There has always been little to no ambition in me to venture to the biggest island of Hawaii. I’ve spent multiple times in all the other main islands but what I heard over and over again about Big Island was the voggy atmosphere, there’s a mountain that sometimes has snow on it, and the island is dry and well, big. None of those things appeal to me and of course I heard about the beautiful sights here and there on this mostly voggy land mass, but for the most part it just didn’t seem like a worthwhile trek and expense. Having these thoughts in my head only sweetened the romance that was to come when Big Island swept me off of my feet.
I went on this expedition with a friend and we landed in Kona. Kona is high in tourism and has a couple really great resorts. Who doesn’t like a great stay at a resort where all amenities are provided but we wanted to explore a bit more off the beaten path. We only spent a day in Kona and the touristy parts and things to do just weren’t my cup of tea so we hiked along a rocky hot beach dripping sweat and only in slippers (flip-flops to some) and swim suits. We walked probably a couple of miles to a more remote area and found ourselves surrounded by shallow calm aqua water, black rocks with greenery determined to thrive and burst thru lava rock, and multiple sea turtles basking in the sun on the mini islands across from the multiple coves we jumped into to swim.
From there we made our way up the coast to Waimea, Honokaa, and hiked to Waipio Valley. This by far was my favorite part of the island. It was filled with lush greenery and had green rolling hills that were home to farms and pastures. Waipio Valley is worth the hike and when you get down to the bottom the brackish water from the river that flows abundantly from the impressive waterfall is the perfect dip for refreshment. This place was just magical and the second waterfall that falls from a cliff into the ocean was icing on the cake. I could live here for the scenery alone. With the small town of Honokaa just above gives this area a quaint and cozy feel.
We opted to stay in a well decorated yurt a in Kea’au and I got eaten alive by bugs, but I still say it was worth the experience and a comfortable form of glamping. From there we visited all the main attractions: Hilo, Mauna Kea, and Volcano. Then we went to South Point and the olivine green sand beach. We started off willing to hike into this beach but it was hot, dry and the strong wind was wiping us continually with dirt from the red dry dirt hills we were walking through. There were many locals making money from tourists by driving them to their destination with lifted trucks with huge tires through this off-road terrain. A guy named Rodney stopped and we hopped in the back of his truck as he made his way to the green sand beach. He’s a rancher by trade and owns several horses. He filled the drive out with stories of his days competing in rodeos all over the states. His family has lived in Hawaii for twelve generations. The south part of this island is filled with dryer ranch lands and the people who live here have usually lived here for several generations. The conversations alone that were had in this area left a feeling of appreciation and connection for Big Island. Also to help with this, this area housed my favorite place to eat on the whole island with the most creamy and delicious Mac-nut cream pie. Hana Hou restaurant, thank you. Another favorite find of mine was the newest black sand beach recently formed by the last lava flow. The locals of this area have made it their mission to replant and rebuild. To see up close and for myself the destruction to an entire town being covered in lava, well there just are no words… But to see the perseverance and devotion to make their home fruitful again, and it literally rising from the ashes had me reflecting on what hope tangibly looks like and was awe-inspiring. It was a memorable way to leave the islands as I head off to my next destination, Bali.