husband and wife standing in front of entrance to Hawaii Volcano National Park

Review of Studio Apartment Accommodations in Volcano, Big Island Hawaii: 5th Street Ohana

I started writing this post right after my visit to Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, two days before the massive eruption at Kilauea. I didn’t finish nor publish it until now, simply because of the volatile situation on the island.

My husband and I were extremely lucky to experience the beauty of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (HVNP), and to see the glow of the lava lake.

Most of HVNP remains closed and as of May 2018, the national park’s closure has cost the Big Island $222 million in losses, including jobs indirectly affected by the park’s closure. Tourists are staying away and many cruise ships have halted stops to the Big Island. The other Hawaiian islands are unaffected but those in the hospitality and tourism industry say a lot of education is required to allay peoples fears.

I’m publishing this article now in hopes that this national gem will be re-open soon and that the information will be helpful to you.

If you plan to visit Hawaii Volcano National Park, no visit is complete without going to see the glow of the lava at night and if it’s flowing, the lava flowing directly into the ocean. You can book helicopter and boat tours.

Highway 11 and all the roads in the area are generally two-lanes with little or no lighting. Thus it’s recommended to ideally stay in the town of Volcano itself, or Hilo which is about 30 minutes away (without traffic), or somewhere else close by.

I met some people who were going to drive back to their hotel in Waikoloa Village at 9pm from Hawaii Volcano National Park. It’s about a two-hour drive (during the day when there’s full visibility) along Saddle Road or Route 200.

Saddle Road is a really good road but literally has no lights. It’s completely dark at night. The long hour drive can be done at night of course, but if it was me, personally I wouldn’t. Especially not after a very active, full day of hiking throughout the Park.

Instead, I stayed at the 5th Street Ohana (Queen Emma unit). 5th Street Ohana is a duplex with a shared washer/dryer (that you kinda have to fiddle with to work, but eventually it does). Each unit is a studio apartment with a full kitchen and about 5 minutes from the entrance to HVNP.

The place was clean and a little run down, but perfect for the short two-night stay. We were hardly in the apartment except to sleep at night. The best things about this place are that it’s SUPER close to the park and the heated bedding. It gets very COLD in Volcano at night, and it can be VERY wet, as it was during our visit in late April 2018, so it was awesome to get back and take a nice hot shower and jump into a comfy preheated bed!

Front of 5th Street Ohana, Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii

{The Kitchen and Bathroom at 5th Street Ohana}

The bathroom was fully stocked with shampoo and conditioner, bath and hand soap, and had plenty of towels and toilet paper. That was nice.

The kitchen had everything we would have needed as well. Though I would have appreciated if they’d at least provided coffee, creamer, and sugar. Whatever supplies they had, looked like they were leftover from previous visitors which was fine but there was creamer and sugar but no coffee. Whenever I’ve stayed at other condos, they’ve always provided coffee, creamer and sugar. We were only there for two days so I just bought it at cafes rather than the general store.

We didn’t take advantage of the kitchen in the unit at 5th Street Ohana. I think we miscalculated how much time we’d spend out and about. We spent 2 very full days in Volcano and rather than spend time grocery shopping and cooking, we were out exploring the whole time.

We did use the laundry machine, which came in handy, as we packed only a few warm layers and they definitely needed to be washed in between day 1 and 2 in Volcano.

Overall I liked 5th Street Ohana and I’d stay there again. It wasn’t expensive and you really couldn’t beat the location. Next time we visit Volcano, I’d stay there again. But I also wouldn’t mind looking at some of the lodges since we didn’t use the kitchen.

{Vegetarian and Vegan Dining in Volcano}

The town of Volcano is (as you’d expect) is small. There is a handful of lodging and restaurants. As for restaurants there are 3 main ones that all get really crowded. Thankfully they are all pretty vegetarian and vegan friendly.

For vegans, I’d suggest Cafe Ono for lunch, Eagle’s Lighthouse Cafe for breakfast and Thai Thai Bar & Bistro for dinner.

Eagle’s Lighthouse Cafe – good breakfast, Christian quotes and sayings posted all over; closed Sundays. They’re also known for their soups. I liked the coffee.
7am-5pm Monday – Saturday; closed Sundays


Thai Thai Bar & Bistro – great service, bland food; prices range $15 per vegetarian dish.
11:30pm-9:30pm everyday, except closed Wednesdays
Last seating 8:30pm

Ohelo Cafe (Italian) – really bad service and really good food. Even if you make a reservation, you still might have to wait 30 minutes or more. It’s a really small place, so you have to wait in line, outside and when we were there, the hostess would only pop out every 20 minutes or so and would not make eye contact with guests. Like you had to wait 20-25 minutes just to put your name down or pickup a takeout order.

$20 for a vegetarian pizza. I’m not sure how vegan friendly Ohelo is. Vegans might inquire whether their pastas and doughs are prepared using eggs. They could probably customize a cheese-less pizza.

Due to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park’s closure they’ve changed their hours to 5:30-8:30pm daily, except closed Tuesdays. They used to be open for lunch as well as dinner.


Cafe Ono – 100% vegetarian and vegan;restaurant with really good fresh food. The portions are a really good size. I ordered a panini which came with salad and soup. Very charming atmosphere with outdoor garden seating. Often, the owner comes by and chats with guests.

Guests can enjoy the grounds and visit the shop with artistic collections, jewelry and goodies from local artists.

11am-3pm Tuesday thru Sunday, closed Mondays




The Kilauea Lodge has a restaurant which I didn’t try.

There’s also a restaurant inside the park. We didn’t eat there and most of the reviews said the food was so-so but the views are stellar. Our friends who are also vegetarian, ate there last year and made a romantic date night out of it. They said options were very limited but they enjoyed the experience.

{General Stores in Volcano}

There are two general stores in town where you can pick up water, snacks and other essentials. Volcano Store and Kilauea General Sore.

Volcano Store is right next to Ohelo Cafe
19 Haunani Rd,
Volcano, HI 96785
(808) 967-7210

Kilauea General Store is near Lava Rock Cafe. You can get fresh coffee, pastries and fill up gas there.
19-1732 Old Volcano Rd.
Volcano, HI 96785

The Volcano store was better for grocery shopping and the Kilauea General Store was more for picking up snacks for a day trip and filling up gas.


I’m really glad we stayed in Volcano during our visit to the Big Island. We stayed out later and enjoyed the park at night as well as during the day. We could have stayed in Hilo, but even driving back to Hilo at night would have been inconvenient.

It was cozy and comfortable to have a nice day at the park, go out for dinner, and then have a short 5 minute drive back to 5th Street Ohana. Each day, by the time we got back, we were pretty zonked.

There are of course other places to stay in Volcano. We chose 5th Street Ohana as we thought we’d prepare our own food and the place fit nicely within how much we wanted to spend. If I visit gain I’d stay at 5th Street again but also would consider some of the lodges, since we ate out the whole time and didn’t take advantage of the in-unit kitchen.

As for dining for vegans and vegetarians, I found all of the places in Volcano pretty good in terms of having options (except maybe Ohelo Cafe for vegans).

I hope this article inspires you to visit the Big Island and Volcano, in particular. I hope the Park will fully open again soon. Even without the park Akaka and Rainbow Falls are lovely. And the western – Kona side of the island is fantastic! We loved snorkeling in the calm waters right off of Kahaalu Beach and eating at Royal Thai Cafe in the shopping center right across from the beach.

And in Hilo we had tasty Indian food and great chai while watching Bollywood videos at Kamana Kitchen.

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Happy and Safe Travel Adventures!


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