Sightseeing: Big Island, Hawaii

During my visit to the Big Island, I stayed at the Four Seasons Hualalai (see post here) which was an amazing experience as it is one of the best beach resorts I have ever been to. The resort truly evokes the epitome of “old school” Hawaii. However, what really made the trip a success was experiencing the island and all it has to offer.

So having said that, here is No Ordinary Resort’s Top Ten Must Do’s on the Big Island.

1. Take an Outrigger Canoe Ride.

Nothing screams Hawaii more than an Outrigger Canoe. I was enamored with the unique shape and look of it, and I found it really easy to paddle (with the help of the two men on-board). There is nothing I love nothing more than gliding around the water and enjoying the surrounding wildlife. We took the time to jump off the canoe and snorkel for awhile, spotting some sea turtles being “cleaned” by fish who nibble on the algae on their back.

@2012 Susan Edel
2. Visit Kikaua Point Park.

If Kikaua Point Park doesn’t evoke the image of paradise for you, then you might as well pack it up and head home. The soft, white sand beach against the black lava rock, the crystal clear blue water as well as the beautiful dancing trees are a stunning sight.

3. Take a Helicopter Ride.

Many suppliers offer helicopter rides on the island. You can catch a ride from both the Kona and Hilo side of the island, depending on what location is closer to where you are staying. There are several different scenic routes offered but the most popular routes are to the volcano and waterfalls.

@2012 Susan Edel

Word of warning, although this is an expensive adventure, it is not unusual for these companies to be booked out days in advance so be sure to make reservations beforehand. I had not made previous reservations and unfortunately missed out on this great experience.

4. Revel and Appreciate a Stunning Sunset.

Be sure to take at least one night (if not all) to sit still and relax with a drink in hand to witness and truly appreciate the beauty of a Hawaiian sunset.

@2012 Susan Edel

5. Do a Nightime Snorkel with the Manta Rays.

This is another very popular adventure where, one of many tour companies, can take you to do a nighttime snorkel with Manta Rays. The guides who take you will light up the water so you can see the Manta Rays swim up to you. As with the helicopters, this is a very popular adventure so be sure to make reservations days in advance to secure your spot.

@2012 Susan Edel
Image courtesy of http://www.dolphinjourneys.com

6. Be Sure to See a White, Green and Black Sand Beach.

Kona is famous not only for their white sand beaches but also for their black sand beaches which derive their color from the surrounding lava rocks that are so prevalent in this area. Kona also is home to one of the rare green sand beaches which is rich in olivine also known as peridot when of gem quality.

@2012 Susan Edel@2012 Susan Edel@2012 Susan Edel
7. Make a Pit-Stop at Punalu’u Bake Shop.

If you are on the south side of the island as your tummy starts to grumble, or even if it’s not, be sure to stop at the Punalu’u Bake Shop and get yourself a sandwich made with their famous sweet bread. I guarantee you, you won’t be able to resist picking up a sweet somethin’-somethin’ for dessert either.

@2012 Susan Edel

FYI, be prepared to share your meal. 🙂

@2012 Susan Edel

8. Visit an Active Volcano at Kilauea.

Well, you just don’t go to the Big Island and not see an active volcano. Kīlauea means “spewing” or “much spreading” in the Hawaiian language, referring to its frequent outpouring of lava. This volcano has been continuously erupting since 1983. We witnessed it from the state park visitor’s area which only allowed us to see the smoke billowing out, but other options are to take a helicopter ride to see it from above or to hike in and get closer to the lava flow.

@2012 Susan Edel@2012 Susan Edel
9. Visit the Botanical Gardens and North Coast of the Island.

Unfortunately for us, driving around the island was a longer excursion than we planned (and I suppose we got side-tracked too many times which is easy to do) but a visit to the north side of the island was highly recommended. We were told that botanical gardens, The Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden is in Captain Cook and waterfalls were definitely something worth seeing. Another activity suggested by many was horseback riding. I guess this just gives me a good reason to go back!

@2012 Susan Edel
10. Bring Home Donkey Balls!

