As an American colleague would say, this island is ‘very funky ‘, both because of how uninhabited it is, and because of its lava landscapes, its cliffs, its beaches, and its people (casual, hippy, and very flowy ). I had the opportunity to spend three weeks traveling between the Big Island, Oahu, and Maui, and almost certainly the island that I liked the most was Big Island (whose official name is Hawaii), it is the wildest and the least touristy of the islands (it has a total of 19 islands). My top destinations within the island were: Kealakekua Bay (to snorkel), Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (to see steam breathers in full action), and Lava Viewing Area (to see live lava falling from a volcano into the sea at night).
The island is very easy to travel by car since there is the main road (the 11 Hwy that in some sections turns into the 19 Hwy or 180 Hwy ) that acts as a circulation, it is very well signposted and in very good condition.
The Sacred Bay of Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island
This bay is considered by the locals as sacred. It is probably one of the best areas of the island to be able to snorkel through its crystal clear waters (you can get a view of up to 30 meters deep), to get there you can do it by car through 11 Hwy, it is not crowded at all This area and the entrance to the bay is from the stony beach of Kealakekua State Park. When you snorkel you will see an impressive coral life, abundant schools of colorful fish of a multitude of species (butterfly fish, parrotfish, or even tuna), turtles, starfish, and sea urchins. If you want to see dolphins (there are also quite a few) you will need to go into the bay, in this case, it is recommended that you do it with a kayak.
From the beach of the bay, you can see the Monument to the Capital Cook (white obelisk), and to the left the ocean, you can access it via kayak, trekking, or tourist catamarans, if you venture to swim there from the beach, it counts as At least two hours of swimming, it is probably one of the best experiences you can have snorkeling, but you have to be in shape.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
This park is crowned by the Kilauea Volcano, you have two ways to travel it by car, through the 11-mile loop around the crater, or through the road that takes you through the Chain of Craters.
The first option will surely take you more than 2 hours since along the way you will have several points to see: the steam vents & steaming bluff, the Jaggar museum from where you have unbeatable views of the volcano, Volcano House, or the lava tube Thurston.
The second option will take you towards the sea and as you go down you will have several stops, both panoramic of the park and to be able to do routes (trails). The shortest routes have distances of approximately 2 to 4 hours. If you do not walk any route, by car you have to think that it will take 4 to 6 hours. Entrance to the national park by car costs $ 15.
Lava Viewing Area
To be able to see the lava fall into the sea of the Kilauea Volcano at night, you have to go to the end of Hwy 130 (towards Kalapana ), upon arrival you will find a car park, several rental bike stands, and services mobiles. My recommendation is that you do this tour when the sun begins to fall (5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.), for two main reasons, during the day it is unbearable heat and because seeing lava fall into the sea at night is a real show.
The journey to the point where the lava is seen descending has an approximate distance of 12 kilometers (8.4 miles) round trip along a very wide path full of stones (it is advisable to bring trekking shoes, water, sun protection, and a visor).
If you do travel by bicycle (not a bad idea), the price usually bikes have an average cost of $ 10 / hour, and some posts are throughout the day, others close at 19:00. If you do the tour at night you will have to rent a headlamp since although people go with flashlights there is not enough light on the way.
If you do it on foot you will be able to enjoy quite a lot of the lava landscape on both sides, on the climb to the left you will see the sea and to the right the smoke emitted by the volcano, at the beginning of the route you will find some hippie stalls that sell crafts, drinks, and coconut water. When the volcanic gravel road ends you will have to go through the lava field that will take you to the point of view, if you come at night, you have to bring a flashlight because otherwise, it is complicated.
This route can be done both during the day and at night (from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.) if you go at night (recommended by the heat during the day) you can start the route from 18:00 (the sun se
Its at 18: 45-19: 00 hours) so you can arrive with a little light (although without light it will be equally impressive), and see how the lava falls into the sea for the cliff, it is a true spectacle of nature. The worst part is that it will be crowded with people, but give him time to find a hole and dedicate time, he deserves it.
If you are lucky, the second part of the show to return to see the lava is the sky, it is overwhelmingly starry and accompanied by the Milky Way. You can distinguish the constellations, it will surely be unforgettable.