The Big Island

The island of Hawaii or otherwise known as the big island. It is the largest island in the United States but has only a small population of the Hawaiian people in comparison to the other islands. Known for one of the most active volcanos in the world, one of the highest graded coffees and a mix of all Hawaii has to offer, the big island has something to offer for all. 

Top 5 Things To Do

  1. Swim with Manta Rays – There are only a few places that have organized trips to swim with Manta Rays at night, this is a rare time so use it to your advantage. There are many companies that take you out to snorkel with manta rays and it’s an unbelievable experience. See these gentle giants fly through the water and take your breath away as they come just inches from your face. 
  2. Zip lining – One of our favorite moments of our trip. It was pouring rain out when we went zip lining and we questioned going. We shouldn’t have. The level of detail they take to get beginners going and the culmination of the experience with a zip line over a massive waterfall is absolutely breathtaking. If you haven’t zip lined before, take it on the big island, which has some of the top rated zip lining of all of the islands. 
  3. Volcano national park – You came to the big island because of the active volcano right? Our first visit wasn’t a success as it was after the devastation of the 2018 eruption, but in 2022 we were greeted with an amazing lava lake. Either way, there are plenty of hiking options, drives across the crater road and of course lava! This will easily be one of your highlights on the trip because when do you get a chance to see lava in life?
  4. Mauna Kea – The trip up can be taxing in a tour or if you give it a go in a 4WD vehicle yourself. Either way, it’s an unreal experience. The view from the summit at sunset is something you will experience very little in your lifetime…unless of course you live here! The view at 14,000 feet elevation is crazy. Have you ever looked down on clouds before? We also went on a tour that had us stargazing at the end and it’s so surprising how little we know about space! Will easily be one of your highlights on the trip!
  5. Coffee tasting – What else is Kona known for? Coffee of course! There are a lot of coffee plantations in the area so make sure to experience some of the top rated coffee in the world. Learn why the price is much higher than most coffees out there, hint…it’s not because of the flavor! Kona is mostly known for dark roasts so If you prefer a lighter roast like I do, it will be a bit challenging to find a coffee roaster that caters to your needs. Nonetheless, any coffee fan will have to experience coffee tasting in Kona! I have been to around 8 coffee plantations and I have highlighted my favorites below.


Day 1

  • Bears Coffee
  • Akaka Falls
  • Zip lining
  • Waimea
  • Big Island Brewhaus
A rainy start to our day

Bears’ Coffee: Sadly, a nice day we did not have to start with. The rain was pouring all morning with the looks of no end in sight! As we started to leave our hotel in the morning, we looked at each other and decided regardless of the weather, we will have fun today! This is the mindset you will need to have when you get to this side of the island. Hilo is known as the rainiest city in the US. If you don’t decide to do things regardless of weather, good luck with your days on this side of the island. Our first stop was breakfast and we stopped at a small coffee shop in downtown Hilo. Wonderful food and simplistic. They had make your own bagel sandwich and even though it sounds simple, all of the ingredients were fresh and fantastic. The server here was also extremely nice and helped with our decisions. 

‘Akaka falls is an amazing waterfall to visit and a great little trek around the park

‘Akaka Falls: We started by heading out to ‘Akaka Falls, which is known as one of the highest falls in Hawaii. There is a small fee to get into the park, but well worth the admission. It will take you around an hour to do the path around the waterfall. There is a lot of vegetation around the areas that is absolutely stunning. I would recommend taking the counter-clockwise way around the park and ending with the waterfall. Depending on the day, if it’s raining you might get a strong mist coming from the waterfall area. It might make for some difficult photos, but the experience is well worth it.

