PRISTINE BEACHES, VIBRANT CORAL REEFS, BLACK-LAVA LANDSCAPE AND DIVERSE CLIMATE ZONES; HAWAI’I ISLAND, USA
Day 1 – Arrive Kona, Hawai’i Island
Hawai’i Island hosts two international airports: Kona International Airport on the western coast and Hilo International Airport on the eastern coast. Our resort is situated on the western coast, hence we fly to Kona International Airport. There are direct flights to/from Kona from USA’s west coast cities, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle. Upon arrival at the airport, we pick up our rental car and drive approximately 20 minutes to our resort. In the evening, we enjoy dinner at our resort’s oceanfront restaurant.
Note: Hawai’i is an incredibly beautiful and unique island. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with its active Kilauea volcano is a captivating site to visit. When finalizing your travel plans, we recommend to review in advance the weather reports and the volcano activity reports, based on the recent news.
Day 2 – Hamakua Coast
An excursion to the Hamakua Coast dazzles us with its magnificent cliffs, lush valleys, natural waterfalls and tropical forests. We drive approximately an hour to the Waipi’o Valley Lookout where we observe steep cliffs, winding lush valley, black sand beach along a stormy ocean. The pleasant hike to the Waipi’o Valley enables a closer view of the lush vegetation and expansive beach. Next, we drive an hour along the coastal route to the Akaka Falls State Park. A short nature trail guides us through the tropical forest, by the bamboo groves, ferns and flowers to the beautiful waterfall. We continue driving along the picturesque 4-mile coastal route, passing Onomea Bay and Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. We observe scenic cliffs, tropical rainforest, exotic plants and flowers, and waterfalls. A drive to the south of Hamakua Coast takes us to Hilo, a charming small city situated along Hilo Bay with historic architecture and popular Café Pesto serving local specialties.
Day 3 – Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
A visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Center of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park begins with a scenic two hour drive across Hawai’i Island. The Kilauea Visitor Center provides a visitor guide and educates about the world’s most active Kilauea volcano and massive Mauna Loa volcano. Across the expansive park, there are hiking trails, camping grounds, desolate deserts and panoramic lookout points. A walk to the main lookout point reveals the Kilauea volcano’s large crater with smoke coming out from its center. Inside the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, we visit the natural treasure of the Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku), a solid structure of a lava cave formed by lava flow. The Crater Rim Drive encircles the Kilauea volcano and offers scenic points to observe the Sulfur Banks and their volcanic gasses and the Kilauea Iki Lookout showing steam coming out of the crater’s floor.
Day 4 – Kohala Coast, Beach Day & Snorkeling
Traversing the Kohala Coast lets us admire the stunning scenery of the rocky shores, white sand beaches and the Pahoehoe lava terrain. We start the day by exploring our resort’s expansive grounds. We walk along the beach, swim in the turquoise waters, snorkel and observe the turtles warming up on the rocky shore. We enjoy a relaxing lunch at our resort’s oceanfront restaurant. Our snorkeling excursion along the Kohala Coast offers us a closer encounter with the endangered Sea Green Turtle (Honu) in their natural habitat. In the early evening, we drive 20 minutes on Highway 19 to the Waikoloa Shopping Mall, Queens’ Market Place. We have a delicious dinner at the Sansei Seafood, Steakhouse and Sushi Bar Restaurant serving wonderful contemporary Asian cuisine.
Day 5 – South Point (Ka Lae)
The wilderness, spaciousness and surreal coastal scenery await visitors of the South Point (Ka Lae). In the morning, we drive two hours to the south of Hawai’i Island, the most southern point of the United States. Nearing Ka Lae, we observe the landscape of green pastures, golden colored grass and sporadic trees leaning to the direction of the wind. At the South Point, we observe majestic cliffs rising high above the ocean, fishermen lining their fishing rods along the shore and a group of thrill seekers diving into the ocean. We take a leisurely walk to the Green Sand Beach, a unique beach with green sand resulting from the presence of the green mineral olivine. We relax on the beach and enjoy a picnic. At the end of the day, we drive back to our resort and stop at the scenic lookout points along the way.
Day 6 – Kona Coast
Today, we venture to Hawai’i Island’s western coast to explore historic villages, fertile volcanic slopes, a Hawaiian cultural and historical sanctuary, and colorful marine life. We drive an hour along the Kona coast to the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park to see the Hawaiian sacred temples, fishponds, petroglyphs (lava rocks carvings) and wooden images of Gods displayed across the park’s grounds. Next, we drive 10 minutes to the Kealakekua Bay, a perfect destination for swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving and sun bathing. A short distance from the bay, we visit coffee farms to learn about the process of cultivating Kona Coffee. In the afternoon, we drive half an hour to the Kailua Village, a historic oceanside town where we browse souvenir shops and have dinner.
