As the name implies, Big Island is the largest island in Hawaii. And it’s continuously growing as the ocean catches the lava that the Kilauea volcano is spewing. The landscape offers breathtaking natural attractions with active and inactive volcanoes that make the island very attractive to domestic and foreign tourists. It ranks as one of the top exotic destinations, boasting stunning beaches, awesome waterfalls, lush forests, and other exciting exploration sites for adventurous spirits. The weather is 90% ideal for exploring, surfing, tasting the best cuisines, and more.
Best things to do in Big Island
Where to stay in Big Island
For a stress-free and ultimate vacation on the Big Island, the foremost thing to do is find a great place to stay. Whether you want a single-family home or a condominium unit for you and your family, we’ve got you covered. The ocean-front properties are perfect for relaxing moments after a day of adventure around the island. If you’re going to explore both the east and west sides of the island, book a Big Island vacation rental in either Kailua-Kona or Keauhou.
Watch the spectacular nature in motion at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
This 21 square miles natural park is home to 2 active volcanos that allow spectators to experience how nature works. The world-famous Kilauea volcano has been actively spewing ash and steam since 2018 is a sight that you should not miss. After that, get a chance to stand on the rim of the Halema’uma’u volcano and witness the steaming crater. According to the island legend, it is the home of Pele, the fire goddess of Hawaii. End your tour at the Thurston Lava Tube, a 500 feet long, 20 feet high tunnel where you can see the marks of lava that volcanic eruptions left behind.
Go snorkeling on the waters of Kealakekua Bay
Kealakekua Bay is historically known as the place where Captain James Cook was killed during a skirmish with ancient islanders. Now, it is a much-sought snorkeling location because of the incredible coral reefs and schools of multi-colored tropical fish underneath. You can either book a snorkeling tour by boat or explore it on your own in a kayak.
Stargazing on Mauna Kea
Mauna Kea is the highest peak on Big Island. It is actually a dormant volcano that offers an unforgettable up-close experience of watching hundreds of stars. You have two options- stargazing at 14,000 feet summit or the visitor center at 10,000 feet. Don’t forget to wear thick clothes because it can be chilling up there, and take a picnic bag with hot coffee or cocoa to relish the one-of-a-kind experience. The Mauna Kea Observatory and its 13 high-end space telescopes collection can also be found there.
Hike to Papakolea Green Sand Beach
Located on the Big Island’s South West coast is the peculiar green sand Papakolea Beach. It is the perfect site for people who want to explore the geological oddity of the island. The hike cuts through the side of a cinder cone or Pu’u Mahana that erupted 50,000 years ago. The green sand of the beach is from the olivine, solid and heavy mineral from the lava that stayed on the beach, giving it a unique visual appeal. Swimming is at your own risk because of the strong surf on the shore, and picking the green sand is illegal.
Night diving with manta rays
Make your stay in Big Island magical by booking a night-time snorkeling/diving tour. You can watch and see them hunting for plankton to feed themselves. Guests are given a floating board with ultraviolet light that shines through the water, attracting the microscopic plankton while the manta rays scoop them right under you. Scuba diving with these graceful sea creatures is also possible.
Visit the coffee farms in Kona
Kona coffee is one of the best-tasting varieties in the world, so you cannot leave the island without exploring some of the 600 coffee farms in the area. Check the available tour packages to maximize your visit to the farms and local cafes. Get a blast in coffee tasting and shopping for different Kona coffee varieties around town.
One must-see place is the Kona Coffee Living History Farm, which allows visitors to experience the coffee growers’ life and traditional coffee farming during the 1920s and 30s. There are interpreters/performers wearing costumes who converse with people as they do their routine tasks, from coffee planting to concocting drinks.
Enjoy the sights from Waipi’o Valley Overlook
Waipi’o Valley is one of the incredible areas of Big Island but is tough to reach due to the steep cliffs on three sides, while approaching from the sea is also difficult because of strong waves. The twisting road to the valley can be accessed by foot or a car but is extremely challenging. Another option is getting a guided tour to the designated overlook. Up there, you can view the long black sand beach meeting the 1-mile wide Waipi’o Valley that cuts through Kohala Mountains. The view is unbelievable, which is why it was chosen by the producers of Waterworld as the setting for the movie. The valley is also home to the tallest waterfall, the 1,200 feet Hiilawe Falls and a lush landscape with hibiscus, orchids, ginger trees, and fruit trees.
Explore Hilo Town
If you love shopping and gastronomic experiences, the town of Hilo is a great place to explore. It is considered one of the prettiest towns of Hawaii, with plenty of restaurants, cafes, shops, and local markets. Year-round long, over 300 vendors gather downtown to sell handmade crafts, souvenir items, locally-grown produce, and more. Check out the dining options and enjoy the Aloha cuisines and locally-concocted drinks like the acai bowl, a smoothie with granola and fruits.
Swim under a waterfall
Big Island has lots of jaw-dropping waterfalls, but only a few of them are swimmable. For this purpose, you need to find a guided tour provider that will allow you to view a chain of waterfalls and take a dip where it is okay to swim.
Let the island adventures begin!