Friday, May 11, 2012

Where to stay on The Big Island

Known throughout the world for its exceptional beaches, volcanoes, and unmistakable coffee, the Kona Coast is thriving with culture. It has a slower, calmer pace than Honolulu, and offers a much wider range of activities that involve exploring the natural environment. Less catering to tourists, this is the real Hawaii! Kailua-Kona has become quite the destination for culinary enthusiasts in recent years. With rich soil that grows exquisite produce, shores that offer a bounty of seafood, and many creative chefs resulting in really amazing food at every turn. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay, hiking the caves and waterfalls at Hilina Pai are absolute musts! 

The Kona region is filled with local pride, and the Historic Kailua Village Walking Tour is the perfect crash course in everything to do with Hawaiian and Kona history. From taking in the summer palace of the Hawaiian royals to King Kamehameha’s many influences, you will definitely be educated first-hand during this 75-minute tour. Get a glimpse in Japanese-Hawaiian culture from the 1920’s to the 1940’s with the Living History Tour, where you can see the day-to-day comings and goings on the Uchida Coffee Farm.

Hitting the Upcountry is also a really cool thing to do. The village Holualoa is a tiny little haven of art and it carries a great laid back scene, where the air is scented sweetly of espresso. If you're going to treat yourself to a few pounds of the local coffee, this is the place to do it, as Holualoa is directly in the heart of the coffee belt. As for local, unique souvenirs, it doesn’t get better than this town with it’s quaint galleries and art shops featuring native art, artisan pieces, local wooden bowls and handmade glass items.

The Four Seasons Hualalai, is one of the finest of all the best resorts in Hawaii. It defines the essence of this Pacific island paradise. True to form in every aspect, from the property’s design, to the elegant graciousness of the staff, your immersion in the island lifestyle will be utterly complete here. Recently renovated, you will be surrounded by authentic design, and an unsurpassed collection of Hawaiian art. The natural surroundings were entirely taken into account in the resort’s architecture, and the aura is majestically blissful. With open-air spaces, and décor that is elegantly relaxed, you will have no other option but to unwind completely during your stay here. 

The Big Island is definitely the showstopper among all the islands in the Hawaiian chain. It is a land of many landscapes, with active volcanoes and alpine meadows, mountains covered in tropical rainforest, and extreme waterfalls. At it’s center lies Mauna Kea, whose peak is perpetually covered in snow, as it is the largest sea mountain in the world. It is also one of the best astronomical observation points on Earth, and it draws a significant crowd of international stargazers. And then there are the beaches, with sands that range in color from powder white to volcanic black, from gold, to green; offering but a glimpse at the area’s unique geology. For many, “Hawaii” is synonymous with “Honolulu,” but lately there have been a lot more flights landing in Kona, offering visitors a different option. Should you travel to Oahu, you could spend your entire trip on the Kona Coast alone, where the views, the artsy vibe, and the coffee are enough to keep even the most restless traveler content.

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