Quintessential Hawaii for me usually includes dark black sand and towering palm trees framed by a blue sky dotted with puffy cumulus clouds. The Big Island of Hawaii is the one place where that scene is played out with regularity.
While Maui offers the comfort of a family vacation with the effortless ease of a plentitude of options for both dining and lodging and Waikiki places you in a busy city next to a crowded iconic beach, the Big Island introduces you to Hawaii and the landscape of the youngest of the chain of Islands in the Pacific.
First, when you arrive, you will notice the stark landscape that is the lava fields almost surrounding you. The sandy beaches on the Big Island are not as abundant but they are stunning, and the food choices usually require getting in your car.
You’ll be greeted with a different Hawaii where nature takes precedence over the resort dominated coastlines of some of the other islands. Don’t get me wrong, places like Waikoloa have their share of resorts, but there is a different sense of appreciation for the beauty that can be found along the shores of the Big Island.
There is something magical about watching the lava drop into the ocean at Volcanoes National Park and realizing that right before your eyes the island is getting bigger. If you spend time at the visitor’s center you can learn about the ever changing landscape of the Hawaiian Islands and the way the volcanoes have played a major role in the way islanders continue to live. The drive from the resort areas is a bit long by Hawaiian standards but well worth the day trip.
Where to stay on the Big Island
My favorite resort is the Hapuna Beach Hotel
located right on, you guessed it, Hapuna Beach. My children love the tide pools, the vast beach perfect for chasing each other around and the sea cave on the south end of the broad expanse of sand. I am fond of the accommodating, attentive staff, the food choices and the overall feel of the resort and its sister property the Mauna Lani.
On one occasion I asked our server at the morning breakfast buffet about a location to purchase banana bread. The server, directed us to a spot up on the hill at Waimea, as she began to describe the directions she stopped herself and quietly asked, “how much you want?”
The following morning she returned with four giant loaves of the freshest, banana bread we had ever had. “my husband and I we baked it for you.” She smiled and refused to take any money for it. We left her a large tip and realized that her generosity and genuine kindness was the norm and not the exception.
Other Big Island Hotels nearby: