Incredible things to do and see on Hawaii’s Big Island

This was my time on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and by god didn’t I enjoy it. As well as the usual thing to do like stay at the Hilton resort in Waikoloa or Sheraton resort in Kona, swimming in the sea, checking out the beautiful beaches and seeing a cultural show, I did get the chance to explore the island. I was quite fortunate as I visited the island in late June 2018, a few weeks after the Kilauea exploded, ok, not quite fortunate for the locals who lost their homes but this is nature at its best. This is where I am going to start with the blog by telling you what you can do when exploring this amazing island.

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Take a helicopter tour with Blue Hawaiian

I couldn’t stress this more, doing a helicopter tour on Hawaii was on the best highlights of my visit and I did this with Blue Hawaiian. What I saw on the two hour tour was incredible and I will treasure the memories for a lifetime. Starting from the headquarters near Waikoloa Beach Resorts, my pilot took myself and two other couples to the south east of the island taking in the amazing views of Mauna Kea, one of the highest mountains in Hawaii. The reason I went to the south-east was to see the Kilauea Volcano erupting and I was one of the first tours to fly in this region. Words couldn’t describe what I was seeing. There was lava boiling at the top, fast flowing lava going down the mountainside and lots of steam coming up from the ocean as the lava hits the water. I was seeing land being created but at the same time, land being destroyed, trees being destroyed and home burnt to the ground and swept away by the lava. History and the future was being made at a rapid speed.

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Kilauea Volcano
Big Island, Big Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, Ocean, Island,
Kilauea Volcano

The tour then went northwards along the eastern coast over the city of Hilo before we arrived at valleys which cars etc couldn’t not reach. For the second the pilot was flying us through valleys, where we were all checking out the amazing landscape and waterfalls. The pilot was even kind enough to do a quick stop at the bottom of a waterfall to which the only other way of seeing this was to hike there. This was truly amazing and I really did felt like being a tropical paradise. No other people, no sound apart from the ocean and the gushing of the waterfall and a few birds from above.

Big Island, Big Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, Ocean, Island,
Flying over the North-East part of Big Island
Big Island, Big Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, Ocean, Island,
Flying over the North-East part of Big Island
Big Island, Big Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, Ocean, Island,
Flying over the North-East part of Big Island
Big Island, Big Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, Ocean, Island,
The speical stop over the pilot made
Big Island, Big Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, Ocean, Island,
The speical stop over the pilot made
Big Island, Big Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, Ocean, Island,
The speical stop over the pilot made
Big Island, Big Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, Ocean, Island,
The speical stop over the pilot made

South Point

The southern point of the island is called South Point or Ka Lae to the locals and the only reason I visited this is because I was into my geography and love visiting places of interest. Not only this is the southernmost point in Hawaii but of all fifty states of the USA and its overseas territories (so don’t confuse that with Key West in Florida, we talking about the WHOLE of the USA not the mainland. USA does have Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico etc – the debate on this by Americans is getting boring now whilst I was on the road so, you got it guys, ALL of the USA and not the mainland. Sigh).

Big Island, Big Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, Ocean, Island,
South Point – mostly southern point out of all US territories.

Papakōlea Beach

This green sand beach is located near South Point (another reason for making the long drive south to this area) and is one of only four green sand beaches in the world, the others being located in Guam, Galapagos Islands and Norway. To get here, drive towards South Point but there is a left turn in the road. Take that and this will take you to a car park. Drop the car here and you should either walk to the beach which is about five miles away in the open, with hot blazing sun on your head with no shelter, no shops for water and food (so take lots of that!) or you could do what I did and jumped into a local pickup truck where locals are earning money cash-free and not paying tax (but do I care about that?) and drove all the way down the dirt track which was like sitting on a raft going down some rapids in the amazon. On arriving and getting my composure back (and for some of the people with me, the vomit out of their system), I took the walk down the cliffside to the beach (wear good shoes for this, not flip flops!). The beach is amazing, beautiful and a great place to go into the sea. However on windy days especially on the beach and on top of the cliffs overlooking, dust gets everywhere so good sunglasses are needed. God help ya if you wore contact lenses like I did.