Skyline Ziplining: Up next, check one off the bucket list…zip lining! We went with skyline zip lining company and I would recommend them on several levels. First, all of the staff are extremely nice and have a great sense of humor…but also make sure you feel safe while zip lining. Second, this course is very cool and builds up to some amazing lines. When you get to your starting position they start you out doing several very small lines to get you comfortable. After you’ve mastered these, they teach you how to control the zip line a bit and some other techniques. As you go through the course, they teach you some Hawaiian words and you get to try several fruits and flowers that are unique to the area. The two final zip lines you build up to are epic! The second to last one gets your courage up as you go over several small falls below you. The climax is just breathtaking. You go over a huge waterfall for close to a half mile of line. I also used a waterproof phone case and wrapped it around my neck. It worked perfect for taking pictures in the air. They also do loan out go pros if you would prefer.

Waimea:While you are in the area, it would be a good idea to take some time and go around the Waimea Valley. This valley was known as the first place that cowboys originated, long before they ever were in the continental US. If you are a fan of red meat, they are known for delicious burgers. They have several hikes in the area to some stunning waterfalls or just some overlooks. I would recommend spending a couple of hours exploring the area, but not too much longer as you also have to head back to Hilo for the day.

One of the best places to grab a beer on the island!

Big Island Brewhaus: We had heard so much about this brewery everywhere we went on the island. If you want some solid beers that aren’t just island inspired, you have to try the brewhaus. Great Belgian, porters and even a sour, which is rare on the big island. The brewery had a very small seating section, but felt very comfortable. Servers were friendly and had more knowledge of beer than our servers at the other breweries. I had a flight and the fish bites, while my wife had a salad. All of their Ingredients are farm to table and they were delicious! Enjoy your meal and some great brews and then head back to Hilo for the night.

Day 2

  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
    • Kilauea Iki Trail
    • Thurston Lava Tube
    • Lunch
    • Volcano Winery
    • Kilauea Visitor Center
    • Steam Vents
    • Chain of Craters Road
    • Lava Lake

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park:

The day started early…very early for me. I grabbed some coffee and headed out towards the National park. The drive there was rewarding in itself. As I got closer to the park, I actually saw a red glow coming from the center of the park. It felt almost apocalyptic in a way. Getting through the gates is fairy simple at 5:30am. Drive right through as there is nobody at the park that early to pay money to. I came back later and paid as its always important to pay for our national parks. 

I drove straight and hit the right side of crater drive first. Passing by the steam vents and then coming to the Kililau overlook. It was so dark and it was very hard to see, yet it was nice that they actually put lights on the wall way for people to follow. A great addition for people to follow and see the crater. The overlook only really gave a glimpse of the red smoke coming off of the lava as the lava was too far down to see from this view. Still it was pretty and I got nice photos of the smoke. As you start seeing light, you want to make your way over to the hiking trail on the opposite side of the park.

 Kïlauea Iki Trail: Getting to the trail at first light will usually mean that you will be on the trail by yourself. It was a fairly moderate hike, but the overall feel was like being in another world. The trail itself was very easy to find. There is a sign for it off of the right side of the crater lake road on the other side of the park. It’s said that you should go counter clockwise if you want to also do the Thurston lava tube, because the stairway on the right is a bit steep to go up as opposed to down. After doing it, honesty I don’t think it would be too bad to do either way. There are also restrooms at the trailhead and a map to also follow. The trail overall was easy to navigate, even when walking on the crater floor. 

The trail started on the right and you go through a rainforest area. I recommend downloading the pdf from the NP app and read through each of the checkpoints when you come to them. It was so cool to learn some things that I definitely wouldn’t have noticed without the pdf. As you take the trail down, you get some wonderful views of the crater area. Following the trail, when you get to the crater floor, you will feel like you’ve landed on another planet. It’s barren with only a small amount of plants coming through. As you walk across the crater area, there are large mounds of rocks for you to follow so you don’t go astray. You follow straight through to the other side where you come back into the rainforest area. When you reach the top, you can go across the street and move on to the Thurston Lava tubes.

