Sunday, February 19, 2012

HAWAII: Beyond Puget Sound

    As many of you know, this blog focuses mainly on adventures around Puget Sound, but this post is more like a "beyond" portion of the blog. Recently I landed in sunny, glorious, jungle-intensive Hilo on Hawaii's Big Island. Since many of you folks from the West Coast make the trip to the islands every year I'm here to give you a few new ideas of where to explore next to make your trip worthwhile. I'll introduce you to some familiar and some off-the-beaten-path adventures that will be right at your finger-tips when you arrive on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Big Island of Hawaii map 

Onomea Bay
    Just 10 minutes north of Hilo you see a sign for the "Scenic Route" which will take you on on a portion of the Old Mamalahoa Highway. This twisty old highway used to be the only route to travel the Hamakua Coast of East Hawaii until the 1950's. In those times, it took an hour or two to drive 10 miles from the plantation towns to Hilo. On this side trip, you'll enter into dense jungle which was used in scenes from the most recent Indiana Jones movie. So, if you're feeling like you should be seeing monkeys leaping through the trees--you're not too far off ...
Stunning Onomea Bay, just north of Hilo, HI on the Big Island

    Under the dense canopy of branches, palms and vines, you'll pass over rivers on one-lane bridges, see waterfalls, and snap pictures of amazing tropical plants. Then you'll round a bend and you'll see Onomea Bay below you. Park on a shoulder along the roadside, get out and enjoy the view. You'll notice a mostly paved foot trail that goes downward toward the ocean. This is a walk to experience. It's only about a quarter of a mile long and completely worth your time. If you veer off to the right you'll come out at a rocky beach, but if you continue straight on the path you'll pass along the side of the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden (worth the price of admission back up on the road) on an easement trail that's open to the public.
It's off the beaten path, yet one of the most beautiful spots on the whole island...

If you go just a little farther you'll soon see a river. If it isn't too deep you can cross or go for a dip under the waterfall. Walk around and explore. The combination of the jungle pushed to the edge of the crashing ocean swells, with palm trees and amazing geology makes this one of my very favorite spots on the entire island. On a sunny morning there's nothing like Onomea Bay!

Laupahoehoe Point
    If you continue north on Highway 19 for another 20 minutes you'll pass through the town of Laupahoehoe. There's an overlook where  you can look down on the ocean and see Laupahoehoe Point.  Drive a few minutes farther on the highway, through the deep valley and up the other side, where there's a sign and turn-off to the park at Laupahoehoe Point. Turn right from the highway, then immediately right again. The old road hugs the cliff to the park on the point below. Bring a picnic lunch, and choose one of the great vantage points on the shore to watch the swells blast and surge against the rugged lava of the point. When the surf is up and the sky is blue you'll be knocked off your feet by the scenery.
The view of Laupahoehoe Point from up above

    When you reach the sea level you'll be greeted by natural black lava formations and lots of places to go walking, beach combing, and grassy places to lay out your towel and tan, if you like. Trust me, it's the perfect place for a picnic, family gathering, to snap pictures, or meditate--whatever sounds good. 
Laupahoehoe Point from sea level--enjoy the lava formations and the natural scenery that surrounds

Hapuna Beach Park
    Now here's a beach that isn't so "undiscovered" but I had to include it because it's been voted one of the top 10 beaches in the world many times before and it truly is a gem--it shouldn't be missed. Hapuna Beach Park is located on the NW side of the Big Island and if you've been looking for a white sand beach to sink your toes into then this is the beach for you.
A look at Hapuna Beach--check out that sky

    Hapuna is a luxuriously long, sandy beach park enjoyed by locals and visitors from all over the world every day of the year. On a calm day you can go snorkeling at the north end of the beach, but on a slightly wavier day body boarding/boogie boarding is the sport of choice.
Body boarding on the supple waves--I can't get enough of it!

Things To Know:
  • If you're planning to take a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii there are some months to visit when you'll find cheaper airfare--January, May, September, and October are often less expensive
  • Papaya Sunrise just north of Hilo and 5 minutes from Onomea Bay is my vacation rental of choice
  • There is so much to see on the Big Island--the volcano, the observatories, tons of beaches, loads of hikes--there's something for people of all ages and interests
  • To learn more about what's really going on on the island check out: Hawaii Moku Nui (which means "Hawaii Big Island" in Hawaiian)
The ocean just goes on and on and on...(another view from Laupahoehoe Point)

Have a fantastic trip full of adventures and relaxation!

4 comments:

  1. It's okay, just hop on an airplane and keep going west...for a while...and before you know it--you'll be there! ;)

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  2. Very beautiful, interesting and lovely photos.

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  3. Gorgeous photos! Not that I ever tire about reading about Puget Sound, but I have to say your photos just make me need to take a trip to the big island. Thanks for the travel tips and advice.

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