Which of the 6 Hawaiian Islands should you visit?

Dennis Frates / Alamy Stock Photo

Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park

The island of hawaii

Often referred to as the Big Island, the island of Hawaii is almost twice the size of all of the other Hawaiian islands combined. Some of your many adventure options include chasing waterfalls, seeing two of the most active volcanoes on the planet, and swimming with manta rays.

Things to do

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Located on the east side of the island, the park includes two of the most active volcanoes in the world: Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Kilauea is no longer erupting and no glow is visible at night, but things can change quickly, so check their website for updates. Not far from the Kilauea Visitor Center, save time to stroll through the 500-year-old Nahuku or the Thurston Lava Tube. As you drive the Crater Range Scenic Drive, stop to explore the Petroglyphs of Puuloa.

Observation of the waterfall. The east side of the island is also the wet side of the island, and a lot of rain makes it possible to observe a stellar waterfall. At Akaka Falls State Park, you can spot two waterfalls on a spectacular hike that lasts less than an hour. (The road is paved, but there are several stages.) Waianuenue Falls, often referred to as Rainbow Falls, is a five-minute drive from downtown Hilo in Wailuku River State Park.

Visit of the coffee farm. From the fields to your cup of coffee. Greenwell Farms offers free guided tours daily that include samples of their 100% Kona coffee. No reservation is necessary.

Visit of the seahorse farm. The only seahorse farm in the world, Ocean Rider breeds endangered seahorses for home aquariums to help prevent them from being captured in the wild. Tours led by naturalists end with the chance to dip your hand into a reservoir and hold a seahorse. It’s nothing short of magical when they wrap their tails around one of your fingers and hang around.

Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park. A magnificent seaside refuge for offenders, defeated warriors and anyone seeking refuge. Once within its limits, all were safe from harm. It is a beautiful and easy walk around the sacred grounds.

Snorkel with manta rays. If you like spending time in the water, swimming with mantas is a must-see on a trip to the Big Island. Snorkeling trips take place at night. Underwater lighting is used to attract the microscopic plankton that manta rays eat Harmless to humans, manta rays do not have stingers, teeth or beards. Manta Ray Advocates organizes small snorkeling trips with a maximum of six people; their towers enter the water from the beach instead of a boat.

Accommodation and catering

Located on the Kohala Coast, about a half hour drive from Kona International Airport, the Fairmont Orchid has a white sand beach and a calm lagoon where I have encountered a turtle on several occasions. About a dozen honu (Hawaiian green turtles) inhabit the property. Pau Hana, the hotel’s new pop-up champagne bar, serves Veuve Clicquot champagne cocktails and ocean views on Friday and Saturday nights from 5 p.m. until sunset.

One of the first resorts on the “Big Island”, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel was built by Laurance S. Rockefeller. (The Manta Moonlight Snorkel with Manta Ray Advocates departs from the Beach Activity Kiosk at Mauna Kea.) A hot bite and you’ll get hooked on Homemade Hawaiian malasadas from the nearby Manuela Malasada food truck on Puako Beach Drive in Waimea.

Volcano Village Lodge is located in a quiet residential area just a few miles from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Rooms have small refrigerators, microwaves, and toaster ovens; the included gourmet breakfasts are placed in the in-room refrigerator so that guests can enjoy them at their own pace. The nearby Kilauea Lodge restaurant serves brunch, dinner and pupa (Hawaiian for aperitif or afternoon tea) from Wednesday to Sunday. You can’t beat the pad thai or the papaya salad at Thai Thai Bistro & Bar.

About Thomas Thorton

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