December 21, 2015

Hawaii Highlights: The Big Island

As part of our honeymoon, we spent 7 days on the big island, Hawaii. I had heard great things and it definitely lived up to the hype!  One of the things that we loved about the island was the vast array of activities...aquatic activities, hiking, parks, cultural exploration, etc. I feel like we got to have the activity sampler platter on our trip...a little bit of all of these PLUS some amazing pool/beach lounging time. I think Hawaii is an incredible place and there truly is something for everyone. So here were some of our highlights!

Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park
This park was really neat! In ancient times, the punishment for breaking a law was death and the pu'uhonua was a place of refuge. The park houses temples, coastal fishing sites, fishponds, and the stone wall within which one could seek refuge. Since this was a burial place at one point, it is still considered sacred ground and there were multiple signs and postings.
Check out the waves! We snorkeled in this water on the other side of a jetty (not
visible in this photo) after we finished touring the park.
The protectors
More protectors
The break within the wall at the back of the park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
This was probably the #1 place on my list for Hawaii. Unfortunately, the weather on the southeast side of the island was not optimal for our entire stay so we didn't have the prettiest day at the park. We hiked the Crater Rim Trail which was about 4 miles in total. It started with lush rain forests with a somewhat steep decent into the lava field. And as you can imagine, the trail ended with a steep ascent back up to the place where we started. Along the way, we saw incredibly lush vegetation, steam vents on the lava field, and the Thurston lava tubes. After our hike, we saw the active steam vents of the Halema'uma'u Crater and spent some time at the Jagger Museum learning more about the history of volcanoes in Hawaii.

At the beginning of our hike, overlooking the lava fields. You can faintly see the
overlook here and if you look closely you can see rain falling in this photo.
We hiked across this lava field
The pyramid-like rock formations acted as trail markers
The Halema'uma'u Crater is one place to see the Kilauea volcano's continuous activity.
Just minutes after this photo was taken, clouds rolled in making visibility of the
vent essentially nonexistent. We were lucky to be able to see if for a few
Adam took some neat panoramic shots of the entire crater

We were lucky to be able to do some great snorkeling at the beach at our resort. We also snorkeled at Two Step, which is the area adjacent the Point of Refuge. My favorite part of snorkeling was seeing the turtles. I just couldn't get enough of those creatures!
Our favorite snorkeling spot at our resort
Akaka Falls State Park
Surprisingly Akaka Falls is the largest free standing waterfall in the U.S. Yes, it's bigger than Niagara Falls. We took a quick trip to the park that included a trail with access to two waterfalls and some gorgeous foliage.
At the beginning of the trail in the park

I wish the photo captured the sound of the water...
it was deafening! 
One baby waterfall at the end of the trail
Greenwell Farms Coffee Plantation
We hadn't planned on touring a coffee plantation but figured if an opportunity presented itself, we would be on board. After spending the morning and early afternoon at Pu'uhonua O Honaunau  and Two Step, we passed Greenwell Farms on our way back to the resort. It had really great reviews on Trip Advisor so we stopped in. Before the tour, we wandered around a bit and enjoyed sampling their wide variety of Kona coffees, some that were flavored and some that were not. Our favorite turned out to be the Macadamia Nut. It has the perfect amount of flavor but isn't candy-like, if that makes sense.

Our tour guide, John was really knowledgeable about the farm and about Kona Coffee. To have authentic Kona coffee, the beans must be grown in the Kona region, which is quite small - 3 miles by 26 miles. He told us that many local residents have several coffee trees in their yards and they can bring beans for Greenwell Farms to process. I thought that was pretty interesting! In addition to seeing coffee trees on the tour, we saw many other fruit trees including mango, orange, banana, and avocado.
Rows of coffee trees. See the red fruit? Those are the coffee
"cherries." Each one has two coffee beans inside that are dried
and then roasted.

Gigantic avocados! 
Now I just need to figure out when we can plan our next trip because while we did see and do a lot of incredible things, we already have a list for our next trip! What's your favorite vacation experience or activity?


  1. Looks like you and Adam had a fantastic week on the Big Island! We only took a day trip to the Big Island during our honeymoon, because we want to see the volcanoes. Our day trip definitely didn't do the island justice, nor were we able to hike the park nearly as much as we wanted to (partly because part of the block was closed by NPS due to the threat of an eruption, which happened only days after our trip). I definitely want to get back!

    1. I would really like to spend more time in volcano park. The lodge there looked really neat and like a fun place to spend a few days...and totally different from other parts of the island. I would definitely add the big island to your next Hawaii itinerary! :)

  2. Sounds amazing! We're thinking of a trip to Hawaii in a couple years and I'm just beginning to think about which island so this was definitely helpful.

    1. Oh good, well happy to help. Even though I loved the big island, I felt like we spent a lot of time in the car getting around...yes, it's big! :) Most of our activities were 1-2 hours away from the resort which made for some longer days.

  3. Wow!!! Your trip looks amazing!!!! I want to go to Hawaii one day!

    1. It's pretty incredible and probably one of my favorite places that I have ever visited.

  4. Your pictures are so lovely, especially of the waterfall! I had to chuckle when I saw your post because today my middle school students are doing power point presentations on vacation destinations (they have to budget and plan for a group vacation), well anyway, I was doing a sample slide show and the destination I chose was Hawaii, the big Island. Now I have more information I can put in my slides. Thanks! -M

    1. Haha glad I can help! That sounds like a really neat assignment and perfect for that age.

  5. This looks so amazing, I really hope to visit Hawaii one day!

    1. You do Italy and then we'll trade trip itineraries! ;)

  6. Oh wow, looks beautiful!
    I've been to Hawaii many times before, but never to the Big Island. Although I do hope to make it there someday, I just want to see the lava flow into the ocean, even if I have to take a Heli ride to do it, LOL
    What a fun trip, and a great place to spend your honeymoon! Love all the pictures!

    1. I was DYING to see lava flowing into the ocean but it wasn't happening while we were there at all. So I guess that means I'll have to go back! :)

  7. What a fantastic trip! I love all of your pictures.

  8. I love the Big Island. We went for our honeymoon, too. I wish we would have gone to Pu`uhonua O H┼Źnaunau - that looks really cool. If you ever go back I recommend Pololu Valley. It's on the northernmost part of the island and the hike is fun. My sister actually lives in Kona. She's got the right idea!

  9. I can't believe I've never been to Hawaii! I keep telling my husband we have to go. Looks amazing.

  10. So incredibly jealous! Hawaii has been on my bucket list and we still haven't made it! Now I'll probably have to wait til the kids are out of the house, lol :) Glad you had a fantastic time!

  11. Love all of these highlights! I've been to Hawaii but never the big island...sounds like a must-do for sure! :)

  12. Beautiful! I don't think I visited those locations when I went in 2007. Hawaiian family reunion is in 2018, so taking notes :)

  13. I love this post because it reminds me so much of my own honeymoon -- we too went to the Place of Refuge, Volcanoes, snorkeling with turtles, and the Greenwell Coffee plantation! We have a lot of super-similar pictures, ha! Makes me want to go back really badly...