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  • Writer's pictureRose@WhereToGoTravelCo

What to do and see on The Big Island, Hawaii

Updated: Apr 21

Hawaii Island, aka "The Big Island," encompasses a particular type of beauty that no other place can compare to. It contains massively diverse climates that range from the snowy peaks of Maunakea to the sandy beaches of the Kohala Coast. As the youngest island, Hawaii Island has more black sand beaches than the other Hawaiian Islands.

The Big Island of Hawaii is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It's a place with diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and a lot of unique activities and attractions. Here are some things to do and see on the Big Island of Hawaii:

View of Kailua-Kona coast
View of Kailua-Kona coast, Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Heather Goodman

1- Visit Volcanoes National Park

No trip to the Big Island would be complete without exploring Volcanoes National Park. Start your day at the Visitors Center for updates from the highly knowledgeable park rangers. They'll tell you which trails to explore and update you on any new volcanic activity for the day. You'll want to check out Lava Tubes, a tunnel formed by a hardened surface of cooled lava. The popular Kilauea Iki Trail goes through a tropical rainforest and across Crater lava lake. The park itself holds two of the world’s most active volcanoes, including Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Needless to say, you could spend an entire day here exploring!

Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Heather Goodman / @hbgoodie

2- Explore the Beaches

The Big Island is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Hapuna Beach, Kauna'oa Bay, and Punalu'u Black Sand Beach are some of the most popular.

3- Night Diving with Manta Rays

Heading out after sunset, you'll boat to spots where Manta Rays love to gather. You can either snorkel (and view the Manta Rays from above) or dive (and watch them swim over your head). Either way, you'll get to view these huge majestic animals soar through the water as they feed on the plankton that are attracted to your lights. These magnificent creatures span from 3-15 feet across. It's an experience you'll be telling people about for years to come. You won't want to forget your underwater camera!

4- Stargaze the Starriest Skies in The World

While the Island of Hawaii doesn't have much nightlife in the sense of clubs and bars, that doesn't mean there is nothing to do! Light pollution on the island of Hawaii is pretty much non-existent, allowing the stars to shine brighter than you’ve ever seen before. The ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii has shows and presentations displaying the prior use of constellations in navigating the seas by Hawaiian wayfinders.

Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Anna Pacheco

5- Experience the Culture and Traditions

As gorgeous as the sights are, the stories and legends are indeed just as captivating. The authentic style of hula dancing is prevalent in Hawaii and is a form of storytelling. Authentic Hula is not just a performance; it is the sole culture and the rite of passage for Hawaiians. Some luxury hotels offer Hawaiian language lessons, feather art, lauhala, ukulele classes, and much more.

6- Visit a Kona Coffee Farm

Kona coffee is considered to be one of the best coffees in the world. The enriched volcanic soil and a perfect climate contribute to the lack of bitterness found in other coffees. Also, a lot of love goes into growing and harvesting Kona coffee beans. Many coffee farms hand-pick their cherries and delicately care for the process- from tree to cup. If you're a coffee drinker, you must tour a Kona coffee farm while you are on The Big Island! Check out Greenwell Coffee Farm and Hula Daddy's for great tours.

Check out the Kona Coffee Festival if you're really into coffee or happen to be there in November. You'll learn everything about what makes Kona Coffee special, participate in tastings, and fill your day with cultural activities.

7- Visit Waipio Valley

The valley is a lush, tropical paradise with a waterfall, a black sand beach, and a river that runs through it. You can take a hike or horseback ride to explore the area.

8- Check Out Akaka Falls State Park

The park has a beautiful waterfall and lush rainforest, with a short hike to get there.

9- Go On A Whale-Watching Tour

During the winter months, humpback whales migrate to Hawaii and can be seen from the coast of the Big Island. A whale-watching tour is a great way to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures.

10- Take A Scenic Drive

The Big Island has some of the most scenic drives in Hawaii, such as the Hilo-Hamakua Coast and the Kohala Coast.


Visit North Kohala

The gorgeous 60-acre plot is filled with fruit trees and pohaku (sacred stones). North Kohala is probably the best place to admire the vibrant green landscape of Hawaii. Many rent out bungalows and yurts to fully enjoy the full-on nature retreat.

Drive Through the Red Road

Also referred to as the Kapoho-Kalapana Road 137, this scenic route intercepts the solidified Kilauea lava flow. The quaint road takes you through lava fields, rainforests, black sand beaches, coconut groves, and more.

Grab Some Fine Hawaiian Dining

Imagine indulging yourself in the cavatelli pasta with house-made ricotta served with a glass of delicious white wine and creamy coconut milk ice cream for dessert. That’s what you’ll get and more with the award-winning chef Peter Merriman, known for highlighting Hawaiian staples in his cuisines.

Scout for Sea Turtles

There is prominent wildlife all around the shoreline. Turtles are fully protected by law in Hawaii; however, they are mesmerizing to gaze at as you sit on the shoreline in complete serenity.


Ready to go to Hawaii but not sure which island is right for you? You'll definitely want to check out this free Hawaii Travel Planning Guide.


Ready to plan the trip to the beautiful Island of Hawaii? Contact us today to kick-start the most memorable vacation yet!

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Overall, hiring us can make planning your Hawaii trip easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable, ensuring that you have a memorable and stress-free experience on the islands.

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Couple kayaks below Kulaniapia Falls. Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Heather Goodman


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