We decided to include Hawaii on our worldwide itinerary purely for the downtime.
It was the first stop as Brad had been working pretty hard up until our departure and because we’d been a little pale from the Brisbane winter, we wanted nothing more than sun, beach time and relaxing. We got that and so much more!
The best part about Hawaii is you can do as little or as much as you like.
With nine nights up our sleeves, we wanted to experience Honolulu but also one other island. A quick Facebook poll of friends and family before we left of which island to choose left us even more confused as they are all pretty spectacular apparently for their own different reasons.
Having just watched a video of night diving with manta rays, my mind was already made up.
We struggled at first to find affordable accommodation in Hawaii. We stupidly forgot it was the US summer break and also the start of school holidays in Oz.
Finally on Big Island we settled for Uncle Billy’s Kona Bay Resort at Kona-Kailua on the west coast. We’re not really ones for the big resorts, so this was simple accommodation right in the centre of town. Don’t expect nice beaches in Kailua-Kona, you’ll have to go further north for that. There’s a little beach in front of the Marriot which is nice to cool off and there’s free WiFi.
The town is small so there’s not much to do or see on Big Island unless you hire a car and go exploring. We hired the cheapest compact car option available at around $US40 a day and it was just pure luck we were upgraded to a brand new white Mustang Convertible which although screamed tourist, made the drive so much more exciting.
Road trip 1 – Big Island
About three hours south and around the bottom of the island is one of the top attractions on the Big Island, Hawaii Volcano National Park. The drive, although long, is quite scenic with volcanic rock, trees, towns and when you get closer to Kilauea volcano lookout, steaming earth along the wayside.
If time allows, you can stop at the volcanic black sand beach Punalu’U.
The Kilauea volcano is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and one of five on the island. It’s been erupting since 1983 and according the to the National Park website, has since destroyed 187 structures including the park’s Wahaula Visitors Center.
Don’t expect a volcano spewing red lava, but it was still pretty cool to see an active volcano. With limited time (1-2hrs) we saw the steam pits, the lookout and the Thurston lava tube.
Road trip 2
Another day we cruised north, eventually reaching the spectacular Waipio Valley lookout. Driving straight there would take you a couple of hours and well worth it and one of the best views on Big Island. You can hike down to the black sand beach below but having seen one the day before we decided not to.
Make sure you stop at Hapuna Beach for a swim on the way to Waipio Valley and back again. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. Entrance is about $5 per car but is valid the whole day. We also stopped off at Pololu Valley lookout but it wasn’t as spectacular as Waipio Valley, so if you’re short on time I wouldn’t bother.
Night diving with Manta Rays
I’ve already blogged about my biggest tip when travelling to Big Island which was night diving with Manta Rays. It was by far the highlight of our entire stay on Big Island and Hawaii. See the blog and video here. AMAZING!
So, what are you waiting for?! Hop in the back seat and tour the island with us! See the video here: