/ north america

Travel to Paradise - Big Island (Hawaii)

To celebrate my last year of being a 20-something - I wanted to go someplace special. I'd been putting off visiting Hawaii for a while, reason being I live in San Francisco - so I'm very geographically very close to Hawaii and therefore I can go there anytime. But this birthday, I wanted to take a break from everything and just go to a warm beach. Coming from Vizag, beach is home to me. I can just sit and watch the waves endlessly.

Once we decided on Hawaii, it was time to pick the island. We wanted to go to the island which has the best beaches. Period. We didn't want city life or too many tourists - and after some days of researching online, and talking to people who have been there - we zero'ed in on Big Island. It was 7 days on the island + 2 days of travel to-fro.

Big Island is everything you can think about Hawaii + more. All I wanted was beaches, but I also got to see volcanoes, waterfalls and star-gaze. It is amazing, and it actually made me think about moving to Hawaii to live there.

I'll be writing a series of blog posts on what we saw on a day-to-day basis. For more pictures, feel free to google or check my instagram.

The basics, Big Island has two major towns - Kona and Hilo. Kona is on the west coast (the sunny side) and Hilo the east coast (the rainy side). Kona is famous for the beautiful white sand beaches, snorkeling and generally is more touristy (it's relative, the tourist-iness of Kona is nothing compared to Maui, but is definitely more than Hilo). Hilo side has more rains and rain-forests and also has the famous Volcanoes National Park, but not a lot of tourists actually stay there. We took Hawaiian air-lines for the trip, enjoyed the free meals, and certainly arrived happy, not hungry.

Day 1: Landed in Kona, and drove to Pahoa (on the Hilo side) where we rented an airbnb place. Visited Uncle's Bar for drinks. Totally unique, family owned Hawaiian place. The town is somewhat hippie in general, so the bar definitely reflects that. Definitely try the drinks out - they were great. The bar has a pleasant vibe and the owner asked us to pick the songs that we wanted to hear, which was nice. We also got to know some history about the place from him. Later we wandered around that area, and stumbled into an organic food place (which was totally vegetarian) where we had dinner. Unfortunately don't remember the name of the place, but the food was home-cooked and good.

Shot of Uncle's Bar

Day 2: Our airbnb owner gave us a map of things-to-do nearby and we decided to check things off that map.

  • First stop was the Kehena black sand beach. It's a beautiful beach with pure black sand and warm water. The currents there were too strong for me to have a swim (but I did see few people go in with snorkel gear and come back in an hour - so it's definitely do-able). It's a short hike down-hill to get there and I almost lost one my flip-flops to the ocean at the end of the hike, so be warned. It's a nude beach, so be well prepared (and don't bring kids, duh!). Well worth the visit.
    Black sand
  • We then went to Ahalanui Park which is known for it's warm thermal water. It's again a one-of-a-kind place - you can relax and enjoy the hot water under the shade of trees. It's family friendly and we also saw some brightly colored fish in the waters as we went closer to where the water was joining the ocean. Great place, and I'll definitely go there again.
  • Next, we went back to Pahoa to grab some lunch and stepped into Kaleo's bar and grill. Nice ambience, good summer-y drinks and of course great sea food. I also remember the sauteed mushrooms being very good. Summer drinks
  • Lava Trees State Park was next stop, and we strolled around noticing all the trees that got encased in black lava. It's free, well-maintained and has some good information so do drop by for some history. Pink Orchid
  • The last place we visited before dinner was Kapoho tide pools. If you can only go to one place on the Hilo side, this should be it. This is a must-visit for anyone who likes snorkeling. It's kind of hidden inside a residential neighborhood - but don't miss this gem. Beautiful schools of fish of all colors can be found here. I'm still a new-bie to swimming, so I just sat on one of the rocks and kept peering inside and saw so many schools of fish. Yellow with black stripes, plain black, gold, blue and green mix - so many pretty fish. Wow, just incredible. Definitely take your snorkel gear, and flippers (just don't go barefoot - or you'll hit the rocks). I can't say enough about how beautiful this is - just go.
  • Ended the day with dinner at Cafe Pesto. The sea-food pizza was good, but the veggie one was just ok.

That was Day 1 and 2 at the Big Island. More blog-posts for the rest of the days will hopefully come soon!