The only problem with visiting Hawaii from Dallas is it’s such a long trip to get there. Due to time changes, by the time you wake up in Hawaii, Dallas is finishing the day. There is a four hour time difference, meaning you’ll likely need some adjustment time.
I enjoy visiting Hawaii because it feels like a foreign country, given it’s unique language and culture, but you are actually still in the USA, so your credit cards work, American customs are observed, you can spend dollars, and everyone speaks English. One thing that is hard to adjust to in Hawaii is the cost of living. The U.S. Congress passed the Jones Act, prohibiting ships not bearing U.S. registry from stopping in two consecutive US ports, before Hawaii became a state. In its infinite stupidity, Congress did not exempt Hawaii from the Jones Act when it because a state, meaning that Hawaii has to get many of its goods from foreign companies at higher cost that available to most Americans. It also means that Hawaii beef, some of the best in the world, cannot be easily imported into the U.S., although other countries around the world enjoy it…but let’s not dwell on how the U.S. government doesn’t work. Hawaii state government seems to work well, with initiatives to be fossil fuel independent by 2024, efficient and clean roads, beaches and parks, and policies that seem to be well reasoned.
It’s hard to know where to visit in Hawaii. There’s just so much to see and do. Since I hadn’t spent much time on the “Big Island,” I chose to visit there. You can fly into either Hilo or Kona. Hilo on the island’s eastern side has the highest rainfall of any US city making it wholly unpopular with tourists, although it’s bad weather makes it a little less expensive. Kona, famous for its coffee, has nearly perfect weather year-round. I chose Kona.
You expect Hawaii to have great beaches, but, actually, Hawaii is formed from oceanic volcanoes, so the coastline is mainly volcanic rock from lava flows, not the sandy beaches that I am used to. You have to wear protection for your feet to get out on many of the beaches because the rock can cut your feet, either as you approach the water or once you get into it.
From Kona, I visited Hapuna Beach, reputed to be the nicest beach on the Big Island. Located inside a state park ($5 to park for non-residents, i.e., those driving rental cars), it’s an hour drive from downtown Kona, south on Highway 19, past the airport. Once there, you’ll discover the unusual (for Hawaii) sandy beach—one-half mile long and wide—with a nice surf, two lifeguard stations and shaded picnicking areas beyond the sand. Facilities include changing rooms, food concession, a beach rental place, and plenty of sunshine. The beach is adjacent to one of the Hawaiian desert areas where it rarely rains. South of the beach is the Waikoloa resort area. There, the developed-for-tourists King’s Shops and Queens’ Marketplace across the street are both excellent places to stop for exclusive shopping and a meal. Reasonably priced food at the super market was among the cheapest I found on the Big Island.
On the way to or from Hapuna Beach, stop at road marker 91 on Highway 19 (you’ll see cars pulled off to the side) to see an unmarked lava tube, the unique geophysical structure formed by flowing lava.
Some great coral reefs await divers. You can sail and parasail, kayak and stand-up paddleboard, and have all sorts of fresh water fun.
If the beaches of the Big Island aren’t the best for swimming, they are notable for spectacular natural beauty formed by lava. Where else can you play in the snow on top of a volcano, yearound, and be on a beach a few hours later? And for lovers of offshore water activities, an almost never-ending menu to choose from awaits.
For a beach closer to home and easier to get to, but still within the U.S. (without the hassle of foreign travel), try this great Alabama beach.