The Big Island is one of the world’s most epic destinations for outdoor enthusiasts. If you’re planning to visit soon, chances are you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the possibilities. Feel like spending the day snorkeling or relaxing by the beach? Or maybe you’re more in the mood to go on a day hike to see some of the world’s most incredible volcanoes. Whatever you’re in the mood for, the Big Island’s got it, so take your pick from these amazing things to do to start planning your Big Island adventures!
Things to do on the Big Island
Hawaii National Volcanoes Park
No trip to the Big Island would be complete without a stop at National Volcanoes Park.
Hawaii’s islands are in fact a chain of massive volcanoes and the Big Island is still growing with these lava flows and eruptions. Kilauea is the most active volcano on the Big Island, and it lies right at the heart of the national park. While here, take a hike on the recently solidified lavas, drive on the Crater rim, make your way in the beautiful Jurassic Park look-alike rain forests, and enjoy the sight of lava glow at night from the Jaggar Museum.
Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
Black sand beach, formed as a result of continuous volcanic eruptions, should be your first stop on the Big Island. Aside from the scenic beauty of black sand, this place is also home to the endangered Hawksbill Turtles and Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. While here, you can swim, hike or have a peaceful lunch at one of the nearby restaurants with killer views of the ocean.
Boasting crystal clear waters and diverse marine life under its waves, Kealakekua Bay is the go-to place for those wanting to have an unforgettable underwater experience.
This place is filled with colorful fish and coral reefs including spinner dolphins, and you can either book a boat tour or rent a kayak to go snorkeling. Also, if you want more of a resting experience, you can lie down on the picnic area and get tanned while enjoying Hawaii’s amazing drinks. If you have any luck, you can spot spinner dolphins and sea turtles in the bay.
Manta Ray Night Dive
If you don’t want the adventures to end as soon as the sun sets, you can book a night dive to swim along with manta rays as they hunt plankton.
Your tour will start from the harbor around sunset, and you’ll be taken to one of the feeding stations, where you’ll be in charge of attracting plankton with a light. In no time, you will see 12 ft. long manta rays swooping across the ocean with their mouth wide open to filter plankton into their stomach.
If you get tired of all the outdoor activities on offer, you can take time to relax and unwind while exploring the artsy scene of Holualoa Town. The town carries all the charisma of a small town with picturesque beauty and welcoming locals always ready to entertain you with long tales.
We also recommend taking a tour to Kona Coffee country to explore the scene, and if you happen to visit in December, don’t forget to join in the celebrations of the Holualoa Music and Light Festival to have a unique experience of a Hawaiian Christmas.
Akaka is the highest waterfall in Hawaii and its set 11 miles north of Hilo. To get here, you must hike for thirty minutes through the lush rainforest through wild orchids, bamboo groves, and draping ferns. The gigantic Akaka waterfall can be seen through various stops on your hike, but you will have the best view from above once you reach the end. As you follow the bends of the trails, you will also see Kahuna falls, somewhat smaller, but equally beautiful.
Papakolea Green Sand Beach
Being one of the only two green beaches of the United States, this one does separate itself from the other beautiful beaches of Hawaii.
Papakolea Green Sand Beach got its name from the green crystals of 49,000 years old cinders cones formed from Mauna Loa volcano. However, in reality, this green sand is mixed with black and white sand giving it a truly unique color. The hike to the beach is an exhausting 5-miles with no water or food stops and tremendous sunlight accompanying you all the way, but once you get there, it’s worth every drop of sweat!
Honomu Goat Dairy
Visit beautiful Nubian Goats and play with their baby goats. Sample a wide selection of goat milk caramels and fudge. They also offer a variety of souvenirs such as goat milk soaps, body and lip balms, Koa wood boxes and knives, and Kona Sea Salt harvested from 2,200 feet below the surface of the Pacific. Stop by and see us before or after visiting Akaka Falls. A very kid-friendly experience!
Mauna Kea Summit
At 13,796 feet, this peak offers an incredible view of lava, desert, the valley, and Mauna Loa.
More photos from our trip
Make sure to eat all the poke and all the snow cones!
And that’s our list of the best things to do on the Big Island. Have you ever visited? What are some other amazing activities and sights?