Things to do in

Big Island, Hawaii

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Top 10 things to do on the Big Island

On the island of Hawai’i, known by the locals as “The Big Island,” you can fly above flowing molten lava, stargaze atop Mauna Kea, and swim with manta rays at night. For the outdoor adventure-seeker, this is the ultimate Hawaii experience.

  • Mauna Kea summit

    1. Mauna Kea summit

    In Hawaiian, Mauna Kea means “White Mountain” named for its snow capped slopes. At 13,803 feet above sea level, this is the Hawaiian Islands’ highest peak. Stargaze atop Mauna Kea Summit and learn about the stars or join in a sunrise experience and watch the sun rise above the vast lava fields.

  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

    2. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

    Visit the Jaggar Museum and learn about the history of Hawaii’s many volcanic eruptions. Enjoy the day hiking through lava fields or take an alternative route by flying above by helicopter. See the glowing red of Kilauea volcano from a bird's eye view on a scenic flight tour.

  • Kealakekua Bay

    3. Kealakekua Bay

    Rent a kayak and head out to sea to Captain Cook’s Monument. This bay is home to local Hawaiian spinner dolphins and many other tropical fish endemic to Hawaii. As you kayak across the bay, take in the serene beauty of dolphins frolicking in the distance.

  • Waipio Valley Lookout

    4. Waipio Valley Lookout

    Located on the Hamakua Coast, the sacred Waipio Valley was the boyhood home of Hawaiian Royalty, King Kamehameha I. Journey to the end of the Hamakua Heritage Corridor to look out upon the “Valley of the Kings.” Marvel at the valley floor filled with taro farms, sprawling streams, an expansive black beach, and beautiful vistas.

  • Punalu’u Beach

    5. Punalu’u Beach

    Experience the feeling of sand between your toes at one of Hawaii’s most famous black sand beaches. The beach has black sand made of basalt, which is created when lava flows into the ocean and explodes as it cools. If you’re lucky, see Hawaiian green sea turtles come ashore to bask in the sun.

  • Papakolea Beach

    6. Papakolea Beach

    Escape on a hike through rugged terrain to access one of only four green sand beaches in the world. Marvel at this rare sight nestled inside Mauna Loa crater, one of Hawaii’s dormant volcanoes. Find grains of sand with shades of green across the color spectrum, made from green olivine crystals.

  • ‘Akaka Falls State Park

    7. ‘Akaka Falls State Park

    Located along the northeastern Hilo Coast, you can see two gorgeous waterfalls at Akaka Falls State Park. See an abundance of wild orchids, bamboo groves and draping ferns as you hike through the tropical rainforest on this easy to moderate hike. Follow the footpath leading to the iconic 400-foot waterfall known as ‘Akaka Falls.

  • Kohala Coast

    8. Kohala Coast

    In stark contrast to the Big Island’s miles of dark lava fields, the Kohala Coast is known for its lush green foliage and thousand foot waterfalls. Take in the sites by zipline, go tubing with Flumin’ Kohala, or take a scenic helicopter tour over startling sea cliffs.

  • Hapuna Beach State Park

    9. Hapuna Beach State Park

    Because the Big Island is one of the newest islands in the Hawaiian island chain, most of the beaches here are made of hardened lava rock. If you’re looking for an iconic white sand beach, Hapuna Beach is one of the Big Island’s best places to soak up the sun.

  • Kona Coffee

    10. Kona Coffee

    Explore the coffee farms just south of Kona to see how coffee is farmed, harvested, and roasted. Enjoy coffee tastings at many of the Kona Coffee farms throughout the region. Learn why Hawaii is known for some of the best coffee in the world.

Frequently asked questions about Big Island, Hawaii

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What people are saying about Big Island, Hawaii

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 1,114 reviews

It was easy to book. There was a little history that my husband and I enjoyed. There was a ceremony to "park" the boat that was beautiful. There was plenty of instruction for first time snorklers. It was beautiful. The ride out and back was beautiful. We had a pod of dolphins swim with us on our way back. Oh and the snacks were good too!

This was an amazing adventure. The crew were friendly and patient with my 8 year old. We saw Mantra Rays the whole time we were in the water and even saw a pod of bottle nose dolphins. I highly recommend this tour.

Marcus greatest us with a smile and was a wealth of information. All 10 of us had a great time! Eating a Milky Way and drinking hot chocolate while looking at the Milky Way was a nice touch.

Loved loved this activity. The crew was great, the views, the guests. In all, it was amazing. Crew is so friendly and fun.

Have a wonderful time with my family on the snorkeling experience. All 3 generations had a blast.