The Big Island is pretty low key and less touristy than some of the other Hawaiian islands, but our family loves it! My dad lived
in Hawaii on Oahu & Kauai for his mission when he was in college, so we used to travel there and to Maui.. but one year
my grandparents took us all to the Big Island, and my parents were hooked! They bought a timeshare and we’ve gone back
yearly since I was 8. It is definitely the most different island I think – when you land in Kona and start driving along the coast,
it looks like you’re on the moon with all of the black lava rock and no greenery in sight. But, then when you get to certain
parts you discover some of the most hidden gems. Here is a post of photos from this past visit, and some tips!
Big Island Tips
— Kayaking to Captain Cook monument: You can drive down to Kealakekua Bay and turn left along a little road to the kayak rental and launch place. This is our very favorite activity… you kayak right along the Bay out to this great monument and can do some amazing snorkeling when you get there. We’ve had dolphins swimming alongside us doing this before, and we like to grab sandwiches before and pack food to eat when we dock at the monument. It’s probably a half-day thing and fun to get dinner in Kona after. There is also a bay south of the Captain Cook called the Kealakekua Bay. You can take kayaks out there and find good reef all the way across the bay to the right side. It has some good snorkeling and is a bit more protected. You’ll see turtles and beautiful fish .
— Find a Heiau temple to walk around and see near Kona! Also, as you drive back from kayaking into Kona, you pass an antique shop on the left and there is (randomly) the BEST ice cream in the back. Seriously it’s amazing, but I need to find the name of it! You can’t miss it on the main road though.
— Mauna Kea – If you drive to the top of Mauna Kea one night you can stargaze and have hot cocoa at the top…it’s actually cold up there! It’s a really fun memory, but beware because people get altitude dizzy sometimes up there!
— Volcanos National Park is really cool and worth seeing if anyone is interested. We haven’t been forever since we did it once and it’s sort of a one time thing, but it’s pretty fascinating. You can also ride bikes out to Lava Flow.
— Rent scooters (there’s a place in Waikola where we stay), and drive to the little town of Hawi. Get ice cream at Kohala Coffee Mill or lunch at any of the healthy cute little cafés along the main street.
Up near Waikoloa where we stay:
— HAPUNA BEACH is where we spend the majority of our time. It’s our favorite beach in the world! It might be a bit of a hassle to pack up for the day and drive there depending where you stay, but you park for $5 and walk down to the beach and it’s such a beautiful beach. If you go down to the beach and toward the right, it’s nicest. There’s a good snack bar by the parking that we do for lunch, or sometimes we walk up to the Hapuna Prince hotel (on the very right hand side of the beach) and order lunch because the pool is SO nice there. Rent boogie boards too!
— Go over to Hilton Waikoloa hotel and ride the tram, shop, and use the pool. Kids love it and you can sign them up for swimming with the dolphins…the BEST! You can get a day pass if you’re not staying here, but you can just walk in and hop on the tram and take a tour of the entire place and then scope out the swimming situation. We love the big water slide which you can do with a day pass or if you’re staying at any of the Hilton Waikoloa properties!
— The best hike ever is the Waipeo Valley. I would go as early as possible because the parking is so limited. We walked the whole thing but you can hire a driver if you need to. You can’t go up into the valley now because there was a death so they keep it no trespassing now. It’s fun to hike the whole length of the black sands beach and there is a hiking trail that has steep switchbacks that goes up the other side of the mountain for a great view. Fun for little ones to just play in the river.
— Polulu Valley is another pretty spot with a cool hike!
— The beach that sits in front of the Four Seasons Hotel is great. You can get a day pass and have the beach to yourselves with the exception of sea turtles sometimes! :)
— Right by Four Seasons is Kona Village. It’s a famous, classic hotel that people return to again and again…even Steve Jobs frequented the place! It’s been closed for renovation since being hit by a tsunami a few years ago, but is reopening soon and such a unique and fun spot.
— Black Sand Beach by Polalu: Beautiful an unique to see if you want to walk down to it!
— Fluming the Ditch: This is an adventurous guided kayak tour down the historical Kohala Ditch irrigation channel. Fun and different thing to do!
Big Island food:
— Annie’s Island Fresh Burgers right in Kona…stop in here on the way in/out, or when you’re in Kona. The burgers and fries are amazing, and hit the spot after a long day in the sun!
