We Love the Local List- 10 Great (and Free) Tings to Do on the Big Island of Hawaii

by - Friday, June 10, 2016

This is a new blog series where we can each sing the praises of our favorite local shops, brands, and restaurants. Supporting local businesses does even more than supporting small business owners (though that is great too). It keeps your money local to you (not off wherever the Waltons are vacationing), creates more jobs for your friends and family, and even helps the environment. Why is shopping local good for the environment? We talk a lot about commutes and how much fuel people use to travel, and the same applies to your stuff. The further your stuff has to travel, the more fossil fuels they use and energy they waste. Large companies and chains pretty consistently show less responsibility and concern for the environment and the communities they are in, so you can effect positive change locally and decrease your environmental impact just by shopping and eating local! 
 This blog intends to encourage us to get out and explore the businesses near where we live. See it as a fun challenge to see what you can support nearby and be surprised what amazingness you may have missed. You can also check out other lists to find the coolest places to go when you travel to new places!  

My mom has lived on the Big Island in Hawaii for many years now, so she knows all kinds of great secrets to the island. Also, how to get really, really lost on hikes. She is a queen of having adventures, so it's no surprise that her list of local gems are things to do rather than things to buy. Also, since most of us will only ever be in Hawaii as visitors, so her tips on places to go and things to do that the locals also love could be really helpful! So she will go over her best "to do's"


1. Go for a drive. The Big Island boasts 13 of the world’s 14 climate zones. If you don’t like the landscape or weather where you are, just keep going and it will change within the next 20 minutes or so. No matter what your favorite flavor of nature, you’ll find it here. Oh, and don’t worry about getting lost – there’s only one road around the island! Start early; it’s a big island.


2. Visit the volcano. Where else were you planning on visiting an active, erupting volcano? The Jagar Museum is awesome with loads of information about how hot lava really is and where the island’s 20+ earthquakes per day were located. The Thurston lava tube is in a beautiful location. If you have time and sturdy shoes, hike the Iki (pronounced EE-KEE) Crater. Don’t do it in slippers (aka, flip flops) or you’ll be sorry.



3. Go to the beach! Those of lesser substance may be put off by the island’s beaches with lava in and around the water. A pair of water shoes and you’re set . Don’t forget your snorkel (Side note from B- lots of places and hotels will rent things like water shoes out, so if you aren't going to too many lava beaches in your life, don't buy, just borrow- if you want to buy some, Sand Soles are made in the USA)! If you don’t put your face in the water, you’ve only seen ½ of the beauty of Hawaii. This is the perfect snorkel opportunity for new or slightly chicken snorkeler as you don’t have to go far or deep to enjoy the many amazing sea creatures (some unique to Hawaii) waiting to show off for you.

4. Eat! OK, so this one isn’t free. But the fish is extremely fresh having left the ocean the same day that you enjoy it. The tropical fruit is fresh and full of good stuff for you. We eat rice here, lots of it. If this sounds all too healthy for you, don’t worry because we can deep fry that fish or offer up some plate lunch (meat, starch, starch) or loco moco (rice, burger, egg, and lots of gravy)! We have the happiest cows in the world, which you can taste in the island beef burgers.



Note from B- Poke!! Mom can't eat fish, but please go get some poke. Go somewhere the locals go, and even better, go somewhere right by the ocean for super fresh fish. Between the beef , the produce, and the fish, there is no reason to eat anything that isn't local while you are there. This is us stopping at a roadside fruit stand and we bought smoothies and juices there. So good! Risks almost always pay off on the island.



5. Go to Place of Refuge (Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park). This is a state park and there is a small cost of admission (but you don’t have to be able to pronounce it). This beautiful spot was one of the homes of the alii or royalty of the island. Like many cultures, the Hawaiians offered a place of refuge or escape for persons who had accidentally killed a fellow Hawaiian. Puuhonua o Honaunau also was home to those brave Hawaiians who could reach it without perishing or being killed on the way.


6. South Point and Green Sand Beach are worth the trip to the southernmost part of the United States. If you get lucky, you’ll see cliff divers at South Point. You can try it if you want, but remember that you have to get back up the cliff. Be careful at South Point as the cliffs are being eroded by the ocean and are falling into the ocean regularly. Green Sand Beach requires a 2-mile hike or driving a 4-wheeled, high clearance vehicle, and is worth the bouncy trip. Plan on climbing down into the water-carved cliff and enjoying the waves from the green sand beach (Yes, the sand really is green!).


7. On the colored sand topic, the black sand beaches are awesome! Try Punaluu Take a beach towel, some water and snacks and relax on the sand while you’re staring out at the water. It’s usually cloudy here, so you won’t bake. Don’t be surprised by the heads popping out of the water! They’re just the honu or Hawaiian sea turtles.


8. Go to Tex’s in Honoka’a for fresh, hot malasadas. Malasadas are Portuguese (pronounced port-o-gee) donuts and Tex’s makes the best. You can actually buy a whole meal, but the malasadas are darn filling. While you’re there, make sure that you sit on the lanai (pronounced la-ni) or outside seating so that you can see the clear, crisp view of the ocean. The colors on the Hamakua Coast are amazing!



9. Go to the valleys – specifically the Waipio Valley and Ponolulu Valley. They aren’t that far apart, but getting to them requires a lot of driving. Ride or walk down into the Waipio Valley and enjoy
the mist up the valley; cross the river as it enters the ocean; hike up the cliffs; visit the falls, or just sit and enjoy the spiritual nature of this site. Don’t walk down unless you can get back up (Not for people with any medical problems.). The walk into the Ponolulu Valley and go to the beach. This is a much easier walk.

Note from B- This is from our hike down to the Waipio Valley. It was DEFINITELY a hike, but we had a really fun time. Know your limits, but you can see some amazing beaches if you are willing to really get moving.

10. Go to a Farmer’s market. There are lots of them. The Hilo market is lots of fun and has lots more than just farm stuff. Waimea (also known as Kamuela to avoid confusion with Waimea on O’ahu. Unfortunately, it just makes it confusing as to whether one is going to Waimea or Kamuela.) has farmer’s markets almost every day. Kona has a few permanent markets that are ok, but not as authentic as the Waimea markets. The farmers are happy to teach you about the fruits and vegetables of the island.

The Big Island is a great place to visit and there are lots of things that you can do that cost money – helicopter tours, submarine rides, parasailing, ziplines, etc. But those are for the tourists…

Last note from B- When you travel, it can be really tempting to just buy things that say "Hawaii" on it, but check the tag! Why do you want to buy something Made in China while you are in Hawaii? Wait and buy that when you are in China! Hawaii has treats and treasures made there, and they aren't too hard to find as long as you check somewhere other than an ABC store. I think it is worth it to buy less and buy local when it comes to souvenirs, because you can support the places you are having such a good time in! We have bought some really pretty and unique Christmas ornaments there at local stores. 

Thank you Mom for all of your great ideas! 


Want to write your own Loving the Local List? You fill my heart with joy! Just send me a list of your five to ten favorite local brands and stores (it doesn't have to be just around the street- a State specific snack or small chain of restaurants works just fine). Write a few sentences on why you love each thing (and I love pictures if you have them) and send them to sunshineguerrilla@gmail.com.
Would you like to buy more environmentally responsible or Made in America products? I've got you covered! Check out my Mega List of Shopping Lists for tons of ideas for any shopping trip.

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