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Papakōlea Beach
Big Island, Big Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, Ocean, Island,
Papakōlea Beach
Big Island, Big Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, Ocean, Island,
Papakōlea Beach

Kealakekua Bay

Being an explorer, I wanted to see the spot where Britain’s Captain Cook, famous sailor and explorer of the British Empire, died. This is located at Kealakekua Bay near Kona and after taking the drive to the beach, I found out the only way to get there was to either kayak, scuba dive or snorkel my way across the bay. With no other way of getting to the memorial (which I could barely see from where I was standing), I decided to give this a miss as time was not on my hands (it was a fair distance to get across the bay). If you wanted to know why Captain Cook died here, he got stabbed in the heart by a local whilst trying to leave the island. There is a lot more than this in the story but you guys should hit the history books (otherwise this blog post will become a novel!).

Seeing the sun set and watching the stars on Mauna Kea

This is worth it. Make the trip to Mauna Kea in the middle of the island (takes about 60-90 minutes from the west coast or east coast to drive there) and take supplies, a jacket and a good camera to treasure the memories. If renting a car (like I did), and not having a big old jeep which is capable of doing off-roading up dirt tracks at the mountain summit, the furthest point anyone can go is to the visitor centre halfway up the mountain (which is still above the clouds at 2804m/9199ft).

Big Island, Big Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, Ocean, Island,
The road to Mauna Kea

Some fun facts about Mauna Kea, it’s the highest mountain on an island on Earth at 4207m (13,802 ft) but interesting fact is that most of this mountain is under the ocean so when it’s measured from the ocean base, the mountain is over 10,000m (33,000ft) making this the tallest mountain on Earth! Thought I chuck this in there guys.

Big Island, Big Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, Ocean, Island,
Sunset over Mauna Kea

When arriving at the car park about an hour before sunset (allow a lot of time to get here and get here early for a parking space), I quickly went into the shop and grabbed a hot drink before making my way up to a good viewing point nearby. Here I got amazing views of the landscape from down below, all the volcano cones which are now defunct and I could see the ocean from all sides of the island, well, to be honest, not to the south as there is another mountain in the way.

The sun came down in the west and was a beautiful surreal moment to see.

Big Island, Big Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, Ocean, Island,
Mauna Kea
Big Island, Big Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, Ocean, Island,
Mauna Kea
Big Island, Big Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, Ocean, Island,
Mauna Kea

The stars came out afterwards and I spent a while looking at them. Another moment which I will treasure forever. When it was time to head back to our resort, I could see the glow of the redness from the top of Kilauea Volcano in the distance. With the clouds it did look like a disaster scene in the making (it looked better and scary in real life than the photo I captured of it).

Big Island, Big Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, Ocean, Island,
Can you see the redness from the top of Kilauea Volcano in the distance?

Statue of King Kamehameha

This is located near the northern point of the island in a village called Kapaau near Hawi (which is a great town to visit for healthy food restaurants and drinks). This is the original statue which was meant to be placed in Honolulu but was lost at sea when being delivered from Europe to Hawaii. The boat carrying the statue was shipwrecked off the coast of the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. Another one was made and was placed outside government buildings in Honolulu. However some locals in the Falkland Islands discovered the boat, found the statue and somehow sold it to the folk in Hawaii. The locals decided that the original statue should be placed in this village, as it was the king’s birthplace.

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King Kamehameha statue

Doing a marathon in a desert

I managed to do a marathon in the Waikoloa Beach resorts area of the island to which some of the 26.2 mile (42km) course went through the beautiful resorts but most of the course went out into the Big Island’s desert climate conditions. The race started at sunrise at 05.30 but ninety minutes into the race, the temperatures were just rising and rising and I struggled to cope with this. I managed to finish the course in around five hours but like others doing the event, we felt like dying afterwards. This was one of the hardest challenges I have ever come across and would not one to experience again in my life. Give me mountain races or just a ‘normal’ marathon any day of the week.

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Battling it out in the Kona marathon
Big Island, Big Hawaii, Hawaii, USA, Ocean, Island,
A lot of the marathon route was run through the desert.

That was my experience of Big Island. I relaxed, I was happy, I got to see amazing landscapes and did exciting tours and will treasure these moments for the rest of my lives. Have you been to Big Hawaii? What would you recommend? What do you like most about the island? I would love to hear your views.

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