Thurston Lava Tubes: They are very cool to go through and it’s just a small steep walk down to reach them. It’s a one way walk and after the tube, you will pop back around to where you started. The tube is pretty well lit, but they do recommend you have a flash light if you visit in the dark. It’s somewhat damp, but very neat to walk through. Crossing the street again after you finish, takes you to the parking lot where you started on your trail. I would highly recommend taking this and well worth it to get in early morning before anyone wakes up. 

Lunch: There is a place to eat lunch at one of the hotels at the entrance or you can drive a short distance back across to Volcano. You also always have an option to bring some food with you if you choose to stay in the park and have a great picnic. The choice is yours!

If you aren’t a fan of wine, you can always go for the tea tasting.

Volcano winery: Right outside of the park is really the only winery in the area. Being from California, we had to stop at the winery. They opened at 10am so we figured why not in between sites at the park?! It was very easy to get to. A couple of miles past the park, you follow a road down to the end and the winery is sitting right there. The place is small and has a small selection of wines or if you are a tea drinker, they even do a mini tea sampler, which is actually pretty good. We sampled a Pinot noir, a couple of their fruit wines and mead. I was actually surprised that the mead was very unique. This is the first place I’ve ever been to that has a mead made also with tea. It actually makes sense because the mead is made with honey and it goes perfect with tea! The service was fantastic! The person was extremely knowledgeable and very kind. Also giving recommendations for the park. We were some of only a few people visiting, but he said with cruise ships coming back, it will get much busier soon. It was a great stop to make and would recommend as a place to go for an hour away from the park. 

Kilauea visitors center: Getting back to the park, you can stop in now at the visitor center as it will be open this time around. Inside the visitor center you will find a lot of information about previous eruptions of the volcano, a gift shop and a lot of information on the park. There are also usually park rangers to answer any questions you have while you are there. Take some time to educate yourself on this very unique park and get ready to head out on a drive.

Chain of Craters Road: Taking this road felt a bit long at times because of the amount of craters along the way. There are several stops along it and you could probably spend half a day on this road if you stopped at all of them! We took the trail all the way down to the beach area. Another stop along the way was at the petroglyphs at the bottom. Old carvings that were out there from early Hawaiian civilizations. Did you know they had it as a practice to bury their young’s umbilical cord? Very interesting and also neat to see carvings from so far back. It’s the most petroglyphs in one area for all of Hawaii. The end of the road leads you to the arches which is also a short walk, but worth watching the sea spray through the arches when you get there. 

The overall park can probably be split into two days for to have the ability to see everything that you want to see. 

Steam Vents: Coming back around the opposite side that you visited at the beginning of the day, you will now take some time to walk through the steam vents in the area. It’s pretty cool to walk through and you get a wonderful whiff of sulfur along the way. It’s a short walk from the parking area and it won’t take you too long to go through the vents. Depending on the time of day, if it’s dark, head on over to the lava lake to see the spectacle that most people come to see!

Lava Lake: One of the coolest areas in the park is easily seeing the flow of lava. Going down the chain of craters road, you will pass by Thurston lava tube and make your way to the parking lot next to the old crater road. This was the old crater road at one time that drove right next to where the eruption currently is happening. The road is very easy to manage on the way as it’s completely paved almost all the way to the end. I actually only used the flash light on my phone, but many people brought flash lights.The best time to view the lava flow is easily at night. When it’s night time you get to see the glow that is beyond amazing. To watch lava flow is such a surreal experience and you get a whole new respect for the damage that this can cause. Take some time and be in aww of nature before heading back home for the night.

Day 3

  • Hawaiian Style Cafe
  • Rainbow Falls
  • Ka’u Coffee Mill
  • Southern Most Point
  • Green Sand Beach
  • Black Sand Beach
  • Suisan Fish Market

Hawaiian Style Cafe: Our first stop on the day was for breakfast at the Hawaiian cafe. They were a mom and pop kind of diner that had some really good food that hit the spot. Ahí and eggs anyone??? Delicious! 

I look like an opening to a sitcom!

