My vacation on Hawaii’s Big Island has come and gone, but I must say that I think I made the most of it and I had an incredible time.
I stayed at the Four Seasons Hualalai (see post here) which was an amazing experience as it is one of the nicest beach resorts I have ever been to. The resort truly evokes the epitome of “old school” Hawaii. However, what really made the trip a success was experiencing the island and all it has to offer.
So having said that, here is SKEdaddle’s Top Ten Must Do’s on the Big Island.
- Take an Outrigger Canoe Ride. Nothing screams Hawaii more than an Outrigger Canoe. I was enamored with the unique shape and look of it, I found it really easy to paddle (with the help of the two men on-board) and I love nothing more than gliding around the water and enjoying the surrounding wildlife. We took the time to jump off the canoe and snorkel for awhile, spotting some sea turtles being “cleaned” by fish who nibble on the algae on their back.
- Visit Kikaua Point Park. If Kikaua Point Park doesn’t evoke the image of paradise for you, then you might as well pack it up and head home. The soft, white sand beach against the black lava rock, the crystal clear blue water as well as the beautiful dancing trees are a stunning sight.
- Take a Helicopter Ride. Many suppliers offer helicopter rides on the island. You can catch a ride from both the Kona and Hilo side of the island, depending on what location is closer to where you are staying. There are several different scenic routes offered but the most popular routes are to the volcano and waterfalls. Word of warning, although this is an expensive adventure, it is not unusual for these companies to be booked out days in advance so be sure to make reservations beforehand. We were one of the unfortunate ones that did not commit early enough and then couldn’t get in on our last day there.
- Revel and Appreciate a Stunning Sunset. Be sure to take at least one night (if not all) to sit still and relax with a drink in hand to witness and truly appreciate the beauty of a Hawaiian sunset.
- Do a Nightime Snorkel with the Manta Rays. This is another very popular adventure where you will do a nightime snorkel with Manta Rays. The guides who take you will light up the water so you can see the Manta Rays swim up to you. As with the helicopters, this is a very popular adventure so be sure to make reservations days in advance to secure your spot.
- Be Sure to See a White, Green and Black Sand Beach. Kona is famous not only for their white sand beaches but also for their black sand beaches which derive their color from the surrounding lava rocks that are so prevalent in this area. Kona also is home to one of the rare green sand beaches which is rich in olivine also known as peridot when of gem quality.
- Make a Pit-Stop at Punalu’u Bake Shop. If you are on the south side of the island as your tummy starts to grumble, or even if it’s not, be sure to stop at the Punalu’u Bake Shop and get yourself a sandwich made with their famous sweet bread. I guarantee you, you won’t be able to resist picking up a sweet somethin’-somethin’ for dessert either. FYI, be prepared to share your meal.
- Visit an Active Volcano at Kilauea. Well, you just don’t go to the Big Island and not see an active volcano. Kīlauea means “spewing” or “much spreading” in the Hawaiian language, referring to its frequent outpouring of lava. This volcano has been continuously erupting since 1983. We witnessed it from the state park visitor’s area which only allowed us to see the smoke billowing out, but other options are to take a helicopter ride to see it from above or to hike in and get closer to the lava flow.
- Visit the Botanical Gardens and North Coast of the Island. Unfortunately for us, driving around the island was a longer excursion than we planned (and I suppose we got side-tracked too many times which is easy to do) but a visit to the north side of the island was highly recommended. We were told that botanical gardens, The Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden is in Captain Cook and waterfalls were definitely something worth seeing. Another activity suggested by many was horseback riding. I guess this just gives me a good reason to go back!
- Bring Home Donkey Balls! We all like to bring home gifts that are indigenous to the location, and although the Big Island’s Kona coffee and macadamia nuts are great, let’s face it ~ a little over done. Bring home a little humor and some Donkey Balls as a different treat. This is the best of all world’s as these are yummy chocolate covered macadamia nuts with 100% Kona coffee…BAM! You can not find these anywhere, you have to go to a Donkey Ball Factory Outlet so be sure to find out where one is located. (Images from internet)
Okay folks, there you have it. These are my recommendations for some fun activities while on the Big Island of Hawaii. My trip went by way too fast and I cannot wait to head back again in the future. Aloha and Mahalo!
If you have been to this island, please feel free to share your favorites as well. For instance, I did not go to a coffee plantation on this trip so I would love to hear from someone who has. And if you are interested, here are some other posts on my trip to Hawaii.