My Itchy Travel Feet | The Baby Boomer's Guide To Travel

Hawaii: The Big Island, a Trailblazer Guide for planning your trip

2013/03/22by Vera Marie Badertscher

Traveling to Hawaii is a dream come true for anyone looking to explore exotic landscapes, beautiful beaches and experience adventure. The largest out of the eight major Hawaiian Islands, the Big Island has a wealth of activities for anyone looking for active travel. Vera Marie Badertscher from A Traveler’s Library tells us how to make the most out of your visit to this paradise with a review of an informative guide written by Jerry and Jeanine Sprout.

Hamakua Coast on Hawaii's Big Island

The dramatic Hamakua Coast

You know right away that this is a book for the boomer adventure traveler, when you see the subtitle.  Hawaii The Big Island Trailblazer: Where to hike, snorkel, surf, bike, drive.

But if your travel style is more laid back than active, don’t worry, the Sprouts have you covered.

The Big Island has been on my “wannago” list for quite a while, so I took this opportunity to see how helpful the Trailblazer Guide to Hawaii would be in planning a trip. Short answer: Very helpful.

After poring over this book for a few days and fantasizing about my personal trip to the island, I can’t imagine anything that is missing from this guidebook.  It certainly changed my estimate of how long it would take to “do” the island. Unlike other islands I’ve visited, I will not be able to walk across the middle or even drive around the edge in a day.  While theoretically you could drive the 300-mile perimeter of the Big Island, who in their right mind would do that? Go whizzing by volcanoes and cliffs and around 14,000′ Mauna Kea and black, green, white and tan beaches and through tropical forests without stopping? No way.

Papalokea, or the green sand beach, on Hawaii's Big Island

Hike to a green sand beach

The Big Island, twice as large as all the other Hawaiian Islands combined, offers up so many enticing choices that the trip planner might be hopelessly tangled up in possibilities. But Jerry and Janine Sprout, a boomer husband and wife team of explorers and writers, take the confused traveler by the hand and help sort out the choices.

In a wonderful bit of understatement, the authors say, “The Big Island presents a challenge to adventure travelers with limited time.” Ya’ think?  They present 153 hikes and walks, 73 snorkeling and swimming spots, 41 surfing locations, 24 biking trails, and nine maps to lead you to them.

You will learn a few terms in Hawaiian with their glossary and Hawaiian history in their sections labeled “Talk Story.” After aloha, the navigationally necessary makai for toward the ocean and mauka for inland (toward the mountain) are the first words you’ll want to know.

Akaka Falls on The Big Island

Akaka Falls

The book displays dozens of black and white photos, but only a 4-page insert of color photos. No matter. You will be taking your own in this incredibly photogenic land.

This Trailblazer Guide will help you choose between the Kailua-Kona region on the west coast–the most popular and therefore prone to traffic jams– and, for instance, the lesser-visited southeastern Puna Coast.

For the travel planner trying to make choices, I particularly appreciate the extensive list of “bests.”  A few choices in each category help you whether you are looking for hard core adventure “For Seasoned Trekkers Only” or something milder “Perfect Places, Little Walking” or even best places to have a picnic.

Since this guidebook concentrates on activities and sights, don’t look for lots of guidance on hotels and restaurants, although there are lists of possiblilities.

Yes, after reading this guide to the Big Island, I want even more than ever to go to Hawaii, and I will definitely use the Trailblazer as my planning guide and trip companion.

Have you read Hawaii The Big Island Trailblazer? Which active travel ideas from the book did you use? Post a comment to tell us about it. 

I have included an Amazon Link to Hawaii The Big Island Trailblazer for your convenience. However My Itchy Travel Feet does receive a small percentage for purchases made at Amazon.com.

Vera Marie Badertscher is a freelance writer whose love of books and travel led to A Traveler's Library where, with six contributors, she reviews books, movies and other things that tempt you to travel and enhance your travel experience

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Kris from Attainable Sustainable
Twitter:
March 22, 2013 at 10:34 am

I’m not familiar with this series of books. I’ll have to pick one up to keep on hand for my guests! And you’ll look me up when you get here, Vera? Coffee’s on me!
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
March 23, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Kris, I’ll be curious as to your opinion of the Trailblazer Guide. After all, you’re the real Big Island expert :-).
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Leigh
Twitter:
March 22, 2013 at 10:47 am

I’ve never heard of these guides either. I did cycle around the island and would be curious to see what route they propose. Do they list some of the local good eating places too – the ones only the locals know about?
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
March 23, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Leigh, Alan and I are fans of eating a local places, too. Check out Vera’s comment above, it seems there are lots of bicycle trails on the Big Island according to the Trailblazer Guide.
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santafetraveler March 23, 2013 at 7:22 am

Great photos and it seems the book has interesting info. Will check when we do our dream Hawaiian getaway.
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
March 23, 2013 at 7:39 pm

Hope your Hawaiian dream getaway happens soon.
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Brette
Twitter:
March 23, 2013 at 7:35 am

We spent 5 days on the Big Island a few years ago and it wasn’t enough. I wish I’d had this guide! There is so much to do and see there (and p.s. the shopping for handcrafted items is fantastic!)
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
March 23, 2013 at 7:39 pm

This does sound like a great guidebook. I also like Hawaii: The Big Island Revealed.
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Vera Marie Badertscher
Twitter:
March 23, 2013 at 9:30 am

Yes, Leigh, they do talk about the places to eat that “only locals know about.” That’s one of the things I love about the Trailblazer Guides. They zero in on a small enough area that they can present great expertise about the area. And as for the Bike trails–not just A bike trail, but TWENTY FOUR of them! You would love this guide, I think.

Kris, you’ll have to let me know if this guide looks as good to a local as it does to a stranger, but I am pretty sure you’ll like it. Definitely will come to see you when I get there, Kris!

Anybody who wants to know more about TrailBlazer Guides can see my review of their Paris guide over at A Traveler’s Library, and next month I’ll be doing yet another one for My Itchy Travel Feet, so stay tuned!

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
March 23, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Great advice, Vera. Thanks!
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Jerry Sprout March 24, 2013 at 10:53 am

Aloha Vera! Thanks for your kind words about Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer. Just returned from an 8-week trip to the Big Island and Maui, as part new editions coming out next year (4,200 miles of exploration!). We are happy to answer questions for your readers traveling to Hawaii (or SF, the Sierra, or Paris). Just send us an e-mail. For Big Island visitors, be sure to check out these newbies, both located in Kohala on the north coast: Hawaii Wildlife Center (first and only bird hospital in Hawaii), and ‘Iole Foundation (2,400 acres with historic buildings, ancient sites, and lush tropical walks, plus an oh-wow zipline). Give ‘em a Google. Readers might also want to pick through our blog, trailblazerhawaii.com.

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
March 28, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Thanks for stopping by, Jerry. The new edition of Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer sounds great. We’ll be looking forward to reading it.
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sheryl March 25, 2013 at 8:52 am

We are toying with the idea of visiting Hawaii. Thanks for the intel on this book!
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Jane Boursaw
Twitter:
March 27, 2013 at 9:46 am

Beautiful. I so hope I get to Hawaii some day.
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MyKidsEatSquid March 30, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Wow, 153 hikes to choose from? Some day I want to go to Hawaii too, I’m with you Jane!
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