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Steve Jermanok’s Active Travels: Biking the Big Island with Backroads

Biking the Big Island with Backroads
Biking the Big Island with Backroads

Home to two of the most active volcanoes in the world, one would expect Hawaii’s southernmost island to be an angry land of deadened rock and rivers of red. But this ever-expanding island has a myriad of moods—the gentle rolling hills of Waimea; the inviting sand of the Kohala Coast; the almost impenetrable jungle-like interior of the Hamakua Coast; the enormity of two mountains that are nearly 14,000 feet; even a rain forest on the backside of a volcano. Indeed, Hawaii is more like a miniature continent than an island in the Pacific.

Cars whisk around the island, not experiencing that shift of terrain until they’re smack dab in the middle of it. Bikers have the privilege of slowing down to watch the sea wash against a narrow fringe of palms or to stop and smell the pink-and-purple bougainvillea (sorry, no roses here). After a week of circumnavigating this 225-mile island on two wheels like I was fortunate to do one November week, biking over squished guavas and mangoes and through fields of macadamia nuts, you not only feel incredible about your accomplishment, but you bring home a firmer body and a sense that the island has seeped into every sweaty pore.
Backroads features an inn-to-inn bicycling tour of the Big Island that costs $2898 and includes all meals and lodging. You average some 50 miles a day, overcoming such obstacles as sweltering heat, long up-and-down climbs, strong headwinds, congestion on the main road, even biking in rainfall, so best be in good shape. For something less strenuous, consider the outfitter’s six-day family multisport trip around the island. Along with easy walks in Volcano National Park and kayaking in secluded coves, the biking is downhill only. Cost of that trip is $2998 for adults, 10% less for kids ages 11-17.
steve1  Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for OutsideMen’s JournalHealth, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at  Active Travels.
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