Authentic Hawai'i January 9-14, 2018

Dear Washington & Lee Alumni,

Hawaii is much more than beaches. It’s gardens and waterfalls and rainforests and volcanoes; it’s island history and native traditions, architecture and astronomy, rare flora and fauna, small towns and museums, home cooking and walks along the bay. Here is a travel adventure designed to help us feel more like new residents who have been given a rare opportunity to know Hawaii beyond its fabled shorelines and surf. Authentic Hawaii will enable us to explore Hawaii’s Big Island with a stay at the private home of the Dewars, founders of China Advocates. This grand home, known as the Thomas Guard House, is located in the community of Reed’s Island, where the Hawaiian royals once resided.

Visiting Hilo’s historic downtown is a proverbial step back in time. Here we’ll explore museums, shops, galleries, and restaurants, and mingle with Hilo’s friendly and diverse residents. We’ll take daily excursions to experience the area’s many natural wonders, including Kīlauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, and Mauna Loa, Earth’s most massive volcano. We’ll also visit research centers and organizations working to advance scientific understanding and preserve the rich heritage of the area.

Leading our trip will be W&L professor of geology and associate provost Elizabeth Knapp, whose special interest in Hawaiian volcanology will serve our scientific curiosity well. This insider’s exploration of the Big Island is perfectly timed to help you escape the winter doldrums. We urge you to request the itinerary and package for a closer look at an unforgettable Hawaiian holiday.

Best regards,
Robert Fure, Ph.D., Director
Office of Special Programs

Faculty Leader

Elizabeth Knapp, ‘90 is a Professor of Geology, Associate Provost and the Director of the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity at Washington & Lee University. She has also served as the Associate Dean of the College and Senior Assistant to the President.

Her reserach and teaching have focused on the geology of the Hawaiian Islands and she has taught several Washington & Lee spring term geology courses on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Tour Highlights

  • Enjoy daily breakfasts served on the lanai where you can view wild birds amidst the lush garden
  • Marvel at the dramatic landscape of Waipio Valley
  • See the amazing lava glowing against the dark night sky at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
  • Visit the visitor’s center of Mauna Kea (9,000 ft) and view the sunset from above the clouds
  • Take an gentle hike to the Big Island's most famous waterfall, ‘Akaka Falls, dropping 442 feet into a stream-eroded gorge
  • Enjoy two Hawaiian dinner banquets at Thomas Guard House, prepared by a local chef with produce grown in his personal garden
  • Visit the University of Hawai’i at Hilo’s ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and Planetarium for an insightful interpretation of the astronomy being conducted on the summit of Mauna Kea
  • Enjoy a special private performance of traditional Hawaiian music and dance by cultural experts


January 9: Arrive in Hilo and Lili'uokalani Gardens

Arrive at the Hilo Airport on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Meet your guide and transfer to Reed’s Island, where you will spend five nights at an exclusive house, surrounded by tropical rainforests, waterfalls, rivers, and gorgeous gardens. The epitome of exclusivity and comfort, Reed’s Island will be your home away from home for the duration of the tour.

In the early evening, take an optional walk through the peaceful Lili’uokalani Gardens, named after Hawai’i's last reigning monarch, Queen Lili’uokalani. Located on Hilo's Banyan Drive, this authentic Japanese garden was dedicated in 1917 as a tribute to Hawai’i's first Japanese immigrants, who worked in the island’s sugar cane fields. This beautifully landscaped park features arching red bridges over fishponds, rock gardens, pagodas, Japanese stone lanterns, and a teahouse. Views of Hilo Bay and Moku Ola (Coconut Island) enhance this remarkable landscape.

Following the garden tour, join your fellow travelers at an optional dinner at the elegant Hilo Bay Café, featuring stunning bay views and fine contemporary American, Hawaiian and Japanese cuisines. (none)

January 10: 'Akaka Falls, Honoli'i Beach, and Carl Smith Beach Park, Welcome Dinner

Enjoy breakfast, served daily on the open veranda, or lanai, of the Thomas Guard House.

After breakfast, tour ‘Akaka Falls State Park, 14 miles north along the Hamakua Coast. Visit two gorgeous waterfalls on a pleasant 0.4-mile uphill hike that takes you through a lush rainforest filled with wild orchids, bamboo groves, and draping ferns.

Follow the paved footpath to the 100-foot Kahuna Falls. Continue to follow the loop around the bend, where you'll discover towering ‘Akaka Falls, dropping 442 feet into a stream-eroded gorge. Beautiful ‘Akaka Falls is perhaps the Big Island's most famous waterfall.

Later, visit Honoli’i Beach. Popular among the local surfing crowd, Honoli’i beach is a mix of black sand, coral rubble, rocks and beach glass.

Return to Hilo for lunch at a local restaurant, then visit Carlsmith Beach Park, with a black sand beach and beautiful views of Hilo Bay and Mauna Kea. Watch locals swim and surf. Take an optional swim, conditions permitting, and perhaps see a honu, or Hawaiian green sea turtle!

