For the life of me, I was absolutely sure the travel page of this blog included an overview of the Hawaiian Island. I mean, how could it not when we’ve been there over ten times? Alas … I just checked this morning and no. So here I am to rectify that.
(Note: In 2012 I did write a comprehensive post titled Some Thoughts on Hawaii that might be an interesting read, albeit a pretty outdated one at this point.)
I feel like putting together a page that goes over each of our trips wouldn’t be very useful to people who are looking for information or help in planning their own getaways. Given the overwhelming amount of information I’ve posted over the years highlighting our trips to Oahu, Kauai, the Big Island, and Maui, I think I’ll break it down by island. And of course, if any of you are reading this and you don’t see the information you’re looking for, by all means drop me a line.
So without further ado, here are my (updated) thoughts on Hawaii’s Big Island.
The Big Island is the one we’ve been to the most as historically it was the place where it was easiest to use our timeshare and get direct flights from Oakland on a Saturday. I hate traveling through Oahu so this is a huge factor for me when it came to booking our Hawaiian vacations (not that it’s a hardship to visit the Big Island as we really, really love it). We first honeymooned here in 2002 and have been back several times since then, the most recent trip being our anniversary last year. The thing I love so much about the Big Island is the amount of things there are to do there. Whether you want to hang out at a luxury resort or be very outdoorsy (or a mix of both), you have that option.
I don’t have a lot to say about the hotel accommodations on this island because the only time we’ve stayed in a hotel was in 2002 at the Fairmont Orchid and it was a lovely experience. We’ve been back for dinner and spa treatments and the hotel looks just as lovely as I remembered but is getting a few mixed reviews on TripAdvisor (a site I always check when planning my trips). In 2011 we also rented a condo at the Waikoloa Beach Villas via VRBO and had a fabulous time. I would have liked to rent up there more than that one time, but it doesn’t make sense to do so when we have a perfectly good timeshare available to use further south toward Kona.
Here’s what I wrote back in 2012 about why I love the Big Island so much:
The Big Island is a hard one for people to grasp at first glance. You have the large city of Hilo, which isn’t really a vacation destination itself. There is the volcano area, which you can stay if you choose, but is more of a long day trip for travelers as most people choose to stay on the other side of the island around the major resort areas. Kona is a cute little touristy town that has a lot of oceanside condo complexes. Each time we’ve been there it’s been quite green and lush, and a little further south up in the hills is where all the coffee plantations are located. The Kohala Coast is where all the major resort areas are, and it is DRY. In fact, you have to drive through miles upon miles of barren lava fields to reach the resorts, but once you do you’re in for a beautiful location. We stayed in a condo up there we rented via VRBO last March for our 9th wedding anniversary. While in Hawaii we’ve swam with manta rays, hiked the Kilaua Iki trail, snorkeled with more fish & turtles than you can imagine, kayaked the Kohala Ditch trail – an area most tourists don’t take time to visit – sampled fresh Kona coffee, watched the sunset from atop the 13,000 foot Mauna Kea mountain, and experienced an actual tsunami.
And here are my recommendations for the best things to do on the Big Island:
- Hang out on Punaluu Black Sand Beach
- Hike the Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Watch the sun set over the active volcano from Jagger Museum (these first three things could be combined for one very long day)
- Watch the sun set from atop Mauna Kea
- Swim with manta rays
- Park yourself on Mauna Kea Beach with a picnic and a good book (get there before 10 a.m. to score one of the coveted – limited – spots)
- Do the same thing at Waialea Beach (aka Beach 69), probably my favorite beach on the entire island to while away the day
- Buy fresh fruit at the Kona Farmers Market
- Sunset drinks at Lava Lava Beach Club
- Body surfing at La’aloa Bay (aka Magic Sands Beach) if the sand is there and it’s not too dangerous
- Watch the boogie boarders at Kua Bay (but be careful about going in the water; there are multiple drownings here a year)
- Pick up poke from Da Poke Shack and have a picnic at Airport Beach
- Tour a Kona coffee plantation
- Visit Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park
- Drinks and live entertainment at Huggo’s on the Rocks