There is an abundance of hiking opportunities on the big island! There are hiking areas near some waterfalls, and other attractions, as well as at the volcanoes. Check the brochures closely to find out more on the ones you're interested in. We hiked to the recent lava flow at Kilauea. We hiked from our car to the site where the rangers were sharing information about the current lava flow (approximately 1 hour roundtrip).
Equipment: Daytime hiking at Kilauea: bring lots of water, durable walking shoes (thick soles) head covering, and don't forget your camera (both types!)
Night time hiking in Kilauea: same as above, but be sure to bring a flashlight, and hat is not necessary unless to keep your head dry should it decide to rain.
I was a bit let down when we arrived at the water access at Place of Refuge Park. There was no sand. The locals call this place 2 step because of the water access is two lava steps to enter or exit the water. Once in the water I decided that this was in my top 3 snorkeling locations that I have ever visited.
Equipment: Bring snorkel or scuba gear. Bring a camera, land and underwater.
I would've liked to visit the Sacred Site in the National Park but we knew we to had to deal with traffic getting back to Kona in time.
Kahalu'u Beach is wonderful for both surfers, snorklers, and beach goers. The water is clear and calm inside the Bay. Perfect condition almost always for snorklers. You can expect a very close encounter with sea tutle and many different types of fish. It is like swimming inside the aquarium. No kidding! If you go outside the Bay, the wave is strong enough for surfers. No huge waves. Just high enough waves for beginning and intermediate surfers.
The tide pool at Kahalu'u Beach is wonderful. Small children can see lots of fish and other marine life right there at the
beach. Turtles often bask in the sun. They are not to be disturbed, though, since they are protected by the law.
On Earth Day 2007, I was treated with the Micronesian Folk dances at Keauhou Beach Hotel next to the Kahalu'u Beach Park.
High school students performed several interesting dances for the earth day celebration event at the hotel.
Kailua-Kona is the home of the world-renown Ironman Triathlon, where competitors from all around the world, from ages 18 to 70, swim 2 miles, bike 100 miles and follow it up with a marathon. Who dreamed up of this torture? Actually, it mustn't be greuling enough as 10,000 athletes a year qualify for the race. We got there late in the day to see some of the stragglers, but that was an interesting, inspiring sight in itself, as people, including a woman on an artificial leg, struggled on in a state of near exhaustion. As we approached the finish line we saw why -- the public address announce treats every finisher as a winner. And they are!
Some of the athletes planned special finishes. Many approached the line with their families, some carrying babies on their shoulders. Others had their national flags. A Japanese competitor changed into martial arts garb and crossed with identically-clad wife and son. But the best plan was a runner from New York who crossed the line, bent down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. The Ironman people rushed a microphone to the scene and the asembled crownd all heard the exchange, cheering when "yes" was the answer. When asked on-mike if he had carried the ring the entire race, he answered affirmative. Wow!
The waters at the Captian Cook monument in Kealakekua Bay, where the great explorer ended his life, is rated as one of the best places for snorkeling in the Hawaiian islands.
Don't miss the magificent coral garden and its abundant marine life. Here you will find lots of colourfull fishes, moray eels, and there's dolphins that frequents the bay in the mornings and afternoon that you may encounter if you're lucky. Depths are ranging from 15 to 100 ft.
There is supposedly whalesharks in the waters outside the bay, but you probably need a boat and scubagear to see them.
The area is also full of history as it's not only the place where Captain James Cook died, but also an ancient village and the caves high up in the bays cliffs was used for burial of high ranking chiefs bones.
Have a look at my Snorkeling on the Big Island travelogue for more pictures of the marine life.
Equipment: Mask, snorkel and finns and a underwater camera are a must, remember to bring a longsleeve t-shirt to protect yourself against the sun as you probably will spend hours in the water.
Kayaks and the other stuff you need such as snorkeling equipment, drybags etc. can be rented at various operations along the highway. The local boys at the wharf will help you with getting the kayak on the water, just remeber that this is their opportunity to get a pice of the tourism cake and they may charge a few dollars for their services.
Eddie's fruit stall on the way to the wharf has a variety of local organic grown fruits which is nice to bring along for lunch.
Kahaluu Beach Park is one of the places where you are guaranteed to see plenty of fish and the green turtles are common here. This place is perfect for snorkelers of all ages and experiences as it is a shallow well protected bay behind a reef and there are lifeguards posted that mostly are making sure nobody messes with the turtles.
Have a look at my Snorkeling on the Big Island travelogue for more pictures of the marine life.
