The Big Island of Hawaii is known more for its natural and cultural phenomena than for commercial tourist attractions, so chances for free activities abound. With majestic mountain peaks, an underwater state park, more than 600 coffee plantations and flowing lava, it’s unlikely that you’ll find yourself bored even when your vacation dollars run out.
With high elevations and rich volcanic soils on the Big Island, it’s no wonder coffee plantations still thrive, with more than 600 of them in the area surrounding Kona. Visit coffee orchards, coffee mills and tasting rooms; most provide tours. The Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation is a certified organic farm and offers free tours daily from two locations (or paid experiences such as roasting your own Kona Private Reserve beans).
Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation
75-1027 Henry St. #354
Kailua Kona, HI 96740
Located about 12 miles south of Kailua Kona is the Kealakekua Bay State Underwater Park, known for the spinner dolphins that live there year-round. The coral reefs make for good snorkeling and scuba diving, and it’s also a popular place with kayakers. The bay’s claim to fame extends beyond nature: A white obelisk marks the death place of Captain James Cook in 1779.
One of the most colorful things on the Big Island, apart from nature, is the Painted Church in Captain Cook. Officially named St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church, it was built in 1899 by Father John Velghe, who used ordinary wood and house paint to create lavish paintings on the walls and ceilings, depicting biblical scenes with Hawaiian language inscriptions.
St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church
84-5140 Painted Church Road
Captain Cook, HI 96704
Saudi Arabia is one of the richest countries in the world, both financially and culturally. It is known for its oil reserves and the utter absence of rivers and lakes. In fact, some are surprised to discover that in Saudi Arabia, a gallon of water is more expensive than a gallon of gasoline. It has a reputation for the ease of doing business. The VAT rate is nonexistent and its people don’t pay income taxes.
However, Saudi Arabia is famous actually for its weird laws. It’s the only remaining Islamic country (or just country), where cutting someone’s hand or even head is a form of punishment, albeit rarely used. Women aren’t allowed to drive and can’t go outside unless they’re escorted by another woman. In 2015, women might actually be able to vote. Law prohibits celebrating Valentine’s Day. Music classes and movie theaters fall under the same category. However, not only that there are public universities that require no additional fees, but students get legally paid to attend college. It’s no wonder why Saudi Arabia is a public destination for young men. The average age is 18 years only.
Saudi Arabians are usually formal before knowing someone. Many describe them as cold, while they believe they’re just being respectful. Punctuality is not their forte and bureaucracy may delay even insignificant, common requests. Gender rules are strict. Women and men socialize in separate environments and they do not mix. They make separate lines when waiting for their order and don’t greet each other on the streets. Saudi women wear a burka or at least cover their neck, hair and knees, while Saudi men wear a white piece of clothing called thobe.
Quite ironically, Eve’s tomb lies supposedly in Jeddah. Mecca and Medina are famous as pilgrimage destinations. Kaaba and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi attract many tourists. The Green Dome hides the tomb of the prophet Muhammad.