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Sara Benson
Created bySara Benson
Globetrotting nomad, journalist, photographer + outdoor...

Go Green, Local Style on the Big Island

Featured Guide
Eco-adventures, low-impact lodgings, locavarian eats and fave insider spots with aloha spirit on the Big Island of Hawai'i.
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Hilo

This workaday port town is a relief from the Kona resorts on the other side of the Big Island. Love getting up early here and running out to Coconut Island for the panoramic bay views, then heading downtown to the farmers market. Or just hanging out with friends after dark, catching an indie flick or a...

Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station

Towering over the Big Island of Hawaii are the twin peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Although Mauna Loa is fairly inaccessible without 4WD and some strenuous hiking / backpacking, on Mauna Kea you can drive right up to the summit if you rent a Jeep. Even if you only have 2WD, you can at least drive up to the...

Honokaa Trading Co

I never come away empty-handed from this antiques store in the old sugar plantation town of Honokaa. Almost as big as a barn, this place is a trove of vintage Hawaiiana, from Japanese-style laquerware to out-of-print books. The lady who runs the shop is a character, kind of gruff but also ready to chat...

Honokaa

When you drive up the Hamakua Coast, this old sugar plantation town is your last chance for gas, food and supplies before trekking in Waipio Valley. The main streets have a fun mix of artisan food and organic food shops, antiques stores like the gigantic Honokaa Trading Co, and cafes for getting a hot...

What's Shakin'

Smoothies! Oh, yes. When you take that super-short Pepe'ekeo Scenic Dr north of Hilo, you're going to feel almost magnetically drawn to this smoothie stand at the side of the road. Papaya, starfruit, mango and apple-banana are just a few of the delish choices blended up right in front of you. So thick...

'Imiloa

Beyond cool for science nerds, the high-tech, modern Imiloa astronomy center is also a cultural museum that tells the story of Native Hawaiian lifeways. Stop by here first before you go star-gazing or visiting the astronomical observatories on top of Mauna Kea. Kids especially love the center's...

Mokupapapa Discovery Center

If you're not up for joining a volunteer or scientific expedition out to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, this mini museum may be your best chance to glimpse what makes the marine monument's ecosystem unique and worth protecting. The small educational center is right on the bayfront in downtown...

Suisan Fish Market

Near the port, where the fish auction once happened six days a week, Suisun Co Ltd is still in business, mixing up the freshest poke in Hilo. If you haven't tried island-style cubed, marinated raw fish before, start with the enormous poke bar here. Ahi with furikake, shoyu (soy sauce) or limu...

Kohala Historical Sites State Monument

One of the best places on the Big Island, if not all of Hawaii, to really feel the mana (power) of ancient Hawaiian ways is at windy, oceanfront Mookini Heiau. Down near the airport outside of Hawi, this temple is still attended by a family of Hawaiian spiritual leaders. King Kamehameha the Great's...

Mauumae Beach

Shh, locals like to keep this beach a secret. From public Spencer Beach Park, walk south along the shoreline through the trees over a sandy trail to find this pocket cove. The last time I went swimming in the calm waters here, a green sea turtle floated right by....