Boasting an amazing array of beautiful and unique natural wonders, the Big Island is truly a wonderful place to romance – mostly in nature. On the east side, romantic moments range from viewing a night sky glowing red from flowing lava, to lounging in a naturally heated tide pool, to enjoying a good Italian meal.
If you find yourself down along the Puna coast, make sure to stop at Ahalanui Park were this is a pretty huge brackish water pond that is geothermally heated. Of course it’s not was hot as a hut tub, but it’s pretty darn warm, especially on a lower tide. There’s a good chance there will be other visitors there, but it’s still fun and romantic to swim in an ocean side warm pond with your sweetheart (called ku`uipo in Hawaiian).
For more secluded romantic time, take a hike, or maybe a rather long walk is a better term, out to Shipman Beach. The trail head is at the bottom of Kaloli Drive in Paradise park, and after parking (don’t leave valuables in car) you’ll walk for about an hour through banyan tree tunnels, weave in and out of the bushes and near the ocean, and arrive at a hidden gorgeous cove. Because the property behind the beach is privately owned, the only other access is through the trail. The beach is medium size with white sand covering black sand, and a small cover of water opening up to the open ocean. You’ll want to be careful here because although the inner part of the cove is somewhat protected you could still get swept out. Fresh water bubbles up through the fine sand in some areas and sea turtles and endangered monk seals frequent the area. If you see them, please stay at least 10 feet away. So make sure to spend a day at Shipman, bring a picnic and plenty of water. There’s a good chance you’ll be alone out here.
With the lava on a seemingly endless mission to erupt on the Big Island, the Kalapana sky is often boasting a bright red glow at night. This is far from actually seeing the lava up close, so don’t expect to walk right up to the stuff. But after a day in Puna taking a little while to gaze at the red glow of Pele from the hood of the car is quite relaxing, unique, and romantic with the bright stars and maybe even a moon above. Head down Kalapana Highway and when you come to the lava field find a parking spot road side and enjoy.
For a romantic meal after all of these outdoor activities, there’s a few options. In Pahoa there is Paolo’s Bistro. Here you’ll find a smaller menu with homestyle Italian, a quaint small and homey restaurant, and a very friendly head chef and owner. And, he’s actually from Italy. It’s BYOB here, so feel free to stop into the nearby health food store or supermarket and pick up a bottle of wine or a few beers. Simply put, pretty much all of Paolo’s food is great! The bread is homemade, and last I checked the pasta was too. I suggest the potato gnocchi as an appetizer and whatever strikes your fancy for a main course. It’s usually dimly lit, though not dark in here and somewhat quiet.
In Hilo Miyo’s has great Japanese food. No sushi here, but a lot curries, meat and rice dishes, and a lot of fish main courses backed up by salads and appetizers. Here too it’s BYOB and don’t miss a dessert of Hilo Homemade Ice Cream with exotic flavors like green tea and poha berry. It can get crowded in here at night, it’s good to make a reservation or get there a little early. Otherwise, a wait probably won’t be too long. It can get a bit loud but it’s a nice atmosphere and the restaurant overlooks ponds with ducks floating in them. The food is great and the service is good, one of the best places for dinner in Hilo.