What should I do on the Big Island?
February 2, 2011 8:09 PM   Subscribe

I'm on my way to Hawaii. Looking for interesting things to do. Will be mostly around Kona and South Point, but have a car so the whole island will be accessible. Particularly interested in unique or somewhat physically demanding ideas. Prefer non-touristy, although I do plan to do a mantaray snorkel tour. Cost is not a major issue, I'm willing to pay up for things that are worth it. I was there and hit the major attractions last year (Volcano, Waipi'o Valley, various waterfalls, etc.) and don't need to repeat. The types of things I *would* like to repeat from last time are kayaking out with the humpbacks, and taking the trail down to Captain Cook's Cove. Thinking of trying some geocaching. Please submit your ideas and recommendations!
posted by LowellLarson to Travel & Transportation around Hawaii (8 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
My brother's and I chartered a Marlin boat out of Kona Harbor. It was spectacular. My brothers both caught 45 pound Ono's and I hooked a big Marlin but it popped off the hook.

It was a little pricey, but It was an experience I'll never forget.

If you're going all the way to Volcano, I'd also suggest spending some time in Puna. It's fun to spend a little time in the rainy Jungle before heading back to the Leeward side of the island.
posted by JimmyJames at 9:47 PM on February 2, 2011

Also, If you have a partner go night diving for lobsters. Read up on regs and don't take any females. We almost caught our limits of slipper lobster, it was fantastic.
posted by JimmyJames at 9:48 PM on February 2, 2011

There is a group that organizes tours up to the Mauna Kea Keck Observatory and the other observatories up there. You go up, and get to watch the sun set above the clouds, and see the stars and true dark sky. It is really amazing. You can find information on their web site.
posted by strixus at 11:21 PM on February 2, 2011

I came in to suggest the Mauna Kea observatories as well. Truly awesome. The trip across the island on the saddle road is a part of the island you might not otherwise see, as well.
posted by hattifattener at 2:02 AM on February 3, 2011

Hiking the Ka'u Desert was one of my favorite things I did while on an environmental studies trip in Hawai'i. It's bizarre to be in a desert when you know you're surrounded by lush rainforest, you can see some "fossilized" footprints in ash from which have been preserved in ash since 1790, and one of the closest earth analogues to Mars. It's about a 12 mile hike, I believe.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:32 AM on February 3, 2011

For the science geek in you: Check out the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority - the futuristic building just south of the airport in Kona. You'll hear a fascinating lecture by a local researcher about Hawaii's groundbreaking efforts to use the temperature difference between surface and deep ocean water to create electricity. Then, go tour some of the many businesses in this research park that are harnessing the huge system of tubes now in place from that electricity project to do things like grow abalone and to raise seahorses. Only a handful are open to the public since the technology they're using is new and proprietary.

If you have to pick one, go to the seahorse farm: Ocean Rider/ Seahorse.com. This group is trying to discourage people from taking seahorses from the wild (they die in a few weeks anyway) and destroying reefs in the process, by raising a domesticated version. They've been so successful that the domesticated seahorse lives almost 3 times as long as in the wild. They also have a few leafy sea dragons on display - some the coolest living creatures around.
posted by paindemie at 7:01 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Geocaching, you say? My favourite cache on the Big Island is called the Cave Hole Cache. You have to be fairly careful in getting to it, but it's completely worth it. I don't want to give too much away, but you can approach it the easy way (above ground) or the awesome way (underground). If you're going the awesome way, make sure to bring work gloves and headlamps or flashlights.

There's also a cache by the Captain Cook memorial if you're going that way anyway.
posted by magicicada at 8:37 AM on February 3, 2011

The trip down to Ka Lae is eerie and windy and awesome. There's a green sand beach there where you can collect sand.
posted by Addlepated at 12:15 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]

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