As a Big Island resident, I am always on the search for the simple gems of Hawaii living and love to share my finds for enjoying the Big Island of Hawaii. Whether you’re a full-time resident or just visiting, you will find so many places to visit that can be done affordably. Here are a few of my favorites!
Affordable Activities on the Big Island
Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a definite must-see when on island. After closing for over four months during the recent massive Lower East Rift Zone in Puna, the park recently reopened in November 2020. If you plan on making a trip over soon, you are in luck as Kilauea is active and erupting once again. The caldera is currently filling with lava and is a spectacular sight to be seen in the evening or very early morning right before sunrise. The park encompasses two of the five volcanoes located on the island, Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Mauna Loa is the largest volcano on earth in terms and volume and area, however, Kilauea is the most active volcano on earth erupting continuously from 1983 to 2018 and now active again. Take a look online and read what the park has to offer its visitors. Consider a hike, a picnic, or just a long drive checking out the many calderas from the past and spectacular ocean views. Consider the Volcano House if you are thinking about staying in the park for a few nights. This historical gem dates back to the mid-1800s with lodging and a gourmet restaurant overlooking the Kilauea Caldera.
Big Island Farmers’ Markets
Be sure and visit one or more of the many Farmer’s Markets such as the famous Hilo Farmer’s Market. Here you will find the freshest Hawaiian grown produce, local honey, and much more. Try some exotic fruit such as rambutan, lychee, jackfruit, starfruit, dragon fruit, and many more. Your taste buds will be surprised with new tropical flavors and textures. Along with your fruits and vegetables be sure to grab a bouquet of tropical flowers for your table and some fresh fish, such as Mahi Mahi, Ono, or Ahi to complete your finds.
Try Out Some Water Sports
Take advantage of a new sport when on island such as surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, or snorkeling. Hawaii Island is home to some of the best beaches in the world. My favorite beach is Mauna Kea Beach, also known as Kaunaoa Beach. This beach is a dedicated swimming bay about a quarter mile wide from side to side and the snorkeling at each end is outstanding! Check out the brand new Pohoiki Black Sand Beach located along the Kalapana Coast in the Puna District. This brand new beach is a result of the most recent lava flow from Kilauea in 2018.
Pick Up a Book (or 3) About the Big Island
One of my favorites was written by Isabella L. Bird, titled Six Months in the Sandwich Islands. Written about her experiences in 1873, Bird writes about her experiences as a single woman traveling alone, from volcanoes to kings to the local people living in rural isolation. Several others I recommend are Hawaiian Mythology by Martha Beckwith, Mark Twain’s Letters From Hawaii and Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii by Samuel Kamakau. Reading about the Big Island will enrich your travels and help you to understand the unique history of Hawaiian culture.
Visit the Many Art Galleries
Make sure you visit the many local art galleries located throughout the island. A few of my favorite galleries include the Isaacs Art Center in Waimea, The Volcano Art Center Gallery located in Volcano National Park, and Dreams of Paradise Gallery located in Hilo. Hawaii’s local art is unique, whether a painting, sculpture, jewelry or woodwork. The painting above of recent lava flow in Kalapana is a piece from Rod Cameron. He is well known for his impressionistic oil paintings which can be found in fine galleries throughout Hawaii.
Enjoy the Big Island Lifestyle
Having started with a vacation home 20 years ago to now living here full time, I now embrace the Big Island lifestyle and have never looked back. It has been a blessing to have the opportunity to learn new things and incorporate the Hawaii lifestyle into my life. I encourage you to take the opportunity to learn and explore the magical Big Island. Who knows, you too may fall in love with this gentle tropical living and choose to move or retire here.
PS: Tell me about your experiences from your visit to the Big Island!