Rainbow Falls: We were a little worried when we started our day 4…first off…no rain!! Blind Melon was right! Then the confusion began…we had been going back and forth between Waze and Apple maps but both have been very challenged on the trip, often leading us the wrong way…on a positive…they do a great job saying Hawaiian names, why can’t they pronounce easy names on the mainland??? So we wanted to quickly see Rainbow falls before leaving because it was one of the top ranked waterfalls. Maps first took us up a private road that the owners were not too happy to see us on! After we popped back and tried another way, it look us down a one way road during school hours…the local police were also not happy to see us on! Finally we made it to the falls. The falls were beautiful and very picturesque. Wish we would have seen a rainbow over them but the sun was just coming up and we had to run. Very interesting history on the falls that has to do with Maui saving his mother from a lizard, that is kind of neat. I just love the Hawaiian folk stories. 

The beautiful sight of cherries on the tree.

Ka’u Coffee Mill: We traveled out next to get some coffee…I’m not sure why we are on the big island and it can be such a challenge to find good coffee! I finally found a local place in the area called the Ka’u coffee mill that grows their own coffee. Perfect as it was on our way to our destination. The coffee was ok for me. The lady there was extremely kind and we chit chatted with her for a bit as I sampled some coffees. The coffee tasted a bit watered down honestly for doing a tasting. Much of their coffees, to my disappointment, were a darker roast which I don’t care as much for. The coffee is a bit different here than Kona so it’s nice to experience both the coffee from the Ka’u region of the island and also Kona.

Welcome to the southernmost tip of the United States!

Southernmost Point in the US: We came to our first real stop of the day at the southern most tip of the US…nothing really to say as it seemed to me that it was more like Key west, you can say you’ve been there. A lot of locals fishing and a ladder that you can take down to the ocean. We moved on to our hike which was very close by. 

The beauty of the green sand beach is just a hike away

Green Sand Beach: Our hike to the green sand beach. We parked and the first thing you come across is a lot of people offering rides in their 4WD cars. It’s quite a business! I’m sure they make some good money on people that really don’t care to do the hike. The hike started along the beach and we stayed along it the whole time. It was a pretty hike with a sweeping view of the ocean the whole time. Fairly easy with no real elevation changes. We made our way to the beach and I have to say that the view was very cool. Dramatic cliffs around the back side of the beach with a pretty light blue ocean water going up to a greenish sandy beach. It looked like a Hollywood version of castaway that I would want to be on! As we worked our way down to the beach, we sat down to relax, people watch and take a dip. I got in and after a quick cold reaction, the water was actually fantastic! I swam a bit before heading back up to get something to eat. Pack some snacks so that you can stay the beach for a bit and take it all in.

As we finished eating our interesting culinary choices we headed back to the trail. As we walked back to our car, we got a great view of some humpbacks spouting in the distance…gotta love Hawaii. I found myself questioning why people found Hawaii so fantastic. As we have now gone to all of the islands, I can easily see why. Beautiful beaches with snorkeling and perfect water year round, great scenic drives, wonderful hikes, great food and kind people…what more could you honestly want? There is something for everyone here. 

Black Sand Beach: On our way back from the green sand beach, we had to go and see how their black sand beach compared to the others we have been to. When we got to the parking lot, it was a bit busier for our taste. It was a nice beach with very easy access. What we loved the most is that we got to experience some of our favorite turtles laying in the sand sunning. Also, a river running next to the beach was a wonderful chill spot for some great photos.

Suisan Fish Market: A great place with some fantastic poke is Suisan fish market. It always seems like the fish markets are the place to get the best poke as opposed to a restaurant. We had the spicy oyster sauce poke and it was hot!! But fantastic food and would highly recommend this for your poke needs! What a great meal to end a long day and your final time on this side of the island.

Day 4

  • Punalu’u Bake Shop
  • Greenwell Farms Coffee Company
  • Shaka Tacoz
  • Mountain Thunder Coffee Company
  • Hula Daddy Coffee Company
  • Umeke’s Restaurant
  • Scandinavian Shave Ice

Punalu’u Bake Shop: Stopping at the bake shop is a great place to start your trip. They have some delicious treats that are both baked and also several types of sandwiches. A great place to have breakfast and have some coffee before heading out on your coffee tours to start on the Kona side of the island.

