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9 Non-Touristy Things To Do on the Big Island of Hawaii in 2024 | San Diego Magazine



9 Non-Touristy Things To Do on the Big Island of Hawaii in 2024 | San Diego Magazine

The Big Island of Hawaii is shrouded in a deep mystique and whispers a quiet foreboding to all who enter her sacred land. Boasting pristine tree-lined beaches, active volcanoes, lush rainforests, black lava fields as far as the eye can see, and an unmistakable “If You Know, You Know” factor, the captivating southernmost point of the Hawaiian archipelago is worth the trip off the beaten path. 

Fiercely protective of the mostly untouched interior, locals like myself and transplants alike (Matthew McConaghey is often spotted around town in Waimea) are often hesitant to share favorite hidden gems. Respect for the ‘aina (land) is a central tenet of Hawaiian culture and Western tourists tend to take advantage of the island’s expansive beauty and sheer remoteness. The old adage “Leave it better than you found it” is forgotten, along with trash and common decency. 

So, before diving into a list of the best things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii, here are a few tips to ensure you’re visiting responsibly: 

Courtesy of Go Hawaii

Tips for Visiting Hawaii

  • Pick up your trash and “take only photos, leave only footprints”
  • Respect the locals, their land, and their rules 
  • Don’t drive like you’re in the city, most highways are 55 MPH
  • Wear reef-safe sunscreen only and don’t wear any sunscreen at all in fresh water bodies of water
  • Do not take anything natural off the island (shells, stones, coral, dried flowers, etc.) especially lava rocks—Pele’s Curse is very real 

Now that the ground rules are out of the way, these under-the-radar activities will have you seriously considering whether you could break your lease and work remotely. 

Big Island of Hawaii things to do including the Eagles Nest (Wai’ale Falls) featuring a kid picking up rocks infront of the waterfall
Courtesy of The Outdoor Project

Eagles Nest (Wai’ale Falls)

This swimmable, easily accessible roadside waterfall is located right outside of Hilo. It is free, which means the trails aren’t maintained, so it’s a little treacherous getting down to the waterfall to swim. Doable, and worth it, but you’ve been warned.

Big Island of Hawaii things to do including the Pololu Valley Hike featuring the coastline and cliffs
Courtesy of South Kohala Management

Pololu Valley Hike

This breathtaking 1.5-mile roundtrip hike drops you into a river valley complete with a sprawling black sand beach and wild cows. Be sure not to venture up the hill beyond the river mouth, as these are sacred burial grounds of the native Hawaiians who once inhabited the valley. Also note that this is not a swimming beach, rough currents and jellyfish are a regular occurrence. Make a stop at Rainbow Cafe in Kapaau on the way out for an authentic Hawaiian/Chinese plate lunch.

Big Island of Hawaii things to do including Reed’s Bay Beach Park commonly referred to as the “Ice Ponds”
Courtesy of Big Island

Reed’s Bay Beach Park aka “Ice Ponds”

Swimmable, crystal clear, and, you guessed it, ice cold—these freshwater ponds in Hilo are perfect for a picnic and swim. The closer you get to the ocean, the warmer the water gets. Nene geese and sea turtles frequent the beach park, but please do not attempt to touch or get close to them. 

Big Island of Hawaii things to do including farmers markets like the Waimea Town Market featured
Courtesy of Waimea Town Market

Big Island Farmers Markets

Produce grown on the Big Island is unmatched in flavor and variety, thanks to the ultra-rich volcanic soil and generous rainfall. You can find tropical fruits, eggs, honey, huge leafy vegetables and the like at one of the many farmers markets on any given day across the island. Hilo Waterfront Market (everyday), Waimea Market (Pukalani Stables Wednesdays and Saturdays), and Volcano Village Market (Sundays) are some of the best markets in terms of variety and accessibility. 

The Roots Skatepark in Kapaau featuring a skateboarder dropping into a bowl on the Big Island of Hawaii
Courtesy of Roots Skatepark

Big Island Skateparks

Love to skate? Bring your board and take an island-wide tour of the many skateparks the island has to offer. From Roots Skatepark in Kapaau to Shaka Paka in Hilo, and the legendary Kailua-Kona Skatepark, the Big Island has a booming skate community and the facilities to match. Fun fact: Roots Skatepark is completely community-funded and operated. 

