NATURE SPOTS & PLACES TO SEE ON THE BIG ISLAND
Kehena Beach – At this dramatic, clothing optional, black sand beach you won’t see any Japanese tour buses, but you may see explicit body parts. If you’re cool with that, then it’s worth the trip. It’s right off 137 just before the Kulani Honua Resort, you will see a small parking area on the ocean side of the road and a few cars. There is no sign marking the path down the bluff and no stairs, but it’s not a difficult walk down. Be aware the surf can be deceptively rough and waves crashing on the shore can be dangerous. Just be cautious and watch the other swimmers. Dolphins are frequently spotted playing in the beautiful blue water and the coconut palms and tropical setting is quite lovely. Recommended for the adventurous.
Pualaa (also called Ahalanui) Warm Pools Beach Park – This county park is the best natural swimming spot in the area. This very large pool is situated right next to the ocean where the salt water gushes in at one end and the warm mineral waters at the other end. It’s a big warm pond on the ocean! The natural setting is gorgeous with coconut palms, picnic tables, showers and porta-toilets. Again this is on 137 and is well marked. This is a great spot for the whole family.
Pohoiki Surf Break – Considered by many to be the best surf spot in lower Puna! Not really any sandy beach but it’s an easy entry into the water and “Bowls” is an incredible tube ride. Just up from Pualaa Warm Pools Beach Park. Stay on red road (137) and you can’t miss it. There is also a boat launch and an amazing bay which has great waves too. There is a new park here now!!
Kapoho Tide Pools & Champagne Pond - Heading south on 137 leads past Kapoho-Kai Road. This road goes to one of the most unusual locations on the Big Island. Dozens and dozens of spring-fed, brackish pools and tide-pools, some volcanically heated, are strewn thoughout the area known as Kapoho Tidepools. Champagne Pond is located in the gated community of Kapoho Beach lots, but you can park and walk inside.
You will find a calm, protected ocean inlet filled with crystal clear water. A scattering of fish and many sea turtles (I have seen 9 at one time) await. The ocean water is also geothermally heated (about 90 degrees on top) and changes with the tide.
Volcano Area – Volcano National Park – This is a must and has something for everyone. The Thurston Lava Tube is a big cave created by the lava flow. The caldera and rim of the volcano is spectacular. Drive down chain of craters road to the end and hike to the lava flow. Be sure to take good walking shoes, water, and if you go at night a flashlight.
Kileaua Caverns Tour – tours of caves made from lava flows! Amazing!
Hilo Area - Richardson’s State Beach Park – A nicely protected black sand beach that’s good for swimming and snorkeling. Lovely setting with large trees, ponds, picnic tables and showers. Safe for children. Located on the south end of Hilo Bay.
Akaka Falls – A stunning botanical garden with one of the largest waterfalls on the island. Take a picnic and spend some time nature watching. About 15 minutes north of Hilo on the main highway.
Rainbow Falls – Just minutes above Hilo – an awesome double waterfall
Helicopter tours from Hilo airport – great experience especially on a clear day!
West side of the island
Hapuna Beach – voted the best white sand beach on the Big Island. Good swimming, boogie boarding, and body surfing, as well as snorkeling.
Captain Cook’s Bay & Monument – in south Kona in Kealakakua in one of the most scenic bays you will ever see. A small black sand beach, but the water is like an aquarium with many varieties of tropical fish.
Waipio Valley – on the Hamakua Coast this valley has a staggering look out that will make you a believer. This was the site of the last battle of King Kamahamaha’s unification of the island. Legend has it that sometimes the spirits of dead warriors appear on the valley wall. Horseback riding tours are available!
Waimea – charming town on the North Coast that reminds one of the Pacific Northwest. The Hawaiian cowboys, the paniolos, who inhabit the area have horse shoes and rodeos. The Parker Ranch, the largest in the USA, takes up much of the surrounding area.
Punaluu Black Sand Beach – beautiful beach where you can often sea giant sea turtles!