Big Island, Hawaii is my favorite destination so far and I loved every minute we spent there celebrating our 6th anniversary, my husband's birthday and life in general. I felt so much at peace waking up to the singing birds and views of the magical rain forest from our lovely Airbnb cabin that I would have been content enjoying fresh coffee, fruits and reading books sitting in its patio. But step out, we did, at our own leisurely pace and were hit by the raw and pristine beauty of the island at every corner. I would like to share some of our favorite spots and things to do on Big Island from our week long trip, where we experienced everything from lush rain forests to dry volcanoes and impeccable beaches to stunning valleys.
Before that, here's our ride for the week that added to the fun with its off-road capability and convertible top (btw, I am referring to the Jeep).
1. Kalapana Lava Viewing:
Watching a surface lava flow within a few feet and new Earth being formed right in front of your eyes is an experience that is difficult to describe. It is intense, powerful and unique. Needless to say, you should consider yourself lucky if there is an accessible lava flow during your trip and add it to your list of must-do activities. For more details, check this post.
2. Manta-Ray night snorkeling:
Well, Travel Channel says "its one of the top ten things to do in your life time." What more can I say? Loved the sunset tour on a beautiful trimaran and the 45-minutes spent with manta rays underwater. For more details, check this post.
3. Kapoho Kalapana Beach Road:
We loved this 14-mile scenic coastline drive so much that we did it about 3 times on 2 consecutive days. We have done the pacific coastal highway road trip before and saw several beautiful coastlines living in California but I do not know what it is about this stretch of land through a rain forest punctuated by ocean views and rocky beaches that burst my heart with joy and welled up my eyes. All I can tell you is that it is a drive to treasure and I hope each one of you can experience the magic that I did.
|One of the spots on the Kapoho Kalapana highway|
4. Pololu Valley:
Big Island is blessed with several beautiful valleys, but if you have time to visit only one, I would highly recommend Pololu Valley. Don't miss the short 0.5 mile hike from the lookout point that will bring you to the black beach on the valley floor. The breathtaking beauty and tranquility of the place will transport you into a timezone that you thought existed no more. At least for me, it brought back so many memories of a time when life was much slower and when I used to live in the moment.
|On the way to the valley floor|
|Brought back so many memories|
5. Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Park:
This National Park located in Pu’uhonua, an ancient place of refuge for Hawaiians, is known for its history and culture. We weren't sure what to expect but were treated to these spectacular views once we reached. Watching those milky white waves making love to the black lava rocks in that sublime setting, you could forget about all that is waiting for you to get back to.
6. Akaka Falls:
Situated in a rain forest and part of a state park, these picturesque waterfalls are easy to get to and a beauty to watch.
7. Waipio Valley:
Another beautiful valley but what made it interesting for us, or rather adventurous, is taking our Jeep along the steep rocky road down to the valley. It is one of the steepest roads with grades up to 40%. We did not know what we were getting into until we were halfway through and would not recommend it unless you are comfortable with such steep grades and uneven roads. Waiting for us was this back sand beach with great views of the valley. We had our lunch on the beach and thanked our stars for having made it. The better options to reach this one-of-a-kind picnic lunch venue are taking guided van tours, hiking or horseback riding.
|A tiny peek at the Waipio Valley|
8. Mauna Kea Beach:
This is the only white sand beach we have been to on Big Island and it was fantastic. The water is warm and super clear and we wished we could have been there longer.
9. Coffee Farms:
Well, I needn't tell you that you must take a coffee farm tour in the famous Kona region of Hawaii. But what I can tell you is that Greenwell farms gives you a free tour and is known as the gold standard for history, tours and service in the region.
|Greenwell Coffee farms|
10. Lava lava beach club:
Our anniversary dinner on the beach at the lava lava beach club was a hit! The ambiance was excellent, the sunset spectacular, music, food and drinks were real good. It was a perfect evening; couldn't have asked for a better place to say 'cheers' to the beautiful island and to our marriage.
|Anniversary dinner @ Lava lava beach club|
Some of the other things we enjoyed are hiking the Kilauea'iki trail and watching the lava glow from Halema'uma'u crater at night in the Volcanoes National Park.
|Thurston Lava Tube|
|Lava glow from Halema'uma'u crater|
We also enjoyed snorkeling at the Kapoho tide pools which has very colorful reef and marine life. If you do plan to visit this place, beware of the sharp lava rocks and tides which could wash out your belongings.
|On the way to Kapoho Tide Pools|
In the end, whatever you choose to do in Big Island, you are going to love it, because it is: