Wondering what activities and attractions you can’t miss on the island of Hawai’i? Our guide to the best things to do on the Big Island is just what you need!
If you’re dreaming of an island escape that’s teeming with tropical wonders, vibrant culture, and jaw-dropping landscapes, look no further than the Big Island of Hawaii. Nestled in the middle of the Pacific Ocean among the other Hawaiian Islands, this diverse paradise is a treasure trove of experiences that will leave you with lifelong memories and a newfound appreciation for Mother Nature’s artistry.
In this post, we’re diving headfirst into a whirlwind tour of the top things to do on the Big Island, from exploring the enigmatic depths of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to lounging on the stunning black and green sand beaches.
So, grab your lei and your sense of adventure, and let’s dive into the kaleidoscope of experiences that await on the Big Island of Hawaii!
Table of Contents
- The Best Things to Do on the Big Island of Hawaii
- Explore Lava Tree State Park
- Hike to the Green Sand Beach (Papakolea Beach)
- Explore Hilo Farmers Market
- Experience a Lava Boat Tour
- Take a Helicopter Tour
- Explore the Kona Historic District
- Relax and enjoy the beaches along the Kohala Coast
- Visit the Hulihe’e Palace
- Discover Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
- Explore Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park
- Explore the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary
- Visit Rainbow Falls
- Visit the Mauna Lani Historic Park
- Go Scuba Diving
- Go Surfing at Popular Surf Spots
- Wrapping Up
The Best Things to Do on the Big Island of Hawaii
The Big Island of Hawaii offers a wide range of activities for travelers to enjoy. Here’s a list of the top 40 activities to consider!
Enjoy a scenic drive along the Kohala Coast
Embarking on a scenic drive along the Kohala Coast is an unparalleled journey through some of Hawaii’s most breathtaking landscapes. As you traverse this coastal route, the azure expanse of the Pacific Ocean unfolds to your side, while the rugged terrain of ancient lava fields and lush vegetation embraces the other.
The road winds its way through charming towns, historic sites, and hidden gems, offering opportunities to stop and savor panoramic vistas of the coastline and dramatic cliffs. Each turn reveals a new perspective, whether it’s the tranquil waters of hidden bays or the grandeur of jagged volcanic rock formations.
A drive along the Kohala Coast is a visual feast that captures the essence of Hawaii’s raw beauty and the rich cultural tapestry of the island, making it a must-do for any traveler seeking the quintessential Big Island experience.
READ NEXT: Check out all of the other amazing places to visit in Hawaii!
Hike to Mauna Kea Summit
One of the best adventurous things to do on the Big Island is hiking up to the summit of Mauna Kea.
Mauna Kea, the highest point on the Big Island of Hawaii, promises an extraordinary adventure that seamlessly blends natural beauty and astronomical wonders.
The journey to the summit takes you through diverse ecosystems, from lush forests to rocky alpine terrain, rewarding your efforts with panoramic vistas that stretch across the island and the Pacific Ocean. At the summit, experience the magic of stargazing at one of the world’s premier astronomical observatories, benefiting from the island’s unique position and minimal light pollution.
With hiking, stargazing, and connecting with the cosmos all in one remarkable excursion, Mauna Kea offers an unparalleled opportunity to engage in a multitude of activities that define the essence of the Big Island experience.
Explore Lava Tree State Park
Exploring the captivating Lava Tree State Park on the Big Island of Hawaii is a journey into an otherworldly landscape shaped by the forces of volcanic activity. This unique park showcases the remnants of ancient lava flows that engulfed trees, leaving behind hollow molds as they cooled and solidified.
Walking among the eerie lava tree molds creates an atmosphere of intrigue as you witness nature’s artistic imprint. The park’s shaded trails wind through dense foliage, and as you traverse this surreal terrain, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the island’s volcanic history and the remarkable transformations that have occurred over time.
Lava Tree State Park offers an opportunity to connect with Hawaii’s geological past and witness the fascinating interactions between nature’s fury and its ability to regenerate and thrive.
