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Things to do in Big Island of Hawaii

Things to do in  Big Island of Hawaii

Welcome to Big Island of Hawaii

The Big Island of Hawaii provides visitors a true escape from daily life, whether you’re hunting for glowing lava, beaches, adventure, or tropical rain forests. Nature lovers find endless places to explore on the lush isle, from the peaks of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to the Waipio Valley. Become part of the local culture by dancing to Polynesian rhythms or dining on roasted pig at a Hawaiian luau. The Big Island brims with opportunities to discover new trails, find your own perfect beach for snorkeling, admire waterfalls, and savor Hawaiian sunsets with a fruity cocktail in hand.

Top 10 attractions in Big Island of Hawaii

#1

Mauna Kea Summit & Observatory

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Whether you’re a budding astrophysicist or just a fan of Big Bang Theory, take the opportunity while you’re on the Big Island to visit the Mauna Kea Summit and Observatory. At a lofty height of 13,796 ft (4,138 m) Mauna Kea is Hawaii's tallest mountain, and the summit is topped with astronomical observatories from around the world. The Visitor Information Station is at a lowly 9,300 ft (2,790 m) elevation, and from here a rugged hiking trail winds to the summit. It takes around five hours and you need to be fit and prepared for all kinds of weather conditions. The visitor center has interactive displays and videos, with interactive telescopes, talks and tours. It also runs escorted tours to the summit.More
#2

Kealakekua Bay

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For some of the best snorkeling on the Big Island, visit the protected waters of Kealakekua Bay. This remote area is also popular with hikers, who might come across the ruins of ancient temples and villages on their travels. Dolphins frolic in the bay, and the shore is dotted with the white obelisk commemorating the death of Captain James Cook here in 1779.More
#3

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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The mega attraction on the Big Island is Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii’s sole World Heritage Site. The volatile park’s centerpiece is Kilauea Volcano, which continues to blow its top and spout molten lava, ash and steam. Crater Rim Drive is a spectacular driving route, skirting the rim of the caldera, stopping at lookouts and taking you from rainforest to desert. The eerie and easily accessible Thurston Lava Tube is a long hollow cave-like formation, created by flowing lava. Another driving route to follow is the winding Chain of Craters Road along the slopes of the volcano to the coast, where lava has pooled from recent eruptions.More
#4

Honokohau Harbor

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Steep drop-offs beckon just off Kona’s coast, the dominion of pelagic beasts—marlin and billfish some topping 1,000 lbs. Most journeys to catch one begin the 262-slip marina at Honokohau Harbor, just before the entrance to Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park. Nearly all of Kailua-Kona’s fishermen, independent sportfish tour operators as well as charter boats departing for scuba sites and popular manta and dolphin snorkeling adventures dock and depart from Honokohau Harbor. The full-service marina also sports two noteworthy restaurants: Harbor House, a burger and beer joint with views of vessels from their open-air dining room, and Bite Me Fish Market Bar & Grill serving seafood delivered direct from the ocean to their door. ATMs, two full service restroom blocks with hot showers and a convenience store for snacks and sundries round out the facilities here.More
#5

Waipio Valley

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Forming a deep natural amphitheater, washed by the sea and waterfalls, the Big Island’s Waipi'o Valley is a natural wonderland of flowering rainforest and hiking trails. Cliffs thousands of feet high line the famously steep valley, and waterfalls course their way down to the valley floor. The curved black-sand beach here is reached by a steep route entering the valley, and lookouts give stupendous views from above. It’s a magical place, where battles were fought by Kamehameha the Great, and the site of temples and royal burial caves.More
#6

Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach

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Ever had black sand between your toes? Because of the constant volcanic activity, sand comes in a variety of colors in Hawaii. Along with white, you can also find green and black, the latter of which is found on the well-known Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. Located on the southeastern Kau coast, between Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the town of Naalehu, this beach should be on your list of places to visit when on the Big Island of Hawaii. The coastline is framed by coconut palms, but what is often found at the edge of the sand tends to steal all of the attention. Large honu, or Hawaiian green sea turtles, basking in the sun are a common sight here. Take as many pictures as you’d like, but be sure to stay a safe distance away. Swimming isn’t ideal here due to waves and currents. There is an area for picnics, so plan ahead and come prepared to enjoy lunch with a view. Don’t take any black sand from the beach—legend says that a curse will also go home with you.More
#7

Kailua Pier

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Kailua Pier is the northern bookend to most of Kailua-Kona’s restaurants, shops and bars, a stretch of concrete wide enough to host four-lanes of traffic (if it wasn’t closed off to cars). The historic pier was first built as a downtown fishing dock in 1900 and utilized rocks from deconstructed Hawaiian palace and fort walls, but today few boats moor here. Instead, the pier is mostly used for large events and festivals including the annual Kona Ironman World Championships, which starts and finishes at the pier, and the Kona International Billfish Tournament whose daily catches of sometimes-massive fish species including Pacific blue marlin are weighed from pier-side scales for all to see. On the pier’s northern side, a small beach fronting the King Kamehameha Marriott Hotel has public showers, restroom blocks and hosts community events such as the Kona International Surf Film Festival and the Kona Brewers’ Festival.More
#8

Rainbow Falls

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Rainbow Falls create a rare instance where a Hawaiian name and an English name actually mean the same thing. Known to Hawaiians as waianuenue, the name is a reference to the arcing rainbows that can be seen in the waterfall’s mist. The image, it seems, is a natural occurrence of such beauty and wonder that it transcends linguistic lines, and today the waterfall is one of the most popular attractions when visiting the town of Hilo. Only 50 yards from a paved parking lot in Wailuku River State Park, a large viewing area provides the best platform for gazing out at the falls. To see the waterfall’s namesake rainbow, visit the falls around 10 a.m. when the angle of light is just right. Behind the falls, a large cave forms the home of Hina—the mythological Hawaiian god who gave birth to the demigod Maui—and the turquoise pool and surrounding rain forest are the trademark photo of paradise.More
#9

