Aloha! In the last two weeks we've covered Maui, Lanai, Oahu, and Kauai and saved the biggest for last! The Big Island earns its name by being twice as large as all other Hawaiian islands combined. This makes for longer driving distances, and if you're staying on the drier side of the island along the Kohala Coast, it's about two hours each way to Volcanoes National Park. The Big Island has the most dynamic volcanic features in Hawaii, and six different volcanoes are in the national park. Active lava flows pouring into the cooling ocean waters make Hawaii the only state with constantly shifting borders and coastline due to lava flows. Taking a helicopter tour over this island is one of those most must-see flights like at Kauai and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. When you work with Nine Muses Travel your private access includes top pilots, plus geologist guides will take you through the park on a private tour off the beaten path where you'll learn all about the island's geothermal activity.
Traditional Hawaiian culture combines fascinating mythology and ancient spiritual connections centered around the Big Island's volcanoes. Don't take lava rocks home with you lest you suffer the wrath of Pele's Curse, which is actually probably a modern story. Still, it's illegal to take rocks, fossils, plants, etc. from a U.S. national park, so just leave everything where you found it and don't test Pele!
The Big Island is known for more than its volcanoes. It's got the most diverse beaches in Hawaii with sand colors from white and black to green. Its Kona coffee is regarded as among the finest in the world, and you can make deliciously informative farm visits to indulge in coffee, macadamia nuts, and chocolate. Stargazing here is ideal too because the Hawaiian islands are the most remote on Earth, which provides incredible dark skies especially at Mauna Kea Observatory above the clouds at almost 14,000 feet (pictured above). If the elevation is too high for you (and it's not for anyone under age 16), then special stargazing experiences can be arranged privately for you at other dark sky locations on the island.
Whether exploring the wetter, Eastern side closer to Hilo airport and Volcanoes National Park or the drier, sunnier, Western coast with the resorts closer to Kona, the main airport, the Big Island offers authentic Hawaiian arts and culture, delicious cuisine, rich history, and truly awesome nature adventures. Enjoy this overview of ideas for where to stay and go for big fun on the Big Island!
Hotels & Resorts
Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii is one of the larger resorts and where Dad I stayed in 2017. We loved the sugar-white sandy lagoon and aquamarine waters of this 32-acre luxury oceanfront resort with one of the best stretches of beaches on the entire island.
Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection is modern luxury in newly renovated spaces with glittering tidal pools along the South Kohala coast, where warrior kings once came to rest and recuperate. Private bungalows are available where you can unwind by your private pool.
In 2017 I visited the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, which is a natural paradise for families as well as couples who appreciate adults-only areas. The beaches, tide pools, spa, and dining are so wonderful you might have to force yourself to go see the rest of the island!
Last but certainly not least, I also toured the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, which pushes all my art and architecture buttons! Its classic midcentury-modern architecture is as renowned today as it was for its opening in 1965 by visionary Laurance S. Rockefeller. It was the most expensive hotel ever built at the time! All the amenities of a luxury resort, together with an excellent art collection, championship golf, award-winning tennis, flavorful local cuisine, gorgeous beach, and cultural activities all provide a remarkable experience.
Big Island Experiences
Special access at Volcanoes National Park with a geologist off the beaten track
Hawaii volcanoes by air and land
Food and farm tours - Kona coffee, macadamia nuts & chocolate!
Private catamaran snorkel and dolphin safari
Deep sea diving and fishing charter
Manta ray night snorkeling on private catamaran
Kohala Waterfalls, zipline, and picnic
Private helicopter tour with top pilots - one of the most spectacular in the US!
Off-road ATV adventures on Kohala Coast
Private traditional luau with authentic meal and scenic views
Mauna Kea summit hike and stargazing experience
Waipo Valley sunset horseback ride
Private submarine voyage
Nine Muses Travel works with exceptional tour operators who add unparalleled value for my clients.
Expert guides for private tours: historians, naturalists, artists, unique locals
Comfortable, sanitized, and luxurious vehicles
24/7 real-time support
Competitive rates at four and five star properties with strict health and safety protocols
Deep destination knowledge
Flexible and worry-free cancellation policies, including 100% refunds until shortly before travel
I design journeys that inspire by highlighting local arts and culture, history, and cuisine for intellectually curious clients longing to feel deeply inspired by exciting destinations, culinary delights, and authentic cultural experiences on a life-changing, joyful journey of discovery.
Founder & President