Challenge: What can you accomplish in a 12 hours period on a neighbor island?
For Mary and I, Big Island (Hawaii Island), Kauai, Maui and Lanai are neighbor islands. Seeing that we are based on the island of Oahu, we took advantage of visiting the island that gives our home state its name: Hawaii. This past weekend we were privileged to team up with Island Air for this opportunity/challenge.
We flew out on the earliest flight (06:55 AM) headed for Kailua-Kona on Hawaii Island. With a fleet of five dual prop engine planes, Island Air now offers flights to Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (KOA), Lihue, Kauai (LIH) and Kahului, Maui (OGG) – from Honolulu (HNL). The convenience and price are unmatched when wanting to visit other Hawaiian islands from Honolulu. The first flight departs at 06:55 AM with the last flight being at 19:56/7:56 PM. Although Island Air cabs are dual propeller, it has little to no effect on length of time it takes to travel from point A to point B. Other competing airlines arrive within the same time, which is approximately 45 minutes. As for the flight and sound, it seemed to be no different than any other airline. We know few people who have an unsupported idea that prop planes are slower, louder, and more prone to turbulence; (I know I thought that before my flight). In all honesty, Island Air’s fleet is a top notch dual propeller fleet which gave us a very pleasant journey. It felt and sounded like a “regular” jet plane. (Just a disclaimer: No, we aren’t being told to say this…it’s our raw opinion and personal experience of Island Air’s service).
Once we heard the “all clear” by the captain, it was a mad dash to get out and pick up our rental car. After all, we only had 12 hours! We both only carried a backpack which made things much more convenient. Our chariot for the day was awesome! (this was my [Reid] first time driving a Mustang. The thing is a beast!) While en route, we thought the day couldn’t have been more perfect. The weather was clear and surrounding environment was vibrant. Unfortunately, we scheduled this trip on the busiest day the Big Island encounters: The Iron Man competition. With massive road closures and heavy traffic, we had no choice but to take a detour up the scenic and serpentined Saddle Road. In the end, we arrived at our destination in the time we had originally planned.
Being on the go ever since 04:00 AM wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the complimentary coffee from Island Air’s lobby area. With only coffee in our bodies, our stomachs called for a pit stop for sustenance. After two hours on Saddle Road, we stopped at a local restaurant called Cafe 100. We both went with a traditional local favorite on all islands: the Loco Moco. Granted a renewed energy, it was time to reach our first destination of the day: Hawaii Volcano National Park.
Upon entering the most unique National Park in the United States, the steam vents on the left side was our first stopping place. These vents are extremely hot and dangerous. Don’t stand for too long by or lean over the railing.
Halemaʻumaʻu Crater within Kīlauea caldera. This is the view from the lookout point near the steam vent area.
Further down the road lies the Jaggar Museum in which a better view of the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater can be seen. At the time of visiting, there were road closures to go any further consequently causing us to turn around ahead of schedule. As a result of the road closure, it provided us extra time to visit the Thurston Lava Tube. The lava tube is the first stop on the left if you choose to go there first instead of the vents. We decided to walk through it to extend our time spent in the National Park. It reminded us of the wet cave in Kauai.
Our next stop was a famous black sand beach, Punalu’u! Big Island is the youngest island therefore, there are many black sand beaches (due to ‘recent’ volcanic activity). Witness the beautiful and otherworldly site before it turns into a different color within the next few million years (kidding)! Unlike many North Shore beaches on Oahu, this black sand is easy to wash off and feels very coarse. It was effortless to clean up!
Our strict schedule left us a little time to spend at Punalu’u and had us embark to one of our bucket list items: South Point. South Point is the most Southern Point in the United States. Although we were not able to get in the water due to our agenda, it was an amazing place to be. We vowed to return for a full day to enjoy a nice swim!
Starting at 04:00 AM and ending with our flight touching down at 20:00/8:40 PM, we were exhausted! We would like to think we did our best with a 12-hour window to explore the Big Island including unfortunate diversions due to the Iron Man competition. Learn from us: Plan around major events when traveling! Our mistake, your lesson. Although it was only three major destinations, the drives were a journey of its own. We’ve been to the big island multiple times but when you consolidate your activities into one day, you began to realize and respect how vast and unique the Hawaiian island chain truly is, as a whole. What a great experience! Thank you Island Air, couldn’t have done it without you!
