AKontheGO works toward a future of tropical family travel adventures to compliment our Alaskan style, Hawai’i is a natural step. The Big Island is the youngest of the Hawaiian islands, and the most diverse, with about 15 of the world’s ecosystems right here within the scope of its 4,028 square miles (as a side note — Alaska is nearly 670,000 square miles of real estate). 

Every time we visit, there’s new explorations to try and new people to meet. This trip, planned at the very last minute, has resulted in serendipitous discovery and a host of unique experiences, starting with a concept known as a “holoholo”. HoloHolo Adventures, to be exact. 

Besides the fact that holoHolo is fun to say (try it without smiling, I dare you), the definition behind it fits the personality of so many Alaskans: “To go out and about for pleasure.” And when we discard our snow boots, parkas, and earmuffs and replace them with slippers, swim suits, and straw hats, we are definitetly out and about, with pleasure, to all sorts of interesting places.

HoloHolo Adventures guide/owner DeWaine Tollefsrud relates a love story about flowers, volcanoes, and rain. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

HoloHolo Adventures owner DeWaine Tollefsrud, a part-time Alaskan and bear viewing guide in the summer, Hawaiian bruddah the rest of the year, understands. Some of us feel like snorkeling, others, hiking, and still others, a cultural or culinary exploration of Hilo, Hawai’i Island’s largest city and full of personality. 

Tall and lanky and undeniably excited about his craft, Tollefsrud makes a point of not rushing, of taking time to teach guests about a place rather than simply going to it like other day tour companies. Still a young product within the Hawai’i/Big Island tour market, HoloHolo Adventures is eager to welcome families with a desire to dig deep in the unique culture and environment of this special place. The fact that Tollefsrud is an educator, naturalist, and magical storyteller just adds to the experience.

Tollefsrud preps guests for the hike across Kiluea Iki crater. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Take our hike through the Kileaua Iki crater in the depths of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, site of a 1959 eruption that spewed lava 1,600 feet into the air before settling down. Tollefsrud led the three of us counterclockwise around the loop trail and toward the crater, introducing us to flora of the rainforest (most of the plants in Hawai’i are introduced, a shocking percentage, in fact). As we descended toward the crater floor, Tollefsrud made a point to explain everything, from the backstory of Pele’, goddess of Hawaii and the keeper of the lava, to a charming love story of the crimson flowers growing between the cracks of the cooled lava. 

Steam vents, or fumaroles, wafted moist air from their breaks in the ground as we hiked the crunchy, glassy rocks. We had a National Park Service guidebook to follow the interpretive markers during the hike, but DeWaine was better, our own living guide who wove the texture of the crater and trail expertly, but with an air of casual delivery that made us fast friends by the end of the day. 

The view from Jagger Visitor Center in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Glowing lava in the caldera makes an evening visit spectacular. Image by DeWaine Tollefsrud

HoloHolo Adventures has several itineraries that suit guests with children, and the VIP tour is always available for those with specific interests. Tour pricing ranges from $120/pp ($60/kids under 12) for a Taste of Hilo Tour to $155/pp ($115/kids under 12) for the Birth of the Earth tour. Affordable and personal, each tour is a gem, and worth far, far more than what you’ll pay. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you say “Alaska Aloha” when booking, you’ll get the locals’ rate, a significant discount. 

If you go: 

  • HoloHolo provides snacks, water, juice, and transportation to and from your hotel, cruise ship, or vacation rental. We made a stop for lunch at Eagle’s Lighthouse Cafe for enormous sandwiches to go that made our hike even better. 
  • Parents should bring their own car seat for small children. 
  • Plan to spend most of the day exploring the Big Island. Drive time will be limited so as to make sure you see and experience Hawai’i, and Tollefsrud doesn’t rush. Tours are limited to six (or an entire family). 
  • Bring rain jackets, sturdy shoes, hats, sunscreen, and a camera. If touring beaches or tidepools add swimsuits, towels, extra clothing, and snorkel gear. 

Red Lehua blossoms glow in the bottom of Kilauea Iki crater. Do not pick them, or face the wrath of rainfall. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

The aloha spirit is something every Hawaiian strives to emulate. It flows through everything and everyone, welcoming, supporting, and allowing for sublime enjoyment of one’s surroundings. Pleasure, if you will. 




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