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Hawaii (Big) Island
Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
Along the Kona Coast you can find some of the world's most exciting "blue-water" fishing. Although July, August, and September are peak months, with the best fishing and a number of tournaments, charter fishing goes on year-round. You don't have to compete to experience the thrill of landing a Pacific blue marlin or other big game fish. Some 60 charter boats, averaging 26 to 58 feet, are available for hire, most of them out of Honokohau Harbor, north of Kailua-Kona.
This is the only place to see the famous triple-tier Umauma Falls. Like the World Botanical Gardens right next door, this park has a river walk, a zipline, and botanical gardens. This 200-acre park only opened two years ago, however, and the gardens here are not as lush and well-established as the gardens next door (though the competition is obvious). There is kayaking and a giant swing. COST: $12. OPEN: Daily 7:45--5.
After a hard rain, these falls thunder into the Wailuku River gorge, often creating magical rainbows in the mist. Located just above downtown Hilo. www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/hawaii/index.cfm?park_id=57.
Four separate streams fall into a series of circular pools here, forming the Peepee Falls. The resulting turbulent action—best seen after a good rain—has earned this stretch of the Wailuku River the nickname Boiling Pots. There's no swimming allowed at Peepee Falls or anywhere in the Wailuku river, due to dangerous currents and undertows. www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/hawaii/Index.cfm?park_id=57.
This underwater marine reserve is one of the most beautiful spots on the island. Dramatic cliffs surround super deep, crystal clear, turquoise water chock-full of stunning coral pinnacles and tropical fish. The brown sand at west-facing Napoopoo Beach, washed away during Hurrican Iniki in 1992, is slowly returning. You can easily enter the water here. This is a nice place to swim as it's well protected from currents. No lifeguards; at times, you may feel tiny jellyfish stings. www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/hawaii/index.cfm?park_id=46.
This no-frills industrial harbor, where in 1793 the first cattle landed in Hawaii, is a hub of commercial and community activity. It's especially busy on weekends, when paddlers and local fishing boats float on the waves. Second in size only to Hilo Harbor on the east coast, the harbor is often home to the Makalii, one of three traditional Hawaiian sailing canoes. King Kamehameha and his men launched their canoes from here when they set out to conquer the neighboring islands. There are several restaurants with nice sunset views in Kawaihae should you be nearby at dinnertime.
Though most fishing boats use Honokohau Harbor, this pier dating from 1918 is still a hub of ocean activity. Outrigger canoe teams practice and boats shuttle cruise ship passengers to and from Kailua-Kona here, and tour boats depart from these docks most days. Along the seawall children and old-timers cast their lines daily, careful not to hook the pair of sea turtles nesting nearby. For youngsters, a bamboo pole and hook are easy to come by, and plenty of locals are willing to give pointers. Each October close to 1,500 international athletes swim 2.4 mi from the pier to begin the internationally famous Ironman World Championship triathlon competition.
This working lighthouse was miraculously unharmed during the 1960 volcano eruption here that destroyed the town of Kapoho. The lava flowed directly up to the lighthouse's base, but instead of pushing it over, actually flowed around it—an impressive sight now that the lava flows have hardened. Located on the easternmost tip of the island, the building itself is a simple metal-frame structure with a light on top, similar to a tall electric-line transmission tower. To reach the lighthouse, keep going straight for 1½ miles when Highway 132 meets Highway 137 and turns into an unpaved road.