— Roy’s at the Kings Shops : Fancier meal, but a favorite. It’s the best seafood with an Asian fusion, and if you go DO NOT miss the chocolate soufflé there. This is a chain in select places through the world, but top notch.
— Get plate lunch and malasadas at Tex Drive In if you drive to Waimea. BEST MEAL on the island. Seriously, the plate lunch (beef teriyaki, etc) and malasadas (fresh donuts) are AMAZING. They are one of our favorite things to eat there! Then –>go to the Waimea lookout after lunch (you can hike down to a Black sand beach)
— In Waimea stop at Leilani’s Bakery (my dad’s friend owns it) and he loves her :)
*Update – this bakery is closed for time being!
— Lava Lava Beach Club for lunch or dinner: It’s such a fun setting right on the beach by the water in Waikoloa. It’s in front of the Marriott property. There are fun games and things to do while you wait, then fun dinner by the water and live music/dancing! It is a little pricier but great seafood, etc. This place is the same owner as Huggo’s in Kona which has a similar feel. We love that place too!
— Island Lava Java Kona: This is a fun spot right on the main strip of downtown Kona with delish food! They are known for their breakfast, it’s what made them famous…but they have expanded to lunch and dinner now and we loved their food our last night before flying out. It overlooks the ocean and you can have fish tacos, kalua pork pizza, poke, burgers, etc.
Pink beach babe running on Hapuna Beach!
Beach hammock and the prettiest Hawaiian flower! ^^
Digging sand castles with cousins and Papa ^^
The famous malasadas and plate lunch at Tex!
Yummmm ^^ I actually love the plate lunch way more here, but can’t resist a bite of these!
^^ My dad’s face to be having his favorite hot malasadas again… hah!
The guys in our sweet ride! ^^
^^ One of my favorite pictures :) Sums up little kid happiness at the beach!
I could watch these two dance and play together all day ^^
The cutest Papa who never stops playing.
And this run she is doing! Hahah ^^
Running the lava trail with mom ^^
And running it with Chase! ^^
Fun bike rides around the island with this guy.
It’s so famous for cycling due to the Ironman here,
but we had some pretty gnarly windy days out there.
These two blondie cousins holding hands everywhere, and obsessing over these fish! ^^
Church in Waimea our first Sunday!
Beach life ^^
Night run view & morning run view ^^
Golden hour with my golden girl ^^ Best time of day on the beach by far!
Sunset football game ^^
Windiest day and TWO flat tires for Chase…not our best ride haha
Picture #2 because it was flat #2 …hahaah he was not happy!
At least we made it to the cute town of Hawi and this fun coffee shop
where we love to grab a bite! Good sandwiches, smoothies and ice cream.
(And shave ice upstairs!)
Luckily the shave ice and rainbow sighting made up for the flats and crazy wind.
Date night at Lava Lava while my parents watched the kids!
We got pineapple teriyaki chicken (served in a pineapple!) and fresh mahi mahi.
Fun to get to go out with these two! We ate and danced to the live band with
a bunch of drunk older people on the beach …haha quite the memory!
Meanwhile my parents had a circus of all our kids at the condo.
Church in Hawi town our second Sunday!
These two!! ^^
Yummy brunch at Bamboo after church.
Papa is always making everyone laugh! ^^
I hung out with this one a few times in the car during her nap while everyone hiked etc.
Worth it for that sweet face!
Love this King Kamehameha statue. There is an identical one in the U.S. Capitol
and when I would walk through every day interning I’d smile when I passed it!
Christmastime in Hawaii! And hot malasadas along the road to Hapuna- YUM.
One of the prettiest spots!
You can also do a hike down here that we love, but we had just come from church!
Love my mom & sis-in-law Mindy. Just missing our other sis in law Whit!
Utes have been here! :) Brady & Tagg made this, and some people walked by that were also Utes!
I basically lived under this beach umbrella :) I’m all about the shade after my melanoma!!
Post beach showers! ^^
Car naps have to happen a lot on vacation with a little one…might as well join in!
We loved our time on the Big Island and I loved all the memories it brought back.
My younger self would have smiled to see me back here with my husband and little blondie babe.
(And MAHALO, Mom & Dad!)