The Kaloko Cloud Forest in the big island of Hawaii featuring a dense, green forest
Courtesy of Hawai’i Land Trust

Kaloko Cloud Forest

High above Konatown on the dormant volcano of Hualalai lays the lush Honuaʻula Forest Reserve. The scenic seven-mile drive takes you to the trailhead where miles of forest is yours for exploring on foot or mountain bike. Be aware of weather as it changes rapidly and what once began as a pleasant, sunny afternoon can become a thick, dark fog or heavy downpour in what feels like a matter of moments. 

Things to do on the big island of Hawaii including the Kiholo Bay nature reserve
Courtesy of The Nature Conservancy

Kiholo Bay

This brackish water bay is accessible with a short oceanfront hike. The milky turquoise water is the result of freshwater mixing with salt water and known for its bountiful sea turtle population. If you follow this hike, you will also see a black sand beach, abandoned beach shanty, and the bay itself, which is actually an ancient fishing pond used by native Hawaiians. Petroglyphs dot the lava rocks surrounding the bay, so be on the lookout.

Things to do on the big island of Hawaii including Honaunau Bay featuring historical landmarks and snorkeling
Courtesy of Britannica

Honaunau Bay 

Walk the ancient city and historical landmarks of the Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park first, then cool off at Two Steps and do some snorkeling. The reef is one of the best on the island, and in the deeper waters you can often see dolphins. There is a sandy area for children, but no facilities other than a Porta-Potty. 

Things to do on the big island of Hawaii including the Honomu Goat Dairy featuring a baby goat
Courtesy of Honomu Goat Dairy

Honomu Goat Dairy

Check out the Honomu Goat Dairy where you can frolic with baby goats and buy some handmade goat cheese, milk, fudge, caramels, soap, or lip balm. It’s free to enter, and right off the side of the road on the way to Akaka Falls (which you should also visit!)


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State urges vaccinations amid ‘community spread’ of whooping cough on Hawaii Island



State urges vaccinations amid ‘community spread’ of whooping cough on Hawaii Island

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The state has confirmed an additional case of pertussis — or whooping cough — on Hawaii Island amid an outbreak that has so far sickened 11 since March.

Several of the recent cases have been in infants too young to be fully vaccinated.

Officials said the cases indicate “community spread” of pertussis on Hawaii Island.

Because of that, the state Health Department is strongly recommending that parents stay up to date on children’s vaccinations, especially for infants and young children.


Pertussis vaccination can usually be obtained from a primary care provider. Calling ahead to confirm pertussis vaccine availability is recommended. Those who do not have a primary care provider can contact their health plan or can contact a federally qualified health center if they do not have health insurance.

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by bacteria.

It can cause severe coughing fits, followed by a high-pitched “whoop” sound when breathing in.

Vomiting and exhaustion may also follow. Pertussis can lead to serious complications, especially in infants.

For more information about pertussis, visit the CDC website.


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Sydney Sweeney Summer Continues As She Rocked A Black Bikini While ‘Hanging In Hawaii’



Sydney Sweeney Summer Continues As She Rocked A Black Bikini While ‘Hanging In Hawaii’

Actress Sydney Sweeney’s starpower has been steadily growing over the past few years, partly thanks to her performance in Euphoria (which can be streamed with a Max subscription). While she’s been hard at work for years, the 26 year-old actress has been treating herself to a much-needed vacation. Sweeney’s summer continues as she rocked a black bikini while “hanging in Hawaii”… literally.

During her recent trip, Sweeney went full on Pirate while on a boat with friends… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. She’s also been kiteboarding, once again showing what an athlete the Handmaid’s Tale alum is. Most recently, Sweeney posted on Instagram posing in a bikini in Hawaii. Check it out below: 

Well, that’s one way to pose on a car. Just like her character Spider-Woman in Madame Web, it looks like Sweeney is comfortable hanging upside down. Although this time she’s doing it for pleasure, rather than working on a film set. 

Considering how many movie projects she’s put out in quick succession, the Euphoria fan favorite had definitely earned some time off this summer. Most recently she made headlines after a Hollywood producer claimed Sydney couldn’t act. Luckily her fans seem to have rallied around the actress, who has surely proven herself acting talent in projects like Sharp Objects. 


In addition to her acting talents, Sydney Sweeney has also become a bit of a style icon, thanks to her stunning looks on the red carpet. That includes Sweeney rocking trends like the sheer dress and more. And as a result, she’s got nearly 20 million followers on Instagram. 

