Posts Tagged ‘rental condo hawaii’

Hawaii has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  Everyone that comes to Hawaii wants to get some “beach time” to read a favorite book, walk along the shore, or work on a tan…  Below are some things to consider to find that perfect beach while on your Hawaii vacation.

Waves influence how much fun a beach is. The most fun and accessible ocean sport is boogie boarding, and as such we judge a beach that normally has active surf by its ability to produce the ideal boogie boarding wave.  In contrast, the most fun and accessible ocean activity is snorkeling. A location that aims to please as a snorkeling spot must have little surf, clear water, and plenty of fish.  The ideal wave is about 3 ft high, breaking perhaps 20-30 yards from the beach in waist high water. This size is challenging and exciting for those who are comfortable in the water, but not overwhelming. After the wave breaks, less experienced swimmers can still catch the white water without fear of being tumbled.
With Hawaii’s reputation as a surfing destination, some may be disappointed by what the ocean offers for non surfers, with waves often being too big or too small for boogie boarding. At many locations, the beach slopes into the ocean rather quickly, resulting in a wave that breaks on top of the beach instead of in the water. Reefs or neighboring islands also deflate wave energy, with trade winds further deforming the waves.

The typical Hawaiian beach has semi-coarse golden brown sand and is flanked by large lava rock formations where colorful tropical fish congregate. The water transitions from a dark blue to a ‘greenish blue’ near the shore. The water is rarely crystal clear as kicked up sand, ocean debris (plankton, coral bits etc.) and sediments from streams reduce visibility. The beach and sand are clean and well maintained, and free of sand flees (no-see-ums) and other annoying critters. A light fragrant breeze blows over calm ocean waters in the morning. In the afternoon the trade winds pick up, turning the ocean choppy with small waves. If it’s a weekday the beach comfortably accommodates all its patrons with ample amounts of play room.

Fine, soft sand is nicer to walk and play on than coarse sand, and also better for construction projects like sand castles. Rocks or other debris greatly reduce the quality as running and playing are not possible. Light colored sand is visually more appealing in our opinion, although it produces more blinding glare than dark sand.  White, black, and even green sand beaches abound along the Big Island’s 266-mile coastline.

Check out some of the most popular spots below:

Kauna‘oa Beach at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
Hapuna Beach (popular for walking and body boarding)
Anaeho‘omalu Beach (known as “A-Bay,” great for windsurfing and kitesurfing)
Ka‘upulehu Beach at the Four Seasons Resort
White Sands Beach Park, near the Keauhou Resort (also known as “Magic Sands” because the beach can quickly disappear during high-surf months only to return in the spring)
Kahalu‘u Beach Park (Kona’s most popular snorkeling beach)
Punalu‘u Beach Park (a well-known black sand beach)
Mackenzie State Park in Pahoa (nearby, there’s a lava-lined pool heated to 95 degrees by a volcanic stream)
Coconut Island Park, near the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel (a local favorite for fishing and swimming)
Laupahoehoe Point Park (created by a lava flow from Mauna Kea,its large grassy area is a good place to camp)
Waipi‘o Valley’s Black Sand Beach (accessible only with four-wheel drive or on foot from the overlook

Some people enjoy visiting the beach to people watch, sun tan, and check out the latest beach fashions. Indeed, you’ll see people sporting everything from Brazillian bikinis to snazzy one piece swimsuits.   However, a major consideration is how much room there is to walk and play. Can you fly a kite, play Frisbee, build forts, put up a volleyball net, or go for a long walk or jog? Bigger beaches offer more possibilities and as such are more desirable.  Most of Hawaii’s beaches are not crowded during week days and offer plenty of room to play, both on the sand and in the water. Only a handful of beaches and snorkel locations are consistently crowded and we tend to avoid those beaches.

Looking for a great vacation rental while in Hawaii?  Call us to find out our available dates for your vacation in paradise.  

A small detour to your destination can often open up a whole new face of Hawaii. These scenic drives are made to show some of the beautiful places on the Big Island that you would have missed if you rushed from destination to destination.

Take your time, drive slowly and enjoy the views. Stop on the way at a fruit stand of small cafe for refreshments and don’t forget your camera. These scenic routes will bring you closer to the “real Hawaii”.

Scenic drives and roads on the Big Island

map hawaii scenic drives

Click on Map to Enlarge

Almost all the roads on the Big Island are scenic in their own way, but, as always, some are more special than others. Here is a map our favorite scenic drives on the Big Island. We tell you why they are so scenic and give you recommendations on where to stop on the way.

If you already know where you want to go you can jump ahead the your destination.

 

In no particular order:

Mauna Loa Road scenic drive (Volcano Village)

Distance: 11.5 miles (one way)

Where is it? Follow highway 11 west from Volcano Village (towards Kona). Turn towards the mountain at the signposted exit to Mauna Loa road (between mile markers 30 and 31).

When to take: If you are staying at least one night in volcano village. Clear skies are a pro.

Recommended stops: Hike the 1 mile scenic trail at the Bird Park (see map), and don’t forget to stop halfway up to look back to the Kilaea Volcano.

