Hawaii (Big Island) Things to Do Tips by 2rs
Hawaii (Big Island) Things to Do: 353 reviews and 801 photos
The captain Cook Monument in Kealakekua Bay
Kealakekua Bay is a place full of history. Kealakekua means "the path of the gods" and was an important place to the native Hawaiians. In the forrest behind the monument there are stone walls and other structures remaining from the village that once where at this palce and the caves high up in the cliffs of the bay was used for the burial of the remains of high ranking chiefs.
It is also an important place in western history. The British explorer Captain James Cook ended his life in Kealakekua Bay and a monument has been erected in his memory. A few square meters around the monument is actually a piece of British land.
The excatct spot where Cook died is not at the monument but about 100 meters to the west, where there is a plaque on a lavarock on the shore.
The waters at the Captian Cook monument is rated as one of the best places for snorkeling in the Hawaiian islands, with a magificent coral garden and abundant marine life. Here you will find lots of colourfull fishes, moray eels, and there's spinner dolphins that frequents the bay that you may encounter if you are lucky.
Have a look at my snorkeling on the Big Island travelogue for some pictures of the marine life found there.
Address: About 10 miles south of Kailua-Kona
Directions: Take a 40 min hike or a horseback ride down the trail from the begining of Napoopoo Road or set out from the wharf on the other side of the bay in a kayak and padle across to the monument.
Just a brief second too late
The Humpback whales come down from the northern pacific between december and march to mate and give birth in the warm waters around Hawaii. There are several companies that arranges tours taking you out in on a boat to see them, but if you keep and eye out into the sea when at the beach or driving along the shore you may see them.
I discovered that some locals had a scout on the back of their truck looking towards the ocean. So if you see a truck turning on to the side of the road and the guys looking out into the ocean, there's a big posibilty that theres a whale to be seen out there.
I saw Humpbacks several times along the Kohala coast and a few times I followed the locals and turned over to the side of the road and got a glimpse. My closest encounter was at the South Point where they were comming up from the deep with a big jump out of the water before disappearing down into the deep blue.
Seeing them from above in a low flying airplane off the coast on the way from the Big Island was great. As you could follow their dark shapes under the water.
Geting a good picture is not allways easy as you can't be certain where they will appear and they'll be gone within seconds.
Address: The waters around the island
Directions: Look towards the ocean
Sunset at Umauma falls, after a verry rainy night
There are several waterfalls on the Big Island, most of them are located on the east coast from Hilo and northwards. If you plan to do a waterfalls tour I recomed to start of early to see them all before sunset.
Have a look at my Waterfalls of the Big Island travelogue for more.
Man figure petroglyph
This area has the largest concentration petroglyphs on Hawaii, but the easiest to find are the ones around the boardwalk the end of the marked trail.
Since the lava is quite porous the petroglyps get worn down as time goes by, and will one day disapear, so thread carefull and help conserving them for the future.
Directions: The Pu'u Loa Pertoglyphs are located in the Volcanoes National Park after a 20 minute walk from the parking along the Chain of Craters Road.
The Halema'uma'u crater
Even if the lava is not flowing during your visit to the Big Island, the Volcanoes National Park is a must.
It's a remarkable place with many interesting things to see. You can drive your own car at the Crater Rim Drive which goes around parts of the Kilauea Caldera and down to the Halema'uma'u Crater inside the Kilauea Caldera. Here you can walk to the rim of the Halema'uma'u Crater. The Chain of Craters Road goes down to the coast where the lava flows reached the ocean, the scenery along this road is spectacular and the Pu'u Loa Petroglyph trail must not be missed.
Start of at the visitors center wher you wil get maps of the area and updates if there are any current lava flows. The the Jagger Museum is a good place to go for info on what's really happening and see the seismographs that records the constant earthquakes. If you want to wilk inside a lava tube then The Thurston Lava tube is an option. The first part of the tube is lit but there is a 300 meter long second part that you need a flashlight to enter.
There are also several trails the somewhat unsual hike in the lavalandscape.
Address: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Directions: From the Volcano House, follow signs for the Chain of Craters road and drive down towards the sea where the lava flows across the road will hamper further travel.
The eastern side of the south point
A trip to the southernmost point of Hawaii and the US is worth the time if you're passing by. The landscape proves that this is a windy place and why there's a windmill park here.
You can look out into the Pacific Ocean and know that, depending on the direction, the next piece of land may be Antarctica.
When I was there I had the pleasure of seing humpback whales comming up from the deep with a big jump out of the water before disappearing down into the deep blue.
Directions: The 8 mile road from highway 11 is good, but narrow and winding, all the way down to the south point and you can get there in a regular car, but it's not recomended to continue on the 4WD trail to green sand beach unless you have a suitable wehicle.
A sunset seen from the summit of Manuea Kea
The 4,200 meter high mountain Mauna Kea is the worlds highest mountain if measured from the bottom of the sea, and an important site to native hawaiians and scientist.
Astronomers all over the world benefits from the unique conditions for observing space from Maua Kea due to its height, lack of air polution and disturbing light from cities, which is why the worlds most advanced telescopes are situated near the summit.
The native Hawaiians regards Manua Kea as a sacred place and have been using the mountain as burial sites, as a place for healing powers and they used to bring the umbilical cords of new born children to a lake near the sumit. And even today Hawaiians go to Manua Kea for religious ocations. So please keep this in mind when you go there.
Now to getting up there:
You can walk, but it's going to take lots of time, you can drive yourself or go with a tour.
If you are thinking of driving a rental car there is only one company called Harpers that lets you take a rental car up to the summit. You should not try with a regular car as the thin air and steep roads may give you trouble.
On the way up to the summit it is advised to stop for an hour at the Onizuka Visitor Center for acclimatization to prevent altitude sickness.
There are several companies that does tours to the summit, most of them goes up in the afternoon to view the sunset at the summit with stargazing after the sunset.
I went with Arnott's Lodge Adventure tours based in Hilo and I have no problem with recomending them, if you are staying at the lodge you get the tour for half the price. The guide was a fountain of knowledge about the area we were driving trough and a serious astronomer also working on the telescopes. The stargazing after we had been to the summit was really good util a storm came and forced us to pack up the telescope and head back to Hilo.
Address: The top of the tallest mountain in the islands
The Place of Refuge, under maintenace
Pu'uhonua o Honaunau is where the royal chiefs had one of their most important residences. The pu'uhonua was a place of refuge for defeated warriors, noncombatants in time of war and those who violated the kapu. The place was built around 1550 and was abandoned in 1818 when King Kamehameha II abolished traditional religious practices.
I was unfortunate to find that the main atraction, the replica of the actual place of refuge was under maintenace during my visit, but then again it will not be surounded by the scafoldings for a while to come.
Address: Puuhonua O Honaunau Nat'l Historical Park
Directions: South of Kailua-Kona on Hwy 11
Hi'ilawe Falls, in Waipi'o Valley
Experience the magic of Waipi'o Valley. and a beatifull lush valley with waterfalls This is an important place in ancient Hawaiian culture, full of mana, supernatural powers, apparently the gateway to the underworld is down there somewhere.
You can view the entrance of the valley from a lookout point at the end of highway 240, but it's quite tempting to go down, and you will be rewarded for the effort.
Address: Located on the northern Hamakua Coast
Directions: To get down into the valley, you MUST either have a 4WD or hike down the 45° steep 1 mile road on your own feets. If you're lucky you may be able to catch a ride up again. Don't try to drive a regular car down there, it will end in catastrophy for sure.
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