Big Island of Hawaii

Big Island of Hawaii

The largest island of the Hawaiian Islands, Hawaii is a geophraphical splendor.  It is the only one of the Hawaiian Islands that has an active volcano.  Due to the high levels of rain, there are parts of the island that are very lush and other parts of the island that are covered in lava rock.  This creates a diverse setting that is a wonderful choice for a sun vacation.

Things you MUST see/do:

Kona – The second largest city on the big island, Kona is one the most “Hawaiian” places on the islands.  Although some of the smaller islands have a really true Hawaiian feel, there is not many on the more tourist friendly islands that feel more Hawaiian than Kona.  The old town of Kona is located right along the water with lots of interesting shops and a small beach (that does disappear certain times of the year).  It is a nice place to spend a day.  Try to find out when the street market is happening in Kona and plan to go that day, as the market is quite nice.

Hilo – The Big Island’s largest city is Hilo.  The city has more of a big city feel and somewhat less of a traditional Hawaiian feel than Kona.  There are some nice spots to see in Hilo.  The best of which is Kulaniapia Falls on the outskirts of the city.  Also, make sure to spend some time on the oceanfront (it is Hawaii after all).

Waikoloa – The new resort area on the Big Island, there are many big hotel resorts that are being built in Waikoloa.  The most elaborate is the Hilton Waikoloa Village.  Make sure to visit the resort (and we do recommend staying here), as it has a dolphin habitat and a lagoon area with many types of sea-life.  It is possible to pay to swim with the dolphins (although it is pricey), which is quite the experience.  The lagoon is part of the man-made beach area inside the resort (there is not much beach on the big island, unlike most of the other islands).  The lagoon has many tropical fish and turtles are regulars as well.

Punalu’u Black Sands Beach – Located in the south of the island quite a distance from any hotels, the black sands beach is formed by the oceans weathering of the lava rock from the volcano.  Compared to the Black Sands Beach on the way to Hana on Maui, the sand is not as smooth, but rather small pebbles.  However, the beach is still nice and the surrounding area is very nice and worth the effort to get there.

The Place of Refuge – The former sacred ground of the ancient Hawaiian people, the Place of Refuge was just that.  It was said that for anybody who was in danger from other Hawaiians, if they made it to the sacred ground of The Place of Refuge, they were safe from being harmed.  There are many buildings from the times of the great King Kamehameha to see and explore.

Parker’s Ranch – The Parker Ranch has been running for more than 150 years.  It is mostly a cattle ranch that spans thousands of acres in the north part of the island.  The ranch is one of the largest in the United States and is home to the original Paniolos (Hawaiian for cowboy).  The ranch welcomes visitors and has a nice video explaining its history and a history of the island.  While at the ranch, take a look way up on the hills and look for some of the ranches cattle (they won’t be very big!).

Volcano National Park – There are many things to visit in the Volcano National Park on the Kilauea Volcano.  First stop should be at the Kilauea visitors’ center where there is plenty of information on the volcano and the history of the park.  There are maps available that show the sights to see in the park.  We recommend the volcano crater, the “road to nowhere”, as we call it because the lava flow went right over it (ask at the Visitor center), and the Thurston Lava Tubes.  It is not possible to see any flowing lava from any of the viewpoints in the park, as it is too risky to allow that and the current flow is nowhere near the location of the park’s viewpoints.  To see the lava flows, check out the experiences below.

Akaka Falls State Park – Located in the northwestern corner of the island, Akaka Falls State Park actually contains two great waterfalls.  The first is Kahuna falls, which falls 30.5 m (100 ft.) from top to bottom.  The more impressive falls is Akaka Falls.  These falls are more than 134 m (440 ft.) high.  It is quite the sight and the surrounding tropical forest area is very pretty!

Travels4Couples highly recommended EXPERIENCES:

Take a Helicopter Tour of Volcano – Although a trip to the Volcano National Park is an informative and enjoyable journey to see lava tubes and craters, we mentioned above that it is not possible to see the flowing lava or the active crater from the park.  Therefore, we highly recommend going on a helicopter tour over Hilo and Kilauea Volcano.  The tour takes clients up to the crater that is spewing ash and smoke into the air and spots along the volcano that show an open lava flow and where the lava is currently flowing directly into the ocean.  Seeing the lava flows that close up is something pretty amazing and we actually saw how much the Island had grown so far that year!

Snorkeling – There are a few amazing spots to snorkel on Hawaii.  Although maybe not as many wonderful spots as other islands like, Maui, there is probably the best spot to snorkel that we saw on all the islands.  While snorkeling, it is possible to see many different species of tropical fish, coral, turtles and even some dolphins.  The best spot we have seen in all the Hawaiian Islands is off the rocks right next to the Place of Refuge in the south of the island.  There is amazingly colorful coral, many tropical fish and turtles at this spot.  The best part was Spinner Dolphins came right into the bay while we were there!  Be warned there is no beach, but people lounge on the rock.  The water is quite deep immediately upon entering, but it is easy to float.

Drive along the North Coast – This is the main way to go from the Kona or Waikoloa area over to Hilo, however, don’t race along.  There are many places to stop and see the beautiful scenery Hawaii has to offer.  We already mentioned the Akaka Falls State Park above that is along this road.  There is also an awesome viewpoint at the very north of the island where there are views of the north coast of Hawaii, as well as other islands on a clear day (ask at a Visitors Center).

Travels4Couples #1 ROMANTIC thing to do in Hawaii:

Go to a Luau – The Polynesian islands are famous for their dancing and roast pig dinners.  Most of the luaus in Hawaii combine these two very Polynesian specialties.  The pig is buried in the ground early in the day to cook and removed in front of the audience at the luau.  They serve a spectacular meal with many different tropical foods to suit all diets.  After dinner, there is a Polynesian dance show usually including hula dance and fire dancers!