Explore Waipio Valley
Exploring the lush landscapes of Waipio Valley on the Big Island of Hawaii is a remarkable adventure that transports you to a world of unparalleled beauty and history.
As you descend into the valley, the towering cliffs that embrace this hidden gem gradually reveal a landscape adorned with cascading waterfalls, taro fields, and a serene black sand beach.
This sacred valley holds both cultural significance and natural splendor, offering a glimpse into ancient Hawaiian life while enveloping you in the tranquility of its untouched beauty.
Whether you’re hiking through the verdant terrain, taking in the panoramic vistas, or simply reveling in the presence of this lush oasis, Waipio Valley offers an experience that resonates with the essence of Hawaii’s captivating landscapes and indigenous heritage.
READ NEXT: Plan your Big Island trip with this ultimate Hawaii Itinerary!
Visit Akaka Falls
Akaka Falls, located on the Big Island of Hawaii, is a breathtaking testament to the island’s natural wonders, where a slender stream plunges 442 feet into a lush, verdant gorge below.
As you stroll along the paved pathway through the tropical rainforest, the sound of rushing water grows louder, building anticipation for the awe-inspiring sight that awaits. The moment you lay eyes on the majestic waterfall, surrounded by vibrant flora and delicate mists, you’re transported to a realm of unparalleled beauty.
Akaka Falls State Park not only provides a remarkable vantage point to witness this natural spectacle but also offers an opportunity to connect with the island’s rich biodiversity and experience the soothing ambiance of its tranquil setting.
Snorkel at Kealakekua Bay
Snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii is an aquatic escapade that immerses you in the vibrant underwater world of the Pacific Ocean. As you glide through the crystal-clear waters, you’ll be greeted by an abundance of marine life, from colorful tropical fish to graceful sea turtles.
The highlight of the bay is the iconic Captain Cook Monument, perched on the coastline, which adds a historical touch to the natural beauty. Snorkelers can explore the coral reefs that thrive in the bay’s protected waters, making it an ideal spot for both beginners and experienced snorkelers.
Whether you’re captivated by the stunning coral formations, enchanted by the diverse marine creatures, or intrigued by the bay’s rich history, a day spent snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay promises an unforgettable experience that encapsulates the allure of the Big Island’s aquatic wonders.
Go Humpback Whale Watching (seasonal)
Whale watching on the Big Island of Hawaii is an enchanting experience that brings you into the heart of the Pacific Ocean’s incredible marine life. Each year, humpback whales embark on an awe-inspiring migration from Alaska to Hawaii’s warmer waters, offering an opportunity to witness their majestic presence up close.
Joining a whale-watching tour allows you to witness these gentle giants as they breach, slap their tails, and showcase their playful behaviors, all set against the backdrop of the island’s stunning coastline.
The experience not only provides a deep connection to these remarkable creatures but also underscores the importance of marine conservation, leaving you with a profound appreciation for the intricate ecosystem that thrives beneath the waves.
Visit the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm
Nestled on the Big Island of Hawaii, the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm is a mesmerizing sanctuary where visitors can connect with the enchanting world of seahorses.
As a pioneer in seahorse conservation and breeding, the farm offers a captivating opportunity to witness these delicate and mystical creatures up close. Guided tours provide a window into the intricacies of seahorse biology and behavior, highlighting the farm’s commitment to education and marine preservation.
Amidst tranquil pools and vibrant underwater landscapes, the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm invites travelers to marvel at the wonders of the ocean and gain a profound appreciation for the need to protect these ethereal beings and their fragile habitats.
Explore Pu’uhonua o Honaunau
Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, also known as the Place of Refuge, is a captivating historical site on the Big Island of Hawaii that offers a journey into the island’s ancient past and cultural heritage.
This sacred sanctuary, nestled along the coast, was once a place of refuge for those seeking forgiveness and protection under Hawaiian law. As you explore the meticulously restored site, you’ll find thatched huts, intricately carved wooden images, and lava rock walls that provide a glimpse into the architectural and spiritual practices of ancient Hawaiians.
Stepping into Pu’uhonua o Honaunau is akin to stepping back in time, where visitors can gain insight into the island’s rich history, the significance of traditional practices, and the deep connection between the Hawaiian people and their land and sea.
