Although it feels like I just started writing about our most recent visit to the Big Island, this post marks my last in this series. Which means it’s time for the Big Island Round Up. I started the “Round up” series a few years ago in order to recap our adventures and provide a source for location tips, lessons learned (sometimes the hard way), and things we plan to change on our next visit. Throughout the years, I’ve often used these posts as a guide when we find ourselves heading back to a place we’ve already explored; and I’m hoping that y’all find them somewhat useful as well. 🙂 So grab a mai tai and a couple of girl scout cookies (because ’tis the season) and let’s get started!
Back in 2014 we learned just how BIG the Big Island really is — (Duh! Right?) 😉 — and during that trip we told ourselves that on our next visit we would dedicate half of our time to the eastern side of the island (in Hilo) and the other half to the western side (in Kona). And that’s exactly what we did this time around.
We began our trip on the eastern side of the island and felt right at home in our AirBNB rental in Kapoho. It was the perfect place to relax after an exciting day of adventuring… and there were a lot of adventures this time: we went on a once-in-a-lifetime LAVA-TASTIC boat tour (an experience I still dream about), snorkeled at the Kapoho Tide Pools, explored Pahoa, and spent a day exploring Volcanoes National Park.
Before we knew it, it was time to say ‘A Hui Hou’ (until we meet again) to the east side, in order to spend our remaining days on the sunny west side. While in Kona we spent most of our days relaxing at the beach, and spent our nights soaking up the night-life in the laid-back beach-side town of Kona. We also had the good fortune of spending an unforgettable day with Kona Diving Company.
By now, it’s no secret: I like to pack our vacations full of adventure. Often times there are places and activities that get skipped because we simply run out of time or decide to do something else entirely; so those skipped activities end up getting bumped to the next vacation (which means we get to go back sometime, right? Right!). 🙂 Alas, when it comes to Hawaii, there is always a next time, and in this case, there are a few things still on our “to-do” list.
Due to the sheer size of the Big Island, splitting our vacation between the east and the west coast was a must. Cody and I both agreed that this setup was ideal this time around. We had plenty of time to explore Hilo and the surrounding area without feeling rushed, and still packed in a lot of fun over in Kona. On our next visit I’d love to check out the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel or the Hilton Waikoloa Hotel, which are both slightly north of Kona. These two hotels are slightly pricier than our condo in Kona, however, they are located on two of the Big Island’s best beaches. And I’m looking forward to having a lot more beach time on our next visit.
- Waipio Valley
Okay, I’ll admit it. We’ve been complete failures when it comes to exploring this part of the island. But it’s not due to lack of trying. We’ve planned to explore this area on our last two visits but always end up running out of time. It all goes back to the sheer size of this island. And there comes a point in your vacation where you refuse to spend any.more.time.in.the.car! Next time I’ll book a horseback ride or a four-wheeling tour, to help us make this historic valley a priority.
- MacKenzie State Park
I’ve never shared this on the blog before, but I’m a HUGE paranormal fan. I love all shows and movies that have to do with ghosts, hauntings, and paranormal activity. Before our trip I read that MacKenzie State Park is haunted and I was completely fascinated as I read through the many personal stories and interesting experiences within this park. I’m dying to check it out for myself (pun intended). 😉
- Kohala and Hamakua Districts
We’ve explored a good portion of the Big Island but have yet to spend that much time within these two northern regions. If we end up staying at one of the two hotels listed above, we’ll be slightly north of Kona which could be ideal in having enough time to explore these beautiful locations. Finally.
- Kona Diving Company
It wouldn’t be a trip to the Big Island without getting under the sea, and our time with Kona Diving Company never disappoints. There are times when I wonder if we should book a dive with another dive shop, but why ruin a good thing?
- Kona Coffee Tour
Mmm… Kona Coffee. (Said in my best Homer Simpson voice). 🙂 I’m no coffee connoisseur, however, there are plenty of days where I need a cup or two just to make it through the day; so I’m familiar with the good stuff. On our most recent visit, Cody and I spent an afternoon sampling Kona’s famous (and oh-so-delicious) coffee, and let’s just agree that there’s a reason why this coffee is known throughout the world. It is SO ONO! On our next trip I might skip the farmer’s market and spend an afternoon out on the different coffee farms in order to see which coffee is the best of the best.
The powerful forces of Mother Nature continue to shape and define this rugged island — from the snowy top of Mauna Kea, to the ongoing island expansion (courtesy of Madame Pele), to the sunny shores of Kona — and around each curve in the road you’ll find that nature’s finest is on full display. Simply put, the Big Island has it all.