This is Hawaii: lush jungle, steaming volcanoes, and soaring waterfalls. It’s where you can look out the window of your condo and watch the waves crest and fall into the shoreline. Where you can see lava spewing from active volcanic crevices, and smell the sulphur wafting from the earth. Where you can find a quiet cove and bask all day in the sun. The geologic diversity of the island is almost overwhelming, but it certainly allows for blissful leisure.
“Everywhere you go here it’s different. You can drive 30 minutes one way and it’s lava, and you drive 30 minutes the other way and it’s totally tropical jungle,” says Pam Higgins, spokesperson for SunQuest Vacations on the Big Island of Hawaii.
In Kona — on the western coast of the Big Island — there’s relatively little wind and temperatures fluctuate a mere 10 degrees year round, Higgins said. A main attraction are the beaches, from the classic Hawaii shores of Hapuna Beach State Park to the windsurfing capital of Hawaii at Anaeho'omalu, or A-Bay. At Hapuna, on a cloudless day, you can lie back in the water and look up at the 14,000-foot snow-capped Mauna Kea towering over you. On the two long beaches of A-bay, there are ample water sports and shady palm trees for a satisfying afternoon in the hot sun.
SunQuest provides the (affordable) Hawaii life“In Kona we have more small beaches,” Higgins says. “Just to the north you have Kohala beach; you see almost every variety of fish and green sea turtles and some of the best snorkeling in the world. If you have a really busy, stressful day you can just go down and sit by the water and feel it melt away.”
SunQuest provides affordable condos throughout Kona. In many cases the goal is affordability — a reasonably priced condo or home for a practical Hawaiian getaway, with all the amenities of a more costly vacation. The rentals are located in perfect proximities from the gorgeous coast.
“Down here in Kona it’s actually very affordable,” says Higgins. “We have 200 units here, so we literally do have something for everybody. We have rentals in some of the same places that the larger management companies do, but the rate is less by about a third.”
"You see almost every variety of fish and green sea turtles and some of the best snorkeling in the world. If you have a really busy, stressful day you can just go down and sit by the water and feel it melt away.” - Pam Higgins, SunQuest Vacations
In fact, you can get an oceanfront condo for under $150, making it perfect for family vacations. The units cater to larger group stays with separate bedrooms; far from the hassles of cramming the mom, dad, and the kids into a pricey hotel room, you can relax on the lanai (essentially a two-season porch) and hear the soothing waves crash against the shoreline from the comfort of your condo. And with the kitchen, you don’t have to eat out every meal, making it more economical.
“Sometimes you might just pack a lunch and take it to the beach,” Higgins says, “or have just fruit and coffee in the morning.”
“We take pride in keeping our properties at a certain level,” says Higgins. “For families, condos are just so much more comfortable…you get multiple rooms, granite countertops, all the comforts of your own home. And you’re minutes from the best beaches on the island.”
Beyond the Beach
The must-see Onomea Bay Scenic Drive is a twisting, turning ride through rich rainforest, meandering streams, and astonishing overlooks of the ocean. You can smell the rainforest, too, as the route is lined with Red African Tulip trees, rolling mosses, and Guava ferns. The Onomea Bay and Collapsed Sea Arch offers an enchanting view of azure waters and a vegetated stretch of land, which at one point was an enormous sea arch. This is home to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, located off the narrow byway. The nearby Donkey Trail Hike offers a gorgeous bay view from above.
The dramatic landscape of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park features the world’s largest and world’s most active volcanoes at. Located on the southern region of the Big Island, the park encompasses 333,000 acres of active volcanoes and lush wilderness. Explore the miles of hiking trails that traverse the rainforest, crater rims, steam vents, and provides fantastic vistas of the dynamic scenery and exotic wildlife.
At the summit of the grand Mauna Loa, temperatures can vary up to 14 degrees compared to temperatures at sea level and weather can be extreme with winds and rain. A hike there will require rugged shoes, rain gear, a high UV factor sunscreen, and plenty of drinking water. There is some danger in the region; fume clouds formed from hot lava flowing into the ocean contain hydrochloric acid and volcanic glass, and can be deadly for those with breathing conditions. During the day, when the sun is scorching and the humidity is high, the heat from the lava blends with the high air temperatures and feels like a sauna – drink lots of water!
The Akaka Falls provide an additional day trip; graced with lush vegetation, these dazzling waters cascade an incredible 442 feet to the deep gorge below. The trip to two individual waterfalls winds along trails lined with bamboo, palm trees, and orchids.
Kona's splendor makes it the perfect Hawaiian destination. "Life is just so packed with traffic and work...if anything it's become a 50-hour work week plus," says Higgings. "Now imagine sitting on the lanai of our condo watching the dolphins, watching the whales breach. People love to dive, snorkel, kayak or go horseback riding. What more beautiful place to do it than here?"