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“Depends what you are looking for” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Volcano Rainforest Retreat

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Volcano Rainforest Retreat
11-3832 Twelfth St, Volcano, Island of Hawaii, HI 96785   |  
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Ranked #4 of 30 Volcano B&B and Inns
San Diego
Top Contributor
149 reviews 149 reviews
33 hotel reviews
Reviews in 68 cities Reviews in 68 cities
457 helpful votes 457 helpful votes
“Depends what you are looking for”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 31, 2013

The B&B is located in a grid-pattern residential area, about 1.5 miles across the Mamalahoa Highway from the village center where the restaurants and store are located – so it is too far to walk for dinner. Each lot is densely covered with tropical ferns and trees, so residences aren’t always visible from the road. There are a number of B&Bs tucked away there. It is truly the rainforest!

The Retreat is set on a ½ acre lot and consists of a number of buildings/guest houses which are discretely located away from each other, separated by thick ferns and plants, so you rarely see the other guests (unless you bump into them walking to the hot tub) as there is no reason to go wandering around.

This is certainly not the sort of place where you interact with the hosts each evening at happy hour and chit-chat with other guests over breakfast. It is very private and you are left to your own devices.

We stayed in the guest cottage. If you want information on the other accommodations, then delve through Tripadvisor reviews.

Peter greeted us and showed us around the cottage. He answered our questions and told us that if we needed help or further info to go to the office, otherwise we were welcome to enjoy the peace and solitude and just lock the door after us when we left.

Breakfast is provided in your accommodation the night before (a basket containing pastries, muffins and fruit). There are also eggs and milk in the fridge, superb macadamia nut granola and coffee/tea.

The cottage, which had a kitchen and decent sized bathroom, with almost instant hot water, was fully furnished and had books, music (a variety of CDs) and a tv (only for watching dvd’s – no tv signal). The WIFI worked well. Small touches, such as umbrellas and headlamps, torches/flashlights were very useful. The thick robe was great for walking to the hot tub. The gas ‘wood-burning’ stove soon warmed the place up on a chilly night.

The sleeping arrangement was in the ‘loft’, which initially sounded wonderful but turned out to be less-so. You need to be agile enough to climb a steep ladder using both hands to hold on tight (so you can’t carry a glass of water at bedtime or a big book). If you need to go the bathroom in the middle of the night, you end up switching on the lights and waking everyone as you need your hands to hold on tight on the way down. I only slept up there for part of the first evening and then slept on a pull-out futon in the living room for the remainder of the time.

In addition, the roof slopes sharply on both sides of the bed in the ‘loft’, so whilst the clearance directly above the center of the bed maybe 6’, at the sides it is much less. If you are tall, you will bump your head a lot!


Familiarize yourself with the ‘Information and Policies’ BEFORE you book. If you are taken ill beforehand and don’t have travel insurance or if you have insurance but just change your mind (which wouldn’t be covered), be aware that their cancellation policy is 30 days.

Do NOT follow the instructions you are sent in the mail which instruct you to park under the car port beside the guest cottage. The car port is small and there is a very low wooden beam at exactly the spot where you alight your driver’s side, just ready for you to whack your head on it. There is a warning sign on the wall, but it is too late once you realize just HOW low it is!

The website informs you that check in is between 3pm and 5pm but the confirmation letter states ”Please call us at least 24 hours in advance to notify us if you plan to arrive closer to 3pm or 5pm so we can be here to greet you”. “Thank you for your consideration to our requests”. We found ourselves watching the clock more than we would have liked and ended up rushing along the Mamalahoa Highway to be there by our agreed time.

If you have pet allergies, be aware that the owners’ cats roam the grounds and tried unsuccessfully to enter the cottage. Peter advised us to keep the door closed.

Shoes are not permitted indoors and slippers are provided. Signs also request that you do not use certain body lotions (as it damages the bed linens) and are mindful of water usage. My husband found it frustrating but if you are staying in someone else's house then you abide by their rules.

A neighbor’s dog barked for hours on end until late into the night. I’m not sure if this was a frequent occurrence but it certainly ruined the relaxing atmosphere. If I wanted to hear barking dogs, then I could have stayed at home in my own neighborhood!

Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
VRRVolcano, Owner at Volcano Rainforest Retreat, responded to this review, November 21, 2013

Thank you for taking the time to communicate concerns that you had while you stayed with us. We regret any frustration and dissatisfaction, and of course, we certainly wanted you to enjoy your stay at the Volcano Rainforest Retreat.

