By Gati Dhroove

I am one who enjoys planning vacation almost as much as the vacation itself.

Hawaii kept all its promises. Smack in the middle of Pacific Ocean, Big Island gave it all – secluded beaches, fragrant rainforests, mountains soaring above clouds, waterfalls and fiery sunsets!!

Without much prologue let me take you to one of the most beautiful places on Earth: Big Island!!

I began my journey in the charming, tropical and laid-back town of Hilo. Hilo is not your typical tourist town but very easy to fall in love with.

Day 1:

The Liliuokalani Gardens: a peaceful respite and features Japanese style gardens. After a stroll and some pictures, we proceeded to Coconut Island. The Hilo Bay from the coconut island is such a pretty sight.

The Liliuokalani Gardens

Richardson Beach Park and Carlsmith Beach Park: Really neat spot for snorkeling and seeing turtles. I will say, this isn’t your typical beach. Most of the entry to the water is rocky but you can swim with TURTLES!!

Day 2: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the most visited attractions in Hawaii. Kilauea Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes on earth. Plan to spend an entire day in the park if you like hiking and exploring.

We started our day at the visitor’s center. Got the map and some basic information from the park rangers. Our first stop was Kilauea Iki Trail. This 4-mile loop hike goes from the rainforest to the dry caldera. How many times have you walked on a crater? If you want that experience do this hike.

Next stop was Nahuku-Thurston Lava Tube, it was fun to walk through the lava tube. We then drove the chain of craters road with stops on the way to see steam vents. At the end of the road, you can see Holei Sea Arch.

Our last stop was Thomas A. Jaggar Museum. A special feature is its proximity to the active Halema’uma’u crater in the caldera.

Ohia tree flower, native to Big Island: flaunting its beauty, volcano seething in distance.

Ohia Tree Flower

When observed from the overlook outside the museum after dusk, it glows impressively as the lava illuminates! Once in a lifetime experience!!

Active Halema’uma’u crater

Day 3: We started our day at the Rainbow Falls…picture says it all!

Rainbow falls

We then drove down to Punaluu Black Sand Beach. Green Sea Turtles basking in the sun, black sands and the surf beating and churning the sea all combine to make this an absolute must stop!

Punaluu Black Sand Beach

Day 4: In the morning we visited Hilo Farmers Market. There were so many different items from fresh fruits to breads to jellies. We were happy to support and purchase from locals. I have never seen such a fresh ginger root. Our favorite fruit was Rambutan.

Afternoon was reserved for Kalapana Lava viewing area: A hike of 8 miles as ground literally shifts beneath my feet. I witnessed the tempestuous meeting of lava from the mountain with the ocean. On the way back, we saw the moon rising above the horizon. The sky is perfect for star gazing and like a cherry on top we saw a shooting star – it was a magical experience!!

Kalapana Viewing area

Day 5: Time to say goodbye to the quaint town of Hilo. We drove to Kohala Coast through Pepeekeo Scenic Drive and with stops on the way.

First stop was Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. The setting of this tropical paradise is especially striking. You descend a ramp down a ravine, accented by cascade of water and ending at a gorgeous unspoiled waterfront of strong surf.

Botanical Garden

Next stop was Akaka Falls: A sheer 450 ft drop with deafening roar commanded all my senses in its presence.

Akaka Falls

Next stop: Waipio Valley lookout: Amazing views, definitely go see this valley.

Waipio Valley Lookout


We witnessed beautiful Hawaiian sunset when we reached our base on Kohala Coast: the pink sky turning violet; red flaming ball cast a crimson light on our faces. Ocean quieted down. It was pure magic!


Stay tuned for the 2nd part – coming soon!!