Day 7 – Beach Day
The Kona Coast is a beach lover’s paradise with fine white sand beaches, turquoise ocean waters and colorful underwater life. Our day passes exploring the nearby Kua Bay and the beautiful Hapuna Beach, situated half an hour away from our resort. In the afternoon, we return to our resort and relax by the beautiful beach encircled by the beautiful black-lava scenery. In the evening, we taste Hawaiian fish specialties at the Ulu Ocean Grill Restaurant at our resort.
Day 8 – Kona, Hawai’i Island Departure
In the morning, we enjoy a relaxing half-day at our resort. We begin with the breakfast buffet at an outdoor terrace. We pass our time lounging on the beach, swimming and appreciating the captivating ocean views. In the afternoon, we drive to the airport, return our rental car and fly back home.
Hawai’i – The Hawaiian Islands are a string of islands created by volcanic activity on the ocean floor. Spread across the North Pacific Ocean, the islands chain consists of several large islands, atolls, reefs and islets. The main islands include Hawai’i, Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Lanai, Molokai, Niihau and Kahoolawe. Maui attracts visitors seeking romance and the world-famous beaches, Oahu is a lively tropical paradise and heart of the islands, and Hawai’i is the nature lover’s dream. Hawai’i, also known as the Big Island, is the largest of the Hawaii Islands. It has lovely white sand beaches, turquoise ocean waters, national park with active volcano, black-lava landscape, diverse climate zones and captivating scenery.
Hamakua Coast - The northeast district of Hawai’i Island is defined by its natural and very unique landscape. The Hamakua Coast has diverse climate zones that contribute to its coastal beauty with striking cliffs, lush valleys, waterfalls and tropical forests. The Waipi’o Valley Lookout offers panoramic views of vegetation covered cliffs, winding lush valley, black sand beach and a stormy ocean. During our visit, a white fog hangs over the valley with periodic sun rays peeking through the clouds. The pleasant hike to the bottom of Waipi’o Valley enables a closer view of the lush vegetation and the beautiful beach. The continued drive along the coast exposes lush vegetation and diverse tropical and subtropical climate zones. The Akaka Falls State Park offers a pleasant walk through the tropical forest. A short nature trail guides us along the bamboo groves, ferns and flowers, and leads us to the beautiful waterfall. The continued 4-mile coastal route along Onomea Bay and Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden exhibits a rocky landscape and a collection of tropical forest, plants, exotic flowers and waterfalls. In the southern part of the Hamakua Coast, the charming city of Hilo is situated along the Hilo Bay. Hilo’s historic architecture, coastal setting and popular Café Pesto invite visitors to leisurely explore the town and appreciate its local cuisine.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – A visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Center of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park reveals the expansive terrain and panoramic views of the Kilauea volcano. The Kilauea Visitor Center provides a visitor guide and educates about the world’s most active Kilauea volcano and the massive Mauna Loa volcano. Across the park, there are hiking trails, camping grounds, desolate deserts and panoramic lookout points. A walk to the main lookout point reveals the Kilauea volcano’s large crater with smoke coming out from its center. During our visit, a light rain, with an occasional sun, obstructs the best views of the crater. Kilauea volcano is a popular tourist destination that offers visitors a chance to observe the red lava at the volcano’s crater. Inside the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, there is the natural treasure of the Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku), a lava cave formed by the lava flow that with time created a solid cave structure with walls and ceiling. The Crater Rim Drive encircles the Kilauea volcano and offers scenic points to observe the Sulfur Banks with volcanic gasses and the Kilauea Iki Lookout showing steam coming out of the crater’s floor.
Kohala Coast – The Hawai’i Island’s western shore is blessed with magnificent beaches, crystal clear ocean waters and contrasting black-lava landscape. The dry climate at the Kohala Coast makes it an idyllic destination to enjoy blissful sunny days by the white sand beaches, picturesque bays and peaceful ocean. One can spend countless hours sunbathing on the pristine beaches surrounded by the rocky shores that are also favored by the turtles soaking in the sun. The coastal allure contrasted by the surrounding black and brown Pahoehoe lava, makes it a premium location for the island’s luxurious resorts, including our recommended Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. The Highway 19 route and pathway across the expansive grounds of the resort, showcase the natural beauty of the coast with yellow grass, bushes, exotic trees and seemingly infinite black and brown lava terrain. The Kohala Coast is the native habitat of the endangered Sea Green Turtle (Honu) that can be spotted along the sandy beaches and rocky shores. A snorkeling excursion along the coast offers a closer encounter with the sea green turtles in their native habitat.
South Point (Ka Lae) – The most southern point of the United States is Ka Lae, also known as South Point. A long route leading to South Point shows a captivating landscape defined by wilderness, spaciousness and nature. We observe a vast terrain with green pastures, golden colored grass and sporadic trees leaning in the direction of the wind. At South Point, there are majestic cliffs rising high above the seemingly infinite ocean. At the observation point, the steep cliffs become a perfect destination for thrill seekers and diving enthusiasts. Along the cliffs, tourists and fishermen enjoy the stunning scenery. As the strong waves hit the rocky shores, we hike to the Green Sand Beach, a unique beach where the sand is naturally green due to the high content of the green mineral olivine. As the green mineral olivine enters the sea, the currents separate the heavier mineral and result in the unique green sand color. South Point is an amazingly beautiful place creating the feeling of truly being at the end of the world.