10 PLACES YOU MUST VISIT ON THE BIG ISLAND
For more information on Island Air, visit here.
Island Air on Social Media: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Island Air Reservations online or call (800) 652-6541
Disclaimer: Wanderlustyle teamed up with Island Air with a sponsored flight to the Big Island. We are tremendously grateful! Thank you, Island Air!
That being said, our opinions were not swayed due to this opportunity. We would purchase outer island tickets via Island Air regardless. They are very competitive with prices and their quality of service is fantastic. Island Air did not have an influence on our destinations. All planning and scheduling were planned and executed by Wanderlustyle.
“It is better to travel well than to arrive.”
Awesome post – Hawaii is one of our top dream destinations to go to and all your awesome photos just wanted us to go even more! And how sweet it is that it’s so easy to go between the islands. Personally I like flying the small planes more then the bigger ones, they are just more cozy and fun… unless you’re used to flying 1st class or business of course, then I guess nothing can compare! Bookmarking this for when visiting later on 🙂
Thank you so much! Hahaha we are definitely not used to 1st class and if you think these planes are cozy than you’ll love Island Air when you visit ;).
Holy your photography is phenomenal (followed you on IG, skylinesfromrooftops is me 😀 ). I havent quite made it out to Hawaii but am planning a trip there in the near future. It just looks like another world over there!
Thank you so much! Your photos are gorgeous as well! (just checked them out). Hawaii is one for the record books, you’ll love it there!
Your photo skills are amazing, congratulations! Apart from that, the post is so useful and interesting. I adore this kind of one-day trip, city-escapes, (or island escapes) that allow you to live a whole day at its full, with lots of activities. For the they are the best way to put some fun into a dull week in town. Loved the post.
Thank you for the genuine comment, Gabi! Our main purpose is to write articulately and in full detail so when visitors, like yourself, make it out here you can travel easily without the hassle of worrying where to go or what to do ;). Couldn;t agree more that these one-day travel experiences are those that stick with us longer…I guess because we have such little time there we enjoy it tenfold and remember everything.
What a day!I like your adventure going near the crater and It is fine to just have a look near the steaming vent. I have heard of black sand beaches in Hawaii and Punalu’u beach is kinda new to me. The sand looks genuinely black and soothing. Nice post! You have some great shots there.
Thank you! The black sand beaches and weather rival any other place in the world!
I love volcanoes so going to Hawaii should be a very interesting place where to look and learn something more about these incredible force of nature! And I’d really like to see them erupting, from a safe area of course! 😀
Furthermore, I don’t know what loco moco is, but now I want it!
Haha! the Loco Moco is a “must-eat” when visiting any Hawaiian island! Hawaii island offers water tours as well! You can watch the lava spew into the Pacific Ocean (we have yet to do this). It’s an incredible sight to behold, I’m sure.
How amazing it must be to actually be near an active volcano and see the smoke coming out of it. I have only hiked a “sleeping” volcano, mount Etna in Italy and I remember how special that experience was. That sand looks more like ashes than sand and the entire scenery looks like it’s been taken from another planet. It was nice that the airline gave you free coffee also, this is a luxury in our days. 🙂
Always have to fuel up with coffee and when it’s free, it makes the trip that much more enjoyable ;). I bet that hike was incredible no doubt. We wish we had the chance to get closer to the crater but we simply didn’t have enough time. It would’ve have been neat though!
What a jam packed but amazing day! I’d love to visit the Big Island, especially for the black sand beaches. We usually head to Oahu out of passion for the north shore and Ko’Olina, but the big island is hopefully in the future! And maybe just as a side trip like this!
We could have spent an entire day the black sand beach alone! It really is a remarkable sight, plus the sand feels very different than any other beach we’ve visited. Being a regular to the North Shore of Oahu, the drastic change in scenery and texture of the sand will have you mesmerized! Thank you for your comment!
Ever since I watched the TV show Lost, I fell in love with Hawaii and especially the island Oahu. I’d love to visit all of Hawaii and the islands sometime. For now, your posts will take me there. A Mustang for a rental car looks really cool. You have some beautiful shots, really well done. Great blog! Following!
Thank you so much Johann! Really appreciate your support, it means a lot! <3
When I saw your post was on the big island I was quite excited. Hawaii is amazing and we absolutely love the islands. Reading your post brought back a lot of great memories so I thank you for that. We went kayaking near kona when we were there and your photo of black sand beach reminds me of the area we kayaked. Thanks again, loved your day trip.
