View Full Version : What to do on the Big Island?

08-08-2016, 12:52 PM
Long story but my dad and his wife are renting a house on Hawaii for 6 weeks and invited me to join them in September. I really need to see my dad due to some family issues but it's THE WORST time for me to take a vacation. So, I only have 5 non-travel days on the island.

I've never been there before so am wondering what to do besides see the volcano. Obviously I'd like to catch some uke and slack key guitar performances. Any tips on good snorkeling spots?

08-08-2016, 01:33 PM
If you're on the Kona (West) side of the island Kilua has some nice places to snorkel, Captain Cooks bay, and there is a beach where you can swim with turtles, check the tides you want to be there at high tide. The City of Refuge is nice too. The Hilo side has some nice tide pools south of Pahoa but it's real shallow and I don't know if the volcano has filled them in.

08-08-2016, 01:59 PM
Drive the Saddle Road from Hilo to Waikoloa. It is a fascinating display of wet side/dry side, climate zones, and volcanic landscapes. Go to the Onizuka Observatory Visitor Center, even if you can't go up to the telescopes. If the lava is still flowing see that. The helicopter tour is great if you can afford it. Do one of the zip-line experiences. Go to Hawi Gallery and play a few ukes, maybe buy a vintage Hawaiian shirt. See the Luau show at the Hilton Waikoloa. Have Sunday brunch at the Mauna Kea then spend the afternoon at the Mauna Kea beach. Have a Mai Tai at the Lava Lava Beach Club. Have another. Relax.

Hawaii is for kicking back, not being busy.

mm stan
08-08-2016, 03:22 PM
Go to the beach, and bikini watch :)

mm stan
08-08-2016, 03:36 PM

08-08-2016, 03:36 PM
We've enjoyed the snorkeling at Puako...out near the end of the road. We rented a house out there for a week and snorkeled every day. If I remember correctly, there's a national ocean reserve nearby where we enjoyed even better water conditions. But a lot depends on the sea state.

We got a kick out of driving all the way around the Island.

If by some wild chance you are a pilot...the air space has its challenges. So there are a couple outfits that do a sort of half rental. They supply you with a pilot and a plane that holds 4 people total. You can fly around the Island, the pilot takes care of air space and navigation and radio. You can fly when you want or hand it back to the pilot while you look out the windows.

If you go to see the stars I recommend a down jacket and hearty walking shoes. We had to park a long mile from anything just to catch a shuttle up to the observation point. It got really cold. Consider taking an iPad star guide. The stars are hard to beat.

The biggest kick we got on the big Island, aside from the snorkeling, was a visit to the seahorse ... uh... museum? Preserve? whatever it's called. It was just a bit north of the Kona Airport. We picked up a lifetime of info about the beautiful little creatures. Did you know that collecting them for aquariums is threatening the population in a serious way? And that they only live a week or so in captivity? This --- whatever they call it --- started breeding seahorses for aquariums as a creative way to save the wild population. Their breeds appear to do really well in home aquariums. You get to stick your hands down into a tank and --- possibly--- one will snuggle in hour hands. That was a great treat.

I've only gotten into Ukuleles since the last trip. I recall being in a Uke store in a tourist area...like a shopping mall adjacent to a big hotel, or something like that. I was seeing prices like $300 / $600 / $1200 and my eyes almost fell out! I understand now and wish I could go back in time with what I know now. But I would guess a music store off the heavy tourist path would be a better choice. Something I'm positive our many brothers here on UU can guide you to.

Good luck. Let us know how it went. I have a return to Hawaii on my list of imminent vacations.

08-09-2016, 06:53 AM
Hawaii is for kicking back, not being busy.

Yeah, but a $700 airfare and burning a week of vacation time during my busiest work season (I don't work full time in winters) is enough to make me want to see and do the things that I don't have access to here in Montana.

Thanks for all the tips!

08-09-2016, 07:39 AM
Eat lau lau at Super Js near Captain Cook. Do not forget to do this. It will change your life.

08-09-2016, 11:14 AM
All good suggestions. I've been to the Big Island a few times and I've been on helicopter flights over the volcano, hiked in Volcano National Park, snorkeled at both Captain Cook (Kona side) and Puna (Hilo side), watched the sun set from the top of Mauna Kea, swum at a beach south of Kona, visited Akaka Falls State Park, visited Waimea and Hawi in the northwest corner of the island, and been to the Hilo farmers Market and Hilo Guitars. Those were all fun. If you can, go to the Wednesday evening kanikapila (the musicians perform, you watch) at Uncle's Awa Bar in Kalapana. Get to Kanapala early enough so that you have time to find parking and to walk out to the lava area there that was at one time a lagoon. Now there's a coconut grove on the lava bed and the newly forming black sand beach by the water. Also, boats are taking people out to see the lava flowing into the ocean. Please take lots of photos and post them here! Have fun!


Stan - Mahalo nui for posting this. It's pretty comprehensive!

08-10-2016, 09:53 AM
Where on the Big Island will you be, and what dates? We'd love to have you join us at PUKA (Puna Ukulele Kanikapila Association). We get together in Leilani Estates every other Saturday. The kanikapila is run by Andy Andrews, who also founded Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz.