Unique Places in Hawaii (Big Island)

  • South point
    South point
    by kyoub
  • Pololu road
    Pololu road
    by kyoub
  • Mauna Kea observatory in the clouds
    Mauna Kea observatory in the clouds
    by Nor_Cal_Brad

Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Hawaii (Big Island)

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    Waipi'o Valley - The Edge of the World

    by JetlagCity Updated Aug 31, 2009

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    Waipi'o is an amazingly beautiful, lush valley, all the way at the end of the Hamakua Highway, well off the beaten path. The view from the lookout at the top is tremendous, and many people just come here for the view alone. I come back to see it every single time I've been on the island (three so far).

    We've hiked down into it twice, and it was the steepest hike I've ever done - a 25% grade and very hard on the knees - but well worth it. At the bottom it's thick with tropical vegetation, and the Waipi'o River flows out to the sea past a black sand beach. It's about a mile wide at the coast, and if you walk across the shore you can hike all or just part way up a switch-back trail on the far side for different views of the valley. The sides are close to 2,000 ft. high. We ran into a local man on the far side trail who was backpacking over into the next valley with his son to hunt wild pigs.

    Thousands of Hawaiians used to live here before the most devastating tsunami in Hawaiian history flooded it out in 1946. It's quite a remote area now, with only a few dozen people here now who treasure their isolation.

    You can't drive down into the valley unless you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle; several tour companies will drive you down there if you don't want to do your own thing. There are also options for horseback riding in and around the rim, which sounds more appealing to me. It's on the Hamakua Coast, on the Northeast side of the island off route 240.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Green Sand Beach

    by JetlagCity Updated Oct 20, 2004

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    Green Sand Beach has to be seen up close to be appreciated. There are tons of green olivine crystals in the sand, which is pretty cool to see. You've got to hike to get there, unless you have a 4-wheel drive. The hike is easy, though. It's over uneven terrain, but it's basically flat, about 4 or 5 miles roundtrip from South Point. Just drive to the end of the road, past a few houses to the little bay where they launch boats, and park there. When you're facing the ocean there's a rough dirt road to the left (east) - that's the "trail".

    By the way, when we went there was a sign on one of the houses saying you had to pay $5 to proceed any further. We ignored this, since we had read that it was a scam, and we had no problems at all.

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    Hike Pololu Valley & Hono Kane Nui

    by JetlagCity Updated Dec 2, 2007

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    Pololu Valley is at the start of a series of seacliffs at the northwest part of the island on the Kohala Peninsula, past the town of Hawi. It only takes about 20 minutes to hike down the trail to the black sand beach in the valley below, and for those who can't hike there's a gorgeous viewpoint up top. If you keep walking through to the other side of the valley another trail goes back up 600 ft. and over the next ridge, down into Hono Kane Nui Valley. There are staggering views at several points along the way, and although there were a handful of people down in the first (Pololu) valley, we were the only ones on the trail up and over the next ridge to Hono Kane Nui.

    At the end of November, 2007, the trail down into Hono Kane Nui was wiped out about 1/3 to 1/2 way down by a rockslide. However, the views are well worth going that far.

    Part of the trail are exposed to wonderful ocean breezes, and other parts are dank and muggy, but the views are worth it. Wear bug spray.

    Related to:
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    Bygone days

    by kyoub Updated Jul 6, 2004

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    Pahoa is a little town that got stuck in the 60's. It still has wooden sidewalks and small wooden shops. The food is good, the shopkeepers are very friendly, and you can come as you are. There is also a very good natural food store there. Our favorite restaurant was Papa's. He served veggie Indian dishes. We stopped for lunch most everyday and he always had homemade cookies still warm from the oven. There was an outdoor patio great for people watching.
    I am sad to hear that he is no longer there.

    Related to:
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    • Backpacking
    • Singles

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    Tree Statues

    by kyoub Written Jul 6, 2004

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    This ohia tree rain forest was engulfed in lava in 1790. Although the trees themselves burned away, the molds of lava formed around the tree trunks and they are there today. There is an interesting 20 minute loop trail .
    In front of the park the beautiful stretch of road is called the tree tunnel because of the arched monkey pod trees that arch overhead.
    At night when you pass by there is a loud choir of tree frogs.

    Related to:
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    • Eco-Tourism

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    See the nut factory

    by kyoub Written Jul 6, 2004

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    The Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Visitors center is 2 1/2 miles off the highway. You see macadamia trees on both sides of the road on the way. There you can walk down the outside walkway and see how the nuts are shelled, roasted, and packed. Across the road is a small gift shop and snack bar.
    Not any real bargains here and no samples.

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    End of the road

    by kyoub Written Jul 6, 2004

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    You can't get any farther south in the USA than South Point.
    South Point has a rocky coast line and winds so strong that I could barely stand still.
    You will see some trees almost horizontal from the wind blowing them.
    There isn't alot here but some beautiful ocean
    shots can be taken.

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    A Lava Forest

    by Royal63 Updated Apr 10, 2004

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    Lava Tree State Monument preserves the site where a lava flow burned through an ohia forest in 1790. The lava, flowing quickly from Kilauea's east rift zone, surrounded the trees and cooled forming molds of the burned tree trunks.
    It's very interesting to walk around and see the old lava. An easy 0.7 mile loop guides you around. If you would like to walk further, a hiking trail leads through and around 17 acres of the preserved forest.

