Article and photos by Virginia Miller
Volcanoes. Black rock expanses. Coffee berries growing on mountain foothills. Some of the best stargazing in the world. Rolling, green farmland. Waterfalls. Sandy beaches. Singing classic Hawaiian tunes to ukelele under the stars. These are but a few things I beheld and experienced on Hawaii, the Big Island. Flying around the entire island via helicopter (I’d recommend Paradise Helicopters’ circle island tour) is the best way to witness the vast range of Big Island landscape, more varied and vast than any of the islands – and thus it can take longer to drive than any other Hawaiian island. Paradise Helicopters landed dramatically on the lawn of my Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay (they can arrange personalized pick-ups), flying from misty, green Hilo to the farmland of Wailea. The island’s northern valleys, cliffs and canyons reminded me of the unforgettable Kauai helicopter ride I took in 2011.
An unforgettable moment: flying over Big Island volcanoes with Paradise Helicopters
Circling over bubbling volcanoes as they release vapors and red lava is an unforgettable moment. Exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with Warren Costa, owner of Native Guide Hawaii, brought an insider’s perspective of jungle growth, lava tubes, steam vents and volcanic rock shimmering in the sun, beholding craters and ocean views from lava-marked cliffs.
Sunset atop Maunakea, Hawaii’s tallest mountain
Stargazing atop Maunakea, a 13,000+ foot mountain, is another one of those only-on-Hawaii’s-Big-Island experiences. As it is easily 40-60 degrees cooler up the mountain than it is below, I disappeared in scarves, gloves, coats and a hat, spotting shooting stars, constellations and planets through state-of-the-art telescopes.
Continue reading more about Virginia Miller’s Hawaii Island adventure on The Perfect Spot.
Virginia Miller is the head food and drink writer at the SF Bay Guardian, has her own newsletter/website The Perfect Spot, and freelances for Zagat, Eater, Grubstreet, 7×7 Magazine, PureWow, Blackboard Eats, Citysearch, NBC’s The Feast, Berkeleyside, Where and 944 Magazines. Follow Virginia on Twitter @ThePerfectSpot and Facebook.com/ThePerfectSpot.