21 Things to Do Around the Big Island, Hawaii | Two residents share their favorite things to do

Hey there! Are you planning a trip to the Big Island, Hawaii? Well, you’re in for a treat because we’ve got a list of 21 amazing things for you to do during your vacation. In this article, we’ll be sharing our favorite activities and places to visit on the island. From snorkeling with manta rays to exploring lava tubes in Volcanoes National Park, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. We’ll provide you with all the details and tips you need to make the most out of your trip. So, sit back, relax, and let us be your guides to the wonders of the Big Island.

The Big Island of Hawaii is known for its stunning landscapes, rich history, and unique attractions. With so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to plan your itinerary. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll take you on a virtual tour of the island, sharing our favorite spots and activities along the way. Whether you’re a nature lover, adventure enthusiast, or beach bum, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So grab a pen and paper, because you’re going to want to take notes on these incredible things to do around the Big Island of Hawaii. Let’s get started!

21 Things to Do Around the Big Island, Hawaii | Two residents share their favorite things to do

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Things to Do in Kailua-Kona

Located on the western coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, Kailua-Kona is a vibrant and picturesque town known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and diverse marine life. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker, nature lover, or simply looking to relax and unwind, Kailua-Kona offers an array of activities to suit every taste.

1. Outrigger Canoeing in Kamakahonu Bay

One of the must-do activities in Kailua-Kona is outrigger canoeing in Kamakahonu Bay. Hop on a traditional outrigger canoe and paddle your way through the calm waters of the bay, surrounded by breathtaking views of the coastline. As you paddle, you’ll feel a deep connection to the ocean and the rich history of the Hawaiian people, who used outrigger canoes for transportation and fishing in ancient times. This activity is not only fun and exciting, but it also offers a unique cultural experience that shouldn’t be missed.

2. Manta Ray Night Snorkel Tour

Another incredible experience in Kailua-Kona is a manta ray night snorkel tour. Imagine venturing out into the dark waters of the Pacific Ocean, wearing a snorkel mask, and swimming with these majestic creatures under the moonlit sky. As you float on the surface of the water, manta rays gracefully glide beneath you, their massive wingspan creating a truly awe-inspiring sight. This tour is not only a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with marine life, but it also supports conservation efforts to protect these beautiful animals.

3. Kona Coffee Tasting

No visit to Kailua-Kona is complete without indulging in the rich and flavorful Kona coffee. Known for its smooth taste and unique flavor profile, Kona coffee is famous worldwide. Take a tour of a local coffee farm and learn about the cultivation and processing of this beloved beverage. Afterward, sample a variety of coffee blends and discover your personal favorite. Whether you prefer a bold dark roast or a mellow medium roast, the coffee tasting experience in Kailua-Kona is sure to delight your taste buds and leave you craving more.

Things to Do in Kohala

Located on the northern tip of the Big Island, Kohala is a region characterized by lush green landscapes, rugged cliffs, and an abundance of natural beauty. From ancient temples to thrilling zipline tours, Kohala offers a plethora of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy.

4. Visit the Heiau Temple

Immerse yourself in Hawaiian history by visiting the Heiau Temple in Kohala. These ancient temples served as places of worship and cultural significance for the native Hawaiian people. Explore the ruins and learn about the customs and rituals performed at these sacred sites. As you walk through the temple grounds, you’ll feel a sense of reverence and wonder, connecting with the spirit of the Hawaiian culture that has been preserved here for centuries.

5. Octopus Farm Visit

For a truly unique experience, consider visiting an octopus farm in Kohala. Discover the fascinating world of these intelligent and elusive creatures as you observe them up close in their natural habitat. Learn about their behavior, feeding habits, and the importance of octopuses in maintaining the delicate balance of the marine ecosystem. This interactive and educational experience is not only enjoyable, but it also fosters a deeper appreciation and understanding of the marine life that inhabits the waters surrounding the Big Island.

6. Umauma Falls Zipline Tour

If you’re an adrenaline junkie seeking an exhilarating adventure, look no further than the Umauma Falls zipline tour in Kohala. Soar through the air as you zip across the lush tropical forests, taking in breathtaking views of cascading waterfalls, vibrant foliage, and the sparkling ocean in the distance. Feel the rush of adrenaline as you conquer each zipline and walk away with memories that will last a lifetime. This zipline tour is suitable for all skill levels, making it a perfect activity for families, friends, or thrill-seeking solo travelers.

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Things to Do in Hilo

On the eastern coast of the Big Island lies Hilo, a vibrant town renowned for its lush rainforests, stunning waterfalls, and volcanic landscapes. Whether you’re exploring the natural wonders of Hawaii or immersing yourself in its cultural heritage, Hilo offers an array of activities to captivate your senses.

7. Akaka Falls Hike

Embark on a scenic hike through the lush rainforest of Hilo to reach Akaka Falls, one of the most breathtaking waterfalls on the Big Island. As you navigate the well-maintained trail, you’ll be surrounded by towering trees, vibrant tropical flowers, and the melodious sounds of native birds. The highlight of the hike is reaching Akaka Falls, where you can marvel at the sheer power and beauty of the cascading waterfall. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture this awe-inspiring natural wonder.

8. Thurston Lava Tube

Venture underground and explore the fascinating Thurston Lava Tube, an ancient volcanic tunnel formed by flowing lava. As you walk through the dimly lit tunnel, you’ll be in awe of the unique geological formations created by the lava, such as stalactites and stalagmites. The cool and eerie atmosphere of the lava tube provides a stark contrast to the vibrant rainforest above, making it a truly unforgettable experience.

