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How to Explore the Big Island Like a Local

April 1, 2015

Rob Pacheco, owner of Hawaii Forest and Trail, shares how the island of Hawaii changes life-forms — even yours.

how to explore hawaii like a local | big island insider travel guide | java sparrows
I grew up beekeeping and came to Hawaii to work just one season. I’d never visited any Hawaiian islands and had zero expectations. But Java sparrows and mynahs greeted me at the airport, and I thought, “This is going to be cool.” That was 20 years ago. Shutterstock
how to explore hawaii like a local | big island insider travel guide | hakalau national willdlife refuge
Leading hikes for a living can be tiring. My best nap was on a misty day in Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge. The photographer I took there set up to shoot an Akiapolaau bird. I dozed off in the Kikuyu grass. Birds came and went as I drifted half asleep for several hours. Raindrops fell from the leaves, and birdsong filled the forest around me. I felt guilty I was getting paid. Shutterstock
how to explore hawaii like a local | big island insider travel guide | best things to do on the big island
First-time visitors should feel no shame hitting places like Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and sunset at Mauna Kea summit — wow and wow. They’re famous for a reason.
how to explore hawaii like a local | big island insider travel guide | best things on big island
There are places I never take guests. The drive down to the village of Milolii is breathtaking. Shutterstock
And the salt-and-pepper beach on nearby Honomalino Bay is worth the short hike. These spots aren’t for van loads of tourists, but they’re perfect on your own.
Hungry? Don’t miss Roy’s. We love this bar in Waikoloa for drinks and its seafood. Always a fun crowd. Courtesy Roy’s Hawaii
how to explore hawaii like a local | big island insider travel guide | volcanoes
Folks visit and want to stay. Life-forms arrive here, take root, and then change. A friend of mine says, “We’re who we are because of where we are.” I love that. We have all the mainland’s modern trappings, but Hawaii is dif- ferent. It’s not paradise; the trials of life can find you here. Let aloha guide you. Over time you’ll find you’re different too. Shutterstock
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