After my brother and sister-in-law were married in Oahu, I and a few members of their wedding party flew to the the Big Island via Hawaiian Airlines. Before leaving Hilo, we swung by Two Ladies Kitchen to pick up a box of delicious mochi.
The following day, our first priority was visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We entered the park early in the morning and were greeted by a smoking crater! Next, we lazily bathed in the thermal waters at Ahalanui Park. [Update as of September 2013: The pool is currently closed, pending water results test.]
Seeing the lava at night is a very cool activity! All visitors have to maintain a “safe distance” which means that the lava flow we permitted to see was quite distant; but binoculars and the zoom on our cameras helped us see a bit more.
The Kona side of the island is very special because there are all kinds of secluded beaches and coves, right off of the main highway. The white sands are stunning. As goes for all of the Hawaiian islands, there are often rocks beneath the water’s surface because of how the islands were formed. Bring water shoes for your beach adventures—as well as if you hike in the water in places like Akaka Falls State Park.
I had a lot of “first time experiences” in Hawaii—seeing petroglyph displays, visiting a Kona coffee plantation (called Mountain Thunder) and spending the night in an A-frame shelter in Hapuna Beach. The ranger on duty there told me all about his affinity for wild boar hunting!
If you’re looking for even more ideas, read “Three Perfect Days in Hawaii” in Hemispheres Magazine for recommendations on what to see and do in Hawaii.