Later, return to the Thomas Guard House for a home-cooked dinner, prepared by a local Hawaiian chef and featuring fresh farm-to-table delicacies. (B,L,D)

January 11: 'Imiloa Astronomy Center and Downtown Hilo, Optional Mauna Kea Summit

In the morning, visit the world-famous ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, a public science center dedicated to sharing and interpreting the astronomy conducted on the Mauna Kea summit. ‘Imiloa presents the astronomy atop Mauna Kea within the framework of native Hawaiian traditions of navigation and exploration. Tour the facilities and learn about the ongoing scientific and cultural research within the context of the community. Watch a show at the world’s first 3D digital dome in the planetarium and stroll through gardens that feature native and Polynesian-introduced plant life.

In the afternoon, enjoy lunch on your own and free time in Hilo’s historic downtown. Featuring century-old wooden storefronts housing a variety of sophisticated galleries, shops, restaurants, and cultural sites, Hilo is the Big Island’s biggest small town. Start your walk on Kamehameha Avenue facing beautiful Hilo Bay and discover the variety of shops, restaurants, and attractions. Choose to visit the Pacific Tsunami Museum, which chronicles the cataclysmic natural disasters of 1946 and 1960 that forced Hilo to rebuild farther inland using parkland as a buffer. Or explore the Lyman Mission House and Museum, and Hawai’i-based natural history museum founded in 1931.

Mid-afternoon, depart for an optional excursion to the world’s highest volcano, Mauna Kea! Enjoy a picnic-style dinner from the visitor’s center and view the nighttime Hawaiian skies with a local interpretive naturalist.

Please Note: The Mauna Kea excursion is a high-altitude activity, where you will spend several hours at 9,000 ft. Because of the altitude and the quick ascent from sea level, this tour is not recommend for those with respiratory, circulatory or heart conditions, who are pregnant or in poor health, or for those who have scuba dived in the previous 24 hours. Although not a hiking tour, you should also be able to walk on uneven or rocky terrain.

For those not participating in the Mauna Kea excursion, your Tour Director will help you plan the rest of your day. You can relax at your house, explore downtown Hilo, with fun shops, galleries, cafes and markets, or enjoy a traditional lomi-lomi massage at the local spa. (B, Picnic dinner for those on the Mauna Kea Excursion).

January 12: Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park encompasses two active volcanoes: Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, and Mauna Loa, the world’s most massive volcano. In recognition of the need to preserve Hawai’i’s outstanding natural environment, in 1980, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park was designated as an International Biosphere Reserve, and in 1987, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park gives scientists insight into the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and is the location of ongoing studies into the processes of volcanism.

Spend the day experiencing the dramatic volcanic landscapes and rare flora and fauna. Take an easy one-mile walk through Kīpuka Puaulu, or Bird Park, to look for native birds and koa trees. Stop at the Kīlauea Visitor’s Center and the Jaggar Museum, built on the edge of the Kīlauea Cauldera, for a breath taking panoramic view of the Halema’uma’u Crater. With its robust plume of volcanic gas, Halema'uma'u is a constant and dramatic reminder of the molten rock churning in a lava lake beneath the crater floor.

For lunch, enjoy a picnic of island specialties, including delicious tropical fruit.

Later, take an optional four-mile hike of the Kīlauea Iki trail – the most beautiful hike in the park! The lush crater is an invigorating and intimate way to experience the volcanic terrain and ecology. Or opt for a scenic drive along the Chain of Craters Road, stopping at various scenic locations to view wildlife and the beautiful surroundings.

Then, watch the sunset overlooking Halema'uma'u, which continues to thrill visitors into the nighttime with a vivid glow that illuminates the clouds and the night sky.

ENjoy dinner from a scenic location overlooking the crater. (B,L,D)

January 13: Waipi'o Valley, Tropical Botanical Garden, Cultural Performance, & Farewell Banquet

This morning, drive to Waipi’o Valley, the childhood home of King Kamehameha I, and an important center for political and religious life in Hawai’i. Though Waipi’o Valley was once the home of thousands of Native Hawaiians, today fewer than 100 residents live among the waterfalls, taro fields, and rivers permeating the valley. Stop at the lookout for breathtaking views of the valley, cerulean, ocean, local villages and the farms that Native Hawaiians have cultivated for centuries. Immerse yourself in the dramatic landscape, with cliffs thousands of feet high and the Big Island's tallest waterfall, Hi’ilawe Falls, which cascades down 1,300 feet to the valley floor.

Continue onto Kalōpā Natural Forest State Park for short walk through Native Hawaiian rain forest, followed by a delicious picnic lunch.

