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!
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.”