A second full day exploring the wonders of the Big Island's Kona side.
General: DIY / How-To
|Guide Series: Big Island Vacation Itinerary
Ready for another big day of seeing the wonderful sites the Big Island has to offer? Then let's get started with a morning trip to the amazing Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park for some world class snorkeling.
The best way to see Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park is via a boat snorkeling tour. There are plenty of companies who will take you out on a boat to snorkel this wonderful area. Choose the one that fits what you're looking for in a boat tour and enjoy a morning snorkeling session.
History buffs take note: You'll also get a glimpse of Captain Cook Monument from the water (which you can later walk to via the Captain Cook Monument Trail Hike if you'd like). Also on land, near the Kealakekua Bay parking area, is Hikiau Heiau if you want to check that out later.
There's something oddly special about black sand beaches so let's head over to Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Park which is probably the most famous black sand beach on the Big Island. It's not a good beach for swimming unless the ocean is very calm. If you do swim here, talk with the lifeguard first to make sure it's safe. As always, never take any Lava Rock & Sand Souvenirs.
The only thing more special than a black sand beach is a green sand beach. That's right, green sand! So let's head over to Papakolea Green Sand Beach to take a look at this hidden gem. To truly understand just how special this beach is, know that this is one of only four green sand beaches in the entire world!
Our crew paid for shuttle service
Getting here isn't what you'd call easy. You can drive to a certain point and then you'll either need a 4x4 (not your rental) or have to walk in the rest of the way (about a 2-3 hour walk). You'll want real shoes for this one, not slippers (flip-flops). Sometimes a local will be running a (probably not-too-legal) shuttle service and for a small fee they'll shuttle you in the back of their pickup to the beach. What you do there is your call but this is a very special beach so seeing it is worth it even if you have to walk in.
Before we head back to Kailua-Kona, let's make a stop at Ka Lae (South Point). It's most commonly called South Point because it's the southernmost point in the United States of America. The views around here are pretty incredible as well so it's certainly worth snapping a few shots.
South Point is also home to the South Point Cliff Dive. We're not suggesting you do this "activity" of sorts, but you can certainly watch other crazies (er, brave folks?) take the plunge off the 50 foot jump into the ocean below. If you take the plunge, you do so at your own risk. If you have children you'll want to really watch them in all of this South Point area since it's all cliffs with no railings.
Tiki Tom finding religion on the way up. Note you can't see the bottom of the ladder.
According to our very own Tiki Tom, who actually took the plunge, it's not the jump that's so bad but the climb back up the old, swinging ladder that's dicey. Check out the video of Tom taking the plunge on our South Point Cliff Dive page (near the bottom).
Our next stop will be at Hulihe'e Palace which was originally the Governor's Palace but today is a museum you can tour. It was originally built by the Governor John Adams Kuakini back in 1838 and made out of native lava rock with 3 foot thick walls. Kuakini lived here until his death in 1844 when it passed through his surviving family members until 1883 and eventually was purchased by King David Kalakaua and Queen Kapi'olani and then on to Prince Kuhio Kalaniana'ole and Prince David Kawananakoa until it was purchased in 1925 to become the museum you see today. As you can see, this place is filled with Hawaiian history.
Let's continue our cultural tour of the Big Island with a stop at Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark which includes the historically significant Ahuena Heiau. We'll spend some time in this general area so find a good spot to park and then you can walk to Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark. This historical landmark was the personal heiau of King Kamehameha the Great. It's open to the public and very well restored. King Kamehameha worshipped here from 1813 until his death in 1819.
Also nearby is Moku'aikaua Church which is Hawaii's first Christian church that you can explore a bit if you're interested. This area is also a good place to do a little shopping as well as enjoy some dinner before you call it a night.
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