Continuing on from my blog post about Oahu (here), our second leg of our Hawai’i vacation was spent on the Big Island. We flew from Honolulu to Hilo. Hilo airport was so cool! It’s small and looks like you stepped back in time to easier days of travel.
We grabbed our rental car and immediately drove to a waterfall. 🙂 I knew we wouldn’t be back on the east coast of the big island until flying back to Honolulu, so I made use of the couple of hours we had until we could check into our Airbnb.
The few days we had on the Big Island involved a lot of driving at different elevations and I wasn’t quite prepared for how that would affect me! Needed much more non drowsy motion sickness medicine than planned for. lol. The ride to the falls was fine but all the other driving the next three days was a bit rough.
Akaka Falls did not disappoint! The drive was easy from Hilo, we immediately found parking on a Wednesday afternoon and completed the entire loop walk within an hour. I used the All Trails app several times on Oahu and the Big Island; it was a great resource. Used it for this little hike, not necessary though because you are basically following a cement path the entire way. There are signs pointing you in the correct direction.
We stopped at a small grocery store near our Airbnb in Volcano and checked into our home away from home, Tree Fern Escape. The house was perfect for us; I loved the landscaping and grounds and you can’t beat the proximity to the Volcanos National Park.
After settling in we decided to do a night trip to the national park to see the volcano eruption at night. It is a must do! The Airbnb provided flash lights for us, very thankful for that.
Day two was our National Park day. I made a plan to drive and hike all over the park, starting with a visit to the Kilauea Visitor’s Center. We grabbed a map, listened to the park ranger and headed on our way. With any national park, it’s always a great idea to talk to one of the park rangers when first visiting; they are extremely helpful! Right from the Visitor’s Center we walked the sulfur banks trail loop.
We walked to the steam vents and got to see the Kilauea eruption during the day. A different sight than night for sure! I couldn’t believe how big the crater was; seeing at night first was a different kind of experience. As with any picture or video, it doesn’t do it justice. Here’s a link to my YouTube channel with a quick video.
From the Visitor’s Center we got back in the car and drove to the lava tube area, which unfortunately was closed the first couple weeks of August. Missed that one, oh well. We followed the Chain of Craters all the way to the Holei Sea Arch. The ride took us most of the day to go there and back but we stopped a lot along the way.
The most memorable stop was at the Puu Loa Petroglyphs Trail (see my video on YouTube). It is estimated to take you 26 minutes round trip, yeah, no! It took us a lot longer and we aren’t amateurs. We went in the middle of the day and it was hot, that slowed us for sure, plus I wanted to spend a lot of time walking around the boardwalk once we got there.
We headed back to the house after the sea arch and chilled and had dinner. Decided to go back to the volcano for night eruption viewing again but this time at a location the ranger suggested. So cool!
The last full day in Hawai’i we spent exploring the west coast of the big island. We started heading south on 11 to Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, about a 40 minute ride from Kilauea Volcano area. The beach was quiet and a sea turtle was resting peacefully in the sun.
We grabbed coffee at Ka Lae Coffee and yummy Portuguese donuts at Punalu’u Bake Shop before driving further along 11, all the way to Kailua-Kona. The drive changed elevations and was curvy; we used a lot of non drowsy motion sickness medication this day. 🙂
We parked and walked around downtown Kilauea-Kona for a bit, admiring the sea views and doing some shopping. Around lunch time we drove to Kona Brewing for our lunch reservations. We loved it!
I wanted to visit/see the Captain Cook Monument and do more snorkeling for our last afternoon. We make a quick stop at the end of Puuhonua Rd to see the historical sites there. The monument was tiny across the bay! A good place to kayak to for future reference. We headed to Honaunau Bay next.. We walked around the national park area and decided to snorkel right there at Two Step. It was the best snorkel spot!
The best snorkeling was past the tide pools and I really wish I had a life jacket while in there! I didn’t stay in too long because it was choppy and a kid tried to use me as a flotation device (not one of my own kids lol). The bright colored fish were so cool! Here’s a Link to a reel I made on Instagram of video from our Go Pro.
On our drive back to the house it started to rain and didn’t stop for the rest of the night, Hawai’i feeling my same sentiments on our last day 😦
Getting home was a long trip! Flew from Hilo back to Honolulu and from there to Newark, New Jersey on a red-eye flight. I didn’t sleep much but was grateful for overall very easy travel the entire trip. I still feel a vacation high after being home for a month now. Hawai’i is a special place I hope everyone can visit at least once in their lifetime.