No Regrets Vacations

Vacation without regrets

5 Hidden Gems of Hawaii’s Big Island

Renowned for its sandy beaches, sunny climate and tropical atmosphere, Hawaii is – for good reason – one of the worlds most popular tourism and travel destinations. Those seeking a relaxing and exotic vacation always find what they’re looking for in the beautiful state of Hawaii, and many of these visitors actually like it so much they buy a home and move there!

Everyone knows about Hawaiis most popular attractions – sun-soaked beaches, clear blue waters, and decadent resorts – but there are many areas off the beaten path that are worth exploring as well. While not as celebrated as the state’s main tourist areas, these spots offer a unique glimpse of Hawaiis natural beauty and rich culture. The Big Island, in particular, is home to many interesting yet largely unknown destinations worth a trip.

South Point

Located at the extreme southern tip of the Big Island, South Point is the southernmost point not only in Hawaii, but in the entire United States. South Point is home to the sprawling Kamoa Wind Farm, as well as miles of rugged cliffs and lush tropical forests. Visitors to South Point can stroll along the areas imposing beach cliffs and see some truly spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Exotic flora and fauna can also be found all over the point, making it a great place for wildlife and bird watching. Other fascinating sites of interest in South Point include the Ka Lae Lighthouse and the archeological ruins of the ancient Hawaiian people. South Point is also known as one of the top fishing spots in all Hawaii. However, do take caution when visiting South Point; its water currents are notoriously dangerous and swimming is highly inadvisable.

Onomea Trail

This winding, lush nature trail on the east side of the Big Island offers some of Hawaiis most memorable sights. Far removed from the hustle and bustle of the states cities and towns, Onomea Trail is a great place for relaxation and serenity. Known for its stunning tropical scenery, this nature trail is perfect for those who wish to see Hawaiis more secluded side.

Panaewa Rainforest Zoo

Home to more than 80 species of animals, the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo is one of the top zoos in the United States. As the countrys only tropical rainforest zoo, it makes for a truly unique and memorable destination. Free of admission, the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo offers a plethora of exotic animals and plant life to see up-close and personal. A petting zoo is also located on the premises, and never fails to intrigue children.

Punaluu Black Sand Beach

This beach boasts miles of Hawaiis famous black sand and warm, turquoise waters. Less crowded and touristy than other beaches on the Big Island, Punaluu Black Sand Beach is renowned for its wondrous natural beauty and unique scenery. The perfect destination for swimming, sunbathing and water sports, this distinct stretch of sand and surf is not to be missed.

Honokaa

Largely hidden from the prying eyes of tourists, this lively city plays host to some of the Big Islands most spectacular and memorable sites. One of the top destinations in Honokaa is Hillawe Falls. The tallest waterfall in Hawaii, Hillawe Falls soars 1,200 feet in the air and is renowned for its breathtaking beauty. Another must-see attraction in Honokaa is the Hamakua Coast, a stretch of coastline known for its lush tropical forests and seemingly endless miles of gorgeous beaches. Other destinations in the city include Waipio Valley and Waimanu Valley, two remote forested areas that offer some of the best possible views of Hawaiis natural beauty. Elsewhere in Honokaa, visitors will find a wide array of great shops and restaurants along Main Street and also an abundance of historic buildings. Quiet and charming, Honokaa is truly one of Hawaiis best kept secrets.

The Big Island offers even more hidden gems worth exploring. Visitors can take in Hawaiis unique culture along the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, visit beautiful cities like Waikola and Pahoa, and explore the stunning beaches and seaside views of the Kohala region on the north side of the island. Needless to say, the Big Island of Hawaii is packed with memorable destinations and stunning sites to visit, and any one of those featured on this list is sure to be worth your time!

London’s Most Overrated Tourist Attractions

Those planning a trip to England may think there are some tourist attractions that are must sees, but there are a handful of attractions that tourists can easily skip and not really miss anything. These overrated attractions are dated and don’t live up to the hype. Spend your time and money wisely. Skip out on the organized tour by renting a car and traveling to out of the way places that those on the guided tour will never see.

Big Ben
Houses of Parliament at dusk, London, UK
You could spend time visiting Big Ben, but you can also see it from most about anywhere you go in the city of London with a view, so why waste precious tourist time actually visiting this site? In addition, unless you are a London resident, you can’t even tour the inside of the building. Residents can arrange a tour through their representativeMember of Parliament, but the rest of us are stuck looking at it behind the fence.

Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum
Jackie Kennedy-Onassis and John F. Kennedy
If you’ve seen one wax museum, have you seen them all? While technically, each wax museum will have unique figures, there really isn’t anything that stands out about this particular museum that would make it worth investing your precious vacation time. The museum is open every day except Christmas and visitors can pose with the wax figures. However, reviewers of this attraction seem to agree that the celebrity figures don’t photograph very real or life-like. The cost to get in is a bit pricey at L21.99 for adults whereas all of London’s art galleries and museums are free.

Greenwich Village
Lasers are pretty cool, I guess
Greenwich Village is quite a trek outside of the city of London. If you’ve rented a car and you’re planning on taking it there, you’ll arrive at the Shepherd Gate Clock and the prime meridian after sitting in traffic and narrowly avoiding cyclists in a while. The problem is that the clock is simple and the prime meridian is a line. Once you’ve looked at each for two minutes, there is not much else to do and you still have a bit of a trip back into London. If you still feel the need to visit this famous site, the Royal Observatory in Greenwich is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no entry fee, but the last tour starts at 4:30 p.m.

Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus
If you’re in the area anyway, then this might be worth a quick visit, but don’t go out of your way to see this overrated tourist site. Chances are that if you’re taking public transit, you’ll zoom through Piccadilly at least once. Piccadilly Circus is where the streets Piccadilly, Regent and Shaftesbury Avenue come together. You’ll see a big collection of fast food restaurants, but not much else. It is in Westminster, near China Town, West End Shopping and the Theater district, so if you’re on your way to the neighbourhood, you might as well stop in. I simply cannot understand the crowds of people just standing around looking at the intersection. Looking is free, of course, but then so are most of the other tourist attractions in London.

London Eye
Silent dawn
The London Eye is a huge Ferris wheel with enclosed cars. It is 443 feet tall, so it does have pretty incredible views of many London attractions. However, the wheel moves at a snail’s pace that takes a full 30 minutes to revolve one time. While it might be pretty interesting when you’re at the top, the rest of the ride is drudgery for those who prefer a faster pace. Expect to pay around twenty quid per person for a basic ride. Open year round, but ride availability times vary.

Although these attractions seem overrated, it truly boils down to what you as a tourist want to see while you’re in England. If you’ve always wanted to ride the London Eye, then the cost and slow pace may be worth it to you. If Piccadilly Circus sounds like the perfect starting point, then it likely is. Go into your trip prepared with information on which attractions tourists find overrated, but ultimately choose what interests you and will make your trip memorable.