Hawaii, the islands of Aloha, is the only state of the USA located in the Pacific Ocean. It is a paradise, a land where mother nature is seen at its greatest. This is the only state made up of islands. The state mesmerizes with its various wonderful landscapes. It has everything, an active volcano to a lush green rainforest, beaches to deserts, waterfalls to craters, tropical gardens to chilly mountains and the list goes on. A must visit place!
Big Island as the name suggests, is the largest island among all Hawaiian islands. Big island is attractive for its diverse landscape and weather. The island can be smoothly divided into two halves: Kona, the West Side and Hilo, the East Side. The west side is more dry, sunny and has more attractive beaches. Hilo, the east side is more humid and has lush rainforests, valleys, and waterfalls.
These photos are from our 8 day trip to Hawaii during the first week of October, 2016.
Hilo – the East Side
- Best time to visit
- Weather and good deals: Apr to May, Sep to Oct. Dec to Mar is better, but could be expensive
- Fly Into
- Kona International Airport
- Hilo International Airport
- Honolulu International Airport, then taking a short, 35-40 minute flight Kona or Hilo
- Weather is warm, so pack lightweight casual t-shirts, shorts, sundresses, tank tops, capris, skirts, swimsuits, rain gears and a light jacket for the cool evenings
- Be sure to check Big Island Dept of Transportation website for traffic alerts and current road closure before heading out
- Best things to do
- Polalu Valley Hike: Hike is 0.7 mile steep down, but the uphill return can be challenging. Hike ends at Black sand beach and green valleys. The hike alone takes about 45 minutes round trip
- Waipio Valley Lookout: Gorgeous lookout offers expansive views of the ocean, steep cliffs, waterfalls and lush green valleys. You can enjoy the lush green valleys, waterfalls and black sand beach by hiking 2 mile trail one-way from lookout, but climbing back up can be challenging. You can drive down to the valley, only if you have a 4 wheel drive. The easiest way to get down the valley is to take any tours – horseback, mule drawn wagon or van/shuttle
- Laupāhoehoe Beach Park: It is a nice spot with less crowd, covered with coconut and palm trees, grass and black lava rocks on the shoreline. It is a hidden gem with stunning views of the ocean and offers spectacular splashes of waves against the lava rocks. The park has restrooms, picnic tables and plenty of parking spots
- Umauma Falls: Accessible only through the Umauma Experience tour company that runs zip lining and other activities. Entrance is free, stop at the visitor center to get a map of the garden and river walk
- Akaka Falls State Park: $5 entrance fee per car or $1 per person for pedestrians
- Rainbow Falls: Just a mile and a half from downtown Hilo. The 80 feet Rainbow falls gets its name from the rainbow formed from its mist on sunny mornings. Short and nice trail, large parking lot and no entrance fee
- Lava Tree State Monument: Public state park that features unusual lava tree molds. Easy and short half mile paved trail opens up to tall lava molds of the ohia tree trunks. Entrance is free and restrooms available
- Kaimū Black Sand Beach Park: This newly formed black sand beach park is located in the Pahoa area on the southeast side of Hawaii’s Big Island. The lava flow from the 1990 volcano eruption wiped out many towns and the old Kaimu Black Sand Beach. You can see the sprouted coconut trees that locals have planted in an effort to restore the beach. Short and easy hike over the lava fields and red rocks to get to the beach. Shores are slippery and swimming is not advisable
- Mouna Kea
- Free nightly stargazing at visitor station, Tue-Fri, 6 pm – 10 pm. It gets cold here, dress accordingly
- Visiting the Summit: Not an easy drive, 4WD is a must, Check Visitor station for more information