By far one of our best days on the Big Island was spent under the sea, scuba diving at Pu’uhonua O Honahunau National Park , also known as the Place of Refuge. This area was considered sacred land by the Hawaiians, and was favored by Hawaiian Chiefs. Hale-o-Keawe acted as the royal mausoleum and held the remains of 23 chiefs.
There is a lot to see and do at this National Park and you can easily spend the whole day or a few hours at a minimum here. I suggest arriving in the morning, where you can walk around the historic Hawaiian village before it gets to hot or humid.
Then plan for a snorkel, and be sure to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the picnic area, which is a beautiful palm tree lined beach area where there are tide pools, and if you’re lucky the whales or dolphins will put on a show for you out at sea. There is a short hike along the cliffs that at one time would take you to a cave that is now sealed off. You will see spectacular views of the area along the cliffs and we were surprised by a herd of small goats that came down to the shoreline.
There is a beach area known as two step which is a favorite dive and snorkel area, known for seeing turtles, large heads of coral lots of fish . There is a shelf that drops off into the deep blue abyss where sometimes you can see and swim with larger ocean mammals like whales and dolphins. On this day, we swam underwater with the yellow tang, Moorish Idol, Parrot fish, and Honu (Hawaiian for turtle).
This national park is located about 30 minutes south of Kona. There is a great place to have breakfast along the way called The Coffee Shack.
On a separate day, during a beach exploration we traveled down a dirt road to a favorite locals beach that has recently been turned into a State Park. We had seen this dirt road on trips past, and were never too sure we had the right vehicle for it, as typically, our rentals are not 4 wheel drive. This trip we had a Jeep, not a wrangler but a jeep all the same, we decided to give the trail a try. It wasn’t so bad. We made it to the parking lot, and their were two choices of beaches within walking distance.
We walked towards the closest oasis of palm trees, and were surprised with a roped off section of the beach where a team of conservationists Ke Kai Ola, or The Marine Mammel Center, a hospital dedicated to caring for Monk Seals. were closely watching a mother and seal cub, the cub was only six days old. These were Hawaiian monk seals. There are only four adults Monk seals that inhabit the Big Island of Hawaii. Now there are five. The momma looked tired and she was resting in the shallow tide pools of the water, the baby was busy like most toddlers and was jumping around and on top of momma.
The Hawaiian Monk Seal is a critically endangered species, and is also known as America’s Seal. The Hawaiian’s call the Monk Seal Ilio-holo-ikauaua (ee-lee-o holo ee ka ooa-ooa) meaning ‘dog that runs in the sea ’. There are fewer than 1,100 Monk Seals in total. You can read more about conservation efforts here.
Another favorite trip was the 4×4 jeep ride to green sands beach. We are lucky to have family or ohana on the island. Our cousin Dale has a jeep and one day he took us out to see the famous green sand beach, and also to do some beach clean up.
The road to green sand beach is mostly paved and the main road is surrounded by farm land, including active coffee farms you can visit. You will see horses, and cattle and small farms along the way. When you get closer to the coast you come to a fork, traveling north will take you to the ‘End of The World’. This shoreline is tall cliffs, with a ladder for those brave enough to take the leap into the clear waters. There is also a hole in the lava where other brave souls will take the dangerous plunge, and jump into a deep cave or channel that fills up when the surf comes in.
If you head south, you head towards the green sand beaches. If you do not have a four wheel drive vehicle, you can park in the parking lot. There are food vendors, and 4×4 trucks that will drive you out to green sand beach standing in the bed of a truck for a fee. Or you can walk, its about 3 miles out to the beach from the lot. The roads leading to green sand beach are rough and you definitely need a 4×4 vehicle to make the journey.
There are a lot of beaches along the way and view are spectacular, you will know when you get to green sand beach because you will see a tall mountain that overlooks the beach on the left. You have to hike about 100 feet down to the mountain. There is a trail, but I have also seen people do a butt slide down the hill on the sand. Whatever way you decide to go down to the beach is the right way. Make sure to walk to the top of the mountain or lookout point for the best view of the green sand beach.
This area is now as the Southern Most Point, which is even further south than the Southern Most Point in Key West.
We drove further down past the famous green sand beach and did some beach clean up at several other beaches. We didn’t have enough room in the jeep to bring it all back with us, but Dale spent most of his time loading up large plastic tubs washed to shore with plastic trash, fishing nets, and other debris that have been also washed to shore. It was very sad to see.
This post is getting long so I will break out the other adventures in a separate post.
What is your favorite thing to do on the Big Island?
Thank you for joining us. Please be sure to follow my blog if you want to keep up with our weekly adventures. If you enjoyed this post, please like this post or like my page or follow my weekly blog at Stephanie’s RV Travels. Comments are welcome and enjoyed. If you have a favorite place to go, that you would like to share please share in comments or send me a message.