If you are looking for an island packed with colossal adventures and wow moments, Hawaii’s Big Island is your clear winner. From crystal blue waters to snow-capped mountains, the Big Island is the soul mate to thrill-seekers and nature enthusiasts. Here is a handful of the best things to do in Hawaii – The Big Island Edition.
Night Manta Ray Snorkel
Even if you think it’s crazy to put on a snorkel mask after the sun goes down, try to reconsider. The world famous manta ray night diving and snorkeling is a wild, yet, surprisingly peaceful experience. Hop aboard one of the many tours and cruise out into the ocean at sunset. You jump in the warm waters and hang onto a surfboard that projects light down to the ocean floor. This light attracts plankton, which in turn attracts the giant manta rays. With your face down in the water, the manta rays will come right up and summersault in front of you – even carefully barrel-rolling off your body. The experience with these gentle giants is one you will never forget.
Summit Mauna Kea
Adventure to the summit of Mauna Kea for sunrise or for an evening invitation to the ultimate star party. Onizuka Center for International Astronomy Visitor Information Station offers a stargazing program every evening that offers access to their state of the art telescopes. Or join up with Hawaii Forest and Trail for a guided tour, ages 16 and up. Forest and Trail will take you up the mountain and serve you a hot picnic dinner as you watch the most gorgeous sunset over the ocean.
Explore Waipi’o Valley
The sheer beauty of Waipio Valley is a must visit on your trip to The Big Island. Yes, the lookout from the road is stunning, but we recommend walking down to explore the Valley. Wear sturdy shoes, as the walk down is a bit steep. You come to a long black sand beach, separated by a river and a waterfall in the distance. A short hike later you will come into view of a majestic waterfall. You can truly get lost in all of the magic that awaits you in Waipio Valley!
Akaka Falls in Hilo
At Akaka Falls State Park, located along the Hilo Coast, you can experience two gorgeous waterfalls on one short hike. The pleasant 0.4-mile uphill hike will take you through a lush rainforest filled with wild orchids, bamboo groves, and draping ferns. The first waterfall is the 100-foot Kahuna Falls. Continue around the bend to discover towering Akaka Falls, a 442-foot waterfall plummeting into a gorge.
Punaluu Black Sand Beach
One of the few black sand beaches on The Big Island is Punaluu Beach, a favorite of travelers. Typically less crowded than other beaches on the island, and one of the best places to spot sea turtles. Bring your cameras to capture the sparkling black sand against the coconut palms, with colorful flowers scattered around you. If the surf is calm, bring your snorkel gear to spot underwater marine life.
Papakolea Green Sand Beach
The colorful beaches continue on The Big Island with one of the only four green sand beaches in the world. If you are looking for a unique beach, a visit to Papakolea is a must. You can hike the two miles or rent a 4×4. The beach itself is carved inside a very old cinder cone belonging to the Mauna Loa volcano that contains green crystals that give the beach its name.
If a helicopter tour is on your bucket list, climb aboard on The Big Island. Whether you are after hidden cascading waterfalls or jaw-dropping views of Mount Kilauea’s lava flow; a helicopter tour is the best way to see the magic and natural wonders of The Big Island. Watching molten red lava making its appearance at Earth’s surface, while you hover above it, is a memory that will last forever.
Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
This 180-acre national historic park is considered sacred royal grounds that provided refuge for defeated warriors and law-breaking civilians in times of battle. Follow the map to immerse yourself in ancient Hawaiian history, exploring sacred temples against black lava rock. After a trip through history, there is a shallow and calm snorkel spot here to enjoy.
Sunset & Entertainment at Lava Lava Beach Club
Just a short jaunt from Waikoloa is a special restaurant that offers great food, live entertainment, outdoor space for kids to run around, and one amazing sunset. Lava Lava Beach Club is the perfect place to unwind with a tropical, umbrella-dressed cocktail while listening to the peaceful sounds of a ukulele combined with the sweet rhythm of lapping waves.
Hawaii Botanical Gardens
Take a self-guided tour through this beautiful lush oasis that is home to over 2,500 species of tropical plants and flowers. The paths through the gardens end at a spectacular ocean view with plenty of great photo opportunities. The Hawaii Botanical Gardens is a garden like no other!
Attention snorkeling enthusiasts! Kealakekua Bay is one of the most sought out places on The Big Island to discover underwater sea life. From colorful fish to spinner dolphins, to green sea turtles, this is a paradise for marine life. To get here, you can hike in, take a boat tour, or kayak. Go early to avoid the crowds!
These ideas just scratch the surface of the best things to do in Hawaii. The Big Island is packed with adventure, beauty, and relaxation. Aloha!