Destination: Hawaii’s Big Island
The lava may still be flowing but tourism on Hawaii's youngest island is alive and well.
Our family loves the Hawaiian Islands – it’s our happy place. Normally, we head straight to Waikiki for a well deserved break, recently we spread our wings and ventured further than Oahu to the island of Hawaii which is affectionately known as the Big Island. With the current media coverage regarding the eruption of Kīlauea you may think that it is a “no go” zone but in fact, it is business as usual.
To put the situation into perspective, the youngest of the Hawaiian Islands is roughly the size of greater Sydney, and the volcanic flow is affecting an area similar in size to two suburbs with no impact to the popular tourist areas of Kona and Hilo.
Waikiki is at saturation point during the USA summer break/ Australian school holidays. Venturing to the beach, my head swivelled left to right (akin to watching a tennis match), looking for the last remaining patch of sand to deposit my towel; crossing Kalakaua Ave resembled a major CBD intersection at lunchtime. The same could not be said for the Big Island. As we drove from the airport past the remnants of lava from flows of old, we wound our way down to the township of Kona. No hoards of tourists waiting 1.5 hours for a table at the Cheesecake Factory here, instead a smattering of people perched on the harbour wall watching the outriggers return or gazing out from a café balcony, Mai Tai in hand. The main street is one lane, fringed by quirky shops and architecture from the early 1900’s. No crowds, no spruikers – everything casual and relaxed.
With only three days on the island our itinerary was planned with military precision, not the “we’ll just wing it” holiday we usually swear by. Snorkelling, dolphin swim, lava fields, Heli tour over the lava flow (bucket list), waterfalls, Mauna Kea – check. But the pièce de résistance was our Manta Ray night snorkel. I have been recommending this activity to my clients for years, secretly envious it was them and not me and it truly was the highlight of my trip. I was in constant awe of these majestic creatures as they barrel-rolled and paraded past, mouths agape scooping up plankton illuminated by our light boards. Serenely gliding by and often mere centimetres from our faces, it was a magical experience.
The Big Island like North Shore on Oahu is reminiscent of the Hawaiian Islands in the 50’s and 60’s. Island time is alive and well, the locals are laid back and the vibe very relaxed. Mahalo Hawaii – until next time.
- Image courtesy Liquid Hawaii Charters