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10 Unexpected Big Island Experiences

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The Big Island offers surprising revelations large and small—from unexpected snow and equestrian experiences to green sand and sunken vessels. For visitors who think Hawaii only offers sunshine and sandy beaches, the Big Island reveals unexpected opportunities to discover different ways of life, explore distinct island tastes from the sea and land, encounter unusual tropical creatures, and learn from a variety of historical sites.
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We stayed in Hilo—hot, wet, and tropical Hilo—in a rented, Japanese-style house. Since I'm an astronomy nerd, I had to take the tour up to the observatories on Mauna Kea—way up on the top of the Big Island. The van trip was fun and educational,...
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47-4841 Old Mamalahoa Hwy & Dahana Ranch Rd, Waimea, HI 96743, USA
Become a Paniolo (Hawaiian Cowboy) for a day and do an actual cattle drive while on the Big Island of Hawaii. Even though it was a rainy, moody day, it was the perfect unique experience to have in Hawaii. Hawaii is much more than beaches! More...
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Hilo, HI 96720, USA
We passed this incredible cemetery just north of Hilo. It resides along the water and has this massive sprawling tree directly in the center of it. It was a very peaceful place, and I can only imagine how calming it makes one feel to know that...
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Ali'i Drive, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740, USA
Not going for any photo awards here. I just feel compelled to document the occasional blindingly repulsive aspects of travel now and then. This godless creature haunted an otherwise lovely Hawaiian romp. In fact, it still haunts me.
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Puako, HI, USA
This is a photo of the gut contents of what invasive peacock groupers (known as roi) eat off of local reefs. Recent efforts by local divers resulted in a concerted effort to remove these invasive fish to protect our reefs. Off of the Kohala coast....
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Island of Hawai'i, Hawaii, USA
If you're looking for diversity, the Big Island will allow you to change it up every day. From the sea to the sky, the island has 11 climate zones, beaches, mountaintops, and rain forests. With 266 miles (and growing) of coastline, Hawaii Island's...
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82-1140 Meli Road #102, Captain Cook, HI 96704, USA
Instead of purchasing some Big Island Bees Honey up the road at a coffee farm, I decided to make the trip directly to Big Island Bees. It was late in the afternoon and Kevin was the only staff person around when I encountered the extremely well...
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56-2864 Akoni Pule Hwy, Hawi, HI 96719, USA
My wife and I like the amenities of resort vacations as much as the next couple. But in June 2012, we spent a month living like locals. Our favorite part of that experience was at a magical place near Hawi named Puakea Ranch. The place is dripping...
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73-200 Kupipi St, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740, USA
For a challenge, scuba divers should seek out the sunken Beechcraft airplane that lies near the Kona airport. The plane rests at a depth of about 115 feet, which makes it a little more challenging (deeper) dive than some other sites in the area....