Of course, there are plenty of fans who are more concerned with what acting projects she’ll appear in, rather than her fabulous vacation pictures. Particularly, folks are wondering about Euphoria Season 3, which was unfortunately been delayed due to writing issues. Fans of that acclaimed series are worried that it may never actually return to Emmy, despite Zendaya winning the Emmy for it.

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

After the wild success of her romantic comedy Anyone But You, there’s rumors that she may be working on a sequel with co-star Glen Powell. Leading up to the movie’s release, there were rumors about Sweeney and Powell being involved romantically, which they both denied. And now that the rom-com is streaming on Netflix, the calls for a follow-up might be even louder.

Another recent Sweeney movie that made headlines is Madame Web, which she starred in opposite Dakota Johnson. Unfortunately it was a box office bomb, despite being viral online. Still, there are moviegoers who want to see Sweeney back as Spider-Woman in another movie. We’ll just have to wait and see if this happens, especially since she’s got MMA training that could make her into a badass hero. In the meantime, check out the 2024 movie release dates. 

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Hawaii Lawmakers Set Ambitious Goal For Increasing The Number Of Women Cops



Hawaii Lawmakers Set Ambitious Goal For Increasing The Number Of Women Cops

Women make up a fraction of law enforcement departments, but research shows they use less force than male officers and are the subject of fewer lawsuits and complaints.

Police departments in Hawaii are being asked to significantly boost the number of women in their ranks with the recent passage of House Bill 2231, which aims to increase diversity among law enforcement agencies in the state. 

The bill, which awaits the governor’s signature, sets a goal of having 30% of law enforcement staff be women or people who identify as nonbinary by 2030. The measure also calls for departments to recruit officers from diverse backgrounds. About 13% of sworn personnel in the Honolulu Police Department were women in 2023, on par with the national average. 

Improving the diversity of law enforcement agencies nationwide is vital for fostering trust between those agencies and the public, legislators acknowledged in the bill, referencing key findings in the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing that shows the need for greater representation of women and minorities in law enforcement roles across the country.

The Honolulu Police Department set ambitious goals in the past for increasing the number of women on the force but has made only incremental progress, inching from 10% of the force in 2014 to 13% in 2023. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022)

Persistent barriers remain between women and jobs in law enforcement, though, including entrenched departmental cultures favoring men and policies that hinder the balance between policing careers and family responsibilities, according to a 2019 National Institute of Justice report. 

“I’m glad they are pushing to bring in more female officers,” said Erica Paredes, a deputy sheriff at the Hawaii Department of Law Enforcement. “It will be a great opportunity for us to show we belong as well.”

Paredes said her department employs fewer than 20 women out of 400 people on staff. She knows of only one other woman working in her entire building. 

“You have these masculine guys,” Paredes said, “and then you have females that remind people of aunty or mom. So it’s a different thing we bring to the table.”

Besides a written test, Paredes said she had to pass a physical agility test that included running 1.5 miles in less than 18 minutes, alongside minimums for push-ups and sit-ups. There also were psychological exams, voice analysis assessments and tests on legal knowledge. Paredes recalled it took her a year to complete the process, including six months spent at the police academy.

Paredes, who has three children, said the transition into law enforcement was difficult in the beginning, as she had to rebalance her life.


“You have the role of being there as a mom and kind of having to be there for your kids when it comes time for school work or bedtime,” Paredes said, “and sometimes, you’re not able to be there.” 

Multiple agencies, including the Honolulu Police Department and the State of Hawaii Organization Of Police Officers, submitted testimony in support of the bill.

The Policing Project at NYU School of Law, while applauding the ambition of having 30% female officers in every law enforcement agency in the state by 2030, pointed out that it might be unrealistic due to the staff retirement and turnover required to make that happen. The organization recommended in testimony that Hawaii set a more achievable target of having 30% women in recruit classes by 2030.

The Policing Project is one of the organizations behind the national 30×30 Initiative, an effort to increase the representation of women in police recruit classes to 30% by 2030. The project also focuses on ensuring that department policies and culture actively support the success of qualified women officers throughout their careers. 

Tanya Meisenholder, director of gender equity at the Policing Project, says the initiative has seen results. 


“Madison, Wisconsin, for instance, just got over 30% for recruiting women and we’ve also seen a number of agencies put policies in place around pregnancy and maternal leave,” Meisenholder said. “Hawaii could potentially see these  impacts in the long run.”

Sen. Karl Rhoads, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the bill is a first step in the right direction.

“It’s important to have diversity in any profession, people from various backgrounds and educational perspectives,” Rhoads said, “especially in law enforcement.” 

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