exploring the Big Island of Hawaii

I hope you enjoyed meeting the executive chef of the Fairmont Orchid in this post. In addition to the amazing food and ambiance of the resort, the Fairmont Orchid also provides a great location for exploring the northwestern shore of the Big Island of Hawaii.

Heading north on Highway 19, we arrived at Hapuna Beach, a place to which I would love to return. We didn’t have enough time to swim there, but we did enjoy an afternoon stroll along the beach. I was surprised at how crowded the parking lot was as this is a fairly remote location, but once we got to the beach we could understand why. It’s a lovely swimming beach that is great for families. In the background of the photo, you can see the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. We didn’t have time to explore it, but the hotel certainly has an amazing view and stunning location, doesn’t it?

Hapuna Beach

We then headed to the end of Highway 19 to the Pololu Valley Lookout–an overlook of one of the most scenic stretches of shoreline I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. It reminded me of some of the striking scenery I’d seen in Newfoundland, Canada, but much more tropical, and with a black sand beach.

Pololu Valley Lookout

The Pololu Valley is part of the Kohala Forest Reserve, and was once a prime agricultural area for growing taro (a root and leaf vegetable also known as kalo) and rice.

Pololu Valley, Hawaii

It was kind of neat being at what is referred to as both the end and the start of the State Highway!

Highway 19, Hawaii


We then spent some time in the tiny village of Hawi, where we had lunch, shopped, and found a fabulous fudge shop in the Kava Kafe. The passionfruit and chocolate, passionfruit and ginger, macadamia nut and chocolate, and pure dark chocolate fudges were all fantastic, and handmade of local ingredients. I’d forgotten how delicious they were until I started writing this post!

fudge shop

As you can see, I am a huge fan of Hawaii, and my first visit to the Big Island was as satisfying as I’d hoped it would be. Have you explored this part of Hawaii? If so, what impressed or surprised you most?

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

42 Responses

  1. Beautiful photos as always of our favorite island. How funny that this is the spot for the beginning and end of the highway. They could have saved some money and printed that information back to back on the same sign! Biggest surprise? The homeless people certainly weren’t a surprise, since if I was going to be homeless this would be the best place to do it.
    Neva recently posted…A Good Day for Tortures and Beheadings at the TowerMy Profile

    • Doreen

      I hear you, Neva! If one has to be homeless, Hawaii is the place to be! But we actually didn’t see any homeless people in the areas of the Big Island that we visited. Perhaps they were on the Hilo side? We never made it to Hilo. Next time …
      Doreen recently posted…what’s in a name?My Profile

  2. Suzanne Boles

    Yes, it was a fabulous island and the day trips were great. The Fairmont was the most beautiful resort I’ve ever been to. Thanks for allowing me to reminisce about this fantastic trip.

  3. Suzanne Boles

    I really loved almost everything on the island, Doreen, but especially the Fairmont Orchid resort. It was amazing. I loved watching the whales breach in the water from our room, and on a drive. I think the most memorable moment was when we went back to the hotel to find the chef had made a replica of a coco pod out of chocolate and placed it in our room in such a beautiful arrangement with chocolates around it. They were absolutely yummy too. 🙂

    It is always a great adventure travelling with you and learning more about chocolate. Truly amazing.
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  4. Donna Janke says:

    I love your photos. Big Island looks beautiful. I need to get there. And the fudge combinations sound great.
    Donna Janke recently posted…Vancouver Public ArtMy Profile

  5. Rachel says:

    The beach looks amazing! The Big Island, although it’s known for it’s rocky shoreline does have some great white sand beaches if you take the time to find them.

  6. Susan Cooper

    You have the best job…visiting Hawaii, eating great chocolate and blogging about both! Looks like fantastic time.
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  7. Cheryl

    Hawaii is on my bucket list for sure. Especially after reading your posts about it.
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    • Doreen

      Thanks, Cheryl. Keep in mind that each of the Hawaiian Islands has its own distinct personality, just as with the Caribbean islands. No 2 are exactly alike. So be sure you know what you’re looking for before you go, so that you can choose the island that will best suit your needs and desires. 🙂
      Doreen recently posted…what’s in a name?My Profile