Greenwell Farms Coffee Company: We got there right after the tour started so we joined quickly. This place was not just coffee. It felt like they grew everything. The tour was wonderful. Our guide Chai was so knowledgeable about the farm. Being that it was the original farm that started coffee farming in Hawai’i, it was very cool to see that it’s now in the fourth generation of owners. Our guide went through the process from beam to cup and also showed how they dry the beans. We walked through the area and she also showed us various plants they have on the farm, including the first time I have ever seen black pepper plants! It’s so surprising that you can take it right off the tree and when you bite right in, you definitely know it’s black pepper! We concluded the tour with different options of coffee to sample. I’m more of a light roast person and they didn’t really have any offerings for it, so we didn’t purchase. Yet, it was a wonderful tour and they did have some great coffee to try if you are a dark roast fan. 

Shaka Tacoz: As we continued our journey through the higher altitude of the area, we stopped for lunch at a local taco place. It was a very simple design and they actually had a storefront with seating and a balcony, but they still did their cooking out of a food truck. It was a very simple menu with tacos, burritos and quesadillas. We both got three tacos. They were wonderful. The pickled onions they used and their Shaka sauce they put on them, all had wonderful flavor. The patio did have a pretty view of the entire Oceanside. Would recommend if you are looking for something a bit different to eat for lunch while passing through. 

A beautiful view of Kona from Hula Coffee Company

Hula Daddy Coffee Company: We moved our way down the mountain to Hula Daddy coffee company. It was just a small place and we were one of two cars there at the beginning. The people inside were fantastic! I guess you could consider it a craft coffee shop. We met with one of the ladies and she told us a brief history along with why Kona Coffee has a higher price. It all makes sense if you think about it. Cost of minimum wage vs basically nothing in most countries, price for land in one of the most beautiful places on earth and having to pick by hand because of the terrain. She also was nice enough to open their Kona sweet coffee that sells at $95/lb. she poured it and it had one of the best aromas that I’ve smelled from coffee. The taste…it was good, sweet, a bit acidic…but honestly didn’t blow me away. Still very nice of her and we bought some coffee as we were leaving.

Take a tour and enjoy the view

Mountain Thunder Coffee Company: The location for this plantation is awesome! When you get there, you are actually looking down on the cloud cover! Now it was hard on our little 4 cylinder car but it just kept saying I think I can as it moved up the road! We took a tour and they showed us the entire process from cherry to bean. Great tour overall and a very cool company. Most people prefer a dark roast and they have some good ones here. Sadly I’ve always been a light roast person and they only had one. I would recommend this stop because the view is amazing and gives you something different that the other coffee companies don’t have.

Umekes: Since the last time we were out in 2019, Umekes had changed to a bigger location. It was beautiful to see what they had done with the place this time. While having a large indoor area, they also had a big patio with live music playing. Umeke’s is famous for great poke and other types of fish. They have even been on Guys diners, drive in’s and dives. They have a lot of solid food and you really can’t go wrong with what you get. Enjoy the fresh food and make sure to save some room for shave ice at the end of the night!

Scandinavian Shave Ice: Finish the night with some fantastic shave ice. Your first experience on the island and you won’t regret it! Depending on where you are staying in Kona, this is on the main drag downtown. It can be difficult to find parking, but when you do, it’s an easy walk around the area. This place has so many options for you to choose from with different types of flavor over your shave ice. Try some of the unique island flavors! Also make sure you get the ice cream in the middle and add the condensed milk on top. What a way to end a long first day on the Kona side.

Day 5

  • The Coffee Shack
  • Two Step
  • Puuhonua O Honaunau Park
  • Da Poke Shack
  • Ululanis Shave Ice
  • Big Island Divers
The parking shown is about it…you will more than likely park on the street.