In the afternoon, tour the famous Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Garden. This 40-acre “garden in a valley on the ocean”, situated on the lush Hamakua Coast, is a naturally formed greenhouse benefiting from fertile volcanic soil and natural protection from trade winds. Photographers, gardeners, botanists, scientists, and nature lovers from around the world are drawn to this museum of living plants. Over 2,000 species, representing more than 125 families and 750 genera, are found in this one-of-a-kind garden. Throughout this garden valley, nature trails meander through the tropical rainforest, crossing bubbling streams, passing several beautiful waterfalls, and offering exciting ocean vistas along the rugged Pacific coast.

This evening at the Thomas Guard House, enjoy a special Hawaiian Cultural & Music Presentation, performed by an award-winning husband and wife team, followed by a special farewell banquet – the perfect end for your authentic Hawaiian experience! (B,L,D)

January 14: Depart Hilo

After breakfast, one of your guides will accompany you to the Hilo Airport for your departure. Check-out time is 10:30 am. (B)

Thomas Guard House: Accommodations & Costs

Room TypeDescriptionCost per PersonSingle Supplement
Aloha Room The two aloha rooms in the house, on the garden level, have a queen and two double beds respectively, with a shared bathroom, and day beds for additional seating. These rooms are perfect for a family or friends traveling together. $3,795 $1,890
Deluxe Room The three deluxe rooms in the house have queen beds, a sitting area, a desk, and private bathrooms. The Palm Room, is located on the main level of the house, the other deluxe rooms are located on the upper level. $4,095 $1,990
Palm Room $3,995 $1,990
Private Suite The two private suites in the house have king and queen beds, respectively. Both suites offer gorgeous waterfall views, sitting areas, desks, and private ensuite bathrooms. $4,195 $2,390

Prices are per person, double occupancy. Prices are estimates and may change depending on the final program inclusions and departure dates.

Main Tour Includes

  • Double occupancy accommodations
  • Airport transfers for arrivals and departures to/from Hilo airport on group dates
  • Meals as indicated in itinerary as (B,L,D)
  • Wine, beer, liquor at dinners at Hilo house
  • All sightseeing, entertainment, and activities listed in itinerary
  • All air and ground transportation
  • Tour Director
  • Local tour guides
  • China Advocates Hostess / House Manager
  • Gratuities to guides, drivers & house staff
  • Daily Housekeeping
  • Preparatory materials

Not Included

  • Flights to and from the start/end points of the tour
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals other than those specified in the itinerary
  • Airport arrival & departure transfers from the Kona Airport or on dates other than the group arrival and departure dates
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Items of personal nature and personal expensesFlights to and from the start/end points of the tour

Terms and Conditions


Bookings are subject to the terms and conditions mentioned in these sections. By placing a deposit you agree to the terms and conditions listed herein. To confirm your reservation, a deposit of $700 per person is required.


Air cancellations and penalties are based on each carrier and ticket. Be sure to review these policies before purchasing. China Advocates, Inc., and Washington & Lee are not responsible for any penalties incurred due to air changes or cancellations.


No cancellation is valid until it is received in writing by the office of China Advocates. Cancellation penalties are based on the date of receipt of written notice and are as follows: 91 or more days prior to departure, a cancellation fee of $500 per person is retained; 90-46 days prior to departure, $1,500 per person; 45-31 days prior to departure, $2,500 per person; 30-0 days prior to departure, no refund is made.

Cancellation penalties for additional hotel nights, hotel and cruise ship room upgrades, tour extensions, and any special arrangements, are as follows: 50-31 days prior to departure, 25% of cost is retained; 30-0 days prior to departure, no refund is made. No refunds will be given for unused portions of the tour.


China Advocates, Inc. and Washington & Lee act only as agents for the various carriers for which tickets are provided and assumes no responsibility or liability in connection with the service of any train, vessel, carriage, aircraft, motor vehicle or other conveyance which may be used either wholly or in part, in the performance of their duty to the passenger. Neither will they be responsible for any act, error, or omission or for any injury, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned by a reason of any defect in any vehicles, or through neglect or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger, or for any hotel proprietor, hotel service or restaurant, or for any other person engaged in carrying out the purpose for which tickets or coupons are issued. In the event it becomes necessary or advisable for the comfort or well being of the passengers, or for any reason whatsoever, to alter itinerary or arrangements, such alterations may be made without penalty to the operators. Deviations from the scheduled itinerary are at the expense of the individual. All prices quoted are based on prevailing fuel prices rates in effect at the time of brochure publication and are subject to change. While the tour operator will do everything possible to maintain the published trip price, it may be necessary to institute a surcharge. The right is reserved to withdraw any or all tours should conditions warrant, also to decline to accept or retain any passengers as members for the tours. In such instances, there may be no refund for unused portions of the tour. Refunds for unused carrier tickets may be only in accordance with the regulations of the carrier. CST 2064278-40. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California. All legal questions will be settled within the jurisdiction of the County of Nevada City, California.

Trip cancellation insurance is highly recommended and available. You will receive travel insurance information once you are confirmed on the program.