10 Best Things to Do on Hawaii’s Big Island

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Each of Hawaii’s islands offer travellers a different treasure to admire. Kauai provides the opportunity to trek amongst tropical forests. Oahu is home to buzzing cities and busy beaches. Whilst Hawaii’s iconic Big Island is known for adventure. The island is like a natural playground, housing a selection of different activities to captivate the interest of any traveller. From beautiful waterfalls to prehistoric volcanoes, here are the top things to do when visiting the Big Island of Hawaii.

1. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii’s Big Island is renowned for its abundance of volcanoes. Stop by the Volcanoes National Park and see Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, two of the Big Island’s active volcanoes. Visitors can get a closer look at various steam vents whilst driving along the Crater Rim. Also stop by the Jagger Museum for an in-depth, yet comprehensible, explanation of the volcanoes, along with an exclusive viewing point of the Halema’uma’u Crater.

Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii - Photo by Julien Millet on Unsplash (CC0)
Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii – Photo by Julien Millet on Unsplash (CC0)
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2. Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park

Puuhonua was originally a place of refuge for those whom had broken old Hawaiian law and had been sentenced to death. The national park is now the perfect spot to gain a deeper understanding of Hawaiian history, whilst surrounded by a tropical paradise. When visiting the Big Island stop by this national park and feel the emotional weight that is carried by this location.

Statues in Puuhonua, Hawaii - CC0 (Pixabay)
Statues in Puuhonua, Hawaii – CC0 (Pixabay)

3. Akaka Falls State Park

Hike among a lush tropical rainforest to the towering Akaka Falls, which stands at an impressive 442 feet, and is known as one of the island’s most beautiful falls.

The peak of the waterfall can be seen at the entrance to the hike, and when the path splits into a fork, it’s recommended to go straight, rather than turning left. This will lead travellers deep into the rainforest, through the colourful vegetation, above peaceful streams and past beautiful waterfalls. The hike will then continue past Akaka falls, providing open views of the surrounding landscape, and then loop back up to the starting point.

Akaka Falls State Park
Akaka Falls State Park
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4. Kona Coffee Farm

Kona Coffee is known to be one of the most expensive coffee in the world and is grown right here on Hawaii’s big island. The farm is located in Kona and is produced on a single estate, upon the slopes of Hualalai. Enjoy an in-depth tour of the farm’s facility and how the coffee makes the long journey from the farm, with free samples also provided in the fields. Before you leave stop by the farm’s gift shop to purchase some coffee for back home.

5. Punalu’u Beach – Black Sand Beach

Travellers feel like they are on another world when they step foot on Black Sand Beach. The black sand is comprised of basalt and is created as a result of lava flowing into the ocean. The unique contrast of the white, foaming water flowing along the dark sand is memorising, and the lush tropical plantation enclosing this spot can make it feel somewhat secluded. The overall atmosphere of this location quite spectacular, and shouldn’t be missed when staying in Hawaii.

Visitors also have a good chance of seeing a turtle at Punalu’u Beach. Due to the heat retaining ability of the sand, green sea turtles often come onto the beach to regulate their body temperature.

Turtles in Hawaii
Turtles in Hawaii

6. Hulihe’e Palace

Also located within the small city of Kona, the Hulihe’e Palace offers its guests an insight to the historical side of Hawaii. The lavish home is surrounded by lush, colourful greenery and open oceanic views. The home was originally constructed in 1838 and currently houses various artefacts and ornaments from a variety of Hawaiian royalty figures, including the first ruler of Hawaii, King Kamehameha.

Hulihe’e Palace, Hawaii
Photo © Sam Antonio |

7. Stargazing at the Maunakea Summit

The Big Island of Hawaii has some of the best spots in the world to view the stars. With an elevation of over 4000 meters, the summit of Maunakea is known to be one of the best locations to go stargazing. The dormant volcano is also the highest of any in the state. Being free from light pollution it’s an ideal location to get lost in the stars.

There are two locations to stop on the volcano. The first station, halfway up to the summit that any car can access. The second is on the summit, where the telescopes are situated. Although to reach this spot a four-wheel drive vehicle is required. Due to the high elevation, a stop to the visitor centre is recommended to allow the body to acclimatise.

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Stars at Maunakea - Photo by Matthew Hammond on Unsplash (CC0)
Stars at Maunakea – Photo by Matthew Hammond on Unsplash (CC0)

10. Take a Helicopter Tour

What better way to see the diverse landscapes of Hawaii than from above? Embark on a Big Island helicopter tour and enjoy views of sunken valleys, tropical rainforests and towering waterfalls that are like no other. Capture remarkable scenes such as mountain summits, ever-extending beaches and the Kilauea lava flow at the Volcanoes National Park.

The Big Island of Hawaii is home to a vast collection of treasures that continue to attract visitors of the Hawaiian Islands. With countless attractions, a historical background and a variety of tropical natural gems to explore, it’s no wonder this island is at the top of Hawaiian itineraries.

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8. Papakolea Beach – Green Sand Beach

Yet another different coloured beach! Papakolea Beach is renowned for its crystal green sand. The colour of the sand is due to it being rich with the mineral olivine. This material is a major component of Hawaiian lava. For those wishing to visit the secluded beach, travellers are required to trek 3 miles amongst lava fields. However, be sure to leave enough time before heading back as walking in the dark can be dangerous.

Papakolea Beach, Hawaii
Photo © Gerold Grotelueschen |

10. Hilo Farmer’s Markets

Located upon the eastern side of the big island, Hilo is well known for its farmer’s market. The markets run every day, with the biggest days on Wednesday and Saturday. Initially beginning with only 4 vendors, the Hilo Farmer’s Markets now includes over 200 vendors, all selling their fresh Hawaiian produce and handcrafted goods. Walking amongst this welcoming environment makes for an entertaining morning venture.

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Written by

Nicholas Hastie

Nicholas Hastie is a travel and health writer located in Brisbane, Australia. He is passionate about documenting his journeys through writing and photography. Nicholas enjoys sharing his travel stories online and encouraging others to travel and create unforgettable memories.

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