Hike to the Green Sand Beach (Papakolea Beach)
Hidden along the captivating coastline of the Big Island, Green Sand Beach, also known as Papakolea Beach, stands as a testament to the island’s natural wonders.
Accessible through a scenic hike or by local shuttle, this secluded beach boasts a mesmerizing sight: olivine crystals sparkling against the lush cliffs and azure waves. The unique green hue of the sand is a result of volcanic activity and erosion, creating a surreal and almost otherworldly atmosphere that captivates the senses.
As you stand on the edge of this secluded cove, you are met with a blend of tranquility and raw beauty that defines the allure of the Big Island’s natural landscapes.
READ NEXT: Don’t forget to add all of these incredible things to do in Hawaii!
Visit A Kona Coffee Farm
Exploring the secrets of Kona’s world-renowned coffee production through guided tours of esteemed coffee farms is a rich sensory experience on the Big Island of Hawaii.
As you traverse the verdant hills of the Kona district, farms like Greenwell Farms, Mountain Thunder Coffee, and Kona Joe Coffee offer an in-depth exploration into the journey of coffee, from the intricacies of cultivation and harvesting to the artistry of roasting and brewing.
With expert guides leading the way, you’ll wander through lush coffee fields, learn about the cultivation techniques, and even participate in tastings to discern the unique flavors and aromas of Kona coffee.
The immersion into the world of coffee is not only a flavorful adventure but also a chance to appreciate the dedication of local farmers and gain a profound understanding of how the island’s volcanic terrain and ideal climate contribute to the exceptional quality that distinguishes Kona coffee as a true Hawaiian treasure.
Relax on Hapuna Beach
Hapuna Beach, gracing the western coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, is a tropical haven that epitomizes the island’s coastal allure. With its powdery white sands and crystal-clear azure waters, Hapuna Beach beckons sunseekers and swimmers to its serene shores.
The gentle waves provide ideal conditions for boogie boarding and snorkeling, while the verdant backdrop of palm trees and lush landscapes adds to the beach’s picturesque charm.
Whether you’re basking in the sun, snorkeling among vibrant marine life, or enjoying a leisurely beach stroll, Hapuna Beach captures the essence of Hawaii’s idyllic island paradise.
Take a Manta Ray Night Snorkel
Participating in a manta ray night snorkel on the Big Island of Hawaii is an enchanting and surreal experience that immerses you in the underwater world after dark.
In the velvety embrace of the ocean, participants gather in a unique display as powerful lights attract plankton, drawing in these gentle giants for a mesmerizing ballet-like performance. As you float on the water’s surface, the majestic manta rays glide beneath you, their graceful movements illuminated by the underwater lights, creating an ethereal ambiance.
This encounter not only offers a chance to witness the beauty of marine life up close but also emphasizes the importance of marine conservation, leaving a lasting impression of the ocean’s mysteries and the remarkable creatures that inhabit it.
Visit Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
Visiting the captivating Punalu’u Black Sand Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii is a surreal experience that transports you to a unique coastal landscape. The jet-black sands, a result of volcanic activity, contrast dramatically against the sparkling blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.
As you explore the shoreline, you might catch sight of sunbathing green sea turtles, a remarkable sight that adds to the beach’s allure.
Punalu’u’s magnetic beauty invites you to relax under the swaying palm trees, admire the striking contrast of colors, and marvel at the delicate dance between land and sea, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking to encounter the island’s geological wonders in an enchanting setting.
Explore Hilo Farmers Market
Exploring the vibrant Hilo Farmers Market on the Big Island of Hawaii is a sensory delight that offers a kaleidoscope of colors, aromas, and flavors. Located in the heart of Hilo, this bustling market showcases a rich tapestry of local culture and agricultural bounty.
As you wander through the stalls, you’ll encounter a dazzling array of tropical fruits, fresh produce, handmade crafts, and delicious prepared foods. The market is a vibrant hub where the island’s diverse community comes together, and interacting with local vendors adds a personal touch to the experience.
