35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

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35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

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I have been to the Big Island multiple times and it is one of my favorite islands in all of Hawaii. From eating at Ken’s pancake house in Hilo to hiking the Kilauea Iki trail the diverse range of things to do is incredible.

Many ask me about the best things to do on the Big Island and rattling off a list of 35 things is beyond my onboard memory capabilities 🙂 here it is in written form. If you know of one not listed let me know in the comments, always looking to keep it fresh and up to date.

Regarding natural beauty and exciting adventures, the Big Island of Hawaii has it all. From stunning landscapes to unique wildlife encounters, this tropical paradise offers a wide range of activities for every traveler.

Strap on your adventure boots and get ready for an unforgettable journey!

Visit Mauna Kea And Mauna Loa

Visiting Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are some of the best things to do on the Big Island

If you’re seeking a breathtaking view, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are must-visit destinations. Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano, boasts the highest peak in Hawaii. You can take a guided tour to witness a mesmerizing sunset and stargaze at the Mauna Kea Observatory. While Mauna Loa, one of the world’s most massive volcanoes, offers scenic hikes and an opportunity to explore its unique geology.

Tip: Bring warm clothing when visiting Mauna Kea, as temperatures can drop significantly at high altitudes.

Nearby Hotel: Volcano House

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This 5-star tour company will pick you up and bring you to the summit of Mauna Kea for free night sky photos.

Swim With Manta Rays

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

For an exhilarating underwater experience, swimming with manta rays is an absolute must. Head to the Kona coast, where you can join a nighttime snorkeling or scuba diving tour to encounter these gentle giants up close. Watching them gracefully glide through the water is an awe-inspiring sight you won’t want to miss.

Tip: Opt for a tour emphasizing responsible wildlife interaction and promoting conservation efforts.

Nearby Hotel: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

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Swimming with Manta Rays is one thing, but being able to take an evening/night swim is a completely different experience; book your tickets for a night Manta swim here with this company.

Visit ‘Akaka Falls

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Prepare to be captivated by the beauty of ‘Akaka Falls, one of Hawaii’s most stunning waterfalls. Located in ‘Akaka Falls State Park, this cascading waterfall plunges 442 feet into a lush gorge. Take a leisurely hike through the park’s rainforest trails and witness the power and majesty of this natural wonder.

Tip: Don’t forget your camera to capture the magic of ‘Akaka Falls.

Nearby Hotel: Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

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Looking for a full day of adventuring? you need to pick this company for your tour of Akaka falls, Mauna Kea, and Volcanoes National Park.

Go Ziplining Over A Waterfall

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Looking for an adrenaline rush? Experience the thrill of ziplining over cascading waterfalls and lush landscapes. Several tour companies offer zipline adventures on the Big Island, providing a unique perspective of the island’s beauty while satisfying your adventurous spirit.

Tip: Check the weight and age restrictions before booking your ziplining adventure.

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Ziplining is an amazing experience, but have you done it over a waterfall? You need to pick this 5-star company as your choice for ziplining tours.

Go Snorkeling At Captain Cook Monument

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Immerse yourself in the vibrant marine life of the Big Island by snorkeling at the Captain Cook Monument. Located in Kealakekua Bay, this underwater paradise offers crystal-clear waters, colorful coral reefs, and an abundance of tropical fish. Rent snorkeling gear or join a guided tour to explore this mesmerizing underwater world.

Tip: Respect the delicate marine ecosystem and avoid touching or damaging the coral reefs.

Nearby Hotel: Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay

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Captain Cook Monument and Kealakekua Bay offer unbeatable ocean and island sights, book your tour of these places here.

Visit The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

No trip to the Big Island is complete without visiting the iconic Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Witness the raw power of nature as you explore the Kīlauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes. Marvel at the lava tubes, hike through the otherworldly landscapes, and even catch a glimpse of the active lava flows if conditions permit.

Tip: Stay informed about volcanic activity and any safety guidelines before visiting the park.

Nearby Hotel: Volcano House

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Looking for an amazing tour of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park? Book with my top tour company pick here.

Tour The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Escape into a lush oasis of tropical flora and fauna at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens. Located near Hilo, this botanical paradise spans over 40 acres and showcases a diverse collection of exotic plants, colorful blooms, and picturesque waterfalls. Take your time to stroll through the gardens and revel in the serenity of nature.

Tip: Bring insect repellent to ward off any pesky mosquitoes or bugs.

Nearby Hotel: Hilo Seaside Hotel

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Visit Waipi’o Valley

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Step into a postcard-worthy scene at Waipi’o Valley, often called the “Valley of the Kings.” This lush, remote valley is known for its cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and black sand beach. Take a guided tour or embark on a challenging hike to the valley floor for an unforgettable experience. Access to this stunning valley is only possible through a tour, make sure to use my top pick below.

