On your way to The Big Island, Hawaii? I’m here to give you a bit of guidance during your trip. Enjoy!
ONE- REST, RESET & GET ON ISLAND TIME.
This is the first thing you should do when visiting Hawaii. Don’t worry about “losing a day” or “wasting time sleeping,” you will thank me later. In my experience, it takes about a week to get on what islanders call “island time.” I’m not saying you need to spend an entire week sleeping, I’m saying you need to understand the time change for most mainlanders will cause their bodies a need to adjust. There is something that happens on day 6ish when everything starts to make sense. You’ll know you’re on island time when you try to remember the past few days and it’s all a blur and you feel you can finally see clearly. Get to this point and start doing the things you actually want to remember when you get home!
TWO- CHECK OUT THE LAVA, BUT DON’T TAKE ANY HOME (OR EVEN MOVE IT.)
The lava flows are a natural beauty of Hawaii given to the islands by Pele, the Goddess of fire. Legend says she has a fiery temperament and when she erupts she is longing for her love, leaving behind a trail of lave or her tears as some believe. Removing these items will bring a curse upon you. Aside from these sacred legends, removing any natural stone or sand from anywhere is frowned upon (and illegal in many parts of the world including Hawaii.) Take a hike or a helicopter ride to a volcano and snap some amazing pics. Hiking trails allow for close exposure to lava and some pretty epic stories for your friends when you get home. Check out the best hikes according to locals: https://bigislandhikes.com/best-hikes-big-island
THREE- EAT LOCAL.
This is my favorite part of any vacation, the food. Traditional Hawaiian food can be found everywhere on The Big Island. You can eat cheap at the market with prepared hot food, move up a little in the price for a plate lunch (must try this at least once, it’s the working man’s lunch) or visit the many fine dining establishments for a chef’s depiction of local taste. The prepared hot food at most grocery markets. Island Gourmet Market is where I went to grab my breakfast, lunch, and dinner most days. These meals are traditional Hawaiian meals and for a very reasonable price. If I was feeling like getting out and about for lunch or dinner I would grab a hot plate. Served with a protein, two scoops rice & mac salad. You gotta try the macaroni salad while you are there, even if you don’t like macaroni salad it’s different in Hawaii, lighter and fresh-tasting compared to mainland recipes. As for the fine dining, I really enjoy the Lava Lava Beach Club. The views are unmatched at almost any location and the food is wonderful. I really love the Ahi nachos, I still think about them almost every week since I’ve been home!
FOUR- ROAD TRIP.
You heard me… and you thought the plane ride over was the only travel you would be doing. You would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t rent a car and take a road trip around the island. The Big Island got its name for a reason, there are a lot of really cool things to see! In fact, 12 climate zones can be found on The Big Island- everything from tropical rainforest to desert. Take a couple of days and start acting like a college student again, road trip the island. There are only two routes you can take to get to the other side… either go around the island or cut across either way, you’re in for a treat. This is the route I would take: Starting near Kona International Airport where you most likely landed,
- Hwy 19 North
- Left at Hwy 270 (only two ways you can go)
- Drive until you see a marina with shipping containers and stop at the “Seafood Bar & Grill” ask for a Mai Tai & grab some fresh seafood. This will be the best Mai Tai you will have your entire stay.
- Hwy 270 to “Hawi Town” (pronounced Havi town) – grab some coffee
- Hwy 250 in Hawi town is where you want to go next.
- Left at Hwy 19, you should be heading East. Stop in Waimea for gas, food and a break. I had a massage while in Waimea, it did not disappoint.
- Hwy 19 to Hilo- THIS is your destination for the day. Grab a hotel and enjoy Hilo.
- Hwy 200 out to Hilo Forest Reserve for a 1/2 day trip then back to Hilo.
- Hwy 11 from Hilo all the way back around to Hwy 19 where you started.
Stop at every beach you feel like stopping at, they are all epic. Little towns will pop up here and there, it’s worth stopping just to support the locals who are trying to make a living in their little community. These are the places to buy your gifts, don’t fall into the tourist trap of the ABC stores and Walmart, support Hawaiian’s by buying local.
FIVE- BODYBOARD OR SURF IT UP AT THE BEACH.
You can rent bodyboards and surfboards for a reasonable price for the entire day. It’s worth it! Look for signs in the little towns that ride right up to the shoreline, these are the towns that rent boards. Jump in the saltwater and enjoy! The temperature of the water in Hawaii is perfect, being from the Mainland I have only ever felt ice-cold Pacific water but this Pacific water is refreshing and perfect like I was a part of the Sea and had returned my soul to its home. I would spend almost every day at the beach if I could, it’s life.
SIX- GO TO A REAL LUAU.
Although this is for the tourist it gives you a bit of history about Hawaii and their culture. The food is amazing and the experience is one to talk about. Bring a camera, you’ll want these memories. At the Luau you will learn about Hula. This dance is a form of communication and considred sacred to many Hawaiians. When Christian missionary settlers took Hawaii years ago they banned Hula dancing thinking it was too permiscuous. Thank goodness the ban has been lifted and Hawaiian’s can continue to pass on their cultural norms to new generations. Hula is a beautiful art and something that will most likely touch your soul. Check out these options to find the best Luau in your area: https://www.gohawaii.com/islands/hawaii-big-island/things-to-do/land-activities/Luau
SEVEN- EXPLORE THE FARMER’S MARKET.
There is bound to be a farmers market nearby and you need to explore one of these. In Hawaii, you never know what you’ll come across at a Farmers Market. Everything from fresh lei’s to fresh fruits and even handmade trinkets to collect. When I was in Hawaii I found a young man who sold baby coconuts for fresh coconut water. He took the time to explain the difference between a mature coconut and a baby coconut. I’ve never tasted something so refreshing in my life! It was hot and sunny and I was sipping out of a baby coconut that had just been picked that morning, there are no words. I also came across an older gentleman who happen to love honey bees and had thousands of bees in his back yard making honey from local flowers year ’round. Go & experience this.
EIGHT- TAKE A SUNSET CRUISE.
As a solo traveler myself, a sunset cruise might sound like it is designed for couples to have a romantic evening. I’m here to tell you that a sunset cruise is for everyone and their dog. GO. The views are breathtaking and the ocean is welcoming to the boats of Hawaii. This is one of those activities you need to schedule early. If you walk in or call in the day of or even the day before you will probably be laughed at or hung up on, no joke. Aside from the planning, this is one of those activities you won’t regret booking.
NINE- SNORKLE TILL YOU CAN’T NO MORE.
So this is how you get to discover ocean life. The fish are so friendly in Hawaii- I feel like I made fish friends and next time I’m there we will hang out again. I literally had a beautiful small sized fish swim with me, try to get IN my hand and stayed by my side the entire time I was in the water. It’s like we were kin or something. Bring an underwater camera- I forgot one and regret it! You can even buy a waterproof 35mm at the local ABC store if you don’t have a Go Pro or something equivalent.
TEN- LAVA TUBES!
You guys… This is one of the coolest things in Hawaii. The lava tubes are natural conduits through which lava travels and eventually creates a tube. Thurston Lava Tube is one of the more popular lava tubes to tour. There are countless options and honestly, Google is the best way to find the one you want. Bring extra water, it’s usually hot!
Until next time,