5 Unique Ways to Enjoy Hawaii's Big Island
PHOTO: Hawaii lava flow (Photo courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority)
The Big Island of Hawaii is one of the most unique of the Hawaiian Islands. Its perpetually erupting volcano, diverse landscapes and rare sea creatures make visiting the island a special experience. These activities showcase the Big Island’s wild side.
Swim With the Mantas
The Big Island is one of the best places to dive with manta rays. These magnificent creatures, one of the largest fish in the ocean, make the Kona coast their home and visitors have the opportunity to swim with them during evening dives through a number of operators that leave from the Kona harbor.
For those who don’t want to jump into the ocean for an up-close-experience, you can see them feed in the evenings from a number of resorts in the area. The Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay has a particularly up-close perspective on the mantas and guests can see them swim right by the shore as the dive boats chum the waters.
Kona Coffee Cultural Festival
It is Hawaii’s oldest food festival, taking place for 45 years. The festival invites visitors to come together over their love of coffee and experience the culture, heritage, artistry and history behind the legendary brew. During the festival, you can sample coffee, take in art exhibitions and participate in a number of tours to farms and mills as well as a self-driving tour of Kona coffee country. The 46th Annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival will take place in November.
Hike the Most Continuously Active Volcano
The Kilauea Iki Trail is a hike on one of the longest continuously active volcanoes in the world – and it’s perfectly safe. Visitors following the path descend through a lush rainforest before reaching the still-steaming Kilauea Iki Crater lava lake. The lava lake was created in a 1959 eruption and visitors can peer into the vent that erupted to a height of 1,900 feet above the Puu Puai cinder cone. The moderate to challenging hike is steep and rocky and is a four-mile loop that takes between two to three hours. The trail begins at the Kilauea Iki parking lot on Crater Rim Drive.
Sometimes, there’s snow on the Big Island. Specifically, 13,796 feet up, at the top of Mauna Kea, the tallest sea mountain in the world. So, when you are stargazing atop Mauna Kea or taking a tour, you might run into the powdery white stuff at the tippy top. So, if you are lucky enough to visit when there’s a dusting of snow, you can be one of the select few people to build a snowman on a tropical island.
See a Lava Flow
There are not too many places in the world that allows visitors the chance to safely see a live lava flow – and even on the Big Island, seeing it on land is still not a guarantee. But with Kilauea’s continuous eruption, seeing lava, whether by boat or on a hike, is still very much a reality. There are several companies that operate day hikes to the lava flow when it is safe and many also take guests to the point at which the lava flows into the sea. It’s a singular and amazing experience that shines a light on how unique a visit to the Big Island can be.
More by Janeen Christoff
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