The Coffee Shack: Starting the day off right, we stopped first at the coffee shack. It’s a small restaurant higher in the hills and has a very limited amount of parking. Which means, more than likely you will be parking on the side of the road and walking down to it like we did. It’s a wonderful location that even makes its own coffee. I had a crab cakes Benedict with their Kona coffee and it was delicious. They have a breakfast and lunch menu and they close at 3pm. There’s a reason they are always busy, it’s a beautiful view from the top to the ocean and it’s great food! 

Fish everywhere and another chance to swim with dolphins!

Two Step Beach: We made our way down to Two Step beach and I had Dave Matthews Band playing on the stereo of course! This was a very interesting area. First off, I think it was a hot spot that everyone has to check out when they get close to Kona. Don’t come looking for a phenomenal beach to sit on, its rock. What I will say is to bring your snorkel gear because it has some wonderful snorkeling. The rock is your base camp for the snorkeling during the day. Jump right in and you will instantly see all forms of sea life. My favorite part of Two Step is that there are local dolphins usually in the bay right next to the area. Swim off to your right and more than likely you will get the rush of seeing dolphins swimming past you and interacting with each other. It was so amazing to see dolphins swimming in their natural habitat without restriction. I sat out with numerous people watching dolphins for a while and then headed back in. The last thing to note on this area, be careful for sea urchins as you get out of the water! Since you will more than likely be getting back out where you started, watch your hands when reaching for points to pull yourself up. There are many sea urchins in the side of the rocks and I can’t imagine gripping into these little fellas! 

Puuhonua o Honaunau park: A national park centered around the Hawaiian island people. If you think of photo opportunities on the island, this is one. It’s $20 to get into the park. Inside there is a walk around the park bringing you to different exhibits showing how the Hawaiian people used to live. There are huts, old canoes and even old totem poles. The views really are amazing and the scenery is what you would think of automatically if you had the perfect island setting! 

Da Poke Shack: First off, you might miss this spot as it’s kind of in a residential looking area and it’s very small. It’s worth it though. We had wonderful Poke here. The restaurant itself has a weird parking layout so hopefully you find parking ok. It’s easy to order and then more than likely you will be sitting in their outdoor seating area. Great food though, so it’s well worth a stop on the way back into town from Two Step. 

Ululani’s: You have to grab another hawaiian shave ice before going out for the night on your Manta Ray excursion. Another of our favorite places is located inside the Marriott resort. Ululanis is found on several islands as it continues to get popular across all islands.

Watch as Manta Rays dance in the ocean

Big island divers: Later on that evening, we did something that you can do only a few places throughout the world. This is one of the top rated things I would recommend on the island. Swimming with Manta Rays at night! Manta Rays come out to a little area off the big island and eat different forms of Plankton. When they place lighting into the water, it attracts plankton to the light, which in turn of course, attracts Manta Rays. Big island divers do a fantastic job of setting you up with this and are rated tops on the island for this excursion. 

Initially they review what you will be doing and giving information about what you will see and how to interact with the ocean and it’s animals. Extremely important that when you’re in the ocean with these amazing animals, don’t touch them. There is a mucus coating on Manta Rays, when you touch them, it takes this protective layer off of their body which can lead to bacteria infections. 

In the ocean you’re holding onto a raft contraption and using your flippers to keep afloat. As Manta Rays swim up, they do what you can almost describe as a back flip up to you and get within an inch of your body with their stomach. It’s such a rush to watch these massive creatures swimming so elegantly back and forth in the ocean. It’s a true dance that they put on as you watch in amazement. I took some great videos to give you a great idea of what it’s like. 

We ended the night going to a touristy restaurant next to our hotel and we were ready for our last day on the island. 