Captain Cook Monument

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British explorer Captain James Cook met his death at Kealakekua Bay on February 14, 1779 perhaps due to a misunderstanding over the use of a boat. Today, a white obelisk marks the spot where he died, standing sentinel over the lush coast and its crystal-clear water. There’s great snorkeling from the coast’s black rock beaches, along with diving and kayaking.More
#10

Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku)

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Set inside of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Thurston Lava tube is the most accessible lava tube on the Big Island of Hawaii. Discovered in 1913 by newspaper publisher Lorrin Thurston, this dark recess is the result of subterranean lava which once flowed through this young section of earth. 400 years old and 600 feet long, the tube is now lit by electric lights to create an eerie glow for visitors who venture inside. On the 15-minute walk down towards the cave the dense rainforest surroundings make it hard to believe that magma ever flowed through here at all. Nevertheless, as you make your way down a set of metal stairs, the entrance to the tube stares at you like a black abyss in the jungle. Although the ceiling can be a little low at points, the walk through the tube is completely safe and is a surreal contrast to the foliage outside.More

Trip ideas

Recent reviews from experiences in Big Island of Hawaii

star-5
Well worth the Price
ShanTe, Jan 2021
Big Island in a Day: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, Sightseeing, History
A great tour if you are in Hawaii for a short time and want to see more stuff
star-5
Volcano man Scott rocks!
Paulette_W, Jan 2021
Big Island BIG Volcano Adventure from Kona: Small Group
The waterfalls were beautiful.
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Wonderful 12 hour Big Island Trip
Rebecca_S, Feb 2021
Small Group Waipio Valley and Waterfalls Adventure
I highly recommend this educational drive, jumping in the water near the waterfall, and the macadamia nut ice cream after the mild 4 wheel drive down into the valley with breathtaking views!
star-5
Enriching and fun!
Jim_S, Mar 2020
Big Island in a Day: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, Sightseeing, History
Along the way we learned about Hawaiian culture, history, and travel sites to see during our visit.
star-5
Awesome day
Andy H, Oct 2019
Hilo Shore Excursion: Volcanoes National Park, Rainbow Falls and Highlights
He managed to pack-in about five attractions for the price of one, and made them all fun.
star-4
Nice tour of the whole island
P1253FVpauls, Sep 2019
Hawaii Island Grand Circle Island Tour
This is a good way to see some of the highlights of the Big Island.
star-5
Enlightening, enjoyable!
Robert O, Aug 2018
Small Group Waipio Valley and Waterfalls Adventure
From a farm to waterfalls to the wonders of the beautiful valley we visited, the tour was very inclusive and was the highlight of our vacation!
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It was awesome! Should have done...
Kenneth W, Feb 2018
Big Island Spectacular Helicopter Tour
Should have done the waterfall landing otherwise it was great.
star-5
The crew was helpful and...
Robert L, Mar 2018
Wake Up With the Whales Cruise
Highly recommend this excursion if in Hawaii during the winter months.
star-5
Very easy to book tour. Staff at...
Deborah R, Jun 2017
Helicopter Lava and Rainforests Adventure from Hilo
Staff at Paradise Helicopters were friendly and helpful, explaining what to do, especially the safety briefing.
star-5
Great tour with professional and...
WINNIE W, Jan 2018
Small Group Big Island Twilight Volcano and Stargazing Tour
The tour covers nearly all must-see attractions in Big Island and the arrangement is good.
star-5
A brilliant day tour of the island
p00nam112, Oct 2019
Big Island in a Day: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, Sightseeing, History
I would recommend this amti evrryone who wants to see all parts of Hawaii.
star-5
This was by far the highlight of our...
Diane R, Jul 2017
Helicopter Lava and Rainforests Adventure from Hilo
put this on your list of things to do on the big island!
star-5
Harrison was a great guide! We loved...
Rachel B, Jul 2016
Hilo Chocolate and Waterfalls
We loved being able to see all the different crops being grown in Hawaii and most importantly swimming at the waterfall!
star-5
Jim C did a fantastic job and is...
Timothy A, May 2016
Hawaii Small-Group Volcano Experience with Lunch and Restaurant Dinner
It is a long day so be prepared but filled with so much to see and do well worth it.
star-5
This was worth every nickel, you see...
Robert D, Jan 2017
Experience Hawai'i Big Island Helicopter Flight from Kona
Mother Earth at it's best, and we got to see it up close
star-5
This was a very well done tour. I...
James C, May 2016
Hawaii Island Grand Circle Island Tour
I especially appreciate having been guided by a native Hawaiian who speaks both English and Hawaiian and knows a lot of the native culture of the islands.
star-5
This was fantastic! The most fun I...
610julieg, Jun 2016
9-Line Zip-N-Dip Experience
I loved the zipping, and dipping in the water falls was such a great way to finish the day.
star-5
Just what we wanted
Freedom716483, Oct 2019
Big Island in a Day: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, Sightseeing, History
The interesting volcano information was definitely a highlight and I thoroughly enjoyed the waterfalls and all the history as well.
star-5
Great trip! Smooth flight, lots to...
Michael K, Mar 2013
Experience Hawai'i Big Island Helicopter Flight from Kona
Smooth flight, lots to see and learn.

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