Big Island Favorites
There is so much to do, see and experience on the Big Island – some near and some far. You can get a lot of ideas by diving into internet search engines. We will list a few “all-encompassing” sites here to get you started. We will also provide you a short list of our family favorites — the places that we have gone back to over and over again! There is nothing better than taking a turn and discovering something spectacular; and then the next day you can relax by the pool.
Our family has discovered pretty much everything on the Big Island, but it is ever changing. So even though we may have been to one place in particular a few years ago, this year it could be different from what we remember. Rain forests and lava fields are in a constant state of change, so every visit is as if it were the first.
We do have some favorites and recommend these to our guests…
MANTA RAY VILLAGE
Located at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay, 78-128 Ehukai Street, Kailua-Kona; you can walk to the Village from Kanaloa!
Manta Rays first began congregating in this area in the early 1970’s, when the Kona Surf Hotel opened. The hotel had the idea to provide guests with an illuminated view of the ocean at night, so bright floodlights were installed. Little did they realize that these lights would become a beacon for plankton, ultimately attracting Manta Rays to the area that feed on plankton. Now the experience is offered by the Sheraton. You can either view from the shoreline, or choose to get up close and personal with a evening snorkel dive. We suggest booking with Fair Wind to enjoy an evening cruise and dive aboard the Hula Kai.
CAPTAIN COOK MONUMENT
The British established the Captain Cook monument in memory of the site where Cook was killed. Kealakekua Bay is traditionally a sacred site for the ancient Hawaiians. The name translates to “the pathway of the God,” where it was said the Hawaiian fertility god, Lono-i-ka-makahiki, lived.
When Captain Cook made his second landing in Hawaii, he arrived at a very sacred place during a very sacred time. At the time of his arrival, the Hawaiian people were celebrating the makahiki festival, an annual joyful tribute to Lono-i-ka-makahiki.
Fair Wind Snorkel Cruises to Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Bay
The best way to access the magic of Kealakekua Bay is aboard a Fair Wind Snorkel Cruise. Enjoy the luxuries of a custom-designed vessel with the convenience of onboard restrooms, freshwater showers, and a fully equipped galley for barbecue lunches and offering of exotic drinks, soft drinks and famous 100% Kona coffee. A Fair Wind Snorkel Cruise also provides snorkel gear and an assortment of floatation devices for unmatched intimate encounters with the bay’s abundant and unique marine life.
PLACE OF REFUGE
Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park
Located at Highway 160 in Honaunau, it is about a 30-40 minute drive from Kanaloa.
In old Hawai’i, if you had broken a law, the penalty was death. Perhaps you had entered into an area that was reserved for only the chiefs, or had eaten forbidden foods. Laws, or kapu, governed every aspect of Hawaiian society. The penalty for breaking these laws was certain death. Your only option for survival is to elude your pursuers and reach the nearest pu’uhonua, or place of refuge. Many ki’i (carved wooden images) surround the Hale o Keawe temple, housing the bones of the chiefs that infuse the area with their power or mana. If you reached this sacred place, you would be saved.
Today, you may visit Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, and still feel the spirit of peace and forgiveness that continues to surround and bless this special place. The Pu’uhonua is still considered a sacred site. Therefore the following restrictions are in effect. No commercial filming, nudity, beach chairs, towels, mats, beach umbrellas, coolers, picnicking, pets, weddings or wedding photos, smoking and recreational activities such as frisbee throwing, football tossing, etc. are not permitted. Please help to preserve the Pu’uhonua as in the ancient times.
THE PAINTED CHURCH
St. Benedict’s Catholic Church
Located at 84-5140 Painted Church Rd., Captain Cook, it is about a 30-40 minute drive from Kanaloa and can be combined with your visit to the Place of Refuge. It is a beautiful church that still is in service today. The painted church is located in the south Kona district (Hōnaunau) and is officially called the St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church. It was built in 1842 in Kapalelua, and was moved to its present location around 1880.