Things to do on Hawaii’s Big Island
Hawaii is a big place, your now wondering what to do on the Big Island. And with massive size comes massive opportunity for you to do whatever your heart desires—from the leisurely, to the adventurous, to a mix of both. On this tropical island, there’s simply no shortage of activities to help enhance the already-spectacular surroundings.
What to do on the Big Island
Hawaii is brimming with tons of Big Island Tours and activities. From Hawaii volcanoes to big island snorkeling adventures, you can find everything you need right here:
The Big Island is a volcanic island, and because of this, it makes for an explosive-good time. Of course, there’s so many things to do in the Big Island that you might be wondering where to start. If that’s the case, then thank your lucky stars that you’ve made it here—we have the expertise you show you the way around this paradise getaway. So stop beating yourself up trying to decide What to do on the Big Island!
From hours of relaxation on black sand beaches, to helicopter flights over notorious Mt. Kilauea, the Big Island offers an array of attractive destinations and compelling tours. That’s true whether you’re seeking something more leisurely or more adventurous. Even history fans will be glad to know that the largest of Hawaii’s islands boasts a number of intriguing landmarks, such as Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park. In short, the Big Island caters to any and all interests.
looking for a “textbook” trip to Hawaii will want to visit world-famous Volcanoes National Park for a look at the imposing Mount Kilauea - obviously topping our list of what to do on the Big Island. You’ll also want to hit up the beaches for fun in the sand and in the water—catch the rays, or catch the sights under the ocean waves while you swim, snorkel, surf, or dive. If you’d like some help, rest easy knowing that a variety of guided land, water, and air tours are available to take you through, under, or over the Big Island and/or the Pacific Ocean encircling it.
When you’re not actively “doing,” you’ll want to know what to do on the Big Island for relaxation. Try one of the Big Island’s lavish resorts, which will pamper and please you from morning to sunset. Many of them include access to local beaches and top-end golf courses, as well. Or, for a truly genuine Hawaiian experience, spend a night at a luau for plenty of food and dancing.
Things to do on the Big Island – Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Kilauea Volcano Adventure
Starting At: $186
Set out for Hawaii’s famous volcanoes on this tour of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This inspiring landmark contains Mount Kilauea, one of the most famous and active volcanoes in the world.
A logical place to start when deciding what to do on the Big Island, is a visit to the island is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Here, you can see both Kilauea and Mauna Loa, and learn about the island’s geological past and present at the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum. More than that, along the park’s 150 miles of hiking trails, you can check out a stunning variety of rare, indigenous flora and fauna, such as honeycreepers, nenes (i.e., Hawaiian geese), ‘ohi‘a lehua, hapuu, and wawae‘iole. Or, for those who are more inclined to drive, there’s nothing quite like the ten-and-a-half-mile route around the Kilauea Caldera. On this path you’ll be able to stop at the Kilauea and Kilauea Iki Crater overlooks, see the hissing Puu Oo vent, and walk through the Thurston Lava Tube, a half-century-old cave with a tropical rainforest on the other side!
What to do on the Big Island – Waterfalls of Wailuku State Park
Still wondering what to do on the Big Island? Another natural attraction on Hawaii are its waterfalls. Wailuku River State Park to the north of Hilo is home to several jaw-dropping cascades, including the 80-ft.-tall Rainbow Falls, which flows over a natural lava cave that’s supposedly the home of the mythical goddess, Hina. A little more than a mile upstream is Pe‘epe‘e Falls and Boiling Pots. Water plunges from the former and then rushes over a series of old lava rocks and tubes to create to create bubbles, as though the water were being heated. ‘Akaka State Falls Park is another place to check out the Big Island’s legendary collection of waterfalls. Here, you can find the remarkable ‘Akaka Falls, a 422-ft. plunge that stands amidst a forest of tropical vegetation, as well as Kahuna Falls, located nearby. Finally, you absolutely must see Hiilawe Falls, which is a mind-blowing 1,300-ft.-tall! It is located at the end of Waipio Valley, and is best visited on a guided hiking or helicopter tour.
What to do on the Big Island – Beaches
Maybe you wondering what to do on the Big Island with kids. After so much sightseeing, you’ll need to relax—and there’s no better place than on the many beaches of the Big Island. Punaluu Black Sand Beach is close to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and is an excellent place to experience black sand if you never have before. Moreover, it offers the opportunity to spot the legendary, rare Hawaiian green sea turtle, known locally as honu; honu are also frequently spotted at Kahaluu Beach in Kona. In contrast to the black sands of Punaluu, Hapuna Beach is known for its white sands. Indeed, it is the largest white sand beach on the entire island. Here you’ll find ideal conditions for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. One final recommendation is Kaunaoa Beach, a crescent-shaped strip of powdery, fine sand and clear, glassy sea. Coral reefs are located on both ends of the cove, too, making for some world-class snorkeling.
What to do on the Big Island – Sightseeing
Once you’ve gotten some rest by lying on the Big Island’s beaches, it’s time to explore its many historical sites. One noteworthy spot is Kailua-Kona, where Hulihee Palace and Mokua‘ikaua Church are located. The palace was constructed in 1838 as a summer lodging for Hawaiian royalty; it now features well-preserved artifacts from the reign of King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani, as well as centuries-old Koa wood furniture. Meanwhile, founded in 1820, Mokua‘ikaua Church is the oldest Christian church on the Hawaiian Islands, also composed of Koa wood, and stones taken from an ancient Hawaiian temple. Visits to these locations should be on your what to do on the Big Island list… for sure.
If you are a history buff looking for what to do on the Big Island, another cool place to visit is Kealakekua Bay, where Captain James Cook of Great Britain first arrived in Hawaii. It was here, too, that he was killed during a skirmish with locals, commemorated by a white obelisk on the bay. For a little different flavor, check out Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, where you can find out about native Hawaiian culture by exploring this city of refuge, where law-breakers once fled in order to escape their captors. Here you can find Hawaii’s own Great Wall, which is 10-ft.-tall and 17-ft.-thick, a couple ancient temples or heiau, and a variety of centuries-old fishponds.
While that may seem like a lot, it’s just a sampling of what to do on the Big Island. Hawaii is the place for natural and cultural attractions and activities. So as you begin to prepare for your vacation here, be sure to plan carefully and give yourself time.
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