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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

Mauna Kea Summit & Observatory

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Visiting the Mauna Kea Summit and Observatories gives you the feeling of being on top of the world for good reason: You’re actually pretty close. Standing at 13,796 feet (4,138 meters), the mountain is Hawaii's tallest and the highlight of many visitors' trips to the Big Island of Hawaii. The Mauna Kea Observatories (MKO) feature some of the world's largest telescopes, including equipment from Canada, France, and the University of Hawaii, due to its designation as an unparalleled destination for stargazing.More
#2
Kealakekua Bay

Kealakekua Bay

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The marine sanctuary of Kealakekua Bay ranks among Hawaii’s most scenic spots for snorkeling, swimming, and hiking. The beautiful bay, home to spinner dolphins and backed by green mountain slopes, was the site where Captain James Cook landed—and was later killed—on the Big Island in 1779, forever altering the history and culture of the archipelago.More
#3
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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When you stand in front of spouting lava at Kilauea volcano, or marvel at steam as it rises from vents in Halemaumau Crater, it's easy to see that Hawaii Volcanoes National Park isn't just a national park, but also a place to get a front-row seat to the beauty of Earth's creation. Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, this park offers everything from lush rainforest to lava tubes and rolling black lava fields, where hot steam still rises from fissures and rifts that dot the rugged landscape.More
#4
Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach

Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach

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Hawaii’s volcanic activity creates a dynamic array of beaches ranging from soft white shores to the black pebbles of the Big Island’s Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach. But, travelers aren’t the only visitors to Punaluʻu; the area is known for the large green sea turtles (honu) that come out to bask along the black sand shoreline.More
#5
Kailua Pier

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. Aside from the beach, the best vantage forAhu’ena Heiau, a still-revered thatch-roof temple dedicated to Lono and dating to the early 19th century, is from Kailua Pier. Some say the temple is just 1/3 of its original size when built by Island-uniting King Kamehameha I. Because it is believed the monarch also died here, the site and its tiny man-made island remain sacred and off-limits to the public, despite being on the National Register of Historic Landmarks.More
#6
Waipio Valley

Waipio Valley

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Forming a deep natural amphitheater that’s washed by the sea and waterfalls, the Waipio Valley, on the Big Island of Hawaii, is a natural wonderland marked by rain forests and hiking trails. Cliffs thousands of feet high plunge to the valley floor, where a curved black-sand beach meets the sea.More
#7
Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

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One of the most popular waterfalls on the Big Island of Hawaii, Rainbow Falls is loved for its easy access and the rainbows that frequent the falls on misty mornings. The Wailuku River varies dramatically based on rain, but this 80-foot (24.4-meter) cascade wows viewers whether it is a thundering torrent or delicate trickle.More
#8
Captain Cook Monument

Captain Cook Monument

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British explorer Captain James Cook met his death at Kealakekua Bay on February 14, 1779, after a skirmish with the king of Hawaii in a local village. Today, a white obelisk in Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park stands sentinel over the lush coast and its crystal clear waters, commemorating his death.More
#9
Honokohau Harbor

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.Just behind the marina proper, a snaking road ends at a lava rock parking lot with a trail leading to a small beach with decent snorkeling and popular with area dog owners.More
#10
Saddle Road (Hawaii Route 200)

Saddle Road (Hawaii Route 200)

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Like a lonely ribbon of black asphalt across the Big Island’s empty bosom, Saddle Road (Hawaii Route 200) provides the fastest means of driving between Hilo and Kona. There was once a time when this remote stretch of highway was one of the worst roads in Hawaii, but substantial improvements and re-paving have made it accessible and open to cars.From Hilo, Saddle Road climbs through residential neighborhoods towards a lush, mist-soaked rainforest. The green of ferns is gradually replaced by the brown of desert scrub brush, and fog is common as the road climbs toward 6,600 feet in elevation. Passing between the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa—Hawaii’s dueling 13,000-foot mountains that are often snowcapped in winter—the road passes the turnoff for the Mauna Kea Visitor’s Center, where stargazers gather each evening.Cell phone service is spotty on Saddle Road, and for the entire duration of its 48-mile stretch there are no gas stations or supply shops. While Saddle Road can be a time-saving alternative for driving between Kona and Hilo, visitors need to make sure they’re prepared to traverse a remote stretch of island. The journey is one of the most beautifully desolate and adventurously rugged stretches of road in the state, and it’s a convenient way for Kona visitors to access the east side of the island.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.
star-5
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!
star-5
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.
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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!
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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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