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3 Big Island Hikes Worth Exploring

The Big Island is a beautiful island with plenty of places for you to explore. Rather than going to the gym, many locals opt to set out on a hiking adventure which may include waterfalls, black sand beaches, and spectacular snorkeling. The following are three hikes that I recommend if you want to put a little more adventure into your Hawaii Life.

Captain Cook Monument – Skip the Boat & Take a Hike

When you think of Captain Cook Monument, the first thing that may come to mind is traveling there via kayak or tour boat. What many people don’t realize is that you can reach the bay’s sparkling blue waters via a moderate hike.

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Captain Cook Monument | Photo Courtesy of HawaiiActivities.com

There seem to be inconsistencies on the internet about the estimated distance of the hike. Distances quoted range between 3.8 to 5 miles, but there is nothing like concluding a hot hike with a great snorkeling session. Keep in mind that the hike has a 1,300 ft. in elevation gain over some rocky terrain, making the hike back up into a great workout. A lot of the tour boats arrive by about 9 am, so if you get on it early you can experience the bay free of crowds.

Pu’u Wa’Awa’a – Take It Up the Mountain

Whether you are traveling on Hwy 190 or Queen Ka’ahumanu Hwy, you may notice the large cinder cone on the slope of Hualalai Mountain that resembles a giant green Jell-O mold. One of the largest in the area, Pu’u Wa’Awa’a (pronounced pooh-ooh-wha-a wha-ah) cinder is thought to be over 100,000 years old.

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Pu’u wa’awa Crater | Photo Courtesy of Fletcher Films

Surrounded by ranch lands and native forests, it is possible to do a nice big loop and experience everything the area has to offer. What’s nice is that the round trip mileage for the hike is 8 miles, but for every trail, you can customize your day to make the hike as long or as short as you want.

Mo’okini Heiau – Step Back in Time

It is very seldom that people consider the barren coast of North Kohala as a hiking destination. If you have hiked Pololu Valley and are looking for something different, the hike to Mo’okini Heiau is an interesting option.

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North Kohala Coastline | Photo Courtesy of Wendy Wagner

Considered to be one of the most amazing archeological sites on all of the Hawaiian Islands, oral tradition says that tens of thousands of men passed stones hand-by-hand from the Pololū Valley, nearly 9 miles away. If a stone was dropped, it was left where it lay, and there is a trail of polished basalt rocks to and from the heiau to Pololū Valley.

An easy 3.25 mile round trip hike along a dramatic coastline with views of Maui, and best of all, you can watch the whales as you make the trek! If you walk a bit further, you will find the supposed birthplace of Kamehameha the Great.

A Friendly Reminder

It is important to note that if you plan to take a hike, please keep in mind that access to many of these places is via private land and do not have public parking areas. Please be sure to respect the people who live near the area to ensure we all continue to have access in the future. 

For more information about the hikes or others here on the Big Island, I recommend you visit BigIslandHikes.com.

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