Though it’s now called Kurtistown for postal reasons, this area has traditionally been known as Olaʻa, and has been populous at least since plantation days. It’s more of a residential area than a town, though there are many businesses strung out along the highway between here and Hilo. There are many agriculturally-based places to visit in this area, as it’s the center of orchid production in Hawaiʻi. If you’re planning a visit to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park and Hilo town, choose one of our great Hawaiian vacation rentals here for a quiet mountain stay in-between!
The most notable business in Kurtistown is J. Hara Store, and it’s worth a peek even if you don’t really need anything. It’s a true exemplar of a store that has “one of everything.” There cannot be many places this small that sell food, rubber slippers, and guns, but J. Hara Store does! The Hilo Coffee Mill, up the road in Mountain View, is a great spot to stop in and learn about “east side” coffee, the lesser-known (but just as good) cousin of the Kona brew. On Saturdays they host a lively farmers’ market, and of course you can buy coffee here.
Heading on towards Volcano, you’ll find Akatsuka Orchid Gardens. Not only can you see all kinds of rare and beautiful orchids here, but they also boast the world’s first Orchid Maze, and offer a farm and tasting tour. Those who enjoy the orchid gardens might also like the Fuku Bonsai Cultural Center, also in Kurtistown, where you can learn about the art of creating these specialty tiny trees. If you love the look of the landscaping here, the sales center has some selections of plants that can be shipped anywhere in the United States.
Kurtistown is also home to the renowned Kilauea Caverns of Fire, a lava tube phenomenon that has even been filmed by National Geographic. The lava tubes are made by volcanic activity and material that comes from deep within the earth, resulting in iron from the earth’s core displaying magnificent colors and formations inside the tubes. The Kilauea Caverns of Fire is comprised of the Kazamura Lava Tube system, created 500-600 years ago and known as the longest lava tube in the world. Tours of the Kilauea Caverns of Fire are both visually stimulating and educational, helping you to see and understand the Big Island on a deeper level. From a short walking tour to an adventure that begins by descending a 16-foot ladder and allows you to explore passages according to your interest, be sure to pack some closed-toed shoes for your underground Kurtistown adventure.
The Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens is just a 10-mile drive north of Kurtistown, a great excursion for families traveling with children. As the only naturally occurring tropical rainforest zoo in the United States, the Pana’ewa Zoo provides the unique opportunity to learn about more than 80 animal species. In addition to the opportunity to view local species that you might not otherwise see in the wild, such as the ‘Io (Hawaiian Hawk), Pueo (Hawaiian Owl), and Nene (the Hawaii State bird), you can also observe animals such as giant anteaters and Bengal tigers. The paved paths that meander through lush trees, vibrant plants, and a water garden pond make this truly feel more like a rainforest experience than a typical zoo.
Kurtistown is a great landing place for exploring Hilo, upper Puna, and the Volcano area! Book one of these homes for rent in Hawaii Big Island today!
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At I Love Hawaii, we have a variety of Hawaiian vacation rentals available on the Big Island, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai. Whether you’re exploring nature at its rawest at Volcano National Park on the Big Island, surfing in Oahu’s Waikiki, catching the sunrise at Haleakala on Maui, or gazing out over the Grand Canyon of the Pacific on Kauai, our vacation rentals will ensure complete comfort during your island stay. Many of our houses for rent in Big Island Hawaii offer full kitchens, island-inspired décor, breezy lanais, and swimming pools. Please contact us to make your vacation rental booking and to get started on planning your ideal Hawaiian getaway!