Tip: Use caution when driving down the steep road leading to the valley, or opt for a guided tour instead.

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Cruise along the heights of Waipi’o Valley via helicopter with my top pick here.

Experience A Black Sand Beach

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

The Big Island is famous for its unique black sand beaches, and visiting one is an absolute must. Punalu’u Beach, located on the southeastern coast, offers a striking contrast between the jet-black sand and the turquoise waters. Take a stroll along the beach, soak up the sun, and keep an eye out for endangered Hawaiian green sea turtles, known as honu, which often bask on the shore.

Tip: Respect the wildlife and maintain a safe distance from the sea turtles.

Nearby Hotel: Sea Mountain

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If you’re looking to relax on a black sand beach and explore more of the island but don’t know where to start, you need to book here.

Visit Rainbow Falls

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Prepare to be enchanted by the beauty of Rainbow Falls, a majestic waterfall located just a short drive from Hilo. Named for the rainbows that often form in the mist, this 80-foot waterfall is surrounded by lush greenery, making it a photographer’s dream. Capture the perfect shot and embrace the tranquility of this natural wonder.

Tip: Visit early in the morning to avoid crowds and witness the sunlight illuminating the waterfall.

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Rainbow Falls is a location you don’t want to miss when visiting the Islands, make sure you book your tour of Rainbow Falls with this highly-rated company.

Tour Hilo’s Scenic Forest Roads

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Embark on a scenic drive along Hilo’s lush forest roads for a serene and picturesque journey. On your drive, you’ll encounter beautiful botanical gardens, stunning waterfalls, and breathtaking vistas. Take your time to explore and immerse yourself in the natural beauty that surrounds you.

Tip: Keep an eye out for signs and pullouts to safely admire the views and take photos.

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If you want to elevate your Hilo experience, take a private driving tour of this part of the island; book your tickets before they sell out here.

Learn How To Scuba Dive

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

The Big Island offers incredible diving opportunities for both beginners and experienced divers. Explore vibrant coral reefs, encounter colorful marine life, and even dive alongside manta rays. Sign up for a scuba diving course or join a guided tour to discover the wonders of the underwater world surrounding the island.

Tip: Ensure you are properly certified and choose a reputable dive operator for a safe and enjoyable experience.

Nearby Hotel: Royal Kona Resort

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Do you want to scuba with turtles and other Hawaiian wildlife? You need to book with this company.

Tour The Kaumana Caves

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Delve into the fascinating lava tubes of the Kaumana Caves, located just a short drive from Hilo. These natural caves were formed by lava flows and offer a unique underground adventure. Equipped with sturdy shoes and flashlights, explore the dark passages and marvel at the geological wonders within.

Tip: Exercise caution while exploring the caves, as the terrain can be uneven and slippery.

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Book with this company if you want to visit all the volcanic creations and lush forests of the Big Island.

Visit Pahoa

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Venture to the charming town of Pahoa, located on the eastern side of the island. Known for its eclectic atmosphere, Pahoa offers an array of local boutiques, art galleries, and delicious eateries. Explore the vibrant streets, soak in the laid-back ambiance, and experience the unique spirit of this colorful community.

Tip: Check out the Pahoa Farmers Market for fresh produce, local crafts, and mouthwatering treats.

Nearby Hotel: Aloha Crater Lodge and Lava Tube

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Pahoa was almost erased from the map due to lava flows, visit this historical location and quaint town with this company.

Take A Scenic Tour Up The Hamakua Coast

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Embark on a scenic drive along the Hamakua Coast, a stretch of coastline that showcases some of the island’s most breathtaking views. Wind your way through lush rainforests, pass cascading waterfalls, and enjoy panoramic vistas of the dramatic coastline. Don’t forget to stop at scenic lookout points to capture the beauty of this picturesque route.

Tip: Pack some snacks and beverages for a memorable picnic at one of the scenic stops along the coast.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Book a helicopter tour of the entirety of Hamakua Coast and Kohala with this 5-star company.

Learn How To Surf On The Big Island

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

If you’ve ever dreamed of riding the waves, the Big Island is an excellent place to learn how to surf. With its consistent swells and surf-friendly beaches, you’ll find plenty of surf schools and instructors ready to teach you the basics. Head to popular surf spots like Kahalu’u Beach Park or Honoli’i Beach Park, where you can catch your first wave and experience the thrill of surfing.

Tip: Start with a beginner-friendly surf lesson to learn proper techniques and ensure your safety in the water.

Nearby Hotel: Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel

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This tour company provides small group surfing lessons so you can make the most out of your time and money.

Visit The Chain Of Craters Road

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

For a scenic drive filled with geological wonders, make sure to explore the Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This 20-mile road winds through the park, offering breathtaking views of volcanic craters, lava fields, and rugged coastline. Witness the evidence of past volcanic activity and be amazed by the ever-changing landscape.

