The Big Island is, well, big. There are two east/westerly thoroughfares and we quickly discovered that either route takes more than several hours to navigate one-way. Many people who live in Hilo have never been to Kona and vice-versa. We based somewhat between the two coasts and shared equal time visiting both areas.

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The western side of the Big Island of Hawaii offers the best swimming opportunities as the waves are not as strong as on the eastern edge and most beaches are not nearly as rocky. The west side also has the most sunshine.

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Beautiful picture postcard beaches are not hard to find although a few did take some sweet-talking or a little extra patience to gain public access.

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We found the Captain Cook monument near Kealakekua Bay and the Two Step Beach in Honaunau Bay to have the best snorkeling on the Island.

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However, fair warning, the Ka’awaloa Trail that leads down to the snorkeling at Captain Cook is four miles round trip.

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While it is fine going down the trail, although a little rocky and silty, that two mile return journey will kick your ass on the way back up!

Captain Cook

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We discovered this colorfully painted church on the way to Pu’uhonua.

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Considered a sacred place, Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park is a must do for its beauty and tranquility.

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Steeped in history and culture it is said no harm could come to those who reached its boundaries, as it served as a sanctuary in ancient times, even for those who violated the kapu or sacred laws.

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Pu’uhonua is also that perfect romantic sunset spot and we returned a second time to watch the sun slip from the sky casting a beautiful glow across the water.

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As luck would have it, the first whale watching party of the season kicked off during our stay on The Big Island. We quickly headed out to Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historical site to see the presentation and to learn all about whales. Lo-and-behold, during the talk, a cheeky whale stole the show and that’s no fluke!

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Wrapping up the West Coast, we finish with a flourish: oh yes that is a rare Hawaiian monk seal tucked up in the corner on the rocks of Kikaua Beach. What a treat!

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Up Next: Haleakala National Park