Wondering if you should go to the Bahamas or to Hawaii ? I have compared Grand Bahama and Big Island to help you decide.
Big Island, Hawaii.
Big Island (also named Hawai’i) is the largest island of the state of Hawaii with 428km of coast. The island offers white and black sand beaches and the only green sand beach in the world. It is also home to 5 volcanoes, among which only one is extinct. The Kilauea volcano has been erupting since 1983, covering most of the island with lava. If you’re not only interested in long beaches, Hawaii is for you.
I immediately loved the Hawaiien atmosphere, the smell of the flowers and the songs of the birds. The island is beautiful and there’s plenty to see and do. I definitely want to go back there some day.
Where to stay ?
There are two main towns on the island : Kailua-Kona and Hilo.
If you want to see waterfalls and the koa forest then Hilo is for you. It is built around a crescent-shaped bay and is only 45 min from Kilauea, one of the most active volcano on earth. I personally wouldn’t recommend to spend more than a day or two in Hilo. I din’t find it as welcoming as Kona.
Kailua-Kona is where you should stay during your vacation in Hawaii. You’ll find restaurants, local products and fruits in the shops and markets. It is also in Kona that you’ll find most of the activities such as whale and dolphin watching, helicopter and plane tour around the volcanoes, horseback riding, manta ray night dive, scuba diving, petroglyphs…
What to do ?
You can easily rent a car to visit parks like :
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (keep in mind that if you travel south from Kona you won’t be able to continue to Hilo because the road is closed by lava flows).
- Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park which contains numerous archaeological sites and is a good place to snorkel or taste local coffee.
- Mauna Kea is the highest point and weather center of the island but don’t forget to take warm clothes with you because it’s cold up there. (You can only drive to the top if you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle.)
If you love snorkelling you’ll find the famous humuhumunukunukuapuaa, green turtles, trumpetfishes, butterflyfishes, octopuses, crabs, moray eels, angelfishes and many more.
I do recommend the manta ray night dive. It’s amazing ! Whale watching was fantastic as well. A mother and her calf came really close to our boat. The whale jumped completely out of the water and her calf swam in circle, slapping his tail, for about a minute. Breathtaking moment.
Find out more here : https://www.lovebigisland.com/kailua-kona/
Grand Bahama, Bahamas.
Grand Bahama is about 4 times smaller than Big Island, doesn’t offer much more than long beaches and is more windy than Hawaii.
My first though was “Oh my ! I spend so much money for that ? I had the same kind of rooms in Cambodia for 1/5 of the price and there are no fish in the water.” I had the feeling the island wasn’t the paradise I’d been dreaming of but it’d been less than 4 months since the island was struck by hurricane Matthew and I could still see uprooted trees, fallen fences and damaged houses. After finding where the fish were and seeing the first sunset I was amazed. The colours of the sky and water are wonderful and people are so friendly they will melt your heart.
Where to stay ?
I stayed at the only hotel there is on Churchill beach. The beach is 3 km long so if you don’t want to be sunbathing next to other guests that hotel is for you. It is 8 km far from Port Lucayan Marketplace, the only place where you can buy souvenirs. The hotel offers bike for free and there is a cycleway all the way, or you can rent a taxi for $15 one-way.
Most of the other hotels are situated at Port Lucaya. Freeport downtown is not interesting to visit in my opinion. The main attraction was the International Bazaar but it has been closed since 2004.
What to do ?
There are 3 parks on the island :
- Lucayan National Park where you can see underwater caves.
- The Rand Nature Center for plant and bird lovers. (When I visited the center, there were still a lot of fallen trees and I only saw 4 birds. Apparently you’ll see more if you visit it early in the morning.)
- Peterson Cay National Park is situated on an island and features shallow bars and coral reefs which make for excellent snorkelling and diving.
Right in front of the hotel I saw stingrays and eagle rays, queen conchs, spiny lobsters, starfish, sponges and hundreds of fish that swam so close they touched me. You can also dive in the underwater caves or with the sharks.
Find out more here : http://www.grandbahamavacations.com/national-parks/
Highlights of the islands
- Landscape diversity
- Local market
- Various activities
- Long beaches
- Breathtaking sky and water colours
- Friendliness of the Bahamian