Day 8 of our vacation we had reservations for lunch at the Hawaiian Vanilla Company.  On the way there, we stopped at the World Botanical Gardens to check out Umauma Falls.

What a beautiful 3 tiered waterfall.  We’ve seen numerous waterfalls on our trip, but this one was simply gorgeous.  The actual gardens aren’t as nice or plentiful as the Hawaii Botanical Gardens, but the waterfall is definitely worth the admission price.

The Hawaiian Vanilla Experience Lunch was pretty interesting.

Their vanilla in infused in all of the lunch items.  The vanilla lemonade was really tasty.  Lunch was a chicken sandwich with salad and roasted potatoes and a vanilla bread pudding with vanilla ice cream for dessert.  You also get to hear the story of the vanilla farm and get to visit the shade house where they grow the vanilla plants.  Trust me, after this visit you’ll completely understand why vanilla is so expensive.  Lunch and tour for two was $70, plus we ended up buying a few vanilla souvenirs as well. 

After lunch, we went hiking through another cave and then walked around Kalopa State Park.  The park was beautiful and very serene.  We headed back to Hilo and stopped at the Hilo Bay Cafe for dinner. 

Unfortunately, we hadn’t made reservations, but luckily there was plenty of room at the bar, so we ordered dinner there.  I think this was our best meal of the trip.

I started out with a Thai curry coconut soup that was amazing.

Loads of interesing flavors that were amazingly warm, but not too spicy.  Loren had a salad and really liked the dressing.

I ordered the hamakua mushroom pot pie with chicken which came with a side salad.  This is the way pot pies should always be.

The pastry crust was flaky and perfectly baked.  Chicken and fresh veggies in a creamy sauce inside.  This is comfort food at its best.

Loren ordered their fish special of the night which was ono over a bed of mashed potatoes, spinach and tomatoes in a beurre blanc sauce.

Perfectly cooked, with wonderful flavors.  There was nothing left on his plate when he was finished.  And since our entrees had been so good, I certainly couldn’t pass up their version of chocolate lava cake.

Finally!  A restaurant that understands that lava cake should have a liquid center.  Loren was chatting with another customer at the bar and I had half of this eaten before he even turned around.  Wonderful deep chocolate flavors and the vanilla ice cream was a perfect complement.

The entire experience was great.  This is definitely a restaurant that “gets it”.  The bartender was our waiter and he kept our drinks filled and plates cleared.  It was interesting watching him make bloody mary’s all night.  He must have made 8 of them while we were there.  Total bill was $61 and worth every penny.  If you’re in Hilo, make a reservation and eat here at least once on your trip.

Hilo Bay Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday was our last full day on the island.  We ate breakfast at the B&B and then headed down to the Volcano Park again to see the Jagger Museum and the end of the Chain of Craters road.  We also saw the Holei Sea Arch.

We stopped at Thai Thai Restaurant for dinner in Volcano.  For an appetizer, we ordered the summer roll.

I didn’t like it, but Loren did.  It had mint and cilantro in it that just completely ruined it for me.  Those just aren’t flavors I enjoy. 

I ordered the chicken coconut yellow curry at the mildest setting available.

I admit, I’m wimpy when it comes to spicy, but if this is mild, I’d hate to see what hot is like.  My mouth was on fire.  It had an interesting flavor, chicken and potatoes in the curry sauce, but my lips were tingling after just a few bites.

Loren ordered the ginger chicken.

His was even spicer than mine.  He enjoyed it, but still ordered some coconut ice cream for dessert just to cool off his tongue.

The ice cream had bits of coconut in it.  Total bill was $50 and it took a while for both of us to regain sensation in our tongues and lips.  This is not a restaurant for the meek when it comes to spicy.

Thai Thai on Urbanspoon

Last day on the island and we got up at 3:00am in order to go on the sunrise Lava Ocean Boat Tour.  It was just so amazing during the sunset tour that we had to do it again before we left the island. 

After the tour, we headed back to our B&B for breakfast then over to the Liliuokalani Gardens for awhile.

We ate lunch at the Kuhio Grille in Hilo.  We actually ate breakfast here on our first day on the island.  Pancakes and a Belgium waffle that were huge and way more than one person could eat.

Lunch on our last day also consisted of way too much food.  I ordered the chicken katsu with some corn chowder.  The chowder was really, really thick.  It had the consistency of mashed potatoes. 

The chicken was a little overcooked.  Not the best I’d had on the island.  Loren ordered one of their specials, a Philipino combo which had spare ribs, adobo & pumpkin, long beans, wing beans and pork.

He was a happy guy.  The meat just fell off the bones of the spare ribs.  Wonderful flavors all around.  He had no idea that he was eating pumpkin until he asked the waitress what it was.  Our final meal on the island ran us $28.

Kuhio Grille on Urbanspoon

All in all, we had an amazing vacation in Hawaii.  At every turn we were fascinated by the scenery.  From beautiful waterfalls, to lush green rainforests, to endless lava fields, to flowing glowing lava.  We kept saying “Wow”, only to have a bigger “Wow” uttered at the next stop.  The food was also wonderful.  So many of the restaurants used fresh, local ingredients and it was so apparent in the final dishes. 

If you’re interested in seeing the rest of our photos, you can check them out on my Flickr page.  We’re slowly getting them edited and posted.  Aloha!

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