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Christmas on Hawaii – Part 3 Big Island

Over Christmas and News Years Martin and me went back to Hawaii for the third time – can you guess how much we love it there? This time we got to experience a new Island (Kauai), we finally got to see the Humpback Whales that call Hawaii home during the winter months and not least, we got to spend some quality time with my family.

After New Years we spent 5 days on Big Island. We stayed at the most amazing house which we’d found on Airbnb, located by Kealakekua Bay.

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The bay is also known as Captain Cook’s Bay because it’s the spot that Cook first set foot on the island and later was killed. There is also a monument at the side of the bay depicting his death, but you can only reach it by hiking (3,5 hours) or, as we did, kayaking across the bay. The best thing to do is to get up really early in the morning (around 5), wake up the villagers and rent a kayak, and then kayak across the bay to the monument. There is a big chance of seeing spinner dolphins, which use the bay as a resting place during the night, and the water is calm which makes it an easy sail. And the best part; we had it all to ourselves! At the monument there are excellent snorkeling, and we even got lucky to see a big manta ray up close. 

The bay is around 20 km south of Kona. The first time we went to Big Island we stayed in Kona, which is a nice small city, but also nothing really happens especially in the evening, so we found that having a base outside of Kona actually made it a bit easier to get around to all of the sights and national parks. 

Besides Kealakekua Bay there are plenty of must-see sights on Big Island. These are the places we went (see all pictures in the gallery below):

  • Punaluu Black Sand Beach – the most famous black sand beach on Hawaii and a great place to see “honu”, Hawaiian green sea turtles
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – home of Kilauea volcano, one of the most active volcanoes on earth. Here we went hiking in an old volcanic crater and old lava tubes. There is a lookout point from where you can still see steam vents from the Halemaumau Crater and of course there’s the Chain of Craters Road, which ends where an old eruption have caused a lava flow to overtake the road. It’s a really cool sight to see the structures of the hardened lava up close and you can really get a sense of the forces behind. There is also a viewpoint in Kalapana, from where you can be lucky to see actual flowing lava. Depending on the current conditions, it can take 20 min or up to 2 hours to hike to the viewing area. On our first trip to Big Island we did this, however this time unfortunately, we were told that the viewing area was unreachable, so we had to skip this.
  • Maunakea – this is the highest peak on Hawaii, at 13.796 feet above sea level. From our first trip we remembered the beautiful drive up to the top, where there is an International Astronomy Visitor Information Station and amazing views. This time however, we were so unfortunate that they had closed the road due to the weather, so we had to settle for viewing the peak from below. DSC012220

     

  • Manta Ray diving – the Kona coast is the best place to spot these large majestic creatures. We went on a night dive, where you sit at the bottom of ocean floor together with other divers, each one with a light in their hand. At the surface, snorkelers also have lights, and when everyone points their lights up/down a sort of light cone is formed. The mantas are attracted because they feed of the plankton illuminated by the light. It’s an unforgettable experience to watch these animals play in front of you and you get amazingly close – you are of course not allowed to touch, but sometimes, as they do a somersault in front of you, it happens they hit you. Too bad it’s become such a touristed thing to do and the whole experience is almost ruined by the large amounts of divers that are gathered at the same places.

     

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