Best Things To Do in Hawaii - The Big Island
Whether you're looking to come face to face with molten lava or kaleidoscopic sand, you won't have trouble finding ways to pass the time on the Big Island. From awe-inspiring volcanoes in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park to the photo-worthy Akaka Falls to the Eden-like Waipio Valley, the Big Island is full of natural wonders. In addition to the Big Island's hiking spots and popular beaches, there's also shopping: Swing by the Hilo Farmers Market for an eclectic mix of Hawaiian treats and crafts.
Updated November 16, 2018
- #1View all Photos...Read More »
Four months after closing due to intense and damaging volcanic activity, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park reopened in mid-September 2018. "The Volcano," as it were, loosely refers to two active volcanoes in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park; specifically, it's Kilauea that's the real must-see. A 4,000-foot-tall mountain, Kilauea has been spitting, spewing and oozing since Jan. 3, 1983 and in May 2018, it started erupting, forcing evacuations and destroying entire communities. Although the eruptions have stopped, Kilauea is still at the top of America's list of volcanoes to monitor.
- #2View all Photos...Read More »
A visit to Hilo's Akaka Falls State Park will entail a short, low-intensity hike in northeastern Hawai'i. Its payoff comes in the form of two consecutive waterfalls – cascading Kahuna Falls and the spectacular free-falling Akaka Falls, which earned the park its name.
- #3View all Photos...Read More »
Up until the early 19th century on Big Island, Hawaiians who broke the law could avoid a punishment of death by fleeing to a region of the west coast known as pu'uhonua, or "place of refuge," where they would be forgiven by an area priest. In present day, this place of refuge is a historical landmark preserved by the park service. It's also an extremely popular outing for Big Island vacationers, and the pictures make it easy to see why. Not only will you enjoy Pu'uhonua o Honaunau if you have a penchant for history and trivia, but it's also exploding with eye-catching temples, intricate ki'i (wood carvings) and plenty of the honu, (or Hawaiian green sea turtles) that live on the premises. And the breathtaking scenery, of course – the Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park is located near some of the best snorkeling beaches of Big Island.
- #4View all Photos...Read More »
Waipio Valley, translated as "curved water," is named for the river that runs through it, and it's a historically significant spot to the Hawaiian people. Situated along the Hamakua Coast on the island's northeastern side, it was once one of the most fertile valleys on the Big Island and home to an estimated 10,000 people when the navigator captain James Cook first arrived in 1778. It was also home to Kamehameha the Great and many other Hawaiian rulers, earning it the nickname "The Valley of the Kings."
- #5View all Photos...Read More »
Kaunaoa Beach is one of Big Island's most picturesque white sand beaches. So, most travelers recommend coming early (around 8:30 a.m.) to Kaunaoa to snag one of the too-few parking spots – and spending most of the day there.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Hawaii - The Big IslandShopping, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDShopping, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
Local farmers and artisans congregate each day to sell everything from produce to seafood, handicrafts to clothing in downtown Hilo. And most travelers agree there's no better place on the Big Island to sample local produce and purchase local crafts. Hilo Farmers Market sells some of everything, from the run-of-the-mill (like pineapples and bananas) to more unique items (like jaboticaba fruit or bongo drums), but you'll have to arrive early and you can't be afraid to bargain. You can also enjoy some poke and shaved ice while you browse.
- #7View all Photos...Read More »
One of the Kohala Coast's premier beaches, Anaehoomalu Beach is a favorite haunt for frequent Big Island visitors. Do as they do and call it "A-Bay" – that way you'll truly be in the know. You won't find too many locals on this massive stretch of salt and pepper sand, but you will have lots of opportunities to try some water sports, such as stand up paddle boarding and snorkeling, in the calm and clear water.
- #8View all Photos#8 in Hawaii - The Big IslandBeaches, Swimming/Pools, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Swimming/Pools, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
The deliberately named waters of Hapuna Beach – Hapuna means "spring of life" in Hawaiian – are probably the most loved on all of the Big Island. Both visitors and residents flock to this beach on the South Kohala coast, and encourage you to do the same. If you're not visiting for the soft-as-cotton sand, then you've probably come for the aquamarine water. And if you aren't enjoying the aquamarine water then you've probably come for the unbelievable sunsets.
- #9View all PhotosfreePapakolea Beach#9 in Hawaii - The Big IslandBeaches, Swimming/Pools, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Swimming/Pools, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
Putting Papakolea Beach on one's travel itinerary is not for the faint of heart. For one, its secluded location makes it tough to reach. Plus, there is little shade and nothing in the way of amenities, and it also experiences rough waters. But intrepid travelers brave the journey because they want to say they've visited one of the world's only green sand beaches.
- #10View all PhotosfreePunalu'u Beach#10 in Hawaii - The Big IslandBeaches, Swimming/Pools, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Swimming/Pools, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
Some say the waters here are too rough and rocky to really enjoy swimming, but that's not the real reason to visit Punalu'u, anyway. This beach in southern Hawai'i is ideal for its picture-taking potential. For one thing, the onyx-tinted sand here owes its unique hue to the ongoing volcanic activity of Kilauea in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. And for another, this beach is often visited by Honu (or Hawaiian green sea turtles) that like to swim to and sun on the shore. You might also catch a glimpse of a hawksbill sea turtle from time to time.
- #11View all Photos...Read More »
Snorkelers like to visit this remote bay on Hawaii's west coast for the tropical fish, sea turtles and Hawaiian Spinner dolphins that are plainly visible just below the calm, shallow water's surface. History junkies make the trek to Kealakekua for a different reason altogether.
Explore More of Hawaii - The Big Island
Holly JohnsonMarch 14, 2019
Will WalkeyMarch 12, 2019
Gwen PratesiMarch 11, 2019
Zach WatsonFebruary 5, 2019
Lyn MettlerFebruary 5, 2019
Will WalkeyFebruary 5, 2019
Erin ShieldsFebruary 5, 2019
Christine SmithFebruary 5, 2019
Zach WatsonJanuary 31, 2019