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Thursday, March 27, 2008

5 Best Things to Do on your Big Island Vacation

First things first: We apologize to our Hawaii blog visitors who always check in on our Monday Hawaii Photo of the Week. Instead of showing another great Hawaii photo this week, we posted about Best Rates Big Island Vacation Rentals April 2008. Here is what happened. Jennifer Crites, renowned Hawaii photographer and Hawaii travel writer from Honolulu, who always selects one of her Hawaii stock photography photos for our Monday 'Hawaii Photo of the Week' had had a bad accident which resulted in a broken ankle. Not good news for her and of course, not for our Hawaii photo posts either. However, the most important thing is that she has a speedy full recovery soon. We send Jennifer our warm aloha from Best Hawaii Vacation Blog!

It was amazing how many people checked out our special rates for a Big Island vacation in Spring! This big interest in the Big Island made us change our post theme for today. Here is what we thought is the missing link to the Monday post: 'Best things to do on the Big Island'. We did not include the 'regular' best Hawaii things to do like swimming or sunbathing.

5 Best Things to Do on your Big Island Vacation

1. Visit Mauna Kea Summit for Sunset and Stargazing

Mauna Kea Summit Stargazing
'Stand on top of the world', when visiting Mauna Kea summit at an elevation of 13,796 feet. The Visitor Information Station offers a stargazing program from 6pm - 10pm each night. The program includes an astronomy video followed by stargazing through powerful telescopes - sorry guys not the professional ones from Keck or Canada France.You want to drive up to Mauna Kea before the sun sets. Sun set (and sunrise) on Mauna Kea Summit is one of the most spectacular experiences in your life. After sunset the access to the very top be will closed for visitors. If you drive up earlier during the winter months, you might see some daredevils skiing or boogie boarding on the summit snow. Recommendation: Put all your Mainland clothes on your body or at least in the car. It will be getting freeeeeezing cold with night time!

2. Watch a live Volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Visit a live volcano at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Remember the Big Island is the Hawaiian Island of Adventure and of opposites, like chill and fire. The 'fire' of Kilauea Volcano has been attracting thousands of visitors to the Big Island since erupting in 1983. Visiting the Big Island's live volcano Kilauea is an experience of a lifetime. Before driving all the way to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, make sure that the roads are open and you will see some lave flow. Stop at the Visitors Center. It's worthwhile the visit - don't miss the Kilauea movie! We always recommend the Volcano Update from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Be aware that currently a part of Crater Rim drive is closed, other parts of the road and much of Volcano Park remains open. Volcano House, a hotel and restaurant on the edge of the Kilauea caldera, is open as is the park's visitor center and the popular Chain of Craters road that winds down to the sea across older, hardened lava flows. View one of my favorite maps for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Some hiking trails might be still closed. Sorry for all the passionate hikers!

3. Hiking Waipio and Pololu Valley

Spectatular Waipio Valley - Hiking Adventure
Located on the beautiful Hamakua Coast, Waipio Valley is a six-mile valley that sits between 2000-foot cliffs. Hikes into the valley and onto the rim of the valley allow hikers magnificent views of waterfalls, provided it had rained, and the gorgeous Pacific Ocean. If you are not a hiker, Wapio Valley Lookout can be reached by car easily by driving to Honokaa and following the signs to Waipio Valley. There are lots of companies, like outstanding Hawaiian Walkways, which take you into the valley for hiking, horse back hiking, wagon tours or donkey rides. Make sure you drive a 4x4 when driving into the valley yourselves. Pololu Valley on the Northern tip of the island can be reached by driving to Hawi and then further to the end of the road. Spectacular views and hiking awaits you there. Certain hikes require hiking permit. It is an easy 30min. hike down into Pololu Valley. Don't swim there. Undertows are too dangerous and unpredictable!

Visit Akaka Waterfalls State Park4. Visit Akaka Waterfalls Park
The Akaka Waterfalls State Park is a great outing for the whole family. Located on the Hamakua Coast, close to Hilo, visitors can view two great waterfalls from a pleasant half-mile loop. There is lush rain forest around you with whiter ginger blossoms, bamboo groves and lots of other tropical flowers and plants. First you will see the 100 feet Kahuna Falls but following the loop you will soon see the breathtaking 450 feet Akaka Waterfalls. Have your camera ready for some amazing photos from your Big Island vacation.

5. Boat trip to Kealakekua Bay for Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

Best snorkeling on the Big Island at Kealakekua Bay
Kealakekua Bay, about 12 miles south of Kailua-Kona, is a Marine Life Conservation District with a wide array of tropical fish, sea turtles and spinner dolphins. This makes Kealakekua Bay the Big Island's paradise for snorkeling and scuba diving. Many boat trips are offered, which also provide snorkel gear. From your boat trip you will see Captain Cook Monument, the location marking the death of Captain Cook in 1779. If you don't like bumpy rides, stay away from the Zodiac raft ( little kids don't do to well on those either! - and rather book a boat from Kona with a more steady catamaran.

Have you been to the Big Island on vacation? Do you have any recommendations for best things to do for our blog visitors? As usual, we'd love to hear from you. Mahalo, Pua HawaiiVacations

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