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If I ever return to The Big Island (which I truly hope to!), I’ll do things a little differently. I’ll rent a campervan and take a week to circumnavigate the island slowly and leisurely, rather than hopping around like a madwoman and logging millions of hours in the car. To be honest, I was a little ambitious in planning and we started to go a bit crazy some day from too many hours in the driver and passenger seats. But on the upside, we broke up long journeys with frequent side trips to some of the island’s smaller attractions. See Part I of this post here, and footage of almost all these attractions can be found in my Big Island video.

Big Island Road Trip

As I mentioned yesterday, this trip simply would not have been the same without our literal third wheel: our cherry red Jeep Wrangler. Every time I saw it I smiled.

Big Island Jeep RentalPhoto by Heather Holt

Big Island Jeep RentalPhoto by Heather Holt

4. Waipi’o Valley

We absolutely raced against the clock to grab a glimpse of the Waipi’o Valley before sunset. This is the largest of seven spectacular valleys along the windward coast. While it was stunning, I admit I was somewhat disappointed by the obscured view from the main overlook. Supposedly with 4WD we should have been able to drive 15 minutes down the steep road to the beach and better views, but a park ranger warned us that the road was impassable due to heavy rains. I would love to return to this area someday to hike or horseback ride through the valley.

Waipi'o Valley

5. Akaka Falls State Park

The drive to Akaka Falls brings you through the charming town of Honomu, where ice cream shops and vintage stores line the retro streets. It’s a great place to stop for a stroll or a bite to eat.

Akaka Falls State Park

Akaka Falls State Park

Big Island Road Trip
Big Island Road Trip

The falls themselves are part of an impressively well-maintained park. A half-mile looped and paved trail carries through a dense rainforest filled with giant trees and tiny streams. Eventually, a clearing reveals the majestic Akaka Falls, cascading more than 420 feet.

Akaka Falls State Park

Big Island Road Trip
Big Island Road Trip

Akaka Falls State Park

Akaka Falls State Park

6. Pepe’ekeo Scenic Drive

Just a four mile scenic detour off Highway 19, Pepe’ekeo Drive was one of the most-photographed places on our Big Island trip. Every twist and turn brought a new quaint one-lane bridge, a charming and colorful old wooden house, or another sweet homemade banana bread stand. Tall trees form a canvas and a shelter from the frequent rain showers that make this area so lush with life.

Pepe'ekeo Scenic Drive

Pepe'ekeo Scenic Drive

Big Island Road Trip
Big Island Road Trip

Pepe'ekeo Scenic Drive

Pepe'ekeo Scenic Drive

Pepe'ekeo Scenic Drive

Big Island Road Trip
Big Island Road Trip

Pepe'ekeo Scenic Drive

Pepe'ekeo Scenic Drive

Big Island Road Trip
Big Island Road Trip

Pepe'ekeo Scenic DrivePhoto by Heather Holt

Pepe'ekeo Scenic DrivePhoto by Heather Holt

Pepe'ekeo Scenic DrivePhoto by Heather Holt

Pepe'ekeo Scenic DrivePhoto by Heather Holt

Pepe'ekeo Scenic DrivePhoto by Heather Holt

And that concludes my coverage of The Big Island! Onto Maui…

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10 Comments...
  • Shaun
    December 15 2012

    AMAZING pictures. Don’t knock yourself too hard to trying to whip around the island. We’ve all done it somewhere.

    • Alex
      December 16 2012

      Yeah, it’s definitely easy to overschedule yourself in a place like Hawaii! Luckily I took it super easy on Maui and Kauai, so I had a good balance.

  • Gaelyn
    December 15 2012

    Seems no matter how long you can visit there’s always something to return for. Isn’t that great.
    Gaelyn recently posted..Where to explore in the Johannesburg area, culture and caves

    • Alex
      December 16 2012

      I’m the queen of “When I come back….” Sometimes I even make lists in my notebook! It helps me get over anything I missed or that didn’t go my way.

  • Noah
    December 16 2012

    Despite feeling as though you may have overlooked a lot in trying to take in so much, you definitely highlighted some important must-see spots on the Big Island. I’m glad you were impressed by Honomu on the way to Akaka Falls. As many times as I’ve driven various folks through that quintessentially quaint town (on the way to the falls), I’m calmed and astonished by its peacefully eclectic aspect.

    • Alex
      December 18 2012

      I wish we had had more time to spend in Honomu… looked like a really cool place! I’ll have to keep that in mind for next time.

  • Dani
    December 17 2012

    I am dying to go to Hawaii now after reading all your posts!! Great pictures of the road trip – definitely on our list for when we make it to the Big Island.
    Dani recently posted..Our Top 5 Favorite Destinations of 2012

    • Alex
      December 18 2012

      Dani that is quite the compliment coming from a talented travel writer like you! 🙂 Glad to hear I’ve given some people the Hawaii bug…

  • Sharon
    November 4 2015

    Thank you alex for sending me the link to the rest of your HI big island adventures!!

    I can hardly wait to pour over all your posts more thoroughly–and show my husband, too. Love the camper-van idea. We’ve been wondering if that was possible. I just looked it up after seeing this post and found out that is is. Wow! cool! Thank you again!

    • Alex
      November 4 2015

      That’s definitely how I would do Big Island if I could do it again, Sharon. Sounds like you have a great trip ahead!

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