Budget Travel & Aloha on Big Island (Hawai’i)

Hawaii Hitchhiking Travel Map

My voyage around Big Island

It’s been 4 months since I left Hawai’i, 7 whole months since I was on Big Island, and seemingly the same amount of time since I last had a decent blog posting. What a hell of a lot of catching up to do in a different year and different country….swoo

shhhhhh… Hawai’i, the land of shakas, massive flying roaches and centipedes. Islands where kings reined, beaches of black to white sand, volcanoes and lava fields, and climates from hot and dry and desert like, to rainy and tropical. Lets not forget Mauna Kea, which does get snow. When I say Hawai’i, I mean Hawai’i, the island, not THE entire archipelago ;)

18010815_10155192361035119_2901851350114493487_nThe Hawaiian islands full of energy, each offering different vibes, feels, and something unique to offer. Be it the terrain or people. Unfortunately for me (at the time), my experiences single out Hawai’i traveling on my two healthy feet, and O’ahu on one healthy foot and one recovering. An achilles tendon rupture is a shitty thing to live through and Hawai’i was the island where this recovery process began.

So until my return to my beautiful HAWAIIAN ARCHIPELAGO, I reflect on those incredible 3 weeks I spent hitching around the entire island and how I did it on a budget. // (approx. $300).


Sunset over Kona


$6 Dollar Flight

Flights from the West Coast (Mainland) can be fairly reasonable considering the proximity to isolated Hawaii. The east coast on the other hand can display prices comparable from Atlanta to The Netherlands, approximately $900 to $1000. As for me, I arrived on a one way flight from San Francisco to Hili with a connection in Honolulu. However, I didn’t pay the lowest fair of $321 on Hawaiian Airlines. Instead, I paid $6 entire US dollars for a flight with complimentary breakfast, lunch, and Mai Tais. How did I do that? Air miles! Thanks to Jetblue and Hawaiian Airlines miles partner relationship, I made it over to paradise to begin my Pacific voyage for the cost of a decent lunch meal.



Rainbow Falls in Hilo



Outside of Kona, Hilo and Hapuna areas beach resorts, Big Island can be very rural and it’s size makes many places feel very isolated. With that being said, Couchsurfing is nearly non existent and even the hosts that are there, my successes were very low. But this didn’t stop me from trying. I did manage to enjoy at least two couchsurfing experiences. One in Puna, enjoying bongos on the beach (a nude hippy experience) and a bike ride into lava fields in Volcanoes National Park. As well as spending some time in Ocean View, allowing me to paddle board for the first time on the Kona Coast and enjoying time with a family “off the grid”.


Caption: Bongos on the beach…andlotsofnakedpeople


Shakas and couchsurfers turned friends

Shakas and couchsurfers turned friends


Travel pose in Volcanoes Nationa Park lava field.


Paddle Boarding near Ho'okena Beach, Kona Side

Paddle Boarding near Ho’okena Beach, Kona Side



Freedom Camping

While I did camp legally for two nights at one of Volcanoes National Park’s campsites, everywhere else was kind of sort of illegal and without a doubt, considered freedom camping. Hawai’i has many incredible places to camp but is surveilled by security officers to kick people out of places they shouldn’t be. Permits are required and without it, a few hundred dollars worth in fines kindly added to your travel budget. But unlike places in other islands, Hawai’i is fairly laid back. I freedom camped at the southern most point of the US, Pololu & Waipi’o Valleys, and one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Makalawena, where I spend two and a half hours of entire beach to myself.


Camping at the southernmost point of the USA



Green Sand Beach near South Point



Camping on the Kona coast



Beautiful Makalawena Beach to myself



View of the northern coast from Pololu Valley



Camping at Pololu Valley (Without paying for a permit ;) )



Discovering hitchhiking in Europe open a whole new way to move around in my world of travels, allowing possibilities to go just about anywhere. Big Island was that one place in the states where that open minded concept of travel worked like a charm. I hitchhiked from Puna to South Point, around to Kona, up to the valleys in the north, and eventually back to Hilo, including a day trip up to Mauna Kea and back. I waited as little as a few minutes to no longer than an hour for numerous rides with incredible people, locals and foreigners alike.

Hitchhiking Big island

“I just saw the genuine in your smile and felt like I could trust you. Plus you were standing in the rain.”


Several car rides later, overlooking Kilauea crater!


Kilauea Iki Crater Hike

Aloha with Locals

From catching rides, couchsurfing, and all the incredible travelers I met in between, there was no greater connection than those with locals. They say “If you show aloha, you will get aloha in return.” Kindness has connected me with all kinds of amazing people from Hawaii. From a family inviting me over for food to endless conversations about life and even Pidgin lessons. But the experience of a lifetime, was the couple I met at South Point after spending the entire day with them. I showed aloha through conversation and some help with fishing, and the aloha in return was inviting me to stay with them in Hilo when I returned. While I intended on staying a few nights before heading to Maui, I hurt my foot and ended up staying for two weeks due to their kindness and understanding. Until this day, I am forever grateful for their aloha and the fact that I am back to two healthy feet, exploring the world.


The couple that had my back for two weeks during my injury recovery process. Aloha!


Brew at Kua Bay


This attitude, energy, and aloha followed me onto O’ahu where I connected with old friends, eventually had surgery and met the most incredible woman who took me in with her family, allowed me the right environment and place to get back on my feet, and fell in love in the process. <3


My voyages in the Pacific in 2017 were certainly limited to two Hawaiian islands and New Zealand due to my injury. But my time around the Big Island proved one thing until my return. That is, despite the claims that Hawaii is too expensive for the backpacker. I found that to be untrue. Alike travel in most places, you can make travel as cheap as you want to be, with some sacrifice to see all the beauty the islands have to offer, showing aloha to the right people and in return, connect with the most amazing souls on the planet. Who knows, you may even fall in love too! :)


 Sunset over O'ahu



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