The Big Island
It’s always a good time to visit Hawaii. It benefits from warm and gentle trade winds, mild temperatures and sunny skies. Hawaii is an ideal holiday destination throughout the year.
Hawaii is a long way and a flight to Los Angeles is good place to break the journey. There are some new carriers coming onto the market. Have a look at Norwegian Air and Aer Lingus which both fly out from Gatwick. An overnight stay at one of the LA airport hotels will ease you into your new time zone. The major chain hotels run easy free transfers from the airport.
Refreshed, you are ready for the next flight to Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. You arrive at an open air terminal, all really laid back. There are plenty of hotels, villas and apartments on the waterfront of Kona, about eight miles south of the airport. This town has the feeling of the Caribbean but with the American service ethic. There is a boardwalk with lots of independent stores and a wealth of eateries to enjoy.
Care hire is fairly essential, although there are a few local buses and a trolley service which runs along the coast.
Once you are settled into your accommodation, you might want to make your plans. Here are some suggestions:
1 A trip on the Fair Winds catamaran from Kealakekua Bay to the Captain Cook Memorial Bay (where he met his end) is very enjoyable. Here you will enjoy stunning snorkelling with a myriad of tropical fish and fluorescent coral. The harbour where one boards the catamaran is a few miles south of Kona.
2 A visit to “Turtle Beach” (“Kaloko – Honokohau National Park) is recommended. A beautiful sand and lava beach beside the harbour. Enjoy the spectacle of the Green turtles in the afternoon as they clamber up the beach to bask in the sun. Remember to take chairs, umbrellas and water as there are no facilities other than a temporary bathroom (kept spotlessly clean). The National Park Wardens patrol the beach and have a wealth of information.
3 A trip to Mount Kilauea to see the volcano involves a two hour drive across Saddle Road which travels west to east across the Island. This road passes through many differing landscapes and is an interesting ride. The park costs $20 per vehicle to enter and the ticket lasts for one week. There are several places to stay near the park to allow you more time to enjoy what it has to offer. At the moment, one can see a spectacular day and night view of the volcano rim. It is worth visiting the steam vents and the lava tube in the park. The visitor centre offers a wealth of information about hiking and camping within the park’s perimeter. The Kilauea volcano is very active at the moment. The Sunday Times suggests that it is one of the best tourist attractions on the planet.
4 To see the volcano pouring into the sea, head south to Port Isaac State park to pick up Lava Boat one which very quickly transports you close to the rugged lava driven coastline to the sight of the lava flow into the ocean. Steam is hissing, pieces of lava break off and warm the sea. Between breaks in the steam it is possible to witness the red hot heat of the actual lava flow. On the return journey you may witness a pod of dolphins accompanying your boat.
5 The town of Hilo is near to the volcanic park and is worth a visit. It comes across as a frontier town with some interesting architecture and independent stores. A walk along the edge of the Pacific Ocean is also highly recommended. Helicopter trips to view the volcano from above are highly recommended and take off from Hilo Airport.
6 Last but not least and for some evening entertainment watch out for notices indicating a “LuAl”, mostly held at the larger hotels in Kona. A LuAl consists of a welcoming Mai Tai cocktail and then joining in with a traditional Hawaiian feast. Followed by entertainment consisting of Hawaiian songs and dance, sometimes accompanied by a fire eater. It is great fun.
Back in Kona, it is worth taking some trips away from the coast as there are lots of small interesting villages. Do try some of the restaurants and cafes which are off the beaten track. For instance try to find Annie’s Burgers and Coffee Shack for divine Eggs Benedict for breakfast. Complete with a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean from some 1,000 feet above sea level.
A long way but well worth it.