Whenever you hear about the Big Island of Hawaii you tend to hear about the island itself—tropical waterfalls, green sand beaches, snowcapped mountains, and a spurting volcano. All the Big Island superlatives aside, this is, after all, a Hawaiian island, which means the cobalt ocean that rings the island offers as many adventures as you’ll find back on land. Imagine scuba diving with manta rays just after sunset and watching their aquatic ballet, or kayaking with dolphins through an historic cove where Captain Cook met his end. Thanks to the protection from easterly tradewinds, many of the best marine experiences on the Big Island are found off the Kona coastline, and if you’re the type of traveler who likes salt in your hair and loves interacting with marine life, the following adventures are some of the best bets for marine adventures on the Big Island.
“The Seven Mile Miracle.”
That’s there phrase that professional surfers use for Oahu’s North Shore. The coastline here is perfectly angled to capture northwestern swells, and the slew of sandbars constantly create some of the world’s most perfect surf. Between funky, laid-back Haleiwa and the resort at Turtle Bay, there are dozens of peaks, reefs, and surf breaks that draw some of the best in the world.
That said, it’s important to realize that the North Shore of Oahu is flat as a lake in the summer. All of Oahu’s summer surf spots are located back in “town” (Honolulu), and Waimea Bay—which can have 40 ft. surf in winter—is considered one of the best summer beaches for its calm, glass-like conditions.
Thar she blows!
That’s the call you hope to hear on a whale watching tour in Hawaii. Often the first part you see of the whale is the spout, the fluke, or its back, and during the peak months of January-March, the leeward waters are so full of whales it’s a call you could hear every few minutes. The first whales—nearly all of which are humpbacks—are usually sighted just before Halloween, but by December 15th when the season begins, hundreds of breaching, energetic humpbacks have started their Hawaiian vacations.
Here’s a little known trivia fact about exploring Oahu by bike: The biking portion of the Ironman Race is 112 miles long, which is a distance determined by the length of cycling the entire perimeter of Oahu.
The Big Island of Hawaii has its name for a reason.
No, it isn’t Hawaii’s most populous island—that honor belongs to Oahu. Rather, the Big Island of Hawaii has earned its name for being absolutely enormous.
Just how big is the “Big Island,” you ask? Not only is the Big Island Hawaii’s largest island, but it’s also larger than any other island found anywhere in the United States. With a land area of 4,028 square miles, the Big Island of Hawaii covers a greater area than Rhode Island and Delaware, combined.
With all of that land spread over five separate volcanoes, there are two words that sum up one of the Big Island’s most iconic and enjoyable activities:
“Road,” and “Trip”
We’ll admit—a Big Island road trip might not be the same since you can cross the island in a day, but there is still the excitement of stepping in a car and seeing where the day will take you. And since many of the best things to do on the Big Island are spread out over relatively large distances, simply going from “A” to “B” can turn into a scenic adventure.
With that said, the following are some of the best drives on the Big Island of Hawaii—only listing those that can be accomplished without needing 4WD.
There was once a time when it was heavily frowned upon to speak Hawaiian in public. Suppressed by missionaries and western businessmen who were working to supplant the culture, the Hawaiian language was only spoken in the privacy of family and friends. In fact, in the 1970s, it was estimated that fewer than 50 children could fluently speak Hawaiian. In […]
There is a misconception that the Road to Hana ends in the town of Hana. Sure, the name itself is somewhat misleading, but as we mention in our tips for driving the Road to Hana, many of the best places on the famous drive are located past Hana itself. There is also confusion around the so-called “back road,” a narrow, bumpy, but incomparably scenic drive around the backside of the island.
Nobody wants to get hurt on vacation, especially if that vacation is Hawaii. These islands are meant for tropical memories, so any time spent nursing an injury can be a frustrating blemish on paradise. And while the Hawaiian Islands are low on crime, the natural surroundings that lend beauty to the islands are also what make them so dangerous. With that thought in mind, staying safe in Hawaii shouldn’t be a problem for anyone who follows these tips.
When compared to the five hour (minimum) plane flight that’s required to reach Hawaii, the Hawaiian Islands seem close to each other when compared to the US West Coast. Even with their perceived proximity, however, the Hawaiian Islands are actually farther apart than most people tend to believe. The only ferries that run between islands go between Maui, Moloka‘i, and Lana‘i, and a short, 30-45 minute flight is required to move between islands. Nevertheless, for travelers who want to experience multiple islands from a central, tropical base, island hopping in Hawaii can be an efficient way to see the best that Hawaii has to offer. Sure, it makes for a really long day and you can only see so much, but many of the neighbor island day trips from Oahu are worth the early alarm.