Sidewalking the Island of Hawaii

The Kona Seawall
I just recently returned from a couple of weeks on the Island of Hawaii (also know as the Big Island). It is a huge, diverse and fascinating place. 

First of all, to get around the island in any meaningful way you will need to get off the sidewalk and rent a car. Still there are a number of amazing places to walk around. Here are a few I particularly liked: the seawall in Kona, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the little old towns that are scattered across the Island.

Mokuaikaua Church in Kona
The Kona Coast is the central tourist area  for the Island and its main town is Kailua Town or Kona (What it is called and what I should call it, still evades me, so I am referring to it as Kona). Kona feels like your typical tourist town. Still there is something charming about about it when you look through the kitsch and appreciate that this was at one time the seat of government for the Hawaiian royal family. There is an amazing lava stone and coral church, a small palace and a temple all spread around the bay. Unfortunately, it seems that in the 1950's or 60's a lot of kitsch was stuffed in between those places and they remain filled with cheap tourist shops and chain restaurants. Still, a walk along the seawall is an experience and much of it is very beautiful. 

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Like I said before, you need a car on this island. To get to the Volcanoes National Park you will need to drive for at least an
The warning sign at the beginning of the hike to the
lava flow
hour an half from Kona. You will also need to drive around the park in a car because it is massive. Still, there is a lot of walking that you can do when you are there, far more than I would even consider doing myself. Likely the most popular big walk that I did not participate in is an eight km walk to the lava flowing into the sea. I could see the steam in the distance and that was good enough for me. If you go on that walk there are a lot of supplies that have you have to bring with you for safety. 

I did two walks while in the park and both were very cool. One was the short, but unworldly, walk through the Thurston 
Thurston Lava Tube
Lava Tube and the second one was a very windy walk across a lava field to see some ancient petroglyphs. To the south of the main crater are dozens of hiking trails some of them with camping spots available on them.  Despite not going on those hikes, I spent several hours in the park and it was amazing. 

One way that the Island of Hawaii seems to differ from at least Maui, is that there are numerous small towns across the island and most of them seem quite old. They come from a time before tourism for the most part and were town centres for cane sugar and other crops that were grown here. Somehow, despite all the changes, they have managed to maintain their charm. Some of the best ones that I saw were Hawi and Honokaa on the northern part of the island, Honomu on the eastern side and Naalehu on the southern shore. They are all very compact and really don't feel commercial or touristy at all. They are just nice little towns to wander around in.

I think that based on the older towns, the size and the volcanoes, the Island of Hawaii seems to have much more to offer than other Hawaiian Islands. I would definitely go back!


  1. I have visited the "Big Island" 3 times and I'd go back in a heartbeat. Easily the best of the Hawaiian islands.


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