Big Island of Hawaii | A Couples Paradise Vacation
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If you’re looking for unique places to visit on the Big Island of Hawaii, especially if you’re traveling as a couple, you’re at the right place. This is our story of our paradise vacation without our children. We decided to visit the Big Island of Hawaii because it was one of the islands we hadn’t visited yet and to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.
Upon our arrival, I had no idea what to expect except for beauty. The Big Island of Hawaii did not disappoint! You can’t go wrong at any island! The airport was quite different, I must say. It is not your typical huge airport with many terminals. The airport actually looks like bungalows. They were so cute!
BEACH SPOTS & SNORKELING
The Big Island of Hawaii has one of the most beautiful collection of beaches and options for snorkeling. I should know because this was my very first time snorkeling. I’ve had many opportunities in my life to snorkel. The Bahamas, St. Thomas, Castaway Cay, Oahu, and Maui are a few examples of places I’ve had a chance to snorkel, but I’ve always been too scared. I’m happy to say that I conquered that fear on this vacation! I’m not going to lie. Terrifying is the best word to describe the first time I dipped my foot in the water, but I eventually jumped in and I’m glad I did. I actually snorkeled twice while on this vacation and I loved it!
Punalu’u Black Sand Beach Park
This beach was not even 5 minutes to our first week stay resort, Sea Mountain. It is located on the southeast side of the island and just a 2 hour scenic drive from the popular city of Kona. We heard that the Big Island has one of the purest form of black sand beaches. I thought the sand was going to be rough, but it was pillow soft. Incidentally, taking sand from any beach is prohibited. However, souvenir shops do sell sand in bottles.
This large pond filled with vegetation & blooming flowers is located just along the edge of the black sand. It was a pleasant surprise to see this.
Green Sand Beach (Naalehu)
If you want to experience a beach scene out of a romantic movie, you HAVE to go here. Seriously though, this is THE most unique place we went to in all of our Big Island vacation! I did not even know that green sand existed. It really does! This beach is located in the southern most point named Ka Lae. When you arrive you will be greeted and will have a choice to either hike it or have a local trying to make a living drive you. If you’re an avid hiker, hike it but you won’t have much a view until you get there. If you’re not a hiker, like my husband and I, pay a local to drive you. It is well worth it and realistically, it was not a lot of money. We had a wonderful local drive us and tell us a lot about the island. We’re very happy we did not hike it! I also suggest that if you’re on a time crunch, don’t hike it. It will take you a good 30-45 minutes.
If you are adventurous enough, we aren’t, you can cliff dive for free!
Off The Beaten Path Beaches
These beaches we discovered by just driving around the island and because our green sand beach local driver told us about. Sometimes you find the most beautiful places by just discovering on your own!
Mokuola Beach (Coconut Island)
Located on the Hilo side of the island (Hilo is the major city on the east side of the island) is Coconut Island. It is a tiny island off of Hilo Bay and it is a great spot to just spend the day relaxing. This would be a fun place for families, as well because if you’d like to be a little adventurous and cliff dive, this one is smaller than the one at green sand beach.
Whittington Beach Park
As we approached this hidden jewel located on the southeast side really close to Punalu’u Black Sand Beach Park, we were approached by:
My husband was wondering why the running man was heading towards the waves. A local told us that in Hawaii, if there is ever a tsunami warning, the surfers run to the waves because it makes for the best surfing conditions. We thought that was a brilliant reason why! I, however, would not be one of them. Swimming is not recommended here.
Richardson Ocean Park
Located just 15 minutes from Hilo, we stopped here for a brief moment. My husband couldn’t wait to test out the waters and snorkel a bit. It was such a small park, but was filled with families having a good time.
Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park
This beauty is located near the Captain James Cook Monument on the Kona side (west side) of the island. In fact, if you stop here, you can see the Captain James Cook Monument from afar. Swimming is strictly prohibited here, but we did see some surfers. There are strong tides and it could be dangerous.
Captain James Cook Monument
Captain James Cook Monument / Snorkeling
So for chickens like me, snorkeling for the first time was absolutely terrifying. However, it was so much fun! I wouldn’t stay in the water for hours, but it was fun. We took a tour boat that takes you out to the monument and snorkel its surroundings. Life underwater was like you were just placed into an aquarium. It truly is a whole new world down there! Captain James Cook Monument isn’t able to be driven to. You may get there by swimming, hiking, or by boat.
Kona & Kailua Village
Kona is located on the west side of the island. On our second week of our vacation we stayed at at the beautiful Royal Kona Resort. Kailua Village is a district in Kona with many shopping and dining options. This is a great place to get those souvenirs your loved ones expect! They also have the best shaved ice with ice cream in the middle!
This church is located in Kailua Village and I found it interesting that this church was not made with one single nail!
In the distance you can see Royal Kona Resort. To get to this beach area, you just have to stay on the path of Kailua Village’s sidewalk. It’s a great place to swim & snorkel.
Tropical Botanical Garden
This garden is the most alluring gardens I have ever seen. This was not a planned destination until we arrived at our resort. We are so happy we went. This is a landscape photographer’s playground. This botanical garden is located just north of Hilo and is definitely worth the time, money and drive. The photos do not do it justice. Being there in person is a must! Prepare to spend at least 2 hours or so soaking up the beautiful flowers and surrounding.