Day 6

  • Island Lava Java
  • Mauna Kea

Island Lava Java: After my wife got moving around, we decided to head downtown Kona and get some breakfast. After looking at reviews, we decided on Island Lava Java. The location is perfect for the restaurant. Beautiful view of one of the beaches downtown with two stories of seating. The menu is quite large with different types of drinks and food items. I got the fresh fish eggs Benedict, which had mahi mahi in it. Adding a Bloody Mary on the side as I figured we had severa coffee plantations planned for the day. My wife had a simple breakfast with a Carmel macchiato. Both meals were really good and the service was also very friendly. We could see why they had a line non stop coming into the restaurant. 

Mauna Kea: Although the trip took most of the day, going from 2pm-11pm, it was probably one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had. The view is truly remarkable and the sunset from above and the stargazing after, all add to the experience. The trip started with being picked up at a location in Kona. There were several options for pickup. They then take you to the base of the mountain where you then switch over to 4WD vehicles. The scenery starts as you get to the visitors center. Silver sword ferns are in the back for your viewing pleasure. Once almost extinct, they only grow at the top of these Hawaiian islands. They look very metallic in nature and it’s surprising how Mother Nature can make something look so artificial. If you choose, you can go into the visitors center and gift shop, if not you are ready for the second leg of the trip. 

This trip reaches up to 14,000 feet so not for the faint at heart. The view as you take the road up to the top is remarkable. You are actually driving up above the clouds. When you get to the top there are 13 telescopes from different countries. One called the Subaru that they actually used in the filming of don’t look up. The actually summit you can’t go to as it’s actually sacred grounds for native Hawaiians. To the side, you get a chance to see the absolutely stunning view of the sun setting on the island. Pictures can’t do it justice! 

As you make your way down, you get another fun addition to the trip. You get to do some stargazing. They park at a lower altitude and take out a massive telescope. It’s crazy the amount of stars you can see in the sky up here! You even get to see some stars that you don’t even have the ability to see in the continental US. You’ll leave with a wealth of knowledge about the solar system and see some really cool things. 

Taking the trip down, you’ll probably sleep on the way. I was exhausted from trying to fit in both a beach day and a mountain day! Overall, easily one of the top things to do while you are on your stay on the big island! 

Day 7

  • Hang Loose Boat Tours
  • Kona Brewing Tour
  • Jackie Rays Restaurant
This was just amazing watching dolphins in the wild

Hang Loose Boat Tours: Before coming to the island, I had some reservations with this. Is it right to swim with dolphins in the wild on a charter? It had been on my bucket list since I was a child. I’d always wanted to swim with dolphins, but I didn’t want to do it while they were in some form of captivity. It put me in a dilemma with how to swim with dolphins. Nevertheless, this trip felt like it would be the best opportunity to swim with dolphins safely. Since this trip, I’m not sure if they are still doing this as they have now made it illegal to disturb dolphins in their natural habitat.

We entered the charter after I swam with dolphins the day before at two step, which was amazing. I was refreshed when we got on the boat and they started to talk about how we would plan the day. The dolphin tour would drop you off well in front of the dolphins as not to disturb them, then they would swim underneath you in their normal daily routine. This was actually more exciting than it sounds. There were numerous times throughout the day that we watched dolphins jumping and spinning in the air, talking to each other under the water and having a wonderful time. These are amazing and extremely intelligent animals, and to see them in the wild was truly magnificent. This was a trip that I had always wanted to cross off the bucket list and I’m glad I did. 

Kona Brewing company: After a great day of snorkeling, it’s always good to end a trip with some beer right? The tour is $30 a person, but well worth it. You get to sample several beers along the way and you also get a long tour of this beautiful brewery. The guides are extremely knowledgeable and friendly. You learn a lot about how they brew beers and it’s surprising how well they do with staying sustainable. There is a long history with this brewery and is probably the most well known brewery that comes from Hawaii.

Jackie Ray’s Restaurant: On your final night, you can have a nice dinner at Jackie Rays. It’s a little outside the downtown area, but they do a great job with a lot of their dishes. Savor the fresh seafood one last time before leaving the island tomorrow.