Hawaiian Paradise Series: The Big Island
The Big Island of Hawaii is actually growing larger each year. Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, located inside Volcanoes National Park, has been almost constantly erupting since 1983. The lava flows out to the sea, where it drops down, cools and resolidifies back into land. It is estimated that a whopping 491 acres of new land have been created since 1994. This is not usually a fiery explosion of lava, just a mellow flow that oozes out, causing gradual destruction along it’s path, and then creation once it reaches the Pacific Ocean. The red glow can usually only be seen at night, but depending on the path and amount of lava, it may be viewed during the day from inside the park.
Another amazing fact about The Big Island is that it is one of the few places in the world featuring black sandy beaches. This is the result of centuries of erosion of the hardened black lava, and is mainly found on the south end of the island. The black sand is absolutely gorgeous, striking, fine on the feet, and further, home to a large sea turtle population! My son was completely enchanted. He thought the sand had been colored black as a type of prank or island gimmick to attract visitors. And to be so close to gigantic sea turtles with their gnarly shells and ancient, wrinkly skin, was like being an observer to the days of the dinosaurs. He loved it! Just make sure not to touch the turtles, they are protected and this is their turf.
Lodging options on The Big Island abound. But if you’re traveling with children, I suggest the Hilton Waikoloa. It is a beautiful resort with dolphins, a salt water lagoon, wooden boats that shuttle you around the property, fresh water pools, waterfalls and water slides, a private sandy beach, golf, tennis, spa, and several great restaurants. There’s no reason to ever leave, except, of course, you’re in Hawaii! The children’s programs are the best I’ve seen, giving the kids a chance to enjoy Hawaii on their terms. They can kayak or snorkel in the safety of the on-site saltwater lagoon, play on the beach, and even make pretty Hawaiian necklaces. All while mommy enjoys a cocktail by the pool and hopefully drifts off to sleep! At the end of the day, the kids are exhausted and you are refreshed. Thanks Hilton!
If your lodging options take you outside of a hotel or resort, my only advice is to make sure you have air conditioning!! It gets quite warm and muggy here, even in the evening, and a girl needs to be able to cool off and get ready for her day or evening out in comfort. Have you ever tried blow drying your hair in a hot, muggy room? Putting on makeup only to have it run off your face?? Trust me… air conditioning is a must!
And finally, if you find yourself in Kona, or really on any of the Hawaiian islands, you must enjoy the local coffee. Kona coffee is killer! Strong, rich, flavorful… even sold throughout Hawaii by Starbucks, but at a major premium. I start every day in Hawaii with a cup of amazing Kona coffee! And I always bring as much home as I can, with noble intentions of sharing with my friends and family, but usually just stock piling it for a few more months of delicious morning joe. You must buy some on your next visit to Hawaii and make sure it’s 100% Kona, NOT a blend. However, if you’re not flying to Hawaii anytime soon, you might just be lucky enough to purchase a small quantity of Starbucks Reserve 100% Kona coffee online and have it sent directly to your doorstep. It’s only available sporadically, so keep checking the website. Fortunately for me, my husband does a lot of work with Starbucks and recently brought home three (yes, THREE!!) half pound bags! I’m saving these for the holidays! After that, I’m heading back to beautiful Hawaii.