Before I left Oahu to come back to PA for a full-time job, I HAD to go to the Big Island. I mean, how could I live in Hawaii and not see a volcano?! Also, for those visiting Oahu, the Big Island (and all the other islands) is a short plane ride, if you want to do some island hopping.
The morning we went, we got up at 2:30am to catch a 4:45am flight. So early!! We landed in Hilo and got our rental car. The airport is small and you can walk right over to the car rentals. For breakfast, we stopped at Ken’s House of Pancakes. We had a huge, delicious breakfast to get us started for our busy day.
Our first stop was Rainbow Falls, right outside Hilo. We got to the Falls very early, about 7:30am. We were the only ones there. It was so tranquil and beautiful. A perfect way to start the day!
After a few minutes of relaxing, it was off to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park! We stopped to see the steam vents before heading to the crater. We got to the park before the Jagger Museum opened, so we had the Kīlauea Overlook to ourselves! It was such a feeling of “awe”. One of my favorite things about travel is how it makes you feel so small. It would be really cool to go at night and see the lava, but that was not possible with our schedule. However, if you are able to, I definitely recommend it as I have heard great reviews!
From there, we drove around Crater Rim Drive and made all the stops! Haha. The road goes the entire way around. However, due to volcanic activity, portions are closed off. We had to turn around part way and back track to get to the other half of the road. Enjoy the photos below!
We took the winding Chains of Craters Road. We finally got to the top and stood at Kealakomo Overlook. Again, the feeling was unable to be explained. It was like walking on the moon. It was much colder up there and rainy. We were, again, the only ones viewing the sites at the time, making it even more eerie.
We continued down the road to sea level to view the Holei Sea Arch.
We left the park and drove south to Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. It was nice to take a break and sit by the water. Surprisingly, the beach was not too busy.
By now, we were starving! We stopped at Hana Hou and got some bomb-ass chicken katsu! We had to get dessert afterwards, duh. We stopped right across the street to Punalu’u Bake Shop. Two words… taro malasadas. ❤ I can’t even think about those without my mouth watering. I would legit trade my husband for one… just kidding. Maybe… 😉
We stopped at the Jagger Museum in the park on the way back. It is a small museum, but worth the visit. Last, we stopped in Hilo and walked around the waterfront for an hour or so before heading back to the airport for our flight back to Oahu.
The Big Island is HUGE. It is a great destination for your entire vacation. However, if you don’t have time to see the entire island, at least stop and visit the National Park (and get some taro malasada). 🙂