We went to the Big Island Hawaii for 6 nights. Four of these nights were at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Hotel booked with 145,000 Hilton HHonors points and two of these nights were at an AirBnB treehouse on the Hilo side of the island. We booked our tickets with miles using 25,000 Avios (an amazing deal) per person using the Chase Ultimate Rewards. For the car rental, we used some Citi Thank You points instead of paying. Ultimately, we just had to pay for the AirBnB that I got 50% off by buying $50 gift cards for $25 through a previous AMEX offer. I’ll split up our Big Island itinerary into several parts to share about what we did. We had a great adventure on the Big Island.
Two Step Beach – Highly Recommended
This beach is great for snorkeling! The beach is mostly rocks. There are little shallow pools created by the rocks that are perfect for small kids to wade in the water. It is easy to get into the water, as there is a boat landing that you can walk down. There were plenty of beautiful fish throughout. Though we personally did not see turtles, those around us did. The wife saw flipping dolphins as well. It did get crowded but there was still plenty of space to put our things down. You can opt to park on the road for free, but if it is too crowded, you can park at the state park next door. Parking is $5.
Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau State Park – Recommended (because next door to Two Step Beach)
After we went to Two Step, we decided to go to the state park next door. Entrance is free if you paid for parking. We went to listen to one of the free ranger talks that they have throughout the day. The area was once used for people to seek asylum. The talk was interesting and informative as we got to learn more about the traditions of Hawaii. The park has a self-guided tour that we did not complete because it was really hot and were able to see most of it just by walking half way.
Greenwell Coffee Farm – Highly Recommended (if you like coffee)
On our way back to our hotel, we stopped by the Greenwell Coffee Farm. They have free tours throughout the day and we were lucky enough to catch one just as it started. We were able to see the coffee trees and learn about how they process their coffee. We also learned what makes Kona coffee so unique. The tour was about 30 min. It was really interesting and not to mention we got to see other fruit growing on their farm such as mango and lychee. The tour ended in their store, which is mostly outdoors. Here, we tried the different types of coffee. We thought that they were delicious. For an 8 oz bag it cost $18+. It is pricier than what I would normally pay, but it tasted good.
Waipi’o Valley Lookout and Hike – Highly Recommended (if you are a decent hiker)
It took a lot of convincing to get my wife to do this hike, but it was well worth it. The beach and waterfall are only accessible by either walking 1000 feet downhill or taking a 4-wheel drive car. Since we didn’t have a 4-wheel drive car, we opted to do the hike. We parked our car at the lookout point. From there, we saw the black sand beach beneath. We began the descent, which was very steep down the mountain on the same road cars were driving. It was about a mile downhill and then another .5 mile through a muddy road along the swamp. When we finally reached the beach, the views were amazing. Being hard to get to, there were very few people there. The sand was soft and black and the surrounding green cliffs gave the beach a surreal, picturesque feeling. At that time, the water was a little rough, but felt nice after a sweaty hike. We regretted not bringing towels are something to sit on, but we had a nice picnic lunch on the sand. Afterwards, we headed back to our car. The ascent up the mountain was a workout. My wife and I took it easy, as it was really hot. It took 1 hour, but we eventually made it up 1000 feet up the mountain.
Hapuna Beach – Highly Recommended
This beach is exactly what I have in mind when I think about beaches in Hawaii. It has beautiful white sand that stretches far. The water is very blue and was great to swim in. I snorkeled a bit here and did see some fish. The beach got crowded as the day went on, but we still enjoyed it.
Polulu Valley – Interesting
This valley also has a black sand beach. It was really windy when we got there so when we looked down from the lookout the tide was really high. We opted to not take the hike down. This hike is shorter than Waipio and should take only about 20-30 minutes each way. We also drove through the town of Hawi and saw one of the original King Kamehameha (the last Hawaiian king) statues.
To Be Continued…