Off the Beaten Path Big Island
Hawaii is an overall vacation paradise. It has everything in store for everyone: beach lovers, hiking enthusiasts, foodies, laid back travelers and adrenaline junkies. This is why over the years, more and more tourists have been flocking to the islands that are available for exploring.
Though a booming tourist industry is great for the locals, some tourists are having double thoughts on visiting Hawaii because of the huge influx of vacationers, especially at famous tourist spots.
If you are the kind of tourist who wants to avoid large crowds and discover hidden treasures, you should check out the following off the beaten paths and destinations on the Big Island:
Photo credit: cleber via Open Travel / CC BY-NC
Papakolea Beach is known for its olive-hued sand, which is definitely a must see in the Big Island. Did you know that only four beaches in the whole world has this characteristics? The green mixed up with the sand comes from a mineral, olivine, that results from a nearby volcanic cinder cone.
To go here, it is advisable that you arrange and hire a local to drive you to Papakolea Beach. Its location is pretty off-road, making it one of the best hidden treasures on the whole island. Tourists should also be prepared for a bit of a hike to the ocean. One thing’s for sure, it will definitely be worth it!
Punalu’u Bake Shop
Locals flock to Punalu’u Bake Shop because of its authentic flavors and vibe, which tourists also love. They serve fresh-baked bread, shortbread cookies (go for the macadamia nut) and malasadas. Malasadas are a kind of local donut that is utterly addicting. They also have Japanese anpans, sweet, red bean-filled rolls.
While it may not be as popular and famous as the established bake stores on the Big Island, it is definitely one of the best.
Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
Photo credit: Ken Lund via Open Travel / CC BY-SA
Green sand beaches are not the only colorful and exquisite seashores in Hawaii. The Big Island is also home to the Punalu’u Beach, which is famous for its black sand.
The beach has black sand formed by lava. The lava flows into the ocean nearby, and the difference in temperature between the molten lava and the water causes the lava to cool into basalt so rapidly that it explodes.
Though it is not the best beach to swim and waddle around, its plain sight alone should be enough reason why you should visit it at least once—more vibrant because of the contrasting blue water, and lush green coconut palms.
Kilauea Visitor Center
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is an incredible place. Learn about Hawaiian culture, the history of the Kilauea Volcano, and the local history and lore of the island at the Kilauea Visitor Center. This is also a great place to take a trail to explore the park and you may even witness a real lava flow.
The Coffee Shack
If you are looking for the perfect breakfast place to have your coffee contrasting the crashing of waves on the shore, then The Coffee Shack down the Kona side of the island is very ideal. Not only for its spectacular location, tourists also dare to visit the café for its delicious food and 100% Kona coffee.
Photo credit: paul bica via Open Travel / CC BY
Waipio Valley is pretty popular from the overlook and the tours inside. But if you hike down into the valley it’s actually pretty secluded as most of the tourists aren’t in shape enough or willing to tackle the steep hike.
Whether famous or not, the natural and structural offerings of the Big Island is enough reason for you to check it out and visit this side of Hawaii at least once in your life.