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  • Writer's pictureKate

Big Island

From fields and fields of volcanic rock, to dazzling hidden beaches, dolphins, manta rays...Big Island has it all. A place where the max and relax type of vacationers can be just as satisfied as the go go go-ers (guilty).

Where to stay: There's Kona side and Hilo side. Kona side is notorious for being sunnier so I would say home base it from there and then drum roll... pro tip: get a rental car

$: My Hawaiian hostel, $40 a night nice clean hostel. A little removed from Kailua Kona town (the "big" town of the Kona side) pro tip- about 10 min walk towards town there are city bikes you can hop on to zoom the rest of the way in

$$$$: Mauna Lani: I mean if you are looking to bool out look no further. This hotel was easiest the nicest one I have EVER seen. The foods good, the architecture has this nice boho chic thing going for them

(if you are looking for some middle ground, there are many many hotels spread throughout Big Island)

Kailua Kona: the hopping town of Kona side

worth a visit, Front Street is where all the shops and restaurants are. Although a tad touristy its very cute

feeling munchie?

-Herbivores: great vegan food truck in town

-Hugo's on the Rocks is a restaurant down on the ocean that has live music. make a rezzy and enjoy a sunset being wined and dined

All down the Kona coast are amazing snorkel spots (excluding in the Harbor don't even think about it over there, thats where the fishing boats dump their chum and in turn its where the sharks like to be wined and dined).

From Kailua Kona town is where you take off for your night dive with manta rays. This is a non negotiable. We went with Kona Style and they were great! Any tour agency would work. You get gear and boat out in the dark. Floating in the water everyone is holding onto a rope that is shining a bright light. You might think that its a little eerie floating at night then you see one, then you see two... all of a sudden eight manta rays are doing flips soaring through the water almost brushing you with every twirl. It's really special.

-Pine Tree Beach is an awesome beach a little away from town. Id recommend driving or biking (again city bikes are all near town).

Day excursions-

Excursion 1

If your vacation falls upon a Wednesday then that is the day you are heading North becauseeeee Waimea has a fantastic Wednesday farmers market.

-post farmers market: head to Hawi town a very cute local feel typa place

-then embark towards Pololu Valley lookout which is around a 41 minute walk down to a black rock beach

Excursion 2

A mini road trip from Kona to Hilo is a must. We must see and do it all right? Take the route that brings you through Waimea. Stops on your way to Hilo must include

-Honomu goat dairy farm: The best goat cheese ever and you can go in and pet some goats

-Pepeekeo scenic drive, the turn off for this road should be near by the goat farm and it is a gorgeous road full of bridges and waterfalls

-Akaka Falls- you can see this view (picture below) at the end of a very very short hike

-Rainbow Falls: can be seen right from the parking lot

-Kaumana caves: walk into some creepy dark caves because why not. this stop is right off the highway

-Once in Helio can continue onto Volcano National Park

-If you have a good amount of time look into driving up Mauna Kea the tallest mountain for sunset (make sure you have layers)

Excursion 2

Grab your snorkel for this water themed day trip. You'll begin by going to Kiholo Bay which is a turtle sanctuary. If you lucky you might see some sea turtles hanging ten in the surf. At this same location there's a cenote called Queens Bath. Go for a little dip in the crystal water pooling up in this cool cave!

Hop back into the car and towards another non negotiable

Captain Cooks Memorial Trail to Kealakekua Bay.

This is one of those unfortunate hikes that is a downhill start and an up hill on the way back. But its worth it!!! Leave around 4-5 hours for this. You walk down to a little beach where there are normally dolphin tour boats docked up in front of ring ring! Yep. You can hop into the water and swim out to where the dolphin tour boats are and get a free swim with the dolphin experience. I found myself peaking in life welcomed into a pod of 7 dolphins as we swam together.

Best way to end this ocean filled day?! And to reward yourself for that salty up hill climb. Gypsea gelato. Short drive from Captain Cooks Memorial Trail

So you want more activity huh...say less...

White Road Hike: This hike is on private property so you might have to pay the land owner to be allowed on the land if he's around (Worth it!) One of the funkiest hikes ever you'll find yourself in tunnels, walking across metal tubes... all until you make it to a drainage pipe turned water slide. It is muddy and painful yet fun and exhilarating.

More cool hikes up near Waimea-

-Annas Pond

-Green Sand beach

La Perouse: Head down to the South of the island. Another place you might be lucky enough to see dolphins.

I'd recommend at least 6 days so you maximize relaxation exploration balance. The animals are everywhere the sun is shining this island is one magical floating rock thats for sure.

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