  8. Doreen — gorgeous photos. Don’t you wish you could be there this winter and escape the Canadian cold and snow!
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…The “Gray Lady” Reinvents Itself in the Digital Era as Readers LeaveMy Profile

    • Doreen

      Hi Jeannette! Yes, I’m sure hoping to spend some time away this winter, and as I’ve got 1/2 of the Big Island to still explore, it’s definitely a possibility that I shall return there. You’ll see why in the next post! Thx for dropping by, and for your kind comments.
      Doreen recently posted…what’s in a name?My Profile

  9. Catarina says:

    Great photos. Have, for some reason, never been to Hawaii. Would be great to spend the winter there, as Jeannette suggests.
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    • Doreen

      Hi Catarina. If you love peace and serenity, you can definitely find it on the Big Island, and also on Kauai, which has a lot of natural beauty, but in a completely different way. Oahu (Waikiki) is at the opposite end of the spectrum with lots of action and the urban lifestyle. And Maui … is at a wonderful place in the middle, with an emphasis on arts and culture. You really CAN find a bit of everything, and a lot of heaven in the Hawaiian Islands.
      Doreen recently posted…what’s in a name?My Profile

  10. Chris

    Mmmm, fudge! Can’t wait to get to Hawaii at some stage!
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  11. All that fudge just sounds so delicious!
    A Cook Not Mad (Nat) recently posted…Honest Food Tales – Serena PuosiMy Profile

  12. I’ve never been to Hawaii but it’s definitely on my list! Your post makes it look and sound as tasty as it is beautiful! The Kava Kafe sounds like a must-stop for chocolate lovers.
    Michele Peterson recently posted…Epic breakfasts in Puerto Escondido, MexicoMy Profile

  13. Those uncrowded beaches look so appealing!
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  14. Shelley says:

    I’ve only been to Oahu, but next time I definitely want to visit the Big Island!
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  15. What a gorgeous place. How nice to be able to spend time visiting!
    Chris Carroll recently posted…Central California Gilroy Garlic Festival Coming July 25My Profile

  16. I have only been to the Big Island once and we stayed at the Mauna Lani. It was lovely and quiet. I went back and read your post with the chef. Chefs are my rock stars!
    Suzanne Stavert recently posted…Instagram: Another #midlife #adventureMy Profile

  17. Next time I am on the Big Island I plan to visit tiny Hawi and get some of that fabulous fudge shop in the Kava Kafe! Here are some places I’ve enjoyed on the Big Island, http://travelswithcarole.blogspot.com/search/label/Big%20Island

  18. Tracie Howe

    I haven’t seen too much of the Big Island, so it’s good to know of your recommended places. Hopefully I get a chance to go back soon! Thanks, Doreen!
    Tracie Howe recently posted…Weekend road trip to the PalouseMy Profile

  19. It’s raining here right now, and your pix provide a hint of that lovely warm breeze. I have a great imagination! 🙂 Passionfruit, ginger, dark chocolate, a pristine beach and some pounding surf. That’s Heavem, right?

  20. We loved our visit to The Big Island a few years ago and the time passed by, like all vacations in beautiful places, much too quickly. And what better way to underline what a terrific place it is than with a taste of fudge and dark chocolate!
    Anita recently posted…In The Zone: The Panama CanalMy Profile

  21. Rachel

    I’ve only been to Maui so far, but the biggest surprise for me was spam sushi!
    Rachel recently posted…The Unseen Western WallMy Profile

  22. Michael says:

    We’ve been to Hawaii, but not the Big Island unfortunately. We really wanted to but choose Maui instead. Definitely not unhappy with the decision as Maui was awesome!

    One day we will get back to Hawaii and explore the last few islands that we have missed. The Big Island looks amazing
    Michael recently posted…Things to do in Nevis & St. KittsMy Profile

  23. Doreen

    Just thought I’d let everyone know who is interested in chocolate in Hawaii that we’re doing a group Chocolatour to the Big Island, Maui, and Kauai to celebrate Hawaii Chocolate and Cocoa Month. the trip will be Oct 20-31, 2015. I hope you can join us! Details are at http://chocolatour.net/chocolatour-to-hawaii.
    Doreen recently posted…cultural highlights of WinnipegMy Profile

  24. Beverly says:

    After reading your post, I must add Hawaii to my list of places to visit.

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