The Big Island…aka Hawaii, but that confuses people, is awesome! The terrain actually reminds me of the mountains in Colorado a little, but the beaches are also great. We love to travel to the Big Island because the water is beaming with life! The Big Island is kind of our ‘activity’ island. I know that scares some of you relaxing-type folk because it seems like the other islands are full of activities, but the Big Island is huge and needs to be explored!
We’ve stayed at the Sheraton in Kailua-Kona, as well as a house rental in Mauna Lani called Kamilo. Both were great, but we’d always choose the house over a hotel. Remember, traveling with friends helps cut the big prices down and gives you someone to share the experience with! Before we forget, if you are on The Big Island… do yourself a favor and eat at Lava Lava Beach Club!
Here are our top things to do on the Big Island!
1. Manta Ray Dive/Snorkel – (www.konadivingecoadventures.com) – This is one of the top scuba dive destinations in the world. There is nothing quite like this, and the fun part is, if you aren’t certified to scuba dive they offer snorkeling as well and it’s just as cool. Kona Diving has custom built surfboards with lights that draw the manta rays straight up to you for an up close encounter.
Manta rays can get 15 ft wide or more. They have no teeth or stingers so they are, as our friend ‘Flipper’ says, the big labradors of the ocean. They are incredible creatures and the dive is such an amazing experience. Don’t allow the night time swim to intimidate you. If Amy and Hope can do this multiple times I promise you can too! We met a friend on the boat last year and he went with us again this year. His Instagram is @flippersunderthesea and he is as entertaining as he is fun/experienced. He’ll likely be on your boat tour and if he is, get to know the guy! We’ve had so much fun our last two trips with him.
Promise me if you go to the Big Island you will give this a try! These creatures are truly majestic, and it really is an experience of a lifetime!
2. Kilauea (https://www.bluehawaiian.com/bigisland/tours)- This is the volcano that is currently erupting on the opposite side of the island from Kona (the airport). It was so sad for us to hear how much tourism is taking a hit this year because of the volcano. Tour operators and resorts are hurting more this year because people are scared to travel. I can understand that on the surface, but if you do your research, you’ll find that Kilauea is so far from the resort side of the Big Island (100 miles with a mountain in between) that you can still have an amazing trip!
This year we toured the lava flow with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters which was a first for us. When a volcano erupts for the first time in over 1,000 years, and you’re on the island, you go check it out. I cannot put into words how incredible it was to see nature at it’s strongest. To know that God created this earth in 6 days, and has such an incredible imagination to create things like lava….blows my mind every day! The destruction we saw is heartbreaking, but most of the people we met knew this was a possibility and have such a great respect for the history that is happening right now. I have never in my life seen such an incredible thing as I did with my family on that helicopter.
We watched the lava flow, saw it bubbling up, and got to see it’s entry point into the ocean. It was an experience that truly made my jaw drop in awe!
3. Dolphin swim (https://wilddolphinswimshawaii.com) – Before you go freaking out about dolphin captivity read this whole section! Roberta is a lady we met last summer on a dolphin swim. The Big Island is home to massive pods of Spinner Dolphins that run free up and down the coast. They hunt at night and then come in near shore to relax during the day. Scientists are constantly trying to prove that swimming with these beautiful creatures is dangerous, but when you swim with them you’ll quickly see they are playful, and when they are done playing with you, they’ll leave on their own.
This is one of the coolest things we have ever done. Our first day out with Roberta was incredible, and this past Summer’s swim with her crew was even better. We saw hundreds of dolphins, baby dolphins, and dolphins that came right up to us and leaped out of the water doing flips and singing their sonar songs. The best things about Roberta – she has a very small boat that is GREAT in the water, so our crew of 6 were the only ones on the boat. We had the entire tour to ourselves. That also means more time in the water! Try her out….she and her crew are awesome! If you’re lucky, they may even pack you a lunch that Wade King would die for (so good)!
4. Waipio Horses (https://waipioonhorseback.com) – This one was a first for our family. I grew up riding horses so trail riding is not much of a thrill for me. Joelle and Israel have never been on horses though so we thought we’d give it a try. I actually combine that with forcing my friends from downtown Atlanta onto a horse to ride in the jungle….win/win!
This company was super professional and so much fun. They were incredible patient with everyone and their horses were very healthy and incredibly tame. Israel and Joelle both rode their own horse for about 3 hours without a single issue. They did awesome, but a big part of that is this company.
It’s a pretty good drive over to Waipio Valley from Kona, but Waipio Valley is one of the most visited places on the island because of it’s incredible beauty. We got to go inside what everyone else stands outside to take pictures of. This is probably Joelle’s favorite tour we’ve ever done. We got to eat wild fruit, see incredible waterfalls and scenery, and spend a little time making fun of one another on the trail ride. A word to the wise: bring jeans….that leather saddle isn’t always friendly to those in shorts!
Those are a few of our favorite things. We’ve been here twice now and can’t wait to get back. We’ve honestly made friends on the Big Island, and have fallen in love with how different it is from all of the other islands. Research and check into it…it’s safe to travel to and a lot of places are offering discounts because tourism is struggling more this summer. Coolest part about the Big Island right now – when we return it’ll be bigger than it is right now. The island is still growing because of Kilauea. There is already an extra mile of coastline from the lava flow on the backside of the island!
Check out Wade and Hope’s VLOG to see all of our Big Island Adventures!