Archive for the ‘The Big Island of Hawaii’ Category

During our 2009 trip we spent ten nights at the Maui Banyan, and then it was off to the Big Island for three nights at the end of our trip.

On Hawaiian Airlines you get to pick your seats. We sat on the left side of the plane for our flight. It turned out to have the better views of the Big Island as we approached. But the right side had the better views of Haleakala and the Hana coastline as we left Maui.

The Kona International Airport was a sight to see. Rather than a large terminal like most other airports, this one was made up of Tiki-hut style buildings. It was a very interesting place. Like many things on the Big Island, the airport is located out on a lava field. It is about a 15 minute drive to Kona.

Based on the reviews we read on TripAdvisor, we stayed at the Hale Kona Kai. It is an ocean front condo with an amazing view of the harbor. We stayed in unit 411 on the top floor. It has a great view of the ocean, and overlooks the tide pool of the Royal Kona Resort next door:
Hale Kona Kai

We really enjoyed watching the fish from our balcony, and even saw a few eels. No turtles though, although other guests in the guestbook said they did see some.

The view was definitely our favorite part of the condo. Our room was noisy with something on the roof (the buildings ventilation system??) that made it hard for me to sleep at times. Luckily, the crashing of the waves on the rocks drowned out these noises for the most part. Which is fine as long as you like the sounds of waves crashing.

We had free wireless internet as well, which was great for surfing the net out on the balcony.
Hale Kona Kai
We might stay at the Hale Kona Kai again, but probably in a different room. As I mentioned above, the room we had was too noisy. Also, it is probably worth it to pay a bit of extra money to get a corner room to have a lanai that wraps around two sides. You can just see part of the corner balcony in the photo above.

On our first full day, we decided to go and see the volcano. Of course there were a number of stops to make along the way. The photo below shows Kahalu’u Beach Park. Like many of the beaches on the Big Island there is not a lot of sand. Instead there is very clear water and lots of fish. We could see the fish from the side of the road where we took this photo.

Kahalu'u Beach ParkWe might stay at the Keauhou Beach Resort on our next trip. It is just behind the palm trees at the upper left of this photo. I really wanted to snorkel here, but we did not get a chance on this trip. So I figure if we stay right at the beach, I will definitely get to check it out next time.

One of the other places we really wanted to check out was Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park – the Place of Refuge. It was a very good place to stop, and I would definitely recommend it. They have tried to preserve much of the area. You can walk through at your own pace, or they also do guided tours. We started out on our own, but ended up tagging along with a guided tour after a while. The guide had lots of stories and info and we were happy we joined the group. We got a lot of great photos there as well:
Pu'uhonau o HonaunauThere was quite a few snorkelers in the water here. Although you cannot enter the water in the park, there is a spot nearby that many seemed to be using.
Pu'uhonau o HonaunauYou can’t really see it in the photo above, but there were a bunch of turtles quite close to shore in the shallow waters. We got some really good photos of them:
Turtle at Pu'uhonau o HonaunauThe buildings at the place of refuge were very interesting as well:
Pu'uhonau o Honaunau

After we had completed the tour at Pu’uhonau o Honaunau, we went to check out Kealakekua Bay. I really wanted to go kayaking and snorkeling there, but we just didn’t have the time. It was very busy though and we couldn’t find anywhere to park and look around.

We also stopped at Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. There were lots of turtles here as well. We looked around for a bit and really enjoyed this beach. But as with the rest of the day, we couldn’t stay long as there was so much more to see. But of course we managed to get some photos while we were there:
Punalu'u BeachThere were turtles everywhere at this beach. I was trying to get as many turtles into one photo as possible. Often I could see four or five, but I could only get two in the photo at the same time. The others kept going under water, and I didn’t manage to time it right when they came up.

Turtles at Punalu'uThe sand here was different than the black sand beach on Maui. Shauna took a great photo of a white flower she found at the beach:
White flower, black sand

From there it was on to Volcanoes National Park. Apparently they had a 5.5 earthquake the day before, so we were a bit wary of going there. But having come all the way to the Big Island I really wanted to check it out. I was very happy we did though as it was one of the more interesting things we saw during both of our trips to Hawaii.
We also went to the Thurston Lava Tube within the park. I thought it was great, but Shauna didn’t like it as much. The lava tube is lighted, so you can walk right through, but she said it was too dark and wet. Since it was so dark I wasn’t able to get any good photos from inside. However we did get some good ones of the natural forest along the trail to the lava tube:

Hawaiian RainforestAnd from just inside the entrance:
Thurston Lava Tube Entrance
Part of the Chain of Craters Road was closed from the earthquake the day before, so we weren’t able to check it out. And we didn’t have time to get all the way around to where the lava was flowing.

By then we were getting tired anyway, as it had been a long day already. So we decided to head back as it was about a two and half hour drive back to Kona.

If you want to really explore the Big Island of Hawaii I would definitely recommend that you stay longer than three nights. There is so much to see and do that we found ourselves rushing to try and get as much in as we could. And not really taking as much time to enjoy it all as we would have liked. We bought the Big Island Revealed guidebook, and it was a great help on our trip, even though we were limited on time. We have their guidebooks for Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island, and found each of them to be among the best guidebooks we could find for the Hawaiian Islands.

Overall, we enjoyed The Big Island. It was more laid back like Maui and Kauai as well, which we really liked in comparison to our week spent on the island of Oahu. The Big Island was quite hazy though most of the time though because of the volcano. Apparently it has been that way since an eruption in March of 2008. We are hoping that it clears up before we go back to the Big Island next time, as we do plan to go back someday as there is so much more to see…

Shauna has some more photos of the Big Island on her Flickr account as well, such as this one of a plumeria tree:
Big Island Plumeria

You can also check out the other Big Island post for the rest of our trip on the Big Island.


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