Kona Coast – An exploration of the island’s western coast leads us to the sunny Kona Coast. Along the Kona Coast, there are historic villages, fertile volcanic slopes, Hawaiian cultural and historical sanctuary, and colorful marine life. The Kailua Village is a historical and cultural imprint of Hawai’i Island. The slopes of the Mount Hualalai and the Mauna Loa volcanoes serve as the fertile fields used to cultivate the aromatic Kona Coffee. The Kealakekua Bay and the southern Kona Coast offer a peaceful setting with calm and clear ocean waters, and are a preferred destination for snorkeling, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing and dolphin watching. The Kona Coast also hosts the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park where we explore Hawaiian sacred temples, fishponds, petroglyphs (lava rocks carvings) and wooden images of Gods displayed across the park’s grounds.
Diverse Climate Zones – A visit to the Hawai’i Islands surprises us with an incredibly beautiful and colorful topography in part due to the island’s diverse climate zones. There are 13 climate zones on earth and there are 11 climate zones in Hawai’i Island. As we drive across the islands, we notice distinct, rapid, and at times drastic changes in the climate zones, clearly visible in the diverse tropical vegetation. The Hawai’i Island’s topography is defined by its lush rainforest, pristine beaches, massive volcanoes, beautiful deserts, black-lava landscape and snow covered mountains. The Kohala Coast has the driest climate with plentiful sunshine. The climate of Kona Coast ensures clear mornings, sunshine during the day and frequent cloudy afternoons. The city of Hilo receives high rain precipitation resulting in the lush vegetation and picturesque surrounding landscape. Hawai’i has an unusual landscape dominated by the black-lava colored by shrubs and grass. The island is also impacted by the active Kilauea volcano that emits Vog (gases) into the air. It is simply unspoiled nature with the most diverse topography of all the inhabited Hawaii Islands. The frequently changing weather across the climate zones, at times rapidly changing from rain to sun, offers a chance to observe the most beautiful rainbows draped over the Hawaiian rainforests and beaches.
Hawaiian Poke – The Hawaiian cuisine is a medley of colorful, flavorful and aromatic ingredients from the ocean and the tropical garden. In Hawaii, the abundance of fresh seafood, nutritious seaweed and Hawaiian spices ensures delectable culinary creations. The Hawaiian Poke is made from the freshest raw fish that is cut into small pieces and mixed with various herbs, seaweed and spices. The Ulu Ocean Grill Restaurant at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai serves inventive and refreshing dishes. We sample a Hawaiian Poke made of raw tuna, Ogo Seaweed, Sea Asparagus, green and white onions, soy sauce, sesame oil and Red Alaea Salt. The Red Alaea Salt is a traditional Hawaiian spice that is made of the sea salt mixed with the red alae volcanic clay found in the Hawaii Islands. These colorful ingredients are assembled together just before serving. This luscious poke surprises with wonderfully balanced flavors, textures and aromas.
Hawaiian Luau – The Luau is a Hawaiian party hosted outdoors, serving traditional Hawaiian cuisine, and entertaining with Hawaiian music and dances. During our trip, we choose the Fairmont Orchid Hotel to enjoy their luau feast called “Gatherings of the Kings”. The festivities begin with the sumptuous buffet, inviting guests to degust culinary collections from the Pacific nations of Polynesia, Hawaii, Samoa and New Zealand. Dominating the buffet is the Kalua Pig, a whole pig traditionally cooked underground, resulting in amazingly flavorful and juicy meat. The buffet menu includes an abundance of tropical salads, varied seafood poke, grilled meats and fish, tropical fruits and desserts. A warm breeze, clear sky and bright stars create an idyllic setting to watch a Hawaiian performance showcasing native costumes, music and dances.
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai – A lovely beach, tropical landscape, rocky shore and the Pacific Ocean create a dream-like scenery for the luxurious Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. The spacious property is situated on Hawai’i Island’s west coast which ensures bountiful sunny days, white sand beaches and turquoise ocean waters. Palm trees, native plants and black lava encircle and decorate the resort’s secluded setting. The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is housed in two-storey bungalows with stunning ocean views, and/or views of the gardens, swimming pools and King’s Pond. Our second floor suite with large balcony overlooks the King’s Pond and the Pacific Ocean. In the morning, a decadent breakfast buffet is served at the lovely outdoor terrace. The Hualalai Golf Course is a well maintained 18-hole course extending across expansive green fairways and offering views of the black lava landscape and the ocean. The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is a special place, a tropical paradise that offers relaxation, seclusion, wild scenery, superb service and excellent cuisine.