The final destination on our Hawaiian vacation was the Big Island. And yes, it did seem really big compared to Oahu and Kauai! In case you missed them, visit my recaps of Oahu (here) and Kauai (here). We split our time on two sides of the island. Our trip began at Volcanoes National Park. We stayed in a cute little cottage in the “town” of Volcano. It was so cozy! It didn’t get “cold” in July, but it was cool to me. I wore a jacket.
We were a bit disappointed to realize that there was no active volcano flows, because I really wanted to see that! Who knew it wasn’t always there? (not me!) But the area was beautiful and we hiked around the crater rim.
We took a drive along the Mauna Loa road, which we later found out was off limits to rental cars. Oops. It was a super sharp winding road which was only one lane at several points. If you take that road, prepare for an interesting drive!
We also took the Chain of Craters driving tour on Crater Rim Drive. Lots of stops along the way and it ended with a beautiful ocean view with some petroglyphs.
After dinner one night we took a drive over to the black sand beach Punalu’u. Sea turtles were swimming and lounging in the sand. The sand is so pretty!
One thrill not to miss is cliff jumping. Sure the sign says it’s not allowed, but don’t let that stop you. haha! My entire family jumped several times and it was a once in a lifetime experience.
These cliffs were at North Point, which is the most Northern point of the United States! The sunset it beautiful, so you could always just watch the other people jumping if that’s not your jam 🙂
Driving from the east side of the island over to the west side is a day long journey with many stops along the way. Like this huge Banyon tree.
And Rainbow Falls.
How about some cave exploring? Kaumana Caves is a lava tube. Take a headlamp, flashlight or your phone so you can see!
The shoreline is amazing and you’ll definitely want to take a look at the Waipi’o Lookout on the trip.
If you don’t have enough time, stop back on another morning for a challenging hike. Only 4WD trucks are allowed on this road, but you can hike it! It’s only a mile. (haha, a STEEP mile. It’s exhausting.)
We stayed in the Kailua-Kona area in a condo right smack dab on the beach. Heavenly view! The sunsets were amazing.
By far, my most favorite beach on our trip was Manini’owali. The sand was soft and white, the waves were not that strong, and the water was clear blue!
“Two Step” was our favorite snorkeling spot of the trip. It’s called Two Step because you step into the water via two natural rock ledge steps. It can get a little tricky to get into the water with the slight waves and the number of people that are there, but it’s not bad.
Another interesting excursion on the Big Island is the Manta Ray snorkeling trip. We decided to go on a small boat. The ride was a bit rough on the way back, but the ride out to the dive spot was quite pretty. We did see several Mantas that night.
Finally, a Hawaiian vacation needs a luau, right? We went to the Voyagers of the Pacific show, at the Royal Kona which was close to our hotel and very scenic located and highlighted by the sunset.
Don’t forget to enjoy the local specialty at McDonalds before you leave… SPAM and rice! It was really good.
Q: What are some of your favorite places and things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii?