Hawaii by Land

Experience the spectacular Big Island of Hawaii by Land. There are many places that you can get to by car or by foot. All are worth the drive or the hike. Below is a list of some of our favorites!

Painted_ChurchThe Painted Church of St. Benedict at Honaunau is the oldest Catholic church on the island, constructed in 1875. The small wooden church has brilliantly hued murals depicting biblical scenes on the interior walls, painted by Father John Velge between 1899 and 1904.


Hawaii by Land: Captain Cooks MonumentCaptain Cook’s Monument lies on the north side of Kealakekua Bay and marks the approximate spot where he died. The monument can be reached by sea, and also by a steep trail from the top of Napo’opo’o road. The adventurous will be rewarded by the beauty of the place, and by the excellent snorkeling. View our blog on Captain Cook’s trail hike.


Kona_Historical_SocietyThe Kona Historical Society Museum in Kealakekua is set in a century-old former general store building. It has a collection of photographs and family heirlooms describing Kona’s history from the point of view of its immigrant farmers. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm.


Pu’uhonPuuhonua_O_Honaunauua O Honaunau was a “Place of Refuge” to provide political and criminal asylum. The sacred precinct is preserved as a National Historical Park. The beautiful site on a peninsula of black lava has the preserved and restored remains of a royal palace and three heiaus, houses, fish pond, beach, and canoe landing. It is located at Honaunau Bay 2 miles down the mountain, which is a premium snorkeling and diving spot.


Holualoa, a Holualoaquaint artists town where locals share their crafts in the many old shops nestled along the roadside.


KonaKailua-Kona is famous for its cultural sites and shopping areas. King Kamehameha resided here from 1812 until his death in 1819. The missionaries’ first introduction to the Big Island was here in 1820.  Kailua-Kona is the hub for many Kona Coast activities: a submarine excursion or sunset dinner cruise, para-sailing and wind surfing, fishing or whale watching, and so on.


LapakahiLapakahi Park is an ancient Hawaiian village. Paved paths lead down to the water’s edge, with plaques along the way explaining about what you pass, native trees and their uses, native stone house platforms, etcetera.


HawiHawi Town is at the northern tip of the Big Island, and until the 1970’s was a sugar farming community. Hawi (pronounced “Havee”) has a couple of unique restuarants and shops and is known for a statue of King Kamehamaha. Windy Upolu Point is the northernmost point on the Big Island, with a beautiful view of Maui.


Hawaii by Land: Pololu ValleyPololu Valley is a beautiful valley cut out of about 400 foot cliffs by a small river that still meanders through at the bottom. There is a quite steep 30-minute hike to get to the bottom. The hike could be considered strenuous but is well worth it however the views from the overlook are well worth the trip.


maunaKea4Mauna Kea, translated from Hawaiian it means “White Mountain”. During the months from November through April, it’s not uncommon to find the 13,796 foot summit covered with snow. (Imagine telling your friends and family you went sledding in Hawaii!) One of the most amazing parts is that you can actually drive all the way to the top! (Weather permitting) The view from the summit is completely awe-inspiring (especially at sunrise/sunset). The night sky is unparalleled and you will stars like never before (hence all the telescopes and world famous Keck Observatory). A few points of warning; if you decide to go, a 4WD vehicle with low gear is STRONGLY recommended. Part of the road after the visitor center is unpaved and could be described as perilous. (Coming down make sure to use low gear – people have burned out their brakes riding them on the way down.) Also check with your rental car company whether you’re permitted to drive on these roads.

It’s also important to mention that at 13,796 feet, there is about 40% less oxygen. If you have asthma, breathing problems, are significantly overweight or have other serious medical conditions, traveling to the summit is not recommended. Most people can handle the altitude at the visitor center (9000 feet – a little higher than an aircraft cabin at altitude). They offer FREE nightly stargazing tours and is not to be missed!


Volcanoes National ParkVolcano National Park is a not-to-be-missed experience. Called the world’s only “drive-in” volcano, the park is open 24 hours a day all year. As well as the spectacular Kilauea Crater, there is a superb visitor center, The Thomas A Jagger Museum, Thurston Lava Tube, Sulphur Banks, Volcano House Hotel and Restaurant, Art Galleries and more. Crater Rim Drive provides an easy way to see all the sites, and there are numerous hiking trails from very easy to very difficult. Out of the Park, the drive down Chain of Craters Road provides spectacular coastal views, and ends at a short hike to the most recent lava flow area.

The current lava flowing from Pu’u O’o crater is view-able by hiking in from Volcano National Park, or from Kapalana.  We took a tour with Lavaland Hawaii that was truly amazing. View pictures and read our blog about the tour.

From the Farm to the Park is an easy two-hour drive on the main highway, but you may want to plan extra time to stop at some of the interesting places on the way. (Like the Punalu’u Bake Shop which has fantastic Portugese sweet bread and malasadas. Not to be missed!)


Naalehu is a quaint town that straddles the highway, with several good restaurants for breakfast or lunch on your way.


Pahala is a typical example of an old sugar mill town. The mill has unfortunately been dismantled now.


 

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