From savoring exotic fruits to discovering unique artisanal crafts, the Hilo Farmers Market invites you to immerse yourself in the island’s local culture and take a piece of Hawaii’s vibrant spirit home with you.
READ NEXT: Be sure to add these other incredible things to do in Hilo to your itinerary!
Experience a Lava Boat Tour
For a truly mesmerizing and thrilling experience on the Big Island, Lava Boat Tours offer an up-close encounter with nature’s most primal and dramatic spectacle—the fiery dance of lava meeting the ocean.
These tours take you on an exhilarating adventure along the coastline, where you can witness molten lava flowing into the Pacific, creating massive plumes of steam and billowing clouds of ash.
The heat, the sound, and the sheer power of this elemental meeting are awe-inspiring. Guided by experienced captains who know the waters and the volcanoes, Lava Boat Tours offer a unique opportunity to witness the ever-changing landscape of the island, all while being immersed in the raw, natural beauty that defines Hawaii’s Big Island.
It’s an adventure that leaves an indelible mark on the memory, reminding you of the Earth’s ceaseless transformation.
Take a Helicopter Tour
Embarking on a helicopter tour over the Big Island of Hawaii is an exhilarating voyage that unveils the island’s diverse landscapes and geological wonders from a privileged aerial perspective.
As you soar above the island’s volcanic craters, lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and dramatic coastlines, you’re treated to an awe-inspiring panorama that captures the island’s breathtaking contrasts.
The helicopter’s bird’s-eye view offers an opportunity to witness remote and inaccessible areas, revealing hidden valleys, rugged coastlines, and volcanic activity that has shaped the island’s geography over millennia.
With each turn, the helicopter tour transforms into a visual and educational experience, shedding light on the island’s geological history and showcasing the power of the natural forces that have shaped this remarkable destination.
This is one of the best things to do on the big island and one you will not forget.
Visit the Hamakua Heritage Corridor (Hamakua Coast)
Discovering the natural wonders of the Hamakua Heritage Corridor on the Big Island of Hawaii is a journey that meanders through a breathtaking landscape of waterfalls, lush forests, and captivating vistas.
This scenic route takes travelers along the historic Hamakua Coast, offering glimpses of iconic sites such as Akaka Falls and Rainbow Falls. As you navigate the winding roads, you’ll be treated to panoramic overlooks that showcase the rugged coastline and the endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
The Hamakua Heritage Corridor is not only a visual feast but also a cultural and historical exploration, as you pass through charming towns, uncover hidden waterfalls, and gain a profound appreciation for the island’s natural beauty and rich heritage.
Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii is an awe-inspiring journey into the dynamic heart of the Earth’s geology. As you step onto the rugged terrain, you’ll find yourself amidst an otherworldly landscape marked by towering craters, hardened lava flows, and steam rising from active volcanic vents.
Witnessing the glow of molten lava at night or exploring the Thurston Lava Tube, a natural tunnel formed by flowing lava, offers a profound connection to the island’s fiery origins.
The park’s ever-changing landscape serves as a reminder of the Earth’s constant transformation, making this a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a deep understanding of the forces that shape our planet.
Explore the Kona Historic District
Exploring the Kona Historic District is like taking a step back in time and immersing oneself in Hawaii’s captivating past. Nestled along the western coast of the Big Island, this charming district in Kailua-Kona offers a delightful blend of historical sites, boutique shops, and oceanfront ambiance.
Stroll along Ali’i Drive, the district’s iconic seaside promenade, and you’ll encounter beautifully preserved landmarks such as the Hulihe‘e Palace, a former royal residence of Hawaiian monarchs, and Mokuaikaua Church, one of Hawaii’s oldest Christian churches.
The district’s unique blend of historical and modern elements allows visitors to savor freshly brewed Kona coffee at quaint cafes, shop for local crafts and souvenirs, and even catch a glimpse of the vibrant Hawaiian cultural scene through street performances and festivals.
With its warm, welcoming atmosphere and palpable sense of history, the Kona Historic District is a captivating destination for travelers seeking a taste of Hawaii’s rich heritage.
READ NEXT: Check out all of these other great things to do in Kona!
