By Britni Schock, Staff Writer
Rose Navalta, Graphic Designer
Danielle Marrufo, Photographer
Whether you have been on the Big Island for years, months or just days, there is so much to see and experience here in paradise. Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we are blessed with various climate zones that create unique landscapes overflowing with history. From hiking the jungle and mountainsides, to swimming in turquoise waters with diverse ecosystems, or cruising farmers markets for local food and art, there truly is something for everyone to discover.
The many markets around the island are a great way to catch a glimpse of the abundant artists that reside here on the Big Island. These artists range from being chefs and bakers to jewelry makers and photographers. The downtown Hilo Farmer’s Market has over 200 farmers and crafters selling products on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s. You can find affordable and local produce here and many homemade food items from various vendors. Local coffee, macadamia nuts, breads, fruit popsicles, jelly and hot sauces are a few of the specialty foods you may find. Crafters bring a one of a kind flare to the market with their handmade soaps, jewelry, clothing, drums, home decor, glass work, photographs and much more. Conveniently located in the heart of downtown Hilo, not far from the campus, it’s a must see for all students. Heading south of Hilo you can catch the popular and larger Maku’u Market that takes place on Sunday’s off the highway towards Pahoa town. This market is similar to the Hilo market but has more food vendors and plant sales. The larger venue space allows for more booths and better parking but they charge $1 per vehicle. There is also live music. On Wednesday evenings you can head down further past Pahoa to Kalapana for the Uncle Roberts Market. This is a family market but they do have a bar, live music and decent dance floor for young and old. Food and craft vendors and the famous awa bar make up this smaller but high energy market. For $3 you can try some kava or ‘awa, which is described by aloha-hawaii.com as, “A traditional herbal drink made from the root of the tropical shrub, piper methysticum. This soothing beverage has proven medicinal effects, including alleviating stress and anxiety and combating fatigue. Kava (pronounced “kah-vah”) is also used to treat migraine headaches and cramps. Best of all, the drink keeps the mind alert even as the body relaxes.” This drink has a pretty earthy taste and can take some getting use to. There are many other markets as you venture around the island and if you check out konaweb.com you will find a detailed list and description of most of the markets.
If you’re of age and into trying some of the award-winning beers from the breweries on the island, you may want to make your first stop Mehana Brewery in Hilo. It’s located across the street from the Hawaii Community College campus and they offer free tastings of all their flavorful brews. On your way up the Hamakua Coast you can also stop in Waimea at the Big Island Brewhaus. When you’re in Kona town try checking out the Kona Brew Pub. They have some popular brews with beers on tap to try. The food might be considered a little more pricey for students on a budget but a glass of their liquid aloha could be worth your $4.50. You can also purchase their brews in most grocery and convenience stores around the island. Beer is considered a popular “pau hana,” or done with work, celebration.
Now if you have had enough shopping, eating and drinking and want to experience the outdoor beauty of the Big Island you should probably grab a snorkel and hit the ocean. The coastline might not be the endless white sandy beaches you had in mind, but don’t be fooled by the lava rock beaches because once you get in the water it can turn into a whole new world. A local favorite, ‘4 Mile’ or Carlsmith Beach, as the sign reads, is a spot where turtles have often been sighted and has a sandy bottom once you get over the rocks to get in. Further down, at Richardson’s Beach, you can find more of a sandy beach with turtles and other underwater life. This is known by the locals to be a great snorkeling spot and even a great paddle boarding or surf spot. The view of the magical Mauna Kea mountain is breathtaking from Richardson’s Beach on a clear sunny day. Just north of Hilo is a popular surf spot called Honoli’i, and you will often see many people out on their boards. There is plenty of space to sit near the shore and watch the action or get in and swim. As for snorkeling at Honoli’i there is not usually a lot to see and the water can often be murky and known for it’s strong currents. Heading to the Kona side of the island you can experience more of the white sand and turquoise waters. A must see spot is the beautiful Puako Bay. It has some of the most captivating waters and abundant snorkeling spots. Beach 69 is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, due to its white beach, many trees for shade and waves for surfing or body boarding. Divers and snorkelers are attracted to the coral communities that live in this area too. Just north-west of this bay is the larger Hapuna beach. Further around the island in South Kona you will find ‘Two Step,’ which is located down past Kealakekua Bay and before Place of Refuge. Two Step is known to get a little busy because of it’s abundant underwater scenery. There is so much to see in this underwater paradise, you may even find yourself swimming around for hours, looking at all the different fish and life that make up this habitat. One suggestion would be to grab a book on Hawaiian coral reef fish if you are curious to know what exactly it is you are looking at and learn the scientific and local names for the creatures.
This island has a lot to offer if you know where to look. Car pooling with some fellow students is one possible way to get you out and exploring the Big Island and it’s wonders.