9. Volcanoes National Park

No trip to the Big Island is complete without visiting Volcanoes National Park in Hilo. Home to two active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa, this park offers visitors a glimpse into the raw power and beauty of nature. Take a scenic drive along Crater Rim Drive, stopping at overlooks to witness the smoldering Halema’uma’u Crater and the dramatic landscapes shaped by volcanic activity. You can also hike through lava fields, explore lava tubes, and learn about the geological history of the area at the park’s visitor center.

Other Must-Do Activities on the Big Island

While Kailua-Kona, Kohala, and Hilo offer a wide range of attractions and activities, there are several other must-do experiences on the Big Island that shouldn’t be missed. Here are some additional recommendations for your itinerary:

10. Black Sand Beaches

Explore the unique black sand beaches that dot the coastline of the Big Island. Punalu’u Beach is one such beach, famous for its jet-black sand, swaying palm trees, and the opportunity to spot endangered green sea turtles basking on the shore. Spend a day lounging on the beach, snorkeling in the clear waters, and immersing yourself in the natural beauty of Hawaii.

11. Kona Coffee Country Tour

Embark on a journey through the heart of coffee country and learn about the cultivation, harvesting, and processing of Kona coffee. Visit coffee farms, meet local farmers, and sample a variety of coffee blends to discover your favorite. The Kona Coffee Country Tour is not only a delightful sensory experience, but it also provides insights into the rich history and cultural significance of coffee in the region.

12. Visit the Volcanoes

Beyond Volcanoes National Park, there are several other volcanoes on the Big Island that are worth exploring. Mauna Kea, the tallest volcano on the island, offers stunning panoramic views from its summit and is a popular spot for stargazing. Mauna Loa, one of the most massive volcanoes on Earth, provides opportunities for hiking and exploring lava tubes. Whether you choose to hike, drive, or take a tour, visiting the volcanoes on the Big Island is an unforgettable adventure.

13. Explore Waipio Valley

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Waipio Valley, a lush and verdant paradise on the northeastern coast of the Big Island. Take a guided tour or hike down into the valley to discover stunning waterfalls, taro farms, and panoramic vistas. This hidden gem of Hawaii offers a peaceful retreat and a chance to connect with the island’s rich cultural heritage.

14. Snorkeling at Honaunau Bay

Dive into the crystal-clear waters of Honaunau Bay and explore the vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life. Snorkel alongside colorful fish, graceful sea turtles, and perhaps even spot a pod of dolphins in the distance. Honaunau Bay is a prime snorkeling destination that offers calm waters and excellent visibility, making it ideal for snorkelers of all skill levels.

15. Visit a Local Farmers Market

Immerse yourself in the local culture and flavors of the Big Island by visiting one of the vibrant farmers markets scattered across the island. Taste fresh tropical fruits, sample locally made jams and honey, and browse a variety of handcrafted souvenirs. The farmers markets provide an opportunity to support local farmers and artisans while discovering the vibrant colors and flavors of Hawaii.

16. Mauna Kea Stargazing

Settle in for an unforgettable stargazing experience on the summit of Mauna Kea, one of the world’s premier astronomical observatories. With its high altitude and minimal light pollution, Mauna Kea offers some of the clearest and most awe-inspiring views of the night sky. Join a guided stargazing tour and marvel at the brilliance of the stars, planets, and galaxies above, as expert astronomers guide you through this celestial journey.

17. Hiking in Pololu Valley

Hike through the dramatic landscapes of Pololu Valley, located on the northeastern coast of the Big Island. The trail descends into the valley, offering mesmerizing views of rugged cliffs, lush valleys, and a black sand beach at the bottom. As you explore the trails, you’ll feel a sense of serenity and connection to nature, surrounded by the untouched beauty of Hawaii.

18. Waterfall Swim in Hamakua

Escape the heat and take a refreshing swim in one of the hidden waterfalls nestled within Hamakua’s lush rainforest. Follow the trails through the dense foliage and be rewarded with the sight of cascading waterfalls tumbling into crystal-clear pools. Take a dip in the cool waters, surrounded by the serenity of nature, and let the soothing sounds of the waterfall wash away your worries.

19. Attend a Traditional Luau

Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture by attending a traditional luau, a festive celebration featuring music, dance, and authentic Hawaiian cuisine. Indulge in a feast of local dishes such as kalua pig, poi, lomi lomi salmon, and haupia, while being entertained by hula dancers and live music. A traditional luau is a vibrant and memorable experience that allows you to connect with the rich heritage and traditions of Hawaii.

20. Explore Pele’s Playground

Discover the mesmerizing landscapes of the Puna district, also known as “Pele’s Playground,” named after the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes. This region is characterized by its rugged lava fields, stunning coastal vistas, and lava tree formations. Take a scenic drive along the Red Road, visit the Pohoiki black sand beach, or hike to the active lava flows if conditions permit. Exploring Pele’s Playground is an opportunity to witness the raw power and beauty of volcanic activity up close.

21. Indulge in Local Cuisine

No visit to the Big Island is complete without savoring the local cuisine. From plate lunches and fresh seafood to tropical fruits and shave ice, the island offers a diverse range of flavors to tantalize your taste buds. Sample traditional Hawaiian dishes such as poke, kalbi, and laulau, and don’t forget to try the famous macadamia nut pie or a refreshing coconut shave ice. Whether you dine at a local eatery, food truck, or upscale restaurant, indulging in the local cuisine is a delicious and memorable part of any Big Island adventure.

With its incredible array of activities and attractions, the Big Island of Hawaii offers something for everyone. From exploring ancient temples and snorkeling with manta rays to hiking through lush rainforests and indulging in local cuisine, the Big Island is a destination that promises adventure, relaxation, and unforgettable experiences. So pack your bags, embark on an island adventure, and let the spirit of aloha guide you through this tropical paradise.

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