Relax and enjoy the beaches along the Kohala Coast
The Kohala Coast’s pristine beaches, among them the renowned Mauna Kea Beach, offer travelers a serene haven of turquoise waters and powdery white sands. Nestled against the backdrop of lush vegetation and lava landscapes, Mauna Kea Beach stands as an idyllic oasis for those seeking tranquility.
With its calm waves and gentle breezes, the beach presents a perfect opportunity for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters.
This stretch of coastline showcases the harmonious beauty of Hawaii’s natural wonders, inviting visitors to unwind and relish in the splendor of the island’s coastal paradise.
Experience a Luau
Experiencing a traditional Hawaiian luau on the Big Island is a captivating cultural journey that indulges the senses and celebrates the island’s rich heritage. From the moment you step onto the luau grounds, the aroma of roasted pig, fresh tropical fruits, and traditional dishes fills the air, setting the stage for an evening of culinary delight.
The rhythmic beats of Polynesian music intertwine with the mesmerizing movements of hula dancers, as stories of Hawaiian legends come to life through the graceful choreography.
Amidst the warmth of the gathering, you’ll find yourself sampling traditional fare, connecting with the local community, and partaking in a timeless Hawaiian tradition that weaves together food, music, dance, and the spirit of aloha.
Visit the Hulihe’e Palace
Exploring the historical Hulihe’e Palace on the Big Island of Hawaii offers a captivating journey into the island’s royal past. This elegantly restored palace, situated in the heart of Kailua-Kona, was once a vacation home for Hawaiian royalty and is now a living testament to the island’s regal heritage.
As you walk through the palace’s stately rooms, adorned with heirlooms, artifacts, and portraits of Hawaiian monarchs, you’ll be transported to a time when Hawaii’s ruling elite enjoyed the island’s beauty and tranquility.
The palace’s oceanfront location provides breathtaking views of the Pacific, and the well-manicured grounds offer a serene space for reflection, making Hulihe’e Palace a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and anyone seeking a deeper connection with Hawaii’s royal legacy.
Discover Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
Exploring the unique Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden on the Big Island is an enchanting journey through a lush paradise of rare and exotic flora. Nestled along the coastline, this meticulously curated garden showcases a stunning variety of plant species from around the world, harmoniously blended with the island’s native vegetation.
As you meander through the well-maintained paths, you’ll encounter vibrant orchids, towering palms, and vibrant blooms that create a symphony of colors and scents. The garden’s location along the coast offers breathtaking ocean vistas, while hidden waterfalls and serene streams enhance the ambiance of tranquility.
The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is a haven for nature lovers and anyone seeking to immerse themselves in the island’s natural beauty, offering a sensory experience that celebrates the diversity and wonder of the world’s plants.
Go Kayaking on tranquil rivers
Kayaking is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the captivating natural beauty of the Big Island. The island offers an array of kayaking experiences to suit all preferences.
For those seeking calm and serene waters, A-Bay (Anaehoomalu Bay) on the Kohala Coast is an ideal starting point. Its tranquil, turquoise lagoon is perfect for leisurely paddling and spotting marine life like sea turtles.
Adventurous kayakers can explore Kealakekua Bay, where Captain Cook Monument stands, reachable by a scenic but challenging paddle. This spot is rich in history and offers fantastic snorkeling opportunities.
Alternatively, Pololu Valley on the Hamakua Coast presents a unique chance to paddle to a black sand beach nestled beneath towering cliffs. No matter which spot you choose, kayaking on the Big Island promises unforgettable moments amid its breathtaking coastal landscapes.
Explore Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park
Exploring the captivating Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park on the Big Island of Hawaii is a journey through time and culture. This sprawling park preserves a slice of Hawaiian history, from ancient fishing villages to sacred sites and petroglyphs.
You can stroll along coastal trails, where the remains of traditional Hawaiian fishponds stand as a testament to the island’s rich maritime heritage. The park also offers an opportunity to witness honu, the Hawaiian green sea turtles, basking on the shore, and to explore the tide pools that teem with marine life.
Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park invites travelers to immerse themselves in Hawaii’s indigenous roots, providing a chance to appreciate the island’s natural beauty and the deep connection between its people and the land and sea.
Explore the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary
Nestled within the captivating heights of the Big Island’s Kona district, the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary offers a truly enchanting experience for nature enthusiasts. This pristine cloud forest is a hidden gem, shrouded in lush vegetation, towering trees, and misty air.
As you wander along its winding trails, you’ll encounter a wonderland of vibrant, endemic flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world. The Sanctuary’s elevation creates a unique microclimate, fostering the growth of rare orchids, ferns, and bird species.
Birdwatchers will be particularly delighted by the opportunity to spot Hawaiian honeycreepers and other elusive avian residents.
A visit here feels like stepping into a mystical realm, where the serenity of the forest and its ethereal beauty make for a truly transcendent experience.
Visit Rainbow Falls
Visiting the picturesque Rainbow Falls on the Big Island of Hawaii is a captivating encounter with the island’s natural beauty. Located just a short drive from Hilo, these falls cascade over a lava cave and create a mesmerizing spectacle, often accompanied by rainbows formed by the mist in the sunlight.
The lush tropical surroundings add to the enchantment, making it an ideal spot for both nature enthusiasts and photographers.
As you stand in awe of the powerful falls and the ethereal rainbows that dance in the mist, you’ll be reminded of the island’s innate ability to create moments of pure wonder and magic.
Visit the Mauna Lani Historic Park
Immerse yourself in the storied past of Hawaii’s ancient inhabitants as you explore the Mauna Lani Historic Park, a cherished archaeological treasure. Nestled amidst the captivating beauty of the Kohala Coast, this sacred site preserves a collection of centuries-old petroglyphs, etched into the volcanic rock by the island’s early settlers.
The park’s tranquil pathways guide you through a lush landscape, leading to clusters of intricate rock carvings that offer a glimpse into the daily life, beliefs, and culture of the native Hawaiians.
Amidst the carvings, the remnants of ancient fish ponds and royal fish traps speak of the island’s sophisticated aquaculture practices and the harmonious relationship between the people and the land.
Wander among these captivating remnants, surrounded by the melodies of native birds and the soothing whisper of the ocean breeze. The Mauna Lani Historic Park stands as a powerful testament to the enduring connection between the island’s people, its land, and its history.
Trek through the Kilauea Ikia volcanic crater
Embarking on a journey to the Kilauea Iki Crater on the Big Island of Hawaii offers a remarkable opportunity to witness the raw power and beauty of volcanic landscapes.
This vast crater, formed during a spectacular eruption in 1959, presents a stark contrast between the desolate expanse of hardened lava and the lush rainforest that thrives along its rim. The Kilauea Iki Trail takes hikers across the crater floor, allowing you to traverse a unique terrain marked by cracks and steam vents that hint at the underlying volcanic activity.
As you hike, you’ll gain a deep appreciation for the resilience of life amidst the devastation, and the panoramic views from the rim of the crater offer a breathtaking perspective on the island’s geological transformations.
The journey to Kilauea Iki Crater is a testament to Hawaii’s dynamic nature and a humbling reminder of the forces that continue to shape the islands.
Visit Laupahoehoe Point for coastal views
A visit to Laupahoehoe Point on the Big Island of Hawaii is a poignant journey that takes you to a place of both natural beauty and historical significance. This coastal location, with its dramatic cliffs and rocky shores, offers stunning views of the rugged coastline and the vast Pacific Ocean.
However, what makes Laupahoehoe Point particularly memorable is its tragic history as the site of a devastating tsunami in 1946, which claimed numerous lives and left a profound impact on the local community.
Today, a memorial park stands in remembrance of those who lost their lives, providing visitors with a somber yet essential opportunity to reflect on the island’s resilience in the face of natural disasters.
A visit to Laupahoehoe Point serves as a reminder of the island’s delicate balance between beauty and the power of the natural world, offering a unique and sobering perspective on Hawaii’s coastal landscapes.
