Hawaii. The paradise of the Pacific. It's a place that drives jealousy every time you tell someone you're going. And I get to live and work here. With its tranquil beaches, tropical breezes, exotic fruits and island pace, the Big Island--the youngest of all the state's islands--embodies all that is Hawaii. Except it's just a little more raw, with its massive lava fields due to the past centuries of volcanic eruptions from Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire, and a little more "country" with its massive, green, rolling cattle ranches and its paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys). Backroads' Hawaii's Big Island Biking Tour lets you see every part of the young island in a way that most tourists miss. It's possible to circumnavigate the whole island on two wheels, so you get to feel the heat from sunbaked lava fields on the dry west side of the island, perhaps get soaked in the "liquid Aloha" (or rain, as most call it) as you bike through the jungles of the east side, and explore the historic sugarcane towns in the north. Hawaii is a unique and amazing region for US residents because it lets us explore a truly different culture without using our passports. From the moment you land at the airport, you realize that life in Hawaii moves at a different pace and follows its own terms.
I feel so fortunate to be a Trip Leader here for many reasons. The Big Island Biking Tour is for those that are looking to truly challenge themselves while on vacation. I don't know of any other Backroads trips that offers two century days (100+ miles of riding). Almost every week, my co-workers and I help support, cycle along with and encourage people as they ride more miles in a week than they have any other time in their life, and we regularly have guests that ride a century for the first time! The look of excitement and accomplishment--combined with the true need for a handful of salty potato chips--as riders coast into the parking lot is one that helps make every week worthwhile. Rest assured that we also have shorter route options for those looking to take it easy--plus, you can always get a lift in the van!
We don't just bike big miles on this trip. The guided half-day hike with one of our expert naturalists and volcanologists through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is always a highlight for our guests. As we walk past the most active volcano in the world, Kilauea, into the constantly changing Kilauea Iki Crater, it feels like another planet. Our guides combine facts with personal stories, weaving in the ubiquitous local lore of the Hawaiian people, making this hike one of my all-time favorites. Plus, it comes at a perfect time in the week--in between our two biggest days of riding--so you get to rest and recover as you prepare for the next day on the road. A little piece of my heart has been in Hawaii ever since I bought a one-way ticket here for the first time six years ago. Every time the plane lands, an excited feeling washes over me and I feel so grateful to have opportunity to experience and explore this amazing region. It's not one to be missed. Aloha!