    Related to:
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    Snow on the Big Island?

    by Royal63 Written Apr 12, 2004

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    Plan a day at Mauna Kea! We drove the Saddle Road, a BIG no-no. The rental companies won't allow you to drive it. If you get in an accident, you aren't covered. So why take the road? Well it is a LONG, windy (twisty), very scenic road and your only way to Mauna Kea. Now don't think you are going skiing. You're going to observe! As you drive up the road to the observatory, you first reach the 9,000 elevation mark at the Onizuka visitors center. We only rented a car, so we had to stop there anyway. ONLY 4 wheel drives are permitted to drive the last STEEP, 1/2 hour climb to the 13,000+ mark up to the observatory. I was not prepared for the cold. I was still in shorts, as we had just left 90 degree weather down below. We stayed until dark so we could look through the huge telescopes. Saw the Milky Way, Saturn, Mars, and many stars. It was fantastic. The road is a little intimidating- straight down. But you've got to do this. I wish I had taken pictures, but all you could see is clouds and lots of lava rock. Friends of mine did drive up to the observatory. Enjoyed it very much. I highly recommend you drive to Mauna Kea.

    Related to:
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    Pana`ewa Rainforest Zoo in Hilo, Hawaii

    by Royal63 Written Apr 4, 2004

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    Pana`ewa Rainforest Zoo is located in Hilo
    on the island of Hawaii.

    It is the only natural tropical rainforest zoo in the United States.
    This 12 acre zoo is the only tropical rainforest zoo in the United States. It is home to more than 80 animal species including the endangered Nene (Hawaii State Bird) and Namaste', a white Bengal Tiger.

    If you are on your way to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts factory or the volcano, you'll want to stop by the Zoo. It's great!

    Admission is free! It's only open 9am to 4pm, so don't be late or rushed getting there.

    Related to:
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    • Zoo
    • Jungle and Rain Forest

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    A little adventure.

    by Royal63 Written Apr 1, 2004

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    Puu Mahana, Green Sand Beach, is located in the Kau' district. It is primarily located on the slopes of Mauna Loa, the world's largest and most massive active volcano on the southwestern part of the island. To get to this beach, one must either use a four wheel drive or hike six miles from South Point, Ka Lae, the southern most tip of the United States.

    Volcanologist, Steve Mattox of University of North Dakota gives this explanation for such a spectacular one of a kind place.

    "The beach formed by the erosion and concentration of olivine crystals derived from the surrounding cone. The volcanic cone is Puu Mahana and it is a tuff ring (a type of volcano formed by the interaction of magma and shallow groundwater). The cone is associated with the Southwest Rift Zone of Mauna Loa (although the cone is not right on the rift). Mauna Loa flow can contain abundant olivine crystals. As ocean waves crashed against the coast they wore away at the cone and made a small bay along the coast. The waves also removed the lighter grains of sand (made of volcanic ash) leaving the denser olivine crystals behind to form the beach. I do not know of another green sand beach. Olivine is common in basalt lava. A few crystals might be found in some andesite lava. It is never found in dacite and rhyolite lava."

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    Big Island Hawaii, great beaches...

    by aloha088 Updated Jan 21, 2007

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    ... but not for swimming... just watching

    Ever seen a Black Sand Beach or Green Sand Beach? You can find these amazing beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii.
    It'll take you about an hour walk to get to Green Sand Beach. This is absolutely fantastic, a real insider tip!! bring some water!

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
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    The Old Painted Church

    by keida84 Updated Aug 3, 2006

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    Formerly known as St. Benedict's Church, Father John Berchamans Veighe painted elaborate scenes from the Bible in the interior of this Gothic-style structure. During his ministry, around 1900, the Belgian Father used these illustrations to explain Christianity to the Hawaiians who could neither read nor write. It is an amazing thing to walk in and see the work Father John has done here.
    What I really enjoyed was walking to the back part of the church yard, there was a small cemetery and the most unique "Stations of the Cross" all done outdoors on a gravel trail leading up to the replica of the Pieta. See the photos and travel logue for pictures.

    Route 19 south to Route 11, then right on Route 160, left on Middle Keei Road, right on Painted Church Road. Map 3, M10.

    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

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    Will and Grace

    by Nathalie_B Written Feb 20, 2009

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    Once you arrive in this part of the big Island you will find every single place called something like “The Southernmost bar in the US”, “The Southernmost grocery store”, “The last beer in the South” etc, just because this place really is the southernmost point of the US. But, one tiny store had the name “Will & Grace”. I was curious and went to see who would name a grocery store after a TV show.
    What I found out was one of these local experiences that we all travel for. Will and Grace Tabios are real, and have been known in this area for their coffee.
    Hawaii is the only state in the US where coffee is grown. The climate is just perfect for coffee plants and the lava mixed soil apparently affects the taste of the coffee. Grace told us that, 9 years ago, Will decided to become coffee farmer and they never looked back ever since. Over the years they won several awards and became quite famous, not only in the US. In Hawaii, you will find several restaurants that serve only The Rising Sun farm coffee, which said to be unique in its taste.
    If you’re driving to the Green Sand beach from the Hilo side there’s no way you’ll miss Grace’s tiny shop. Make a short stop, taste the coffee and enjoy some of her homemade Filipino sweets.

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    Fickle Lava

    by TropicGirl77 Written Dec 28, 2003

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    This is one of the most awesome historical lava sites I have seen yet. In the late 1700's lava forced it's way out at this park in Pahoa, then quickly withdrew back to the core where it came, leaving hardened lava covered trees and deep holes in the ground as reminders. There are tons of mosquitoes to go along with the plants here. There are several species of birds here, as well as the Ko kee frog that has become a nuisance. Walk the path to see for yourself how powerful the forces of nature really are.

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    • Historical Travel

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Hawaii (Big Island) Off The Beaten Path

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