We all like to bring home gifts that are indigenous to the location, and although the Big Island’s Kona coffee and macadamia nuts are great, let’s face it ~ a little over done. Bring home a little humor and some Donkey Balls as a different treat. This is the best of all world’s as these are yummy chocolate covered macadamia nuts with 100% Kona coffee…BAM! You cannot find these just anywhere, you have to go to a Donkey Ball Factory Outlet so be sure to find out where one is located near you.

So there you have it. These are my recommendations for some fun activities while on the Big Island of Hawaii. Aloha and Mahalo!

Four Seasons Maui

If you haven’t been to Maui, Hawaii, then I strongly suggest you add this wonderful paradise to your list. Maui, in my opinion, is one of the best Hawaiian islands because it’s not as crazy as Oahu but still has enough night life to keep you entertained.

At the top of my list for luxury accommodations is the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. As with all Four Seasons properties, the extraordinary service is what creates the ultimate experience and guarantees that your stay will be an absolute pleasure.

Maui 7-2013 245.NEF

Wailea is a beautiful and upscale location on the island and many of the high-end hotels are located here. It is approximately a 30 minute drive to the more touristy area of Lahaina and Ka’anapali which hosts the majority of hotels, shops and restaurants on the island.

The Property

The Four Seasons Maui is a medium size property situated on Wailea Beach in a cove setting and shares the beach with the Grand Wailea Resort. The Grand Wailea Resort is a huge luxury resort and is an extremely active property with a lot of families. The Four Seasons is also a very family-friendly resort but is a much more intimate setting, which I personally prefer. I will say though, that even if you are staying at the Four Seasons, I do recommend walking next door and checking out the Grand Wailea Spa. It was named one of the top 10 spas in the United States by Conde Nast and its exclusive Terme Hydrotherapy Water Circuit is not to be missed.

The grounds at the Four Seasons are lush with plantings of large banana trees, hibiscus flowers and other indigenous plants that give the resort a very tropical feel. The public spaces of the resort are designed to be open and airy creating that indoor/outdoor living concept. The hub of the activity centers around the Lobby Bar and a must is to have a sunset drink while munching on their delicious (and addictive) house made fruit and nut mix. I actually enjoy grabbing a casual dinner here as well, but there are three on-property restaurants for your dining pleasure, SpagoFerraro’s Bar E Ristorante, and Duo Steak and Seafood.

The Guest Rooms

Four Seasons, Maui

The rooms at this resort are simplistically classic in decor and spacious. A very nice feature are the large, marble bathrooms with dual sinks, soaking tub and separate shower. Something to know is that this resort is built in a horseshoe shape and because of this, very few rooms have straightforward ocean views. The ones that do are either the suites, or the rooms that are most inward. The remaining rooms are located on the sides of the building facing the water to one side or another. The Prime Ocean View category rooms will get you the best views as they are located at the ends closest to the water and on the higher levels.

The Beach and Pool

Wailea Beach is a nice, large stretch of clean sand. The snorkeling is as good here as anywhere on the island and it is common to see large Sea Turtles swimming around along with many other sea life. The Four Seasons will set up chairs and an umbrella for you on the beach and they do provide drink and food service throughout the day.

If you prefer a pool setting, then you can choose from one of three pools ~ the main pool, kids pool and my personal favorite, the adult Serenity pool. There is a charge for the cabanas at the Serenity pool but they do not charge for the cabanas at the main pool which is a nice perk, those are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Not that there is any reason to leave this resort with the great snorkeling right outside the door, 3 pools, a spa and gym, golf, tennis, onsite scheduled activities and other amenities; but if you are looking for some fun day excursions you may want to consider the drive to Hana (read up on this first ~ this is an all day adventurous ride) and grab lunch or dinner at Mama’s Fish House along the way, diving, zip lining, or maybe a catamaran ride over the island of Lana’i on the Trilogy. If you do the latter, be sure to visit the (2) Four Seasons hotels located on Lana’i ~ Four Seasons Manele Bay and Four Seasons Koele. If you want to check out the best luau on the island, make reservations (a must) at the Old Lahaina Luau. All in all, Maui is a fail-safe vacation that will always leave you wanting more.

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If you would like more information on this property or help in booking a stay, please contact me using the contact box below.