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West Side of the Big Island of Hawai'i
Ideas for Travelers
The west side of the Big Island is best known for its big resorts and golfing, but there are many places where you can discover your own little bit of paradise. Although much drier than the east side of the island, there are numerous interesting plant species including giant cactus.

Kona
Kailua Kona is a busy tourist center, but a good bet for snorkeling is at the Old Airport Park, and also a little south at Kahulu'u Beach.

South of Kailua it starts to get more country like, and a stop at the coffee farms is a must, then go down the hill to Napoopoo for snorkeling, and swimming (many times with dolphins), and then a short distance to the Pu'u Honua O Honaunau (city of Refuge) where the National Park Service has brought the Pu'u Honua back to the way it looked before Captain Cook's visit. There is also very good snorkeling just outside the park.

Another few miles South on Highway 11, is the Hawaiian village of Miloli'i, where they still fish with outriggers, and only recently got electricity.

If you're interested in whale watching, this is the best side to do it on. There are many good tour operators for trips, but do keep your eyes open on all coastlines for whales.


South Point
A dry and desolate place, the road goes down to the Southern most point in the USA, where on the west side of the point below the cliffs the water is crystal clear and the snorkeling is the best, if you have the nerve to jump, or climb down the ladders.

On the east side there is a very dry hike of 2.5 miles to the Green Sand Beach, where there is good swimming.

Much of this land is Hawaiian Homes Land, and they ask for a donation before the hike.


Saddle
The middle of the island is least visited. A two lane PAVED road travels between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.

There is excellent hiking on the Puu Oo trail (4 Miles), both for birding and to see how quickly the forests return after lava flows. There is a good chance of seeing wild pigs and goats too. This trail is at the 22.4 mile post.

At the 28 mile post there are two roads, one up Mauna Loa 19 miles paved to the NOAA Observatory, and the trail head to hike to the summit (5 miles) of Mauna Loa. The other road is up Mauna Kea and goes to the Mauna Kea Visitors Center, and from there it is 4x4 vehicles only, to the summit.

The Mauna Kea Visitors Center puts on excellent star gazing show Thursday through Sunday, from 6pm to 10pm FREE. Take many clothes at is quite cold. Tip: A clean pair of socks makes a great pair of emergency mittens!


Waimea / Kohala
Another day trip is farther north, taking the Ahualoa Road (the old highway) from Honoka'a, ending up just outside of Waimea through a lot of Parker Ranch land. Head down Highway 19 to Highway 270, then head north again toward north Kohala, with a stop at Pu'u Kohola (where Kamehameha had his throne). Then go north to Lapakahi Historical Park (good snorkeling), on to Mahukona (old seaport, and good snorkeling), and on to the Upolu Point Airport, where a short distance you find Mo'okini Heiau, and Kamehameha's birthplace.

Some additional information about Mo'okini Heiau: although open for visitors, this is an actively used Heiau. Please stay in the areas designated for visitors.

You'll soon enter Hawi (pronounced Ha-vee), the northern most town with some nice galleries, and good lunch, and then step back in time and take the nine mile side road over to Pololu Valley, where there is a short hike into the valley, for good swimming, and jungle hiking. Return taking Highway 250 over the Kohala Mountains back toward Waimea.

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