Equipment: Mask, snorkel and finns and a underwater camera are a must and a longsleeve t-shirt to protect yourself against the sun as you probably will spend hours in the water.
My boyfriend and I really enjoy trips when we can snorkel. Hawaii's beaches are among the best snorkeling experiences you can ever have. So, here are some great snorkeling areas to check out, some we went to others I found on a website, link listed below.
Mauna Kea Beach - enter the resort and ask for a public beach parking pass at the gate. Only 44 spots are available so go early. It's worth it. Great sandy beach but limited shade. It is recommended to walk out to the right hand side of the beach (nearest the Mauna Kea Beach Resort) before entering the water and snorkel out on the coral flats near the point. The right side is better but I saw sea turtles on the left side of the beach. In the evening after sunset, floodlights shine upon the beach to attrack plankton. This brings the Manta Rays!
Kahaluu Beach Park - It is recommended to swim out towards the center of the bay for the clearest water. The beach has restrooms, showers, picnic tables and a lifeguard. There is a parking lot but can get full quickly.
Keauhou Bay right at the Sheraton Resort (where we stayed) is amazing! The water is very clear and lots of coral and sea urchins along with fish. There is no beach. You have to climb into the water off the lava rocks or enter the water from the boat landing. If you really like snorkeling, you shouldn't miss this but it is difficult to get to.
Captain Cook is a good spot but no sandy beach. There is a grassy area on the left side of the bay. From HWY 11 turn down Napoopoo Road and it will wind down to the area.
Place of Refuge Puuhonua O Honaunau - HWY 11, turn down HWY 160 (mile marker 104 on HWY 11) then there is a small road entrance after the National Park entrance you will turn left. This was the best snorkeling area so far. Lots and lots of coral heads. Snorkel on both extreme sides of the bay (north and south). The south side being more shallower where you may see turtles and the north side decends to over 30 feet and then again to 100 feet where you may see spinner dolphins. There is no parking lot so park along the road next to the water. There are porta potties but there are decent bathrooms at the National Park area which is not too much of a distance from the snorkeling site. Also, called two-steps beach for the easy in and out access from the lava rocks which is literally two large lava plates.
Spencer Beach - Entry road off Highway 270.
Found some of this information at the following websites:
I was soooo looking forward to checking this out! But turns out there is very little hiking involved. It is worth stopping by and checking out but will take you perhaps 30 minutes to walk the entire area.
No entrance fee, open daily, no overnight camping
Equipment: Definitely sunscreen!
Good hiking shoes
Allergy medicine (just in case)
Snacks like fruit and bread
I posted some info on my snorkeling tip about this beach but thought I should also post this separately. There are not many sandy beaches to be had on the big island. It is the youngest of all the Hawaiian Islands and it is evident with all the lava rock you see from the landscape.
Mauna Kea Resort is a beautiful $$$$ resort. A guard shack and guard is posted at the entrance of the resort and he will ask you the reason for your visit. There are exactly 44 parking spaces allotted to public parking and there is also public beach access. Make sure to obtain a parking pass (free) as there will be someone at the public parking area to collect it from you.
Go early because the parking spaces will get filled up. Pack a picnic because the resort food is not cheap. A salad is about US$20.
There are decent bathroom facilities and a shower. Shade is limited and I highly suggest you find some shade. There are some creepy, crawly bugs so keep your food sealed up.
The beach is fantastic. You can snorkel and should check out the north side (right side) for that. I saw a sea turtle at this beach. In the evenings, the resort flashes light on the bay to attract manta rays to feed.
Equipment: Lots of sun screen, take a book, sunglasses, beach chairs (if you can)
Kailua-Kona is the home of the International IronMan Triathlon Championship, held every October. This race consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a full marathon (26.2 miles).
Equipment: Lots of training, a swimsuit, bicycle, and running shoes. Did I mention lots of training?
To be one of the 1500+ starters, you have to run in qualifiers (full marathons or 1/2 triathlons).
Although Oahu and it's north shore gets all the attention, there is surfing on the Big Island also.
If you don't surf, you can also get lessons from the Hawai'i Lifeguard Surf Instructors.
Equipment: If you already surf but left your board at home, you can rent one from either Honolua Surf Co.(329-1001) or Pacific Vibrations(329-3140)
Sea kayaking at the Captain Cook monument is a great way of getting to the great snorkling at the Monument.
Equipment: Rent your kayak at the South end of the bay from Emu and Kai's.
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