Explore Coconut Island
Exploring Coconut Island in Hilo Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii is like stepping into a tropical paradise within paradise. Also known as Mokuola, this small islet is accessible via a short footbridge and offers a tranquil escape from the bustling town of Hilo.
The island is adorned with swaying palm trees, lush gardens, and peaceful lagoons. Visitors can unwind in the serene atmosphere, enjoy a leisurely walk, or have a picnic while taking in the panoramic views of Hilo Bay and Mauna Kea.
Coconut Island holds cultural significance for the local community, and it’s not uncommon to find hula dancers practicing their graceful movements or families enjoying the calm waters surrounding the islet.
A visit to Coconut Island provides a delightful opportunity to soak in the natural beauty and local culture that make Hawaii so enchanting.
Go Scuba Diving
Embarking on a scuba diving adventure off the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii offers an immersive exploration of its underwater wonders, with prime locations such as Kealakekua Bay, Puako, and Kona Coast.
The island’s crystal-clear waters teem with marine life, offering encounters with colorful fish, mesmerizing coral formations, and the possibility of swimming alongside majestic manta rays and graceful sea turtles.
Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a beginner, the island’s diverse dive sites cater to various skill levels, from exploring lava tubes to delving into underwater caves.
The thrill of diving into the depths of the Pacific Ocean creates a profound connection with Hawaii’s natural splendor, making it an essential activity for those seeking to uncover the island’s hidden treasures.
Visit the Pacific Tsunami Museum
Discover a poignant chapter of Hawaii’s history at the Pacific Tsunami Museum in Hilo, a compelling tribute to the island’s resilience in the face of natural disasters. Located in the heart of Hilo’s historic district, this museum offers a deeply moving exploration of the devastating impact tsunamis have had on the region throughout the years.
Through a combination of exhibits, personal accounts, and multimedia presentations, visitors gain insight into the science behind tsunamis, the stories of survival and loss, and the ongoing efforts to educate and protect communities.
The museum’s mission to honor the past while promoting awareness for the future resonates deeply, making a visit here both educational and emotionally resonant, as it underscores the importance of preparedness and unity in the face of nature’s might.
Explore the Wailuku River State Park
A visit to Wailuku River State Park offers a serene escape into Hawaii’s natural wonders, where the rhythmic sounds of flowing water and the vibrant greenery create an unforgettable experience.
Nestled in the heart of Hilo, the Wailuku River State Park captivates visitors with its ethereal beauty and enchanting landscapes. Home to the iconic Rainbow Falls, the park offers a captivating display of cascading water plunging into a serene pool below.
Trails wind through lush rainforest foliage, leading to mesmerizing viewpoints that provide an up-close encounter with the falls’ splendor. Beyond the falls, the park’s tranquil ambiance invites exploration along its meandering paths, revealing hidden pools and captivating vistas.
Explore lava tubes (like the Thurston Lava Tube) and underground formations
Exploring the volcanic caves of the Big Island, including the renowned Thurston Lava Tube, is a fascinating journey into the heart of the island’s geological history.
Thurston Lava Tube, also known as Nahuku, is an ancient underground tunnel formed by flowing lava. As you venture into this subterranean wonder, you’ll find yourself surrounded by unique geological formations, including stalactites and stalagmites.
The eerie, dimly lit ambiance of the lava tube creates an otherworldly atmosphere, offering a glimpse into the island’s fiery origins. Beyond Thurston, the Big Island boasts a network of lava tubes and caves to explore, each with its own distinct character and geological features.
Caving on the Big Island provides an opportunity to connect with the powerful forces that have shaped the island’s landscapes while also delving into the mysteries of these hidden underground wonders.
Go Surfing at Popular Surf Spots
Embracing the thrill of surfing on the Big Island of Hawaii is an invigorating experience that allows you to ride the powerful waves of the Pacific Ocean amidst some of the world’s most scenic settings.
The island offers a variety of surf spots catering to surfers of all skill levels. Honolii Beach Park, located near Hilo, is known for its consistent and gentle waves, making it an ideal spot for beginners.
For more experienced surfers seeking challenging breaks, Banyans and Lyman’s are renowned for their reef breaks and larger waves. Additionally, Kahalu’u Beach Park provides a friendly environment for novice surfers and offers excellent opportunities for both surfing and snorkeling.