We do want our guests to be in the cottage which best meets their needs and have attempted to describe our accommodations on our website in detail. Before making a confirmed reservation many of our guests do call if they have special needs and concerns, or require clarification about the specifics, such as the loft.

To address some of your concerns, the restaurants in Volcano Village are a 5 minute drive. Even though restaurants are only 1 ½ miles away, we would like to clarify that given our rural location and rainforest climate, a car is a must for travel between the retreat, Volcano Village and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

While you may have been looking for accommodations where you socialize in the evening and over breakfast, we do clarify on our website that breakfast is provided in the privacy of each cottage. Additionally, we mention that social interaction can be enjoyed at cafes and restaurants in Volcano Village and at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

We look forward to greeting our guests when they arrive at our home. We enjoy orienting them to the grounds and office, with travel tips on the Volcano area, as well as our favorite places around the island. We let guests know that our staff will be caretaking the cottage each day and ask guests to let us know if they need anything.

We do hope that quests uncomfortable with the ladder and charming loft in the Guest Cottage, will meet their needs with the optional futon couch/double bed in the living room space. While we provide WiFi, we have intentionally decided not to provide cable TV service to give guests an opportunity to relax in nature and enjoy each other’s company. We regret that you did not see the sign and whacked your head in the carport. We will add a notation on our written confirmation letter about the option of parking by the cottage instead of the small carport.

We truly appreciate guest consideration of our requests as a way of helping us prepare for their arrival and care for our cottages and property. We hear that you thought you had to rush to meet some previously agreed time. We do ask guests, if possible, to give us a courtesy call and let us know their approximate arrival time so that we can understand their needs, be aware of late arrivals, and if possible accommodate any early ones.

We are sorry if our cats disturbed you. Although, they remain outside the cottages, if guests have severe allergies to cats, for their comfort, we would want them to choose another location for their stay. Under certain conditions some local dogs can bark at night. We are working on that concern.

Please be aware that it is an Hawaiian custom to take shoes off before entering a dwelling. We hope that guests who are not familiar with this will understand our local custom. We hear you were frustrated by signs about certain body lotions. Please be aware that we have had damage to both colored towels and bed linens and realize that it is very probably unintentional. We are hopeful that signs will help guests understand this issue and help us care for our home.

We want guests to be comfortable and use as much water as they need and also be aware that all people living in Volcano depend on rainwater catchment and need to be mindful of water use. We are grateful for guest support of these eco-friendly requests, especially if we are having a drought.

Guests most satisfied with their stay are ones who are refreshed by unconventional charm, and who value and are sensitive to the soul of the structures and the land.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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174 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (16)
Date | Rating
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English first
Wyndham Vale
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 15, 2013

We recently spent 3 nights here as a base to explore the East coast and volcanoes of the Big Island. We booked the 'Forest House' which was just perfect. We felt we had total privacy and loved waking up to the rainforest in the morning and retreating there at the end of the day. Breakfast was plentiful and delicious and left for us to prepare at our leisure. Peter was thorough in his introduction to our facilities and happy to help us out with Ideas for tourist spots to visit. Only 2 minor criticisms; one, the hot tub was just a bit too hot for our liking so we only used it once, second was the lack of a second sink so all washing/ shaving in the same place. Having said that the uniqueness of this lovely place well out- weighs any negatives and we would love to return some time.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
11 reviews 11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 10, 2013

We stayed here for two nights and had a wonderful experience. We arrived quite late, however Peter was ready for us & made sure we had everything we needed & gave us some helpful information about activities & tours we could do. You really feel like you've got your own private cottage in the middle of nowhere, however it's still so close to everything you need, the perfect escape! We loved the breakfast that was provided every morning & also the outdoor hot tub! Will definitely be staying here again if we go back to the Big Island.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 30, 2013

We stayed in the Sanctuary Cottage for two nights and thought it was just perfect. The cottage is adorable and one of the most thoughtfully appointed places I have ever stayed. The breakfast is more than we could eat and was perfect to take the leftovers with us as snacks for while in the park. If you stay more than one night then you can request what you want for the other days for breakfast. The outdoor shower is fun and soaking tub is steaming hot. There is lots of information about the surrounding area and the park in the cottage and the hosts are filled with information as well. This is a great location for exploring Volcano National Park and Hilo is a reasonable distance away as well.

Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
87 reviews 87 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 57 cities Reviews in 57 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 27, 2013

This is definitely a unique place to stay. And after staying at two different resorts we were ready for something completely different.

We were in the Sanctuary which is a very small space with glass on all sides. There is a sink with toaster oven, water kettle and coffee maker. A small DVD/CD player is at the foot of the bed on a table with two chairs and pillows. There is a tiny bathroom at the back of the unit.

You will bump into each other a lot in this place but we enjoyed that since we were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. We travel light and had two standard size roller boards and a couple of small packs. There was just enough room for these. If you have large luggage, you will need one of their larger spaces or need to leave your luggage in your car.

The view of the rain forest is stunning. You are surrounded by it. But if you do want some privacy, there are blinds you can draw.

Breakfast was a nice basket that included bagels, fruits and muffins. There were boiled eggs, milk, soy milk and cream cheese in the mini fridge. Two containers of different cereals, coffee and tea rounded out the breakfast selection.

The room also has small propane gas stove which was nice to have on chilly mornings.

The shower, located outside, was a change of pace and honestly a bit fun. The rainforest shields you from other guests but there are also blinds in case you want additional privacy.

Little things like using rain water and having bins for recycling and compost really make you feel good about staying here.

We did have two disappoints on our stay. The tub, also located outside, had sprung a leak. A new one is on order and should be there in October. Also at times we could hear a neighbor’s dog which detracted from the serenity of the location.

The caretaker Ann and the owner Cathy were both great to talk to and gave us tips on the area. Ann filled us in on the lava flow status (it had stopped flowing into the ocean a few weeks before we arrived) and suggested we see the glowing steam from the crater at night.

This place is minutes from Volcano Village and from the Volcano it self. The village has a couple of general stores and restaurants. We really liked one restaurant (Café Ono) but overall I would suggest picking up lunch and snack items in Hilo if possible before coming here.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Altadena, California, United States
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 8, 2013

The Bamboo House was the first place we stayed in Hawaii and all of us agreed when we returned to California that it was our favorite (we've got two boys, 13 and 11). It is the complete opposite of a large touristy resort. We never actually saw any other guests during our 2-night stay. We had a nice separate bedroom, and the boys were happy that they had sofa and floor futons so they didn't have to share a bed. We really appreciated the special touches, such as a basket of goodies for breakfast each day, the furo tub outside, the umbrellas to borrow, etc. We all loved the fact that the resort was carved out of the rainforest, as we were surrounded by it everywhere. Just perfect!

Room Tip: The Bamboo House is great for a family
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santa Ana, CA
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 6, 2013

What a unique and wonderful place to stay! Being in the rainforest was beautiful and relaxing. The host gave us a great overview of the Guest Cottage (which I have renamed Treetops, since sleeping in the loft gave that vibe.) There is a basket left for breakfast the next morning, and if you are there longer than one night, you have a choice of baked goods, juice, fruit, and quiche. Outside, there is a hot tub, which we never got to use because we were out hiking or viewing the surrounding area most of the time. This cottage is equipped with everything you need for cooking, should you wish to do so. The bathroom has a huge shower and some amenities. The owner even left flashlights and umbrellas for our use. My only concern was the stairs to the loft, which were steeper than I thought, but they were manageable. This "retreat" is five minutes to several restaurants, and five minutes to Volcano NP.
TIP: Park in the driveway near the gate and not in the carport, which was designed for a very small vehicle.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Volcano Rainforest Retreat

Address: 11-3832 Twelfth St, Volcano, Island of Hawaii, HI 96785
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Hawaii > Island of Hawaii > Volcano
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 30 B&Bs / Inns in Volcano
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Volcano Rainforest Retreat lodging experience on the Big Island of Hawaii offers visitors a collection of distinct guest cottages, created with elegant simplicity in harmony and balance with the Hawaiian rain forest. Its sense of place imparts a seamless feeling of connection between inside and outside, the accommodations and nature. The rain forest lodgings are interconnected by intimate paths, which wind their way through the misty, mossy landscape. This Hawaii Volcano retreat offers a unique setting for romantics, artists, nature lovers and world travellers seeking refuge and intimate contact with the living volcanic earth. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Volcano Rainforest Retreat Hotel Volcano
Volcano Rainforest Retreat Hawaii

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