One of America's most popular and distinct destinations of all its fifty states, Hawaii is a must visit destination for all travelers. While all seven islands have their own unique reasons for visiting, be it for city life, small island culture, outdoor adventures, or unique beaches, the Big Island makes for a great first introduction to the state thanks to its wide range of activities. Here are a few things I love to do on this beautiful and exciting island.
Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park
This state park on the Big Island has everything you expect to see when visiting Hawaii including marine life, seafaring history, and serene island beauty. Kealakekua Bay is a great site to spot spinner dolphins, sea turtles, colorful tropical fish, and coral. The bay is also the site of Cook's Monument, erected where he first landed on the island as well as the spot where he met his untimely demise. The best way to enjoy Kealakekua Bay is to kayak across, visit the monument, and take a dive into the blue water for snorkeling.
There are plenty of beaches to visit on the Big Island, all with their own worthy attributes. However, if you're going all the way to Hawaii, it's worth visiting beaches with untraditional, non-white sands. There are a few black sand beaches on the Big Island, and one of the most popular is Punalu'u Beach. Aside from the charcoal colored sand, this is also a good spot to check out the green sea turtle, known locally as honu. For an even more unusual beach, visit Green Sand Beach where as the name suggests, the sand is green. This occurs from olivine, an olive-green mineral occurring in rocks, which gets crushed up by the ocean creating the green colored sand.
Kilauea, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Kilauea is a currently active volcano on the Island of Hawaii, and hiking through the four mile wide desolate crater is an absolutely stunning experience. The former lava you'll walk across is of course solid rock by now with vegetation grabbing hold through the cracks, but the steam and sulfuric gases rising into the air are crisp reminders that you're walking on a volcano. Visiting this site also provides the opportunity to see the lush vegetation of the rainforest as well as the Thurston Lava Tube, essentially a 500-year-old cave.
For caffeine addicts, visiting the Big Island is the chance to experience one of the world's best brews - Kona coffee. Kona's climate is an ideal location for growing coffee, and there are many coffee plantations in the area, some of which are open to visitors. Tours are offered where guests can learn about the process of harvesting the coffee beans, go through the coffee mills, and of course purchase and sample the coffee.
Akaka Falls State Park
Adding to the never-ending array of natural beauty on the Big Island, Akaka Falls State Park is a gorgeous spot to catch great views and is open daily. The highlight of the visit is of course Akaka Falls, a 422-foot waterfall. Getting to the falls doesn't involve a strenuous hike. There's an easy loop trail that takes you to the falls and offers views from various points on the way. There's also a bonus view of Kahuna Falls along the route.
What would you like to experience on the Big Island?