Tip: Check the park’s current conditions and any road closures before embarking on the Chain of Craters Road.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

This tour company truly has everything you can ask for; along with its many other locations, they also go through the Chain of Craters Road.

Go On A Kona Coffee Tour

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Indulge in the rich flavors of Kona coffee by taking a tour of a coffee farm. The fertile volcanic soil of the Kona region produces some of the world’s most renowned coffee. Learn about the coffee-growing process, from bean to cup, and savor a freshly brewed cup of this flavorful beverage while enjoying the beautiful plantation surroundings.

Tip: Book a tour in advance to ensure availability and to fully appreciate the history and artistry behind Kona coffee.

Nearby Hotel: Holualoa Inn

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Visit Greenwell Farms along the way with your island-wide tour with this 5-star company.

Go stargazing On Mauna Kea

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Mauna Kea’s summit is not only a fantastic spot for daytime activities but also a renowned location for stargazing. Its high elevation, clear skies, and minimal light pollution create optimal conditions for observing the night sky. Join a guided stargazing tour or visit the Visitor Information Station for a memorable celestial experience.

Tip: Dress warmly and bring blankets, as temperatures at the summit can be chilly.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

See the Milky Way and get professional photos taken while on your tour of Mauna Kea with this professional tour company

Visit Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island
Photo Courtesy of University Of Hawaii Hilo

Immerse yourself in the tropical wonders of the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo, located just outside of Hilo. As the only natural tropical rainforest zoo in the United States, it offers a unique opportunity to see a variety of animals, including endangered species, in their lush, natural habitats. Take a stroll through the zoo and enjoy the educational exhibits and wildlife encounters.

Tip: Check the zoo’s website for feeding times and special events to make the most of your visit.

Nearby Hotel: Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton

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Hike The Kilauea Iki Crater Trail

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Embark on a captivating hiking adventure on the Kilauea Iki Crater Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This unique trail takes you across the floor of a dormant volcanic crater, offering awe-inspiring views of the surrounding landscape. Witness the remnants of past lava flows, steam vents, and the lush rainforest that has reclaimed the crater.

Tip: Wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water for this moderately challenging hike.

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See Petrified Trees At The Lava Trees State Park In Puna

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Discover a fascinating sight at Lava Trees State Park in Puna, where lava flows once surrounded and molded living trees, leaving behind hollow, lava-covered molds. These petrified trees stand as silent witnesses to the power of volcanic activity. Take a stroll through the park’s trails and marvel at this unique natural phenomenon.

Tip: Combine your visit to Lava Trees State Park with a trip to nearby Kapoho Tide Pools for snorkeling and swimming adventures.

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Experience Lava Trees State Park in all its natural glory with my pick for tour companies, book here.

Tour Coconut Island

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Located just off the coast of Hilo, Coconut Island (Moku Ola) is a small, picturesque island that offers a peaceful retreat. Cross the footbridge to reach this idyllic spot, where you can relax on the beach, go for a swim, or simply enjoy a leisurely walk along the shoreline. With its serene atmosphere and beautiful views of Hilo Bay, Coconut Island is a hidden gem worth exploring.

Tip: Pack a picnic and enjoy a tranquil lunch on the island while taking in the surrounding natural beauty.

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If Kayaking is your thing, then you need to check out this tour company as they provide a kayaking tour of Coconut Island.

See Historical Hawaiian Sights At Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Step back in time and immerse yourself in Hawaiian history at Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park. This sacred site was once a place of refuge for those seeking forgiveness for breaking ancient Hawaiian laws. Explore the extensive grounds, visit the restored temples, and learn about the rich cultural heritage of the Hawaiian people.

Tip: Join a guided tour or attend cultural demonstrations to gain a deeper understanding of the site’s significance.

Nearby Hotel: Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay

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Visit The Boiling Pots

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island
Photo Courtesy of University Of Hawaii Hilo

Located in the Wailuku River State Park, the Boiling Pots is a series of natural rock formations that create captivating whirlpools and cascading waterfalls. Take a short hike to reach this scenic spot, where you can witness the power and beauty of the rushing water. The swirling pools and bubbling cauldrons make for a mesmerizing sight.

Tip: Exercise caution and follow safety guidelines, as the currents can be strong in some areas.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Snorkel At Kealakekua Bay

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island
Photo Courtesy of GoHawaii.com

Kealakekua Bay, located on the Kona coast, is a haven for snorkelers and marine enthusiasts. With crystal-clear waters teeming with colorful fish, coral reefs, and an abundance of marine life, it offers an unforgettable underwater experience. Join a guided snorkeling tour or rent your gear to explore the vibrant reefs and perhaps even spot dolphins or sea turtles.

