We visited the Big Island of Hawaii for Elizabeth’s 9th birthday in October 2009. I was pregnant with Alex at the time.
We stayed in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
It’s a quick and cheap hop over from the island of Oahu on Hawaiian Airlines. We lived in Honolulu for three glorious years.
We included FUN activities for the whole family – parents and little kids (we had a toddler and preschooler) and our older daughter.
We hiked ʻAkaka Falls State Park. It’s a circular hike through a jungle. It was super sticky in the rainforest. The waterfall view was so worth it!
We visited the small but lovely Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens to see Namaste, the white tiger, who has since passed away. They have a lovely monarch butterfly sanctuary.
The gardens were beautiful.
We toured the lovely Japanese-inspired Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens.
We should have worn swimsuits to play in Rainbow Falls (Waiānuenue). The water is calm with a little sandy bank and there’s always a rainbow to be seen!
The black sand at Punaluʻu Beach was lovely for pictures in white dresses.
The best kid beach we found was Kahalu`u Beach Park. Great little sandy beach area and tidepools for exploring. Perfect to view the sunset.
Visiting Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park was like traveling back in time.
Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park preserves the site where Hawaiians who broke kapu (one of the ancient laws) could avoid death by fleeing to this place of refuge or puʻuhonua. The offender would be absolved by a priest and freed to leave. Defeated warriors and non-combatants could also find refuge here during times of battle. The grounds just outside the Great Wall that encloses the puʻuhonua were home to several generations of powerful chiefs.
The 420-acre site was originally established in 1955 as City of Refuge National Historical Park, but was renamed on November 10, 1978. It includes the puʻuhonua and a complex of archeological sites including: temple platforms, royal fishponds, sledding tracks, and some coastal village sites. The Hale o Keawe temple and several thatched structures have been reconstructed.
The park contains a reconstruction of the Hale O Keawe heiau, which was originally built by Kona chief Kanuha in honor of his father, King Keaweʻīkekahialiʻiokamoku. After the death of Keaweʻīkekahialiʻiokamoku, his bones were entombed within the heiau. The nobility (ali’i) of Kona continued to be buried until the abolition of the kapu system. The last person buried here was a son of Kamehameha I in 1818.
We were disappointed in the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory. No tours, just looking through the window and there’s a gift shop with samples.
We wasted a drive to the South Point to snap a photo of the plaque. It looked like a desert and only a portable potty.
But don’t miss a trip to the Punalu’u Bake Shop!
We only viewed the Captain Cook Monument across Kealakekua Bay.
Although there are theories that Spanish or Dutch sailors might have stopped here much earlier, the first documented European to arrive was Captain James Cook. He and his crews on the Resolution and Discovery sighted Kealakekua Bay on the morning of January 17, 1779. He estimated several thousand people lived in the two villages. On January 28, he performed the first Christian service on the islands, for the funeral of a crew member who had died.
Cook had entered the bay during Makahiki. This was a traditionally peaceful time of year, so he and his men were welcomed and given food. Cook and his crew stayed for several weeks, returning to sea shortly after the end of the festival. After suffering damage during a storm, the ships returned two weeks later, on February 14. This time relations were not as smooth.
After the theft of one of Resolution’s small boats by a local native Hawaiian, Cook attempted to lure Hawaiian chief Kalaniʻōpuʻu aboard to hold as hostage until the boat was returned. A skirmish ensued during which Cook was killed, near the spot where he had first set foot on the island.
The monument can be accessed by a 1-hour hike from the road or by crossing the bay by boat.
Where we ate:
I cannot express how much we loved eating at Merriman’s. They also have locations on Maui and Kauai!
Ken’s House of Pancakes is great for breakfast or brunch. We took Liz for her birthday breakfast.
Hilo Fish Company is a lovely restaurant for seafood.
We did not enjoy touristy and commercialized Kona, but we stopped at Kona Brewing Company for my husband to try their beer. Since I was pregnant, I didn’t get any!
The Big Island of Hawaii has so much to offer everyone – history, lovely gardens, great food, and natural wonders.
- Homeschooling in Hawaii
- Volcanoes National Park Junior Ranger Program
- Volcanoes National Park Teacher Curriculum Materials
- Hawaiian Unit Study from Adventures in Mommydom
- Hawaii State Study Notebooking Pages from The Notebooking Nook
- State Study Pages Bundle from NotebookingPages
- Volcano Unit Study from Stacy Sews and Schools
- Volcanoes Lapbook and Unit Study from Homeschool Share
- Volcanoes Mini Study from DIY Homeschooler
- Volcanoes Unit Study AND Hawaii Unit Study from Homeschool Helper Online
- Winterpromise Free Volcano Study
- Hawaii Activities from Rose Garden Homeschool
- Hawaii State Pack from Enchanted Homeschooling Mom
- The Island Below the Star Literature Unit Study from Homeschool Share
- Hawaii Unit Study from Craft Knife
- Hawaii Printables from EdHelper
- Enchanted Learning Hawaii Printables
- DLTK Hawaiian Activities and Printables
- Education.com Hawaii Resources
- Hawaiian Activities from ChildFun
- A to Z Kids Stuff Hawaii Facts and Fun