Its the much awaited Yurt in the Sky review. Jeff gave a little preview of the our stay at the Yurt on the Big Island. How could he not? The view is cool, and by far the best part of the Yurt.
Some of my friends were surprised that we were staying in a yurt, because I am not a fan of camping. A yurt is just a round tent.
Why don’t you like camping?
I do not like crafting my own personal toilets. I mean I can, but I don’t like it.
Also, this “newish” concept of glamping and yurts intrigues me. Its like camping, but you get some comforts. For example, I didn’t have to craft my own toilet. Sold! I can be granola and rustic for a few nights.
So, what is a yurt?
A yurt is a round collapsable tent that can be made into a semi-permanent structure. I guess yurts were big in the 70s and are now making a come back for cost and environmental reasons. While I’d prefer to rent an RV, it just isn’t a great option in Hawaii.
My parents even kept me and my brother in a tentless yurtlike playpen when we were little (it was the first thing I thought of when we walked in the yurt).
I found the Yurt in the Sky on VRBO.com (part of the Homeaway network). We booked the Yurt for four nights.
The Yurt in the Sky is located in the city of Ocean View on the Big Island. The location is great for the southern beaches and the Volcano National Park.
The Yurt in the Sky sets on top of a volcanic rock area – aka, many years ago a volcano vomited its hot magma pudding all over this area, but now you can live on it.
It is very inexpensive to live on
magma pudding lava fields. We looked at one of the lots near the Yurt, it is going for $7,000, just FYI in case you want to be neighbors.
The neighborhood is odd because the streets are a grid layout as if it were city streets. However, there are no city services as of yet (i.e., water, sewer).
Yep, that’s right. Much like former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, the Yurt is completely off the grid.
In this situation, “off the grid” means that the Yurt is solar powered and uses a rain water cistern. I don’t even want to know about the sewage as I am guessing there is no septic tank under these lava rocks. I am sure there is a logical explanation.
Ok, it is not 100% off the grid. The Yurt does have wifi. It is a little slow, but works for what you normally need on vacation (directions, instagram, snapchat, yelp). Jeff needed to take a couple of work video conferences, which ended up being a bit challenging. AKA he punted his work commitments until later in the week.
Exterior of the Yurt
There is plenty of space for parking – at least two cars can fit in the spots next to the Yurt.
The Yurt was easy to find and you do not need four wheel drive to get to the area. I wouldn’t drive a low rider, but I don’t think that you need to get a Jeep Wrangler as a rental.
The drive from the main road to the Yurt is long. The speed limit is only twenty-five. So, you have to drive for about twenty minutes up the mountain into the neighborhood.
This is fine just more car singing an dancing, but only if you have USB port in your car as no radio stations came in for us.
We loved the deck and the peaceful surroundings. It gave Jeff the perfect takeoff and landing pad for his drone. I really think that we should name the drone. Maybe I will add a polling question.
The good size deck is also nice for a picnic dinner. You could also enjoy a sunrise yoga session. Disclosure: We didn’t do either of those things. But it would probably be cool if you did.
There is a hot tub on the deck if you are so inclined. Looking to have a nice hot soak on a starry night? What could be better than this beauty?
There are very few neighbors in the area. It is peaceful, but for the occasional car or barking dog. You can see another yurt in the upper left hand corner of the above photo. We call this rival Yurt and would have pelted it with water balloons if provoked.
The creepy looking truck in the background? That is the solar power station. Placing solar panels on a yurt is challenging, so this is a creative solution. #DIY #Upcycle #Ecofriendly #IceCreamPowered
Here is one last aerial shot with labels.
Enough with the outside, let’s move to the inside. I know you are waiting in anticipation for the inside workings of a yurt.
Interior of the Yurt in the Sky
The Yurt is basically a giant open circle aka my childhood playpen.
The bedroom is enclosed, so there is some privacy.
The bathroom is also outside of the main tent. You can see the door to the bathroom on the left side of the below picture. We can come back to these.
When you enter the Yurt through the main door you are at the kitchen area. The main door is to the left of the sink in the below picture.
Yes, you have running water. However, this is “grey water,” so you should not drink it, just in case. They do have a water bubbler available for drinking water. We had already bought bottled water from Costco, so we did not use the bubbler at all. We used the bottled water for cooking and coffee as well.
The kitchen is pretty stocked with dishes, pans and utensils. They also had an assortment of condiments available which was nice.
The fridge is on a separate power source from the rest of the power. So, you do not have to worry about running out of power, or accidentally turning off the fridge.
For cooking, a microwave, propane burners and a propane grill are all available. The microwave drains the power, so I would recommend avoiding it if you can. Both, the burners and the grill seemed brand new, and worked great. You can easily take either outside on the deck to use.
I opened both doors, and used the burner where it was. I think the carbon monoxide warning (ugh lawyers) scared a lot of people. This Yurt is pretty big, and with all the possible air flow I do not see carbon monoxide being an issue (even with the doors closed). I wouldn’t use the burner to cook in the bedroom with the door closed, but to each their own.