Thank you for letting us take you back :D! It’s always pleasant to hear our posts do something meaningful to others! It’s stories and feedback like yours that keep us going :). Thank you.
The Black Beach sounds phenomenal. What does the Loco Moco have in it??
The Loco Moco is typically 2 scoops of rice, 1 beef/hamburger patty, 1 egg (usually sunny side up), and gravy all over. Some places even offer macaroni salad. In Hawaii, it’s usually a breakfast food but it can be eaten any times of the day and is flexible with what you put in it. The meat can be different (Reid got Portuguese sausage) and your egg can be served the way you like it (scrambled, sunny side up, over easy).
That was quite a hectic schedlue. But kudos to both of you for covering such a lot in the space of 12 hours. The landscapes are indeed stunning. I always have a fascination for volcanoes, they look so surreal.
Thank you! It was quick, busy and fun but we got it done and can share it with you all! 🙂
Beautiful photos! Big Island is my favourite amongst all the other islands. Though Maui is more beautiful, Kuaui untouched, the rawness of Big Island truly appeals to me. One of my favourite experiences has to be the helicopter tour of the crater, with the most incredible part being watching the lava meet the sea. No matter how much time you have, somehow it is never enough! That said, you definitely accomplished a lot in 12 hrs and with little sleep. Very helpful for someone who is travelling with limited time.
The best part of the Big Island is you can surf and snowboard in the same day which just adds to your description of how versatile the landscape really is! Just raw beauty and natural changes in the environment! We were talking to each other on how big the Volcano National Park really is that it can take up and entire day if not managed well, it’s just so intriguing! While out there, we added that helicopter/boat tour to our personal bucket list. Thank you for your inspiration, Mansi!
When I visited Hawaii back in 2009, I had 3 days on Oahu, 3 on Maui and just 1 on the big island. Volcanoes National Park was certainly the highlight. I love your pictures. Time to go listen to Hawaii 78!
Haha looks like you had a jam-packed trip yourself! 1 day is enough to visit what needs to be visited! But of course, there is always something to see! Thank you for your comment.
These are some absolutely stunning photos and you have managed to capture the colors of Hawaii wonderfully well. I have never been to Hawaii yet but it certainly looks like you managed to squeeze a huge amount of activities in and it would be a great itinerary for anyone to follow during a visit to Big Island. Some of these shots looks like they could have been out of the pre-historic period and hopefully, I’ll be able to follow in your footsteps one day!
Thank you for that amazing comment, Gareth! We appreciate the love! And yes, please do come out here, you’ll love it! You can expirence all the colors in person :).
A day well spent! Those steam vents amaze me. Strange are the ways of nature!
I am yet to visit the beautiful Hawaii… there are lots to experience as I can see from your pictures.
For a 12 hour itinerary you have cavered a lot and well.
Thank you, Indrani! The steam vents are super hot! Strange indeed but mesmerizing nonetheless!
Seems like you have covered a lot of things n only 12 hours. Great photographs, there s a strange, melancholic beauty in those black sand beaches. That smoky crater looks somewhat terrifying though.
Haha, we were far enough way that the crater seems to be no problem. Thank you for your comment! We tried encapsulating the raw beauty through our pictures as best we could and to hear that many of you loved it, is the best compliment! Thank you again.
Love this! I love Hawaii but have only been to Maui. I can’t wait to come back and explore more of the islands 🙂 Your photos are really pretty by the way!
Thank you! Definitely make your way to Hawaii Island, you won’t regret it!
Looks like a great way to spend 12 hours! I’ve never been, but have always seen the Ironman broadcast, so I can only imagine how many people & detours that adds to your day! Solid advice about planning around big events! Similarly, we learned the hard way about visiting Malaysia during Chinese New Year.
Oh yes, the least amount of complications during traveling, the better! Although it’s great for stories in hindsight ;).
Black sand beach, steaming vents, volcanoes – sounds like Iceland 🙂 The only difference is that on Hawaii you can explore it in a t-shirt and shorts. I just love to visit such sites and observe the living Earth. You’ve got really nice pictures here!
Hahaha! Very true. Iceland looks amazing and we can’t wait to visit. We are in the process of planning a trip there! Thank you for the feedback, we highly appreciate the support!