Narrowing down my favorite things about the Big Island of Hawaii is no small task. I was born and raised on Oahu. For years Oahu was my island of choice when it came time to go home. During our last trip to the Big Island, that began to change. We went back from my grandmother Betty Webster's 90th birthday. My grandmother is a force of nature, the epitome of aloha and my first favorite thing about the Big Island of Hawaii.
1.Betty Webster (Grandma aka: Aunty Betty) Guinness World Record Holder Lives in Kamuela, Hawaii
My grandma Betty Webster, also known as "Aunty Betty Webster" to locals, is in the 2017 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records for having the world's largest collection of novelty sunglasses. She recorded the record with 1506 pairs, but now I think she has over 2,000 and is still going. Grandma doesn't want anyone to break her record. Ask almost anyone who lives in Kamuela and they know Aunty Betty.
Grandma doesn't go anywhere without at least half a dozen pairs of sunglasses, which she seamlessly changes out. Family lore says you never see her switch the glasses. You turn around and BAM a new pair with fingers flipping you off are staring you down.
This is my favorite photo of my grandma and her great, great grandson Oliver. This kiss is a full circle moment bringing together 5 generations of my family.
2. The Lava on the Big Island is Amazingly Beautiful
I'm a big fan of the Kona side of the island. When you land at the airport, many are surprised to see miles and miles of beautiful black lava.
We stayed in the beautiful, small town of Puako. There the lava meets the ocean. They make up tidal pools perfect for shell hunting and seeing tiny sea creatures. My grandson loved playing in the tide pools.
The most important thing to remember is, DO NOT TAKE ANY OF THE LAVA ROCKS WITH YOU. I'm not usually a superstitious person, but I've seen too many people have bad luck rain down upon them after taking the lava rocks. The lava is what Madame Pele, the goddess of fire gave birth to. Take the lava and you are taking what is hers. She will let you know she is not okay with it.
While we were there a man disrespected the posted signs and Madame Pele. He stepped over a guard rail, the ground below him gateway and he plummeted down. Amazingly, he fell to a ledge 70 feet down and was rescued. Pele showed him mercy.
Pele is a part of the Hawaiian culture. Whether you are superstitious or not, you would be wise to respect the customs of Hawaiians.
3. Malasadas are Da Bomb!
To refer to a malasada as just a fried donut is like calling the Mona Lisa just another painting. Malasadas were introduced to Hawaii by the Portuguese. They are a fried Portuguese confection with granulated sugar. They also come with different filings like: passion fruit, haupia (coconut pudding), custard, lilikoi, and a few others. My favorite though is the plain, followed by one with a haupia filing.
I allow myself three! Normally, I don't eat gluten, or sugar but in Hawaii I have my three malasadas. My favorite place for malasadas on the Big Island of Hawaii is on Old Puako Road. It's a truck that you can't miss. Here I am shamelessly digging in! Couldn't even wait till we got back to the house.
4. Brown's Beach House for the Romanic Dinner Win!
Wherever I travel I like to have one fabulously decadent dinner. My sister Lana calls it "Nice dinner". If she had her way we would eat Spam musubi from gas stations the whole time we are in Hawaii. If you don't know, a Spam musubi has delicious fried spam and rice wrapped with nori (seaweed). You can find it in the deli case at most grocery stores.
Tony and I celebrated his birthday at Brown's Beach House, which is located at the Fairmont Orchid Hotel. The views during dinner are amazing. Make a reservation for a good table and time it for sunset. This was also one of the best meals either of us has EVER had. I mean ever! It wasn't cheap, but it was worth it.
Definitely fine dining. There was also live music while we were enjoying dinner. In the photo we are standing just in front of our table for dinner.
5. The Beach at the Mauna Kea Hotel
You can drive up to the Mauna Kea Hotel and use their valet parking. You will want to make sure you eat at one of the restaurants while there and validate your parking. Even then, parking will cost you $20. The Mauna Kea Hotel is beautiful and the beach in front of it does not disappoint.
It's also nice to have the showers, bathrooms and beach bar right there as well. It's a great spot for swimming, snorkeling and frolicking on the shore. My daughter Kelsey and my grandson Oliver had a great time there.
6. Akaka Falls State Park
This trip we spent most of our time on the Kona side of the Big Island, in and around Puako and Waimea/Kamuela. Tony and I took a trip around the Hamakua coast to take a look at Akaka Falls State Park. You park your car, which is $5.00. I think we paid $1 or $2 to get in. There is an easy 1/4 mile walk on a paved path through a lush rainforest. The path is lined with stunning bamboo trees, ferns and orchids galore.
We are not big hikers. I battle chronic Lyme disease, which makes physical activity a challenge at times, but I did this walk just fine. There is a loop that takes you through the rainforest, to the falls, back to the parking lot. If you took your time as we did, you can do it in 30-40 minutes. It was fun meeting other tourist along the way. Even though I'm from Hawaii, I love going home and playing tourist.
For years Oahu was my favorite island, but the traffic has become bothersome. The Big Island doesn't have that issue, outside of Kona. There is so much more to do, see and eat on the Big Island. I'll probably share more of that another time. For now these are my Top 6 Favorite Things about the Big Island of Hawaii.