While we were on the Big Island of Hawaii, we definitely had our adventures. Some were off the beaten path while others were more crowded. What we liked about the Big Island is that there aren’t as many people living there, or as many tourists, so you have more room to explore without the masses. It has beautiful beaches, a 13,803ft mountain, waterfalls, and active volcanoes with lava. How can you beat that on an island that only takes 1.5 to 2 hours to drive across?
Here were our top 5 activities while we were there.
- Snorkeling – I had to overcome my fear of ocean swimming to do this, but once I was finally brave enough, it was incredible! The water was so clear and warm that you had no trouble seeing many types of fish, sea turtles, and coral. Two spots we checked out were Two Step and Captain Cook. Two Step is the best as you have a wide, protected bay to explore, and it is easy to jump right in and go. It is very popular, but there is a lot of room so you aren’t swimming over each other. If you are lucky, you may even catch some dolphins swimming in the bay. At Captain Cook, there are limited ways to get there, but the easiest is through one of three kayak tour companies. The water is so clear you can see 100 feet down before it starts dropping off into the dark abyss.
- Beaches at Sunset – It is difficult to beat the sunsets in Hawaii. If you stay anywhere on the west end of the island, you are in for a real treat. Whether you are looking for adventure, having a romantic evening, or just relaxing with a cold beverage, this cannot be missed. Near Kona, we spent time taking in the colors while watching the tide push water up and down through the pukas. It was so beautiful! It never gets old, either. The warm air, the light breeze, and the sound of the ocean waves are mesmerizing.
Check out our video here:
- Mauna Kea – At nearly 14,000 feet, the top of Mauna Kea was difficult to acclimate coming from sea level. Spending an hour or so at various altitudes along the way helps, but it didn’t stop me from getting altitude sickness. If you spend more time acclimating, you can do this ascent and not have any issues. We rushed it and it didn’t end well. At the top there is 40% of the oxygen you are used to at sea level. Once you are up there, you feel like you are on top of the world. There are many space observatories at the top, and you can get an over-the-clouds sunset. If you want to take pictures of the stars at night, seek permission from the park ranger, and you can likely make it happen. Otherwise, they like to kick you off the top of the mountain right at sunset. We learned this a little late and will make sure we can get some milky way shots next time we are there.
- Volcanoes National Park – Lava, duh! The park has amazing hiking opportunities with various steam vents and even a lava tube you can walk through. It is something out of this world for most who venture there. The main attraction is Kilauea, the most active volcano on the island of Hawaii. Kilauea means “spewing” or “much spreading” in the Hawaiian language. It has certainly done that, as its current eruption started in 1983. It wasn’t flowing into the ocean while we were there, but it would be great to go again while it is. We were lucky to catch a rainbow going right into the crater.
- Waterfalls – The island offers many waterfalls and you won’t be disappointed. Just North of Hilo, there are Rainbow Falls, Kulaniapia Falls, Pe’epe’e Falls, and Wai’ale Falls. These are all so close you can easily knock them out in an afternoon. Further North is Umauma Falls, which we didn’t get to see but will want to go back on our next trip. There is no shortage of waterfalls to check out on this island. It is true Hawaii at its best! This picture is from Waipio Valley where the falls pour right into the Ocean. Just make sure you bring some bug spray for the mosquitoes.
Have you been to the Big Island of Hawaii? What were your favorite spots? Let us know in the comments.