Best Things To Do On Hawaii’s Big Island | Add to Bucketlist , Vacation Deals
Heading for Hawaii? Whether you’re looking to see kaleidoscopic sand or feel the heat from being close to molten lava, there’s a lot to do on the Big Island. In fact, here are the best things to do there.
1. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
There are actually two active volcanoes here in this park. It’s the 4,000-foot-tall Kilauea, however, that you must see. It has been spewing and oozing since 1983.
In fact, last May its eruptions forced evacuations and devastated communities. Have no fear though as the eruptions have long since stopped and it’s being monitored. Visit the knowledgeable Kilauea Visitor Center for current info on nearby hiking trails, safety tips, and where to expect to see the lava flow.
2. Akaka Falls State Park
Hilo’s Akaka Falls State Park in northeastern Hawai’i is a great place for hikers. In fact, visiting this park pretty much requires a brief, low-intensity hike. The paved, level loop trail is family-friendly too. Veteran visitors say you can do the entire trail through the park in as little as 20 minutes. Highlights to this park include a pair of consecutive waterfalls. There are the Kahuna Falls and the free-falling Akaka Falls, for which the park is named.
3. Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
Up until the 1800s, if you faced the death penalty in Hawaii you could go to an area on the west coast called pu’uhonua, (or in English “place of refuge.”) There a local priest would forgive them. Today this locale is an official park and historical landmark. Highlights include breathtaking scenery, intricate ki’i (wood carvings), eye-catching temples, and resident honu, (Hawaiian green sea turtles). There’s not a lot of shade so be sure you wear a hat and take some water with you.
4. Waipio Valley
The historic Waipio Valley is named after the river that runs through it. In English, the name means “curved water.” Found on the northeastern side of the island along the Hamakua Coast, this was where Captain James Cook first arrived in 1778.
Cook found it to be a fertile valley populated by about 10,000 locals. This was also once the residence of Kamehameha the Great and numerous other Hawaiian rulers, which is why it’s also known as “The Valley of the Kings.” Today it is a verdant Garden of Eden.
5. Kaunaoa Beach
This is reported to be one of the most picturesque white sand beaches here. Arrive in Waimea early, before 8:30 a.m., to be sure you get one of the all-too-few parking spaces. Make a nice day trip of your visit to this eggshell-colored beach on the central, Kohala coast. Go for a swim, snorkeling, go or get into a pickup volleyball game. The popular Mauna Kea Resort flanks this beautiful beach and is reputed to be a great place to stay as well.
6. Hilo Farmers Market
Local artisans and farmers gather here in downtown Hilo to sell everything from clothing to produce and seafood to handicrafts. This market held on the corner of Kamehameha Avenue and Mamo Street is the best place to sample local produce and (if you shop carefully) buy local crafts. You can buy such things as pineapples, jaboticaba fruit, and bongo drums. Show up early and be prepared to haggle. Enjoy some shaved ice and poke while you shop. It’s a great place for an early lunch too.
7. Anaehoomalu Beach
Anaehoomalu Beach is said by some to be one of the premier beaches on the Kohala Coast. It has long been a popular spot for regular Big Island visitors. Frequent visitors and those in the know have nicknamed it “A-Bay.”
Stroll along this long stretch of salt and pepper sand, go for a swim, go snorkeling or try your hand at stand up paddleboarding. It’s really all good in the clear, calm water.
8. Hapuna Beach State Park
Hapuna Beach is appropriately named. Hapuna is Hawaiian for “spring of life.” The beach at this state park is said to be “the most loved” on the entire Big Island.
Both the locals and tourists favor this place found on the South Kohala Coast and encourage you to do the same. Take in the turquoise waters and walk through the “soft-as-cotton” sand. Be sure to experience one of their famous unbelievable sunsets as well.
9. Papakolea Beach
Visiting Papakolea Beach may not cost you anything but veteran visitors report it isn’t “for the faint of heart.” It is quite secluded but that also makes it a bit challenging to reach. There’s not a lot of shade or amenities and sometimes the water can be rough. The real reason most of the more intrepid travelers actually brave this beach is that once there they can honestly say that they have been to one of the only green sand beaches on the planet.
10. Punalu’u Beach
This is not generally the place to be if you want to do some leisurely, carefree swimming. The water is too rocky and a bit rough for most people’s tastes. There is another reason to visit this particular Instagrammable southern beach.
See the unique, onyx-tinted sand born of the regular volcanic activity of Kilauea located in the famous Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Get a peek at the honu a.k.a. Hawaiian green sea turtles too.
11. Kealakekua Bay
Situated on the west coast of the island, this is a remote bay especially loved by snorkelers. Scuba divers love this place too. For beneath the shallow, calm surface of the water you can see sea turtles, various tropical fish, and the famous Hawaiian Spinner dolphins.
History buffs have another reason to check out this specific bay. The famous navigator known as Captain James Cook discovered this bay and even spent some time here back in January of 1779. Tensions rose a couple of weeks later and he was murdered here as well. See the large Captain Cook Monument across the bay as well. There’s even a nice picnic pavilion there.
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