Waipi'o Valley overlook
Halema'uma'u Crater from a distance
Kohala Mountain Road
Hawaii - The Big Island
South Point (Ka Lae)
Green Sand Beach (Papakolea Beach)
Black Sand Beach (Kehena Black Sand Beach)
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Pool of Ahalanui
Akaka Falls State Park
Kohala Mountain Road & Akoni Pule Highway to Pololu Lookout
Saddle Road (Route 200)
Mauna Kea Summit Road
The town functioned as a retreat of the Hawaiian royal family and was our choice of base camp for the Big Island. Up until the late 1900's, Kailua-Kona was primarily a small fishing village. Recently, the area has undergone a real estate and construction boom fueled by tourism and investment. North of town are all the mega golf resorts.
South Point is the site of one of the earliest Hawaiian settlements has one of the longest archaeological records on the islands. It is speculated that this is where the Polynesians first landed because the Big Island is the closest of the Hawaiian Islands to Tahiti, and Ka Lae would be the first landfall. There's even a few diving platforms and we saw one nut take the leap into the ocean.
One of only two green sand beaches in the world, the other being in Guam, the beach gets distinctive coloring from olivine crystals found in a nearby cinder cone. The beach is surrounded by pasturelands and is only accessible on foot or by using a four-wheel drive with high clearance. To actually reach the beach, an additional climb down the cinder cone is required. It was a hot 2.5 mile hike but we walked the 4WD road to the beach. It was definitely worth the hike; we were the only ones on the beach.
One of several black sand beaches, you�ll want to stop for pictures.
The park visitor center is located at the Kilauea summit caldera, overlooking a large pit crater called Halema�uma�u. You�ll either love or hate this area depending on your interest in geology. A little more interesting for everyone is The Chain of Craters Road where you can drive up to the point where lava has completely crossed over the road and region. Everyone parks here and hikes on the lava, hoping to get a look at the fresh lava as it pours into the ocean. After 45 minutes of lava hiking, we gave up our hunt for moving magma. It was near dark, we had no flashlight so we turned back.
Take a break in pools warmed volcanically to around 94 degrees. If you get too hot, relax under the palm trees or jump over the outlet into the Pacific Ocean.
Just outside of Hilo is a parking area for Rainbow Falls. A short hike below the falls is where we found all the locals cooling off in the pools.
The state park is located 11 miles north of Hilo (at the end of Highway 220). Akaka Falls is a 442 ft. tall waterfall. The accessible portion of the park lies high on the right shoulder of the deep gorge into which the waterfall plunges, and the falls can be viewed from several points along a loop trail through the park.
This was a bit out of the way just for a viewpoint. The valley is really talked up as one of the most beautiful places on earth. Go if you want to see a great vista, but to really experience the valley, you would need to drive down the �dangerous road� or take one of the tours into the valley.
For a good half day road trip, drive north out of Waimea up and over 3,500 feet along the top of Kohala Volcano in a fascinating landscape of grass, trees and sea. At the end of the road is Poloolu Lookout and beach. A trail drops to the beach; good views are about halfway down. Return along the sea (Akoni Pule Highway) making a nice loop trip.
Saddle road traverses the width of the Island, from Hilo to its junction with State Road 190 near Waimea. It reaches a height of 6,632 feet and is subject to fog and low visibility. It provides the shortest route from Hilo to Kailua-Kona (54 mi.) and access to the slopes of Mauna Loa and the Mauna Kea road. While planning for the defense of the Hawaiian Islands in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Army hastily built an access road in 1942 to service their bases. Since it was not intended as a civilian road, the construction method was simple: clear, grade, pave. Following the end of World War II in 1945, the Army turned over jurisdiction of the road to the Territory of Hawaii and was designated Route 20 but the territorial government had few funds to maintain the road, let alone upgrade it to civilian standards. In recent years there has been increased attention on the road, with efforts to rebuild and renovate the highway into a practical cross island route.
Mauna Kea Summit Road provides access to Mauna Kea to the height of 13,780 feet making this the third highest public road in the United States. The road is 14 miles long, of which the first 6 miles (to the Onizuka Center) and the last 3 miles are paved. I was able to drive my rental car to the summit with no problem.
Geology was my biggest passion when I was 10 years old. I read every book I could understand on the topic wanting to know how the natural world came about. It seemed every book referenced the things you could see today on the Big Island of Hawaii. A visit to the Big Island is more than beaches�if you want that, go to Maui. The Big Island is like going back in time, it�s alive and every man made structure is subject to the islands wishes. The following locations are my opinion of the highlights of the Island. They are listed in counterclockwise rotation from Kona.
Dinner for 100
Show in Kona at the 'Ahu'ena Haiau (temple)
Papakolea Green Sand Beach
Pool of Ahalanui
Kehena Black Sand Beach
Lava over roadway
View across Kailua Bay to the Royal Kona Resort where we stayed for two nights
Halema'uma'u Crater up close
Nearing the top of Mauna Kea
Lava going into the ocean
Walking around town