Surfing on the Big Island isn’t just about riding the waves. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in the island’s vibrant surf culture and connect with the stunning natural beauty that surrounds each break, from lush green landscapes to dramatic volcanic coastlines.
Explore Liliuokalani Park and Gardens Japanese-style gardens
Experiencing the captivating beauty of the Liliuokalani Gardens on the Big Island of Hawaii is a serene escape into a Japanese-inspired oasis that combines tranquility and cultural richness. These stunning gardens, located in Hilo, pay tribute to Queen Liliuokalani and her admiration for the beauty of Japanese landscapes.
As you wander through the meticulously landscaped gardens, you’ll encounter traditional elements such as arched bridges, koi-filled ponds, and graceful pagodas, all set against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean.
The gardens offer a serene space for reflection, picnicking, and enjoying the harmonious blend of lush vegetation and peaceful waters.
Whether you’re drawn to the delicate cherry blossoms or the soothing melodies of the garden’s resident birds, Liliuokalani Gardens offers an opportunity to connect with nature and immerse yourself in the meditative spirit of this culturally significant and visually captivating haven.
Sample Fresh Poke
Sampling fresh poke is an absolute culinary must-do when visiting the Big Island of Hawaii. This delectable dish, which has gained worldwide popularity, embodies the essence of Hawaiian cuisine by showcasing the island’s abundant seafood.
Typically made with cubed raw fish, often ahi tuna or octopus, and marinated in a flavorful blend of soy sauce, sesame oil, green onions, and various seasonings, poke offers an explosion of fresh, vibrant flavors that tantalize the taste buds.
Whether enjoyed as a snack, appetizer, or main course, the combination of tender fish, savory umami notes, and the subtle crunch of accompaniments like seaweed, sesame seeds, or crispy onions is an unforgettable culinary experience that encapsulates the essence of the Hawaiian islands.
While there are countless poke shops and eateries to choose from, each with its own unique twist on this island classic, indulging in a poke bowl is not just a meal. It’s a sensory journey through the flavors of Hawaii’s rich maritime heritage.
Visit the Lyman Museum and Mission House
Journey into the heart of Hilo’s rich history and cultural heritage with a visit to the Lyman Museum and Mission House. This captivating institution presents a fascinating window into the island’s past, offering a diverse range of exhibits that explore Hawaiian culture, natural history, and the influence of missionaries.
The Mission House, a meticulously preserved 19th-century home, allows visitors to step back in time and experience the daily life of the early missionary families who played a pivotal role in shaping the island’s identity.
The museum’s extensive collections, which include artifacts, artwork, and interactive displays, provide a comprehensive understanding of Hawaii’s evolution through the ages.
A visit to the Lyman Museum and Mission House is a captivating and educational journey that bridges the gap between the island’s past and present.
In wrapping up your unforgettable journey through the Big Island of Hawaii, it’s impossible not to be moved by the sheer magnitude of experiences this island offers.
From the dramatic landscapes of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where molten lava meets the sea, to the captivating black sand beach that reminds us of nature’s artistic prowess, this island leaves an indelible mark on every traveler’s heart.
But the beauty of the Big Island isn’t just in its striking scenery; it’s also in the genuine aloha spirit of its people, the rich tapestry of its culture, and the opportunity to connect with the island’s powerful geological forces.
As we bid aloha to this enchanting destination, let’s remember that the Big Island of Hawaii isn’t just a place to visit; it’s an experience that lingers long after you’ve left its shores. Whether you’re hiking amidst ancient lava flows, snorkeling in pristine waters, or simply savoring the taste of fresh poke, this island has a way of rejuvenating the soul and leaving you with memories that are as timeless as the land itself. Mahalo, and happy travels!
DISCLAIMER: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you book accommodation, tours or buy a product, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us keep creating more free travel content to help people plan their holidays and adventures. We only recommend the best accommodations, tours and products that ourselves or our fantastic editorial team have personally experienced, and regularly review these. Thanks for your support, kind friend!