#SHSHtravel: Big Island, Hawaii

In this #SHSHtravel post, we are talking Hawaii — the Big Island in particular. Ryo and I joke all the time that we are bad at relaxing on vacation and this trip was no different. There are always so many people to see, places to go and mountains to climb!

My top three on this trip were…

  1. Hiking down to — and back up from — Captain Cook’s Monument
  2. Snorkeling/getting pummeled by waves
  3. Last-minute visit to the Valley of the Kings trail

Before leaving for any vacation, I pack snacks — lots of snacks. The reasons for doing so are endless, starting with… 1. I’m always snacking, 2. I’m hypoglycemic, 3. My mom tells me to, 4. Sometimes I’m picky about food and what’s in it.

Getting there

Getting out of Boston was a struggle: Our first plane had a mechanical issue, our second plane was overweight so the airline started paying passengers in vouchers to get off, and then we missed our connection in San Francisco and had to wait a few hours for the next flight out.

When we finally got to the big island a several hours later than expected, our luggage was no where to be found and wouldn’t be there until the next day. The kicker — we were in sweatpants and long sleeves because it was winter in Boston. Lucky for us, the local Walmart was open and we were able to get some shorts and t-shirts for the next day.

First few days in Kona

We put on our new Walmart outfits and headed out. Our luggage wouldn’t be at the airport until 1pm and we didn’t want to waste our morning.  We explored some beaches around our AirBnB and then headed into Kona to see what the town was all about.

During the rest of our stay in Kona we at some great food, drank some delicious beer and explored some lava fields.

Journey to the rainforest

Our next AirBnB was by-far my favorite. I almost wish we had stayed there the entire trip. We left Kona and headed toward Captain Cook Monument trail. I didn’t do too much research, but when we arrived we saw signs that hiking shoes were highly recommended. Luckily, we had hiking shoes. But, what we didn’t have a lot of water and snacks.

We didn’t let that deter us. I had read that it was a great trail and the snorkeling at the bottom of the trail was amazing. It was about 3.6 miles roundtrip and a 1,300 foot elevation gain. Off we went!


The trail to the monument was downhill. As we walked, I tried not to think about how difficult the walk back up would be in the heat.  The trail was rocky, dry and felt like the Sahara Desert (not that I’ve been there before). Getting to the bottom was relatively easy. The monument itself was underwhelming but the views were great. There were only a handful of hikers there, other sightseers came by boat.

We won’t talk about the hike back up, but the rest of the journey to our rainforest cabin included scenic of coastlines, volcanos at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park and malasadas at Punalu’u Bake Shop.

Rainforest stay

Our AirBnB in Pāhoa was on the edge of the Puna Forest Reservation. It was a little hippy town and the perfect escape from it all. Our first full day there was my birthday and all I wanted was lava and snorkeling and homemade dinner. Needless to say, we were in the perfect place.

The next day was just as fun-filled… starting with A HELICOPTER RIDE over some active volcanoes and to some waterfalls. Then we swam with turtles and climbed to the edge of one of those waterfalls.

Journey to our last stop

We ended the vacation with two nights in a resort because… why not? The beach was beautiful and it allowed us to relax a bit. On the drive there, we drove up — well, half way up — Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano standing 4,207 meters above sea level. We couldn’t make it all the way up in our tiny rental car. Heck, getting half way was tough.

On our last day, our flight was delayed so we took the few hours and made one last trip out to Pololu Valley. Yeah, great decision.

If you’re traveling to the Big Island and have any questions, comment below! We loved it there and would go back in a heartbeat. Interested in more of our travel posts? Check out my posts below and follow our cheesy # on Instgram, #EmiryoTravels:



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