The Big Island, Hawaii is a land of white, black and green sand beaches, flowing lava, gorgeous flowers and rainforests. If you want to go to fancy restaurants or walk long stretches of sandy beaches with small waves choose a different Hawaiian Island. I say this from experience. We have been to Hawaii five times and visited three different islands. If you are like us and like to set out each day to explore a new locale, the Big Island is for you.
My family of four(my husband and I, my 17 year-old-daughter and my college-age son) spent Thanksgiving week in Kona at a Vacation by Owner condo near the water. Exploring the island requires a rental car. Since some of the so-called roads are like traveling the moon in a rover, I would recommend an SUV. We would be giggling as bounced we bounced along in our jeep and see some cars turning around because they were too low to navigate the terrain. I likened it to the jostling on the airplane (our flight in was really rough and we were at the back of the bus). My son, Scott, said, “Yeah and we’re on the ground.”
We carried snorkeling gear, beach chairs and towels and boogie board with us every day. No telling when that special black rock road will lead to great snorkeling. Flip-flops are a failure on lava. Bring a good pair of hiking sandals. When headed towards the rainforest have rain gear with you. You will need it. Buckets of rain can pour down on you without warning and then disappear in a few minutes. The rain is warm but you’re still wet. The scenery is so breathtaking it’s hard to know when to stop taking pictures and just sit and soak in the view.
I had clothes for a week and I spent most of my time in a two piece swim suit, long-sleeved sunbrella shirt and sun visor. I burn badly so sun screen and lots of it was a must.
The nights were mild. We never needed long pants except at the high elevations when we went to the Volcano National Park. The temperature dropped to the low sixties causing me to pull on my lightweight workout jacket. At the volcanoes, we wore our hiking shoes not our sandals.
When looking for places to eat, we would ask our trusty friend Siri for local restaurants and then make our decision based on reviews and dollar signs. We found many unlikely places to dine off the beaten track with great local food distinct from the usual tourist fare. Of course, Kona coffee is world renown for its dark color, thick texture and strong body flavor. A daily cup helps keep the group going.
Our adventure was appropriate for teenagers, young adults and active seniors. Young children would have a terrible time driving so much and many of the beaches were too rough for children to just play in the sand. For people seeking active adventure, the Big Island has so many choices the hardest thing you will do each day is decide where to go next.