Mauna Loa road climbs the slopes of Mauna Loa above the Kilauea Volcano. It takes you across old lava flows and through Koa forests, stopping at the trailhead of the red cabin hike. The unique selling point of this scenic route are the wide views you have of the Hawaii Volcanoes National park, and the always changing scenery.

The Mauna loa road scenic drive is the only route on this page that you cannot use to ‘go’ to another place on the Big Island. In stead, it takes you to the trailhead of the multi-day hike up Mauna Kea. We recommend that you go up this trail a few miles to get a feel for yet another face of the Big Island. The best views however, are on the way up.

Kapoho Kalapana road scenic drive (Puna, close to Hilo)

Distance: 14 miles

Where is it? Highway 137 between mile markers 8 and 22

When to take: While staying in Hilo of Volcano Village. E.g. when going to see the lava or visit the hot ponds.

Recommended stops: The Alahanui hot ponds, new Kalapana beach (Kaimu beach park).

This is our favorite scenic drive on the Big Island, and we can think of no excuse not to see it. It runs along the cost through tree tunnels in the lush Puna district, and passes by a few beach parks and hot ponds which make great stops to take in the surroundings.

Another must-see of this scenic road is Kalapana-Kaimu, where to road now terminates after it was overrun by lava in 1990. This lava also covered the world-famous Kalapana black sand beach. Right now (and a 15 minute hike from Kaimu), you can see a new black sand beach forming. This is a great start/ending of this scenic drive, and will leave a deep impression of the destruction that lava is capable of.

In the ‘town’ of Kalapana-Kaimu you can take a break and find vendor selling food, drinks, souvenirs and lava pictures.

Pepe’ekeo (Onomea) scenic drive (Hilo)

Distance: 4 miles

Where is it? Follow highway 19 north of Hilo. Between mile marker 7 and 8 take the right hand turn that is marked ‘scenic Drive”.

When to take: When staying in Hilo, when visiting e.g. the Akaka falls, or anytime you go to / leave Hilo over highway 11 to the north via the (on itself) incredibly scenic Hamakua coast.

Recommended stop: Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens.

The Pepe’ekeo (also known as the Onomea bay) scenic drive is the most famous scenic routes on the Big Island. It is a 4 mile stretch of the old mamalahoa highway that snakes from scenic spot to scenic spot through lush tropical forest and gives some stunning views of Onomea Bay.

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens halfway the drive are a must-see if you like tropical plants and flowers, and are one of our favorite short hikes on the Big Island. They are often described as a “walk in paradise” and “stunningly beautiful”, and host a number of trails and over 2000 species of plants.

Please drive carefully. This road is a bit narrow, and has many sharp curves and some one-lane bridges. Drive slowly and with aloha, you are not in a hurry.

Chain of craters road (Volcano Village)

Distance: 20 miles (one way)

Where is it? The Chain of Craters road is almost impossible to miss. In the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, follow the crater rim drive towards the south and follow the signs ‘Chain of Craters road’.

When to take: While visiting the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Recommended stops: Many: At least one of the now inactive craters along the road, the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs (if you are up for a few miles of hiking), the end of the road (where the lava flows begin) and as many stops on the way to take in the views.

The Chain of craters road takes you from en elevation of 4000 ft. all the way down to sea level over the lava covered flanks of the Kilauea volcano. The drive itself leads past many trails, old craters (hence the name), scenic spots, a largepetroglyph field up to the place where lava covers the road, and ends where 1996 lava flows covered the road.

Plan to use at least 2.5 hours (round trip) for this drive, preferably a bit more. You can literally spend weeks exploring all the sights and things to do along the Chain of Craters road. This drive is best taken when viewing conditions are clear. We like to make the drive either very early (good for hiking) or in the afternoon (sunsets are spectacular at the end of the road).

Coffee country (South Kona) scenic drive

Distance: 12 miles

Where is it? Coming from Kona, follow highway 11 south until the junction with highway 160, just south of the town Captain Cook.  Follow the road until you enter Napo’opo’o village. Here you can loop the scenic drive either by turning right (north-west) to first go to the Kealakekua bay state historical park or by turning left (south-east) to first go to the painted church and the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau national park.

When to take: When visiting Kealakekua Bay (Capt. Cook) or the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau national park, when you are driving over highway 11 between Kona and Volcano Village, when visiting green sand beach or when visiting coffee farmsnearby.

Recommended stops: St Benedict Painted church, Kealakekua Bay (Captain Cook) and the Pu’uhonua o honaunau national park.

South of Kona the landscape becomes greener and the skies more cloudy. The dry lava fields change into lush green forests and coffee plantations. There are many great snorkeling and diving spots along the coast, and this scenic drive connects two of our favorite snorkeling spots of the Big Island: Kealakekua Bay and Two Step.

There is much history in this scenic drive, with as highlight the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau national park. Pu’uhonua o Honaunau is a park of great historical and cultural significance, and worthy of a visit. The park is also a great place to wander, relax, picnic or snorkel (just outside of the park).

While driving the loop, you will pass some coffee farms and the very picturesque St Benedict painted church.

