A road trip full of surprises, including breathtaking views and excursions to the beautiful volcanoes of the island. In the post all the tips for organizing your visit to this still little-known island.
Hawaii: few other places in the world have the same evocative power as most famous Pacific archipelago, which has always been considered synonymous with golden beaches and unspoiled nature. But in addition to its idyllic landscapes, these somewhat remote islands, a surfer's paradise, have a lot to offer. Big Island is proof of this.
Big Island, what to expect
Although less famous than the more touristy Ohau or Maui, the Big Island (whose real name is Hawai'i) offers just as many beauties. From the snow-capped peaks of its mountains that exceed 4000, to the beaches of fine black grains that lap the blue sea. (By the way, did you know that Honolulu's best-known beach is man-made and with sand imported from Australia?).
Road trip to the Big Island
Given the size of the island, renting a car is almost a must to be able to turn it in comfort. In this regard, the coastal stretch between Hilo, the capital, and the tropical botanical garden, about fifteen kilometers further north along the east coast, is very beautiful. Take it easy by car. Enjoy this short road trip among pineapple trees, coconut palms, and other shrubs that stand out recreating a Jurassic landscape.
The volcanoes of the island
But the undisputed kings of the island are the two volcanoes that rise in the hinterland: Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. The advice I can give you is to dedicate a whole day to each of the two, or, better said in the case of the second, an entire night.
The Mauna Loa volcano
The largest active volcano in the world is a fascinating destination, which will give you the opportunity to discover the most "alive" part of the Earth.
In the space in front of the Visitor Center, the rangers organize an introductory speech of about 15 minutes, useful to give you an overview of the national park. Not only will you discover the local flora and fauna, but you will also be warned about dangers and precautions to be taken; after all, you are always on top of a volcano! At this point you just have to choose the excursion you prefer: there are many, of varying length and difficulty. If you have time, energy and luck (they are not always open) you can even get close to some of the many smoking mouths of the black plateau.
The Mauna Kea volcano
A unique and almost unrepeatable experience, an opportunity not to be missed if you are in these parts: a visit to the plateau on the top of Mauna Kea, which houses one of the most famous astronomical observatories in the world. From Hilo it takes about two hours, a little more if you don't have a 4 × 4 car (the last stretch of road is dirt).
The sudden change in altitude (from 0 to almost 4500 meters) will be felt on your body, so don't be afraid to make small stops along the way, or to go back if you don't feel well (advice from those who have been there: avoid carbonated drinks and legumes!).
Once you arrive at your destination, the show takes your breath away. Two colors are enough to paint the lunar landscape that awaits you at the top: the red of the arid earth, and the white of the domes that protect the most powerful telescopes on the planet.
Enjoy the show, perhaps at sunset, and on the way back make a stop at the Visitor Center: almost every evening astronomical observation sessions are organized by local guides, to discover a sky like you have never seen before.
A "sweet" pit stop
With red sofas and bottomless coffee, like any self-respecting American eatery, the Ken's House has been serving Hawai'i residents pancakes since 1974! Open 24 hours a day, in addition to the American pancakes par excellence, you can enjoy the best of traditional Hawaiian cuisine, ranging from classic stars and stripes dishes (burgers, fried chicken, etc) to dishes with a clear Sino-Japanese influence, such as steaks with teryiaki sauce and noodle soups. Friendly staff and dedicated promotions during various days of the week make this eatery a must see if you are passing by Hilo!