We’ve done a pretty decent job over the years here at Speed:Sport:Life covering the Speed and Sport aspects of things. This site initially started because a few of us were car lovers with a passion for racing. We were in our late 20s, and our life revolved around car shows, race tracks, and anything else automotive.
Eventually, though, things happen in life that changes how we approach our passions and hobbies. Some of us focus on careers, family, and other aspects of life beyond those passions and hobbies. I’m no exception to this, and these things are why I more or less let this site go dormant over the last couple of years before recently getting back at it.
While I never lost my passion for speed and sport, I chose to put more focus on the life aspect of things. Focus on life included having more experiences that involved travel and quality time with my family. So here I am, having just turned 40 in February, ready to share my vacation photos and experiences with others. I’m officially an old man, but I hope that sharing some of these travels can help others enjoy the life of travel as much as we have. We’ve got a few lined up, from the Hawaiian Islands to German Christmas markets, to where to find the best BBQ in the state of Texas.
My first trip report on Speed:Sport:Life focuses on the beautiful Island of Hawaii, better known as the Big Island. 2019 marked our third year in a row to the Big Island just because we fell in love with it so hard during our first trip in 2017.
Where to Stay
When researching where to stay on the Big Island, you’ll often hear people refer to the Kona side or the Hilo side. You might find yourself splitting time between these two sides to make visiting all the sights easier on your itinerary.
The Kona side is the resort dense side of the Big Island and has a variety of hotels to cater to all price ranges and needs. Visitors will find lots of breweries, restaurants, and pubs situated waterfront on Ali’i Drive, and is the perfect place for visitors who want to be in the middle of the action. Kona also features a flurry of recreational activity from Manta Ray night dives, luaus, and a few decent beaches.
The Hilo side, in comparison, has fewer resorts and is more of a place that actual Hawaiians live and work. There aren’t as many beaches or nightlife spots in Hilo as in Kona. What it is suitable for though is seeing the day to day life of actual residents, as well as putting visitors close to Volcanoes National Park, and a couple of beautiful waterfalls. It is important to note that after the lower Puna eruption of 2018, the Kilauea volcano finally went dormant after 30 years of continuous eruption. More on that later.
Where We Stay
We prefer to stay on the Kona side of the island, and this was our third year in a row at the Sheraton Kona Keauhou Bay Resort. The resort is a full-service resort in a beautiful and quiet location. There are plenty of pools for the kids and families to enjoy, as well as beautiful grounds to relax in. The resort also provides plenty of activities at night with movies by the pool, Manta Ray educational talks, and games like giant checkers to play. While the rooms are getting starting to show their age, the rest of the resort has undergone a massive renovation in the last 24 months. We love the value and service that this resort provides.
Beaches & Snorkeling
Let’s get this one out of the way right now. The Big Island isn’t where you go if you are looking for the picturebook idea of a white sandy beach. While there are beautiful beaches on the Big Island, they are much more sparse than are found on the other islands like Maui. Here are a few of our favorite swim and snorkel spots.
Spencer Beach Park
Carlsmith Beach Park
Kekaha Kai State Park
Things to See & Do
Where the Big Island lacks in miles of sandy beach shoreline, it more than makes up for in natural beauty.
Pololu Valley Lookout
Waipio Valley Lookout
Summiting Mauna Kea
Summiting Mauna Kea at sunset is a mindblowing experience. At 13,803′ in elevation, the summit of Mauna Kea gives visitors one of the most unobstructed views of the night sky in the world. It’s no wonder there are 13 observation facilities located in the Mauna Kea Reserve. I want to point out that while you can summit Mauna Kea on your own, you definitely shouldn’t do it on your own. Instead, leave the driving and heavy lifting to tour operators like Hawaii Forest and Trail. Hawaii Forest and Trail use 4×4 vans to get to the top and provide visitors with parkas (it was below freezing even in June), hot cocoa, a full meal, and expert tour guides.
Get On A Boat
See Old Lava Flows At Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park was a very different place when we visited the Big Island in 2017 than it is now. Kilauea was still erupting, and the lava was clearly visible from the Jagger Observatory in the park. In 2018, Kilauea went dormant after the 2018 lower Puna Eruption. The eruption caused parts of the Puna region to be taken over by lava flows and eliminated several neighborhoods in their proximity. The Jagger Museum and Observatory was also damaged beyond repair and remains permanently closed. The lava lake inside the Halema‘uma‘u crater also disappeared. The photos below depict our 2017 visit prior to the eruption last year. It is worth noting that the park is still very much open and still has fascinating things to see. Please check the National Park Service website to see all the sights and closures around Volcanoes National Park.
Visit the Southern Most Point in the United States
There is a misconception that the southernmost point in the United States is located in Key West, which is the most southern point in the Continental USA. The most southern point in the entire USA is located at South Point (creative, huh?) on the Big Island. There’s not much to see from South Point, but it is worth visiting to say you’ve been. If you are feeling adventurous, there are spots for cliff jumping. I’m going to tell you that you’ll never ever find me jumping off those cliffs, as the waves were massive. It’s also extremely windy, as evidenced by the way the trees are growing. I wouldn’t go out of your way to get here, but it’s a short detour from Volcanoes National Park if you are interested in being able to say you’ve been here.
We Love the Big Island
We’ve visited all the Hawaiian Islands multiple times over the years, and as mentioned previously, this was our third trip to the Big Island in three consecutive years. This post is already way too long as it is, but there are more places to visit on the Big Island that I didn’t cover in the post. We’d go back every year if we had that luxury. We love everything the Big Island has to offer, from its incredibly fresh food to its breathtaking landscapes.
Most importantly, we love the people and culture. Everyone is so genuinely friendly and willing to share the stories and lore of the island with you. Of all the islands, the Big Island is the one that has you feeling the Aloha spirit the second you walk off the plane. If you want to escape to paradise, make sure you make the Big Island part of that escape. As with every trip to Hawaii we make, it’s never goodbye to the Islands, but rather A hui hou – until we meet again.
All Photos Copyright Zerin Dube