Painted church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Information for the above article provide by Lovebigisland.  For more information, check out their website at www.lovebigisland.com  We are a Big Island (Island of Hawaii) travel guide written by people with a passion for Hawaii.  We want you to have an active say in how you plan your vacation, in a sustainable way with minimum impact on the local environment (read more about our mission).

 

Looking toward the Captain Cook monument from Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park. Photo: Wikipedia.

Kona Boys’ morning history lesson by kayak on Hawaii Island

Though I’ve lived within walking distance of Kona Boys’ headquarters in Kealakekua’s high-elevation coffee country for almost a year, it was only recently, prompted by visiting family, that I popped in and signed up for its Morning Magic tour to the Captain Cook Monument. I’m so glad I did.

The iconic monument, nestled into the northern and not-road-accessible end of Kealakekua Bay, stands sentinel over some of the best snorkeling off Hawaii Island. But for me, that wasn’t the reason for the tour. I’d visited once before, via the only other mode of entry—the steeply sloped and little-shaded trail off Napoopoo Road—and spent hours tailing brightly colored butterfly fish as they nervously darted toward the drop-off. This time, aided by expert guide Anthony “A.J.” Johnson, one of Kona Boy’s managers, I was here to learn and see the place with new eyes.

 

An almost-empty Kealakekua Bay near the monument. Photo by the author.

Those eyes are bleary at our 7:45 a.m. arrival to Napoopoo Pier—unlike our small group, A.J. has already been up for hours, and is unloading our access-permitted kayaks, floatation devices, paddles and lunch cooler from his truck. We step down a homemade ladder, launch into the clear waters of the bay and receive a short orientation.

“Kealakekua Bay is one of the best protected harbors on Hawaii Island, and Hawaiians have known this for centuries,” A.J. tells us. Near our parked car at Napoopoo Beach he points out the lava rock platform remains of Hikiau heiau—a Native Hawaiian temple I had completely overlooked last time I drove this way. Hundreds of years ago, this was a site of human sacrifice and the center of a community—workers and common Hawaiians lived on this side of the bay, while the alii (chiefs) resided on the opposite side at our destination.

The Captain Cook Monument. Chain partitions designate British soil.
Photo by the author.

I can’t get over how clear the water is. The skies are cloudless and I can see down maybe 50 feet to yellow tang schooling on the bottom. We take a direct route across the crescent bay to the monument, about a mile away. Besides our mini flotilla, there isn’t a single watercraft around. Spinner dolphins, usually a common sight here, are noticeably absent—A.J. says it’s because they’ve recently given birth and steer clear of their usual haunts when they have very young calves.

Six-hundred-foot-tall cliffs tower above us along the water’s edge. I’d all but overlooked them before, but I never will again after what A.J. tells us. According to what is likely a mixture of Hawaiian oral tradition and local lore, the sheer lava tube-pocked rock face is the final resting place of countless chiefs. Upon the death of an alii, commoners would get to work weaving hundreds of feet of sturdy rope from plant fibers and head up to the top of the cliff with the remains. A crew at the top would swing the bone-bearer along the cliff face to a lava tube opening. Once everything was secured, the cave’s secret location would die with its finder: He would be cut free to fall to his death on the rocks below.

Kayaks hauled out on the rocks opposite the monument. Photo by charleschandler/Flicker.

We arrive alongside the monument in what feels like no time. A.J. helps us to time our exit via a shallow tide pool so we don’t tip—the mosquitoes swarm. We leave the kayaks and walk around through some jumbled brush to the monument. There are no facilities here, but A.J. tells us Kona Boys’ staff, along with a number of local volunteers, help to maintain the site and keep it trash-free during yearly cleanups. Old cattle-corrals made from the lava rock remains of even older temples, line the area behind the monument.

Here, we learn about Captain Cook’s arrival during the celebratory makahiki season, his departure and his fateful return after makahiki had completed. A.J. points out an “X” etched into stone that I had never noticed before—it marks the exact spot of Cook’s death. On the plaque from the Commonwealth of Australia near the monument that reads in part, “In Memory Captain James Cook, R.N. the Discoverer of both Australia and these Islands,” the word ‘discoverer’ has been scratched out and reapplied. A.J. tells us that despite the controversial historical events that occurred here, the 100-or-so-square-foot area partitioned by chain rope around the monument isn’t actually part of Hawaii at all, it’s a no-passport needed slice of British soil. In 1877, Princess Likelike deeded the land to the United Kingdom.

We spend almost two hours snorkeling and lounging in the sun nibbling on our early lunch. I swim around to a natural rock arch and watch the fish go through it with each wave. I hover above a moray eel and try to find fish I’d never seen before. I spot at least three. After we’ve been here awhile, the peaceful paradise that we first entered is shattered as several huge tour boats pull up bearing masses of noodle-wielding snorkelers, blaring reggae music and emitting smoke from onboard BBQ grills. Our cue to head home. We paddle back to our starting point hugging the coast.

I’d recommend Kona Boy’s Morning Magic tour to any Kona visitor—not only will you beat the crowds to one of the Island’s most popular spots, you’ll learn a lot in the process.

Moorish idols and yellow tang in Kealakekua Bay. Photo by the author.