Tip: Respect the marine environment and refrain from touching or damaging the coral and marine life.

Nearby Hotel: Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay

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Snorkeling Kealakekua Bay is an exciting way to experience Hawaii’s lush reefs and abundant fish species, book your tour here.

Tour The World’s First Octopus Farm

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

For a unique and educational experience, visit the world’s first octopus farm, located in Kailua-Kona. Take a guided tour and learn about the fascinating lifecycle of these intelligent creatures, their behavior, and conservation efforts. Get up close and personal with these incredible animals and gain a newfound appreciation for their complexity.

Tip: Check the farm’s visiting hours and book your tour in advance.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Go Cliff Jumping At South Point Cliff Jump

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

For the thrill-seekers out there, head to South Point (Ka Lae), the southernmost point of the United States, and take a leap of faith by cliff-jumping into the clear blue waters below. This adrenaline-pumping activity offers an exhilarating experience amidst stunning coastal views. Be sure to assess the conditions, and safety measures, and take necessary precautions before attempting any jumps.

Tip: Only cliff jump if you are an experienced swimmer and confident in your abilities.

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Tour Hulihe’e Palace

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Discover Hawaiian royalty and history by visiting Hulihe’e Palace in Kailua-Kona. This beautifully restored palace was once a summer vacation home for Hawaiian royalty and showcases exquisite artifacts, furniture, and artwork from the era. Take a guided tour to learn about the palace’s significance and gain insight into the lives of Hawaiian monarchs.

Tip: Check the palace’s opening hours and guided tour schedules in advance.

Nearby Hotel: Royal Kona Resort

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Visit Pololu Valley

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Pololu Valley, located on the northern tip of the island, offers a breathtakingly rugged and dramatic landscape. Hike down the trail that winds through lush vegetation, and you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of towering cliffs, black sand beach, and crashing waves. The raw beauty of Pololu Valley makes it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts.

Tip: Wear sturdy shoes for the hike and bring water and snacks for the journey.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

Take A Big Island Helicopter Tour

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

For a truly awe-inspiring experience, take to the skies on a helicopter tour of the Big Island. Soar above the majestic volcanoes, lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and breathtaking coastlines. From the unique vantage point of a helicopter, you’ll witness the island’s diverse landscapes and natural wonders in all their glory.

Tip: Choose a reputable helicopter tour company that prioritizes safety and offers knowledgeable guides.

Click Here For Recent Trip Advisor Reviews

A helicopter is the #1 way to experience Hawaii, the bird’s eye view of everything is unbeatable; book your tour with this 5-star company.

Visit Kaunaoa Beach (Mauna Kea Beach)

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Kaunaoa Beach, also known as Mauna Kea Beach, is often ranked among the world’s most beautiful beaches. Located on the Kohala Coast, this pristine white sand beach offers crystal-clear turquoise waters and fantastic snorkeling opportunities. Relax on the soft sand, swim in the calm waters, or snorkel alongside tropical fish in the vibrant coral reefs.

Tip: Arrive early in the morning to secure a parking spot, as it tends to get crowded later in the day.

Nearby Hotel: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

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Visit Anaehoomalu Beach

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Anaehoomalu Beach, commonly known as A-Bay, is a picturesque crescent-shaped beach situated along the Kohala Coast. With its golden sand, swaying palm trees, and calm waters, it’s an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. Rent a kayak, paddleboard, or snorkeling gear to explore the pristine bay and discover the vibrant marine life.

Tip: Stay for the breathtaking sunset views and capture memorable photos.

Nearby Hotel: Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

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Explore the beauty of Anaehoomalu Beach with a glass-bottom boating tour with this 5-star company.

Go Snorkeling At Hapuna Beach State Park

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

Hapuna Beach State Park is another renowned destination for snorkeling on the Big Island. The crystal-clear waters, colorful coral reefs, and abundant marine life make it a snorkeler’s paradise. Swim among schools of tropical fish, spot sea turtles, and marvel at the underwater beauty of this stunning beach park.

Tip: Check the ocean conditions and only snorkel when the waters are calm for optimal visibility and safety.

Nearby Hotel: Hapuna Beach Resort

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Go On A Whale Watching Tour

35 Best Things To Do On The Big Island

If you’re visiting the Big Island between December and April, don’t miss the opportunity to go on a whale-watching tour. Witness the magnificent humpback whales as they migrate to the warm Hawaiian waters to mate and give birth. Experienced guides will provide insights into these majestic creatures, making for a truly unforgettable experience.

Tip: Book a whale-watching tour with a reputable operator for the best chances of sightings.

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Witness these majestic creatures with a small group of people via boat. This tour company is the best choice you can make.

So is that enough for you? I hope you are not staying for only a couple of days, or maybe you plan to return soon, even better. Let me know your favorites in the comments below.

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