Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Camping on the Big Island of Hawaii

After a few days in Oahu, we wanted to explore a new island - the BIG Island...

The best place to start is with the 'Hawaii ... Revealed" guidebooks. These are FANTASTIC - alot of detailed, locals only information and good stories and history too. It was fun reading about places on the island we had no intention of going to.

Valuable and highly recommended.

The other recommendation for seeing the best parts of Hawaii is to CAMP!

We flew to Kona, and after getting some food and lost in Kona (another great way to learn more about the area!) we headed North, through the great wasteland of lava.

It was like a moon-scape, but cool, too.

Our first two nights were spent in Spencer Bay Campground. Register online and early, because it sells out each week.

Very nice, clean, and great facilities. We easily found a nice spot all alone and setup our giant tent.

This part of the island was warm and sunny for us. Kona was hazy. We only had short, infrequent bouts of wind.

The beach was great. Alot of reef to snorkel. The visibility was not as good - alot of freshwater springs in the ocean really made it blurry.

Good reef for fish and animals, though. ALOT of sea turtles around, too.

There is a big, covered, lighted pavillion that has good access to more reef areas. Turtles were frequently here around the steps.

This was a great spot for reading, playing cards, and misc after dark.

One night, a huge group of Micronesians had a party and it was fun to watch and hear them sing. We really felt immersed in the local culture here.

A mile or so north of the campground is a small, working-port town. Not alot of facilities, but a great mexican resteraunt for dinner and a walk around the beach to watch the sunset.

Fantastic calamari, too.

Early mornings brought in the turtles.

With all the snorkelling, we were very fortunate not to get stunk, cut, or bitten. The reef is beautiful but you have to watch it!

After several days of enjoying the bay to myself, one of the locals mentioned that they don't use the water much because there are so many sharks... there used to be an ancient temple here for sharks because there are so many!

Well, we didn't see a single shark. Alittle disappointing, but not really.

We did see alot of turtles.

While beachcombing, we found a cool lava tube (alot of those around, too!) and almost stepped on this shell before we saw him!


Looking back at our photographs, we took WAY too many photos of beach.

Seemed like a good idea at the time...

These NorthWest Island beaches also had alot of whales. And they were jumpers!

Any time of day, all one had to do was scan the horizon and a whale could be spotted.

Binoculars are on the list to take next time. Often, they were close enough to see easily from shore.

We didn't fish this trip. Bummer. There were enough of the locals fishing and friendly enough to visit with that we didn't miss out, though.

Here is a HUGE puffer fish (balloon fish) this dude caught.

Night fishing was especially popular. Spear fishing would have been MUCH easier, based on what I saw alone on the reef...

Hawaii doesn't require a license to fish saltwater, so next trip I'm taking a rod and BBQ grill...

The last night of camping we drove about an hour south of Kona to the Ho'okena beach.

This time we didn't even bother with the tent - just pads out on the sand.

Another great part of camping is that a bed sheet is all the cover required. Warm, breezy, and comfortable.

There were several graves in the caves on the cliffside above camp.

Here is one. Others we could see some bones.

This was a nice, small, cozy beach and bay. Much more local and 'rough' - a tent is recommended for more privacy.

It was pretty and easy. Amenities were not as nice - the bathrooms had no lights, were more dirty, and the only showers were outside.

But highly recommended. The locals living on the beach like to sing into the night... but they quit about 9pm, so no harm done.

Above the campsites were some lava tubes. The big one reportedly goes back at least 2 miles.

We went back about 200 yards. Not much to see in a lava tube...

But very fun, and great for watching the sunset over the bay.

Snorkelling in the bay was Awesome. Great water clarity, alot of reef, and many, many fish! Spinner dolphins were also common to see and watch.

You can see the weather is hazy - warm but hazy. Reportedly because of the mountain...

Camping is the best way to enjoy the islands - bar none. A private room and shower is also recommended every few days to clean up, though! The local scene and feel is the best.