We did take the grill outside to use. Grilling is pretty smokey, so ya, just take it outside. There is a picture of the grill in the dining area picture.
Just because you are in a yurt doesn’t mean that you have to live on PB&J. We made some great meals, e.g., halibut with a chili sauce and jalapeno cream and Garlic steaks and asparagus with a goat cheese sauce. We used the leftover steak for breakfast scrambles and lunch wraps (steak, caramelized onions and horseradish cheddar cheese).
Now, I am hungry. Lets move on to the dining area.
Right next to the kitchen is a dining table. Those are macadamia nuts in the bowl. FYI, you need pliers to open their shells. They almost taste like coconuts when they are raw. They are delicious!
Right behind the table, you can see the door to the deck. From the table you keep going around the tent to the living room.
The windows go almost completely around the Yurt. Panels can be taken off to create a nice screened breeze inside. However, there were no mosquitos that we saw.
There are also privacy covers you can roll down, if you are worried about people seeing into the Yurt. The picture below shows the covers rolled down (but not locked, you can lock them down). We left them up for our stay as there was really no one around.
The living room has a small gas fireplace. We did need to turn this on a couple of mornings. It was quite windy and cloudy during our stay. The temp got down to around 45 degrees, and I know some of the higher elevations on the island had snowfall.
Past the living room, is a small desk/library area with books games information and a star chart. If you are into star gazing, this is an amazing place to do it. Due to cloud coverage, we had only one night where we were able to see the stars.
I dominated Monopoly. Jeff asked for a rematch, but I was just “too tired” the rest of the nights, conveniently. The binder is very thorough and helpful for using the Yurt. The owners cover everything (water, power, fireplace, burners, etc), and all the instructions (12 pages) were clear.
The center of the Yurt has a large skylight. This along with all the windows provide plenty of light in the tent.
Bedroom and Loft Area
Just behind the living room is the bedroom and loft.
The bedroom has a really king size bed with extra pillows and blankets. We needed the extra blankets on cold nights.
Right above the bedroom is a loft with a queen bed. This yurt sleeps four people comfortably.
From the loft bed you can see directly into the skylight, which is great for warmer star gazing.
The Yurt also has a bathroom with a shower and a toilet. The toilet does not allow any paper products in it. Yes, toilet paper included. There is a small trash can for paper products next to the toilet. This did not bother me as you have to do the same thing on sail boats.
No sink, but there is hand sanitizer, and then you can walk to the kitchen and wash your hands.
I know this bathroom may upset some people (as I read in the reviews on VRBO). But, if you have hang ups about hygiene you probably should not be staying in a tent in the middle of no where. I hear the Andaz on Maui is quite nice, but there is a bit of a price difference.
Yep, its a bathroom in a tent. All the towels are clean. When going to the bathroom, especially at night, check for bugs. Because again, it is a tent. You don’t want a surprise when you are drying off, or a spider to get fresh with you as you are taking care of business.
The shower is heated by a tankless propane heater. We had a little trouble at first because the water was only trickling out of the shower. Jeff realized that the switch was turned for the hot tub, probably from a previous Yurt-rager. I had unknowingly been filling it up as I was trying to wash my hair with the droplets of water from the shower head. Yet another crisis averted! The Jeffsetters have had some close calls.
The Yurt was a uniquely fun experience that we would recommend trying if you are on the big island. The Yurt is clean and well stocked with general supplies. It is not a brand new structure, and the floor and couches are a very well worn. However, I would say that the stay met our expectations exactly and we loved our stay.
Now, it is time for the section I call managing expectations.
- The Yurt is first and foremost a tent.
- The Yurt is located well off the main road. It takes a good 20-30 minutes to get out of the neighborhood to the main road. Obviously, the remoteness is part of the Yurt’s charm. So, I don’t see this a a negative. However, you do have to take this time into account when planning your day trips.
- You pass some interesting properties on your way out to the Yurt. This is a “developing” area, you should not expect there to be million dollar properties around you. The Yurt is in a lava filled with no city services (to my knowledge).
- It is a tent, running water is a luxury be appreciative of the cistern, and don’t be wasteful of water.
- There is a cleaning fee, so for short stays this really increased the rate per night. We ended up paying $71 a night once the taxes and cleaning fees were added.
- It gets cold and windy, even in late July. The wind blowing on the tent can be loud at night, especially if there is rain. We got used to this pretty quickly, especially because the day trips were exhausting. We did not have any trouble sleeping.
- Lava rocks are sharp, and challenging to walk on in certain areas. The Yurt has very clear paths for walking, and you should be careful if you go outside of the paths.
- It is a tent. The power is solar, so there are limits. Jeff tried to get his work done during the daylight when he could charge his computer.
Is it really glamping?
I am not sure if I would call this glamping. The Yurt in the Sky is more rustic than glamorous. Its more like staying at a cabin.
This is a great place to disconnect and enjoy the raw beauty of the Big Island. We would happily stay here again.