This is Onomea Bay viewable from the garden. There is an interesting legend behind these two rocks. The following excerpt is written on a sign:
The Legend of Twin Rocks
The village of Kahali’i was located on this large point of land which extends into Onomea Bay. Though the village is gone, the descendants of Kahali’i still remember some of the legends concerning the area’s landmarks. One story tells of the origin of two rock formations at the head of Onomea Bay that are said to be a young man and woman, known as the lovers of Kahali’i.
Legend has it that one day, a chief of the village spotted many canoes with sails heading shoreward in their direction. Fearing an attack, the chiefs and village elders held a council to determine a course of action. They decided to build a reef to prevent a landing on their beaches. Not having the means to complete the task quickly enough, they asked for two young lovers to be the guides and protectors of the village by giving their lives. Two willing individuals were found.
That night a decree was sent to all who lived at Kahali’i to remain indoors from sunset to sunrise without making any light or sound, on penalty of death. In the light of the new day, everyone went down to the shoreline where they were amazed to find the lovers gone, and in their place two gigantic rock formations at the entrance of the Bay, attached to each other, as if on guard.
The chief informed the people that no canoe could now pass the treacherous currents swirling around the rocks unless allowed to do so by the guardians. The lovers and their offspring still stand today, sentinels at the head of the Bay.
Located west of Hilo International Airport is Rainbow Falls. It is approximately 80′ tall and is free to visit. Can you spot the rainbow going through the waterfall in the third photo?
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
We found two great things you can do at here at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The park is located on the southeast side of the island and encompasses a huge portion of the Big Island of Hawaii. The time it takes to see everything here really depends on you. I highly recommend you arrive in the early afternoon and stay until after sunset to see the lava tube and the volcanic activity. Before coming here, pack these recommendations: water bottle, flashlight, binoculars, a good pair of sneakers, sweater, and poncho. The volcano is at a high elevation and the weather varies daily. It could be warm one day and cold/rainy the next day.
Thurston Lava Tube (Nāhuku)
Thurston Lava Tube is a unique spot. Use a flashlight as you navigate your way through the once alive lava that passed through this huge tube. The history behind it is incredible and you can read more about it here.
Thomas A. Jaggar Museum & Overlook of Mauna Loa Volcano
The views of Mauna Loa Volcano are stunning at sunset. It is hard to see the volcanic activity during the day. This is where you’re more likely to wear your sweater because the temperature drops at night. You’ll also want to use your binoculars to get a closer look . There are hiking/backpacking options, but please read the suggestions & hazards before planning.
(Video source: Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park)
Our faith is the most important part of our life. Therefore, my husband and I wanted to pay a visit to what was the first full-time Christian missionary home built in Hilo of David and Sarah Lyman. The house was built in 1839 and is home to authentic photographs, furniture, clothing and other artifacts. Photos were not allowed inside the home, but by clicking here, shows a few photos and history of the Lyman family.
Mauna Loa Macadamia Factory
Let’s talk a bit about unique food stops. The Mauna Loa Macadamia Factory is a great stop for anyone at any age. They give free samples! This unique stop is also located in the city of Hilo. There are numerous things you can do in Hilo. The Macadamia Factory is a self guided tour that will take you on a self-guided journey. However, you can’t actually go inside the factory. There are large viewing windows that will show you the entire process in action. A store is also located there so you can make those souvenir purchases.
Big Island Bees /Hawaiian Apiaries
Considering we’re on the topic of food, this place is sweet! If you like organic & raw honey, you’ll really enjoy this honey farm. They also have free samples and inexpensive beekeeping tours. All natural products, such as body soap, are also made with their honey and sold on the property. Big Island Bees is less than 15 minutes away from Captain James Cook Monument on the west side of the island.
Original Hawaiian Chocolate
Are you a chocoholic like me? Oh you are in for a treat! Visiting this beautiful plantation is approximately 12 minutes away from the Royal Kona Resort and just a short drive from various Kona Coffee Farms. The caretakers of this plantation actually live on the property.
The one hour walking tour includes the orchard, factory, and samplings. Tour times vary daily, so plan accordingly.
Puako Petroglyph Archeological Park
Located on the northwest portion of the Big Island, this extremely unique experience is intriguing! The petroglyphs, carved drawings on rocks, are a historic and ancient protected site. As you can see from the photos, you may not walk, rub, or damage the drawings in any way. Access to the petroglyph’s is only accessible through a beach park and be prepared to walk a bit to get to the end of the path. For more details click here for more information.
The luau’s on the Big Island of Hawaii are spectacular. One of those luau’s is located on the property of the Royal Kona Resort. One does not need to be a guest in order to enjoy the festivities.
The luau includes:
(source and where you can find more information: Kona Luau)
-Prime Oceanfront seating overlooking Kailua Bay
-Aloha shell lei welcome
-Arts & Craft Demonstrations
-Learn to hula with a group lesson
-Delicious all-you-care-to-eat Hawaiian Luau buffet with traditional island fare and local specialties
-Complimentary Mai Tais, standard cocktails, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic offerings
-Imu ceremony to unearth the Kalua Pua’a (roast pig) from the in-ground oven
-Dynamic and Lyrical Polynesian Revue with Dance, Song, and Live Music
-Samoan Fire Knife Dance Finale (Siva Afi)
I hope you enjoyed this extensive list of what you and your partner can experience together on the Big Island of Hawaii. Consequently, there are many things that both of you can experience together and make lasting memories from. So for now, I say…