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

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? Join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook or send us an email to ask a question or share your experience.

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


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