Hawaii is at the top of every beach lovers travel list – and for very good reason. Kyle’s parents take a vacation to the beautiful islands every single year and I’ve always been so jealous of their trips! Once we definitively found out that we would be moving abroad in the summer of 2016 we were finally able to take up his parents offer for us to join them in Hawaii. We spent the majority of our trip on Oahu but we took a two-day trip to the Big Island of Hawaii while we were there.
We arrived in the morning and rented a car from the Hilo Airport so we could drive around the entire island. Here are the highlights from our quick trip.
Our first stop was Rainbow Falls, just a short drive from the airport. We parked in the small lot and expected a bit of a hike to be able to see the waterfall. Just a few steps up the sidewalk though we had a full view of the waterfall and the pool that it empties into.
There were only a few other people there. One man climbed out onto the rocks near the top of the waterfall, which you could get to after a short trail through the trees. We didn’t stay too long because we wanted to make one more stop before the imminent rain started.
The next quick stop was The Naha Stone. Legend has it that the stone was brought to the Big Island via canoe. Babies were placed on the stone to determine if they were members of the ruling Naha clan. If they remained calm when placed on the stone, then they were Naha descendants.
Additionally, it is said that whoever was able to move the stone would be the ruler over all of the Hawaiian Islands. Kyle really wanted a picture of him trying to move the stone but, unfortunately, the plaque requested that the stone not be touched.
As the first few raindrops started to fall we hopped back in the car and made our way to the Hilo Farmer’s Market. Had it not been pouring when we got to the market we would have stayed longer than we did. The market was quite large, complete with live music under tents. There were so many delicious smelling foods to chose from for lunch in addition to more fruits and vegetables than you could imagine. If you find yourself on that side of the island on a Wednesday or Saturday do not miss this market!
Volcanoes National Park
You cannot go to the Big Island without visiting The Volcanoes National Park. There are lots of options for hiking distances. Since this was a short trip we opted for a couple of hour, pretty easy hike through what was at one time a lake of lava. After that we crossed the parking area and walked through a natural cavern.
The visitors center has a lot of great information, of course, including a video presentation.
We took a drive through the rest of the park down to the coast to see the Holei Sea Arch. The park is quite large and we would love to spend more time hiking through it if we ever get the chance in the future. There’s also the option to take a guided tour to see flowing hot lava.
The entire landscape of the Big Island is so very different than Oahu. Black lava rock covers almost everything, slightly similar to Iceland. I loved seeing all of the differences in the islands.
Waipio Valley Lookout
The Waipio Valley Lookout is another must see! The view from the lookout is absolutely stunning. This valley was the boyhood home of King Kamehameha I. If we ever do get to go back, a horseback tour of the valley will be at the very top of my to-do list. Seriously, do not miss this one.
Big Island Brewhaus
We love to visit breweries anywhere we go. The Big Island Brewhaus was a great one! I tried of flight of six of their beers and loved every one – that doesn’t happen too often! They are definitely worth stopping by.
We visited several beach areas on the big island, but we spent most of our time exploring. We did see the Black Sand beach and two others before we had to head to the airport. The beaches on the Big Island were great – I’m not sure you can really find a ‘bad’ beach anywhere in all of Hawaii though.
Nothing could quite compare to what was waiting for us back in Oahu though.