I’m Kristina - freelance graphic designer, backyard farmer, cookbook reader, project starter, and new mom to a gorgeous little boy.

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July 29, 2011

Recs for the Big Island?

I’m calling on your expertise again, chickens. We’re leaving for Kona on Tuesday and while I don’t think we’ll be doing much more than playing in the sand and eating mangos, I do want to know what we absolutely shouldn’t miss. Restaurants? Hikes (possible with a baby on your back)? Best beaches?

I know we’ll be going over to Hilo one day for the epic farmer’s market and to visit my cousin’s new school. He starts at the University of Hawaii in a month.

We’re staying north of Kona at the Mauna Kea. Any tips?

I thank you as always for your super ideas!


  1. Kiija said on July 29, 2011

    Everything out of Big Island Unveiled guidebook (link below) made our big island vacation great! Don’t miss the Coffee Shack for breakfast on the way to Volcanoes National Park and Hapuna Beach.

  2. katie osumi said on July 29, 2011

    oh! well one can’t beach at the mauna kea without a taste of the deadly “frederico”. try not to carry sweet baby boy during or after consumption….methinks the frederico may be why the baby bjorn was originally invented.
    have fun,

  3. jessica said on July 29, 2011

    hapuna beach is amazing- but watch for the undertow with your little.
    huggos(.com) is a two pronged place with a casual beach side bar type place where you can often watch whales – with a fancier restaurant for a more fine dining experience at night. another place worth the splurge is the four seasons hualalai.. the resort is private but you can dine seaside without being a hotel guest so long as you make a reservation.
    go see kilauea, the energy of that mountain is a life list experience. mostly, i encourage you practice aloha and revel in the ohana spirit- the big island is a truly magical place!

  4. Pam said on July 29, 2011

    I haven’t been in a few years, but I remember really loving the restaurants Merrimans, and Roys. We stayed at the Orchid, which is down the street from where you’ll be staying. Not too far from there is really cool sea horse farm that offers daily tours. Have a great trip!

  5. stacy robison said on July 30, 2011

    Fredericos for you, Ovaltine Shakes for the baby…the Mauna Kea rocks!

  6. Abby said on July 30, 2011

    Just went there in May!

    If you’re heading over to Hilo, Akaka Falls is on the way there. It’s a short, paved walk in a beautiful lush forest to see the 400 foot waterfalls.

    At the North tip of the island there’s also Hawi, a charming (and kind of touristy) small town with an artsy appeal. You can eat (Bamboo Restaurant is great!), shop and get Kona coffee.

    Hapuna beach is a nice huge stretch of sand. South of where your staying there’s a Roy’s Restaurant – it’s in Waikoloa Village area and it’s absolutely amazing.

    Hope you have a great trip!

  7. Allison said on July 30, 2011

    My husband and I lived on the Big Island for a year, we LOVED it! My husband is a film maker so later we went back for a visit and he made a comprehensive guide to the Big Island public beaches. Follow the link to check it out. Kristina, check your email later today for a free password and username.

    Hapuna Beach already mentioned is nice, but there is one just south of it that is amazing. Much less populated, nice snorkling, and it has palm trees lining it. It’s harder to find, but there are bathrooms there now. The Hilo farmers Market (already mentioned) is awesome too! Wilson’s Shave Ice in Hilo is good too.

  8. Allison said on July 30, 2011

    Oops, here’s that link.

  9. Sara said on July 31, 2011

    Hike into Makalawena Beach for the day if you can. It’s north of Kona and has a series of 3 white sand beaches that the lava flow left untouched. There are brackish water pools behind the beach called the Queen Baths. And a nice wading pool at the first beach for kids, that honu (turtles) love to visit as well.
    My favorite farmer’s market is the Maku’u market near Puna. It’s got a very local vibe. And the very best Thai green papaya salad made fresh to order by a little old lady. Have never had it better anywhere else.
    The Volcano National Park is so impressive and satisfyingly cool after the heat and humidity near the beaches.
    Kapoho Tide pools about 20 miles south of Hilo are incredible. It’s like swimming in your only little aquarium. And then you can just jump from one to the next.
    Aahh, you’re going to have a great time!

  10. Katy said on July 31, 2011

    We honeymooned there in 2008. We had a hard time finding a good non touristy snorkeling spot, but some locals told us about two-step at Honaunau. It was a bit of a crazy cliff-bordered drive, just past Kona to the north, and we half expected to get eaten by sharks. But the snorkeling was amazing, and a pair of dolphins swam within 10 feet of us! Not good swimming for a baby (too deep and rocky with no real beach), but thought I’d mention it. Others have already hit on a lot of stuff, but also, oddly, we found great cheap local pineapple at the Costco. Have fun!

  11. Rebecca Brams said on July 31, 2011

    No recs, just jealousy ;) My standard response these days to Elan’s constant “I want, I want, I want” is “Yeah, well, I want to go to Hawaii.” Soak up some island energy for me!

  12. Kendra said on August 1, 2011

    I have an awesome guidebook I can lend you! (the same one Kiija mentioned) A friend recommended it to me when I went a couple of years ago and it is like having an insider take you around the island.

  13. emily alane said on August 2, 2011

    awww… I used to live in Hilo! The farmers market is only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays I think. (there’s people there everyday but only like at 10% of wed and sat) Plan on eating lunch from the vendors there. Such good thai food.
    Hit the Hilo botanical garden on the way back. Not to miss. Not too big, won’t take more than 2 hours. Stunning.
    You should also visit the Waipio valley.
    Kapoho tidal pools is my favorite place in the world. Might be hard to take a little one there though- lot of uneven rocks.
    Have fun!!!

  14. Alana said on August 2, 2011

    Chocolate covered shortbread to die for!!!! I miss it so much :)

    have fun!

  15. Lisa said on August 2, 2011

    Also in Hilo is a great eco-friendly baby store called Moonsprout. Such cute stuff! Open Tues-Sat…have fun!!!

  16. Kristi said on August 3, 2011

    Hi, I love your website. I recently found out that I’m pregnant and I’ve been having fun looking at your past and current baby/pregnancy posts.

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