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Big Island Hawaii Adventure Guide | Big Island Photographer

Big Island Hawaii Adventure Guide

I just got back from Hawaii and boy was it the highlight of my summer! I invited my sister and two friends to come to the Big Island with me to photograph an amazing wedding and we had a blast together exploring everything Hawaii has to offer. We stayed on the Hilo side with some family friends, and traveled the entire island in the time we were there. Here is an overview of everything we packed into our week.

Big Island Hawaii Adventure Guide 

Snorkeling with fish and sea turtles

We snorkeled the first day at Richardson’s beach in Hilo. This is a small black sand beach near town that offers some great snorkeling for a beginner. It is more rocky than sandy and being the tourists we are, we put our flippers on way too soon and struggled to get from the rocks to the water. You should have seen our struggle. It was hilarious, and it took about 30 mins. Haha. We also were freaked about touching corral so that complicated things. Once we were in the water it was easy to fall in love with swimming around and finding fish to watch. The ocean is so amazing! There was also a pond to the south of the beach that had 10 sea turtles hanging out we watched for a while. We also snorkeled at 4 mile beach and saw a large sea turtle the locals named Radical that hangs out there a lot.
One day we headed down to Punaluu beach in the south part of the Island. This is one of the best black sand beaches and it also had sea turtles hanging out. We went on a grey sky day so we were worried the water being cold, but once we heard there were sea turtles in the water we headed in immediately. The water was way warmer than we thought and there were huge schools of fish! We stayed in the water for a long time and even swam with a turtle! Be warned, this black sand is pretty course and it hurt our mainlander feet!

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South point jumping spot

We drove all the way down to the most southern part of the island with one goal: To jump off. You read that right. The South part of the island is the same latitude as Mexico City. And there are cliffs all along the edge. This area used to be where they would have ships bring supplies in WWII, and they still have structures that would hoist stuff up from the ships. I brought along a climbing tree stand with me which I was able to hook it around one of the old poles to stand on part way up. I didn’t realize that you could you it wrap them around anything besides a tree until I read climbing tree stand reviews before purchasing one. 7 years ago I jumped off this same spot, but once I was standing there looking down, it was totally nerve-racking. Last time I climbed up through caves to get to the top and when we got to the cliff that waves were too big in the caves so the only option to get back up was the ladder dangling there. Finally after some support from our new hippie friends we all jumped. The worst part was the ladder and the rust associated it, but it was huge thrill. Word to wise, on a jump this big, make sure to pencil and hold your breath. This cliff is around 40-50 ft, depending on the tide! Also, I got a tetanus shot when I got home just to be safe after all the cuts from the ladder.

Big Island Hawaii Adventure Guide

Hamakua Coast exploring

On the way from Hilo to Wimea, is the Homakua Coast. This road winds its way through jungle, residential and jungle areas and you can see parts of the ocean to to the east the whole way up. We spent the day on this road hitting every scenic route we saw. There is one scenic route that is 4 miles long to the right, and we were so glad we went down it. There is a botanical garden that leads down to  the Coast and some amazing views of the water with some cliffs. We went on a public trail instead of paying for the botanical garden and it was so worth it, even if it was a steep short hike back to the car. It’s literally just a pull off along the road, so it’s easy to miss but it’s before the botanical gardens if you go looking.

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Tex’s Diner

A must on the way to Waimea is to stop at Tex’s for lunch or just a hot malasada donut. They have different fillings and it’s basically a hot sugared Portuguese square of goodness. They have real food there and also birds flying in and out.

Big Island Hawaii Adventure Guide

Waipio Valley Overlook

Just 16 minutes past Tex’s is the overlook into an amazing untouched Hawaiian valley. There are people who live in the valley and they grow taro and live off the land. You can hike to waterfalls in the back of the valley, but you have to have 4WD to get down into the valley. I’ve also heard you have to cross a deep river several times along the hike.

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Mauna Kea Beach, Kona Side

This beach is just what you think of when you think of Hawaii. Its large with soft white sand, mild waves and has public access and access from a resort. This is where we shot Siale and Ofa’s bridals, and my friends hung out while I was on the shoot. This beach faces the west so its the perfect sunset watching spot. There are also manta rays that come in near the resort at night, but we didn’t know about those until after we left. Don’t plan to snorkel here, its pretty murky.

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Volcano National Park- Volcano Overlook

The big island offers the opportunity to see moving lava. One spot is at the end of an 8 mile hike and the other is at the Volcano Nat Park overlook. Its $25 per car to enter, but worth it to see the lava glow at sunset. We went up there with about 200 other people to see the glow, and we were pretty cold. They have a gift shop and a little museum at the overlook. There wasn’t much action as the sunset, just a glow and lots of steam. There are plenty of hikes you can do around the park.

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Kona Hawaii LDS Temple

I love getting to visit the temples around the world, even just to get to walk around the grounds. Hawaii has two LDS temples and the lesser known one resides in Kona. Its fairly small, and near a main road, but it is gorgeous and the grounds are peaceful. I would highly suggest taking time to visit the temple! Be sure to call and schedule a time to attend!!

 Have you ever visited this island? Let me know your favorite part in the comments below!!

June 27, 2017

Kylee Ann Team

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