A Week In Hawaii Big Island Checklist
So you only have one week in Hawaii, you want to see all there is to offer but want to relax with Mai Tais too. What do you do?
Well, Last week a dear friend came to visit with her daughter. Neither of them had ever been to Hawaii and they were only going to be here for one week. My husband and I sat down to figure out what would be the best things to take them to on the Big Island so they could get an overview of what the island had to offer. We didn’t want them to be run ragged; this is their vacation, after all. We decided touring every other day, with beach and shopping time in between, would be a fun, relaxing way to show them around.
I wanted to share this with you because I get lots of people at the market asking me what they should do or see. If you have a limited amount of time here, this tour gives you a trip around the entire island along with a smattering of what all the island has to offer.
We started off by taking them to Waikaloa. The upper village is a quaint place to live with lots of things to do close by. From there we were on to Waimea, the Paniolo (cowboy) country, and then the Hamakua coast. On the way home we took the lower road so we could stop in Waikoloa at the Lava Lava Beach Club restaurant. This was the perfect ending to our day. The beach club restaurant is outdoors with tables and sofa/beach furniture sitting in the sand. If you can hit it at sunset the view is fantastic. They have the best seafood chowder on the island. As with most people that come to visit, the first thing our friends noticed was that the temperature was a non-temperature. That’s to say it wasn’t hot or cold. It was perfect for sitting outside any time of day or night. Welcome to Hawai’i!
Our next trip day was heading to the Waipio Lookout located close to the city of Honokaa. Huge cliff sides with beautiful greenry and stunning ocean views. From the Hawi side, where the road ends, you have the Pololu lookout. Here you can see one of the seven valleys. From the Honokaa side, you have the Waipio Lookout. The other inlets can be seen by helicopter or boat. There is a road down into the Waipio valley but it is not for the faint of heart. Four wheel drive is a must. It is a very narrow road with lots of pot holes. We chose to view it from above as the road was closed and we didn’t drive our truck. There is a lot of interesting reading there for those that like to read about the history of the area. For the rest, just enjoy the amazing, awe-inspiring view.
We had decided ahead of time that we were going to do a Hilo/Volcano day. The Hilo side feels like a whole separate island due to the drastic weather change on that side of the island, making it a must see. Rainbow falls was first on the trip. It is a quick stop just after you get to the Hilo side of the island, from the saddle road. It is called Rainbow falls because the mist from the falls frequently forms a rainbow. Unfortunately, the rainbow was not present at the time we were there. It is still a beautiful waterfall and a must see.
Once in Hilo, we were all starving; so we headed to our favorite little hole in the wall Thai food restaurant , Naung Mai Thai Kitchen. Oh, so good! With full tummies we ready to head onward and upward. Off to Volcano National Park.
In Volcano we rented a cute little 2 bedroom cabin. We wanted to spend the night since the best views of the volcano are at night. You can’t see any lava from the lookout but at night you can see the glow where the flow is. Just the glow itself is beautiful. We ate dinner at the Volcano House Restaurant and from our seat inside, we could watch the glow of the volcano for our entire dinner. What a beautiful view.
The next morning we headed back into the Volcano National Park to watch the informational movie at the visitors center, then took the 2.2 mile hike (each way) to the Thurston Lava Tube. You can get there by car but we wanted to get a little exercise and the walk is nice. The Thurston Lava Tube is an actual lava tube that you can walk down into and through. You can see the different colors formed in the lava by the different minerals that came out of the earth. You can feel the dripping water from the ground above you as it seeps through into the cave with the roots of plants coming through the top of the tube. The temperatures in the tube are nice and cool. They were very welcomed after our 2 mile hike.
Once we were finished with the Volcano National Park we headed on down the south side of the island to Black Sand Beach. The black sand is formed from the lava as it hits the ocean and fractures into tiny pieces. It is nice and warm due to its heat attracting color and feels great between your toes. It is at this beach that we frequently see sea turtles or Honu as we call them here on the islands. This time was no disappointment, we saw one in the water and another one sunning itself on the sand. They have an area sectioned off for the turtles to keep them safe. I was amazed that the turtle was in this area. It was like someone gave him the memo that this was the spot for him, away from the humans, with plenty of sun and a resting spot. Who would have known that the sea turtles can read our signage, and they obey it?
From the Black Sand Beach we headed up the coast and back to our home in Kona. About an hour and a half drive from there.
On our next touring day we decided to take them where they could get a bit of history. The place is called Pu’u Honua O Honaunau or The Place of Refuge. As you drive down the Cliffside in the Kealakekua Bay you will find the only other national park on this island, the place of refuge. A self guided tour along with a map and a short reading at each of the numbered sites makes for a wonderful way to learn a little about Hawaiian culture.
Once we were through the place of Refuge we drove past the park and over to the other side to a picnic area within the park. Here you can walk across lava and check out the tide pools. We did a little tide pool hunting then set up our beach chairs, pulled out our Lilikoi Mai tais and watched the water show. The tide was high and there was big surf. The waves were hitting the lava rocks and splashing high into the sky.
For the final day, after some shopping in between, we decided to take them to Kailua Bay for an experience they had never had before. We loaded up our stand up paddle boards, a cooler with some drinks, our towels and sun screen, and headed the short distance to the bay. Stand-up paddle boarding is a popular sport here in Hawaii. Our boards are 11’9″, making it very easy for almost anyone to stand up on them. The Kailua bay is usually very smooth, which makes it a prime location for beginners. Both of them had success their first try! They were hooked. They absolutely loved it. You can go as fast or slow as you want. Slow gives you a chance to see some of the ocean life below as well as the sites along the shore line where faster gives you a great workout. It was the perfect way to end their trip.
All in all, we think this is a great way to hit some of the Island’s highlights without wearing yourselves down. If you want to try some of the tastes of the island, take a look at our Lilikoi Deluxe Package. It features one of each of our Hawaiian Passion Fruit products at a special discounted price.
What are some of your favorite things to do when you visit or have friends visit the Big Island of Hawai’i?