Things to do in
Big Island, Hawaii

Vivid emerald cliffs, active volcanoes, and black-sand beaches make this island a fascinating natural wonder.

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Our most recommended things to do in Big Island, Hawaii

Big Island: Eco-Friendly Twilight Manta Ray Adventure

1. Big Island: Eco-Friendly Twilight Manta Ray Adventure

Experience an exciting 75-minute nighttime snorkeling expedition. Get up close and personal with stunning manta rays as they gracefully soar through the water. Your underwater adventure will take place in clear warm waters near protected reefs abundant with marine life.   After the sun sets, head off into the nighttime waters to see a fascinating "manta ray ballet" along the Kona coast near the mouth of Keauhou Bay. This point of departure is one of the island’s most successful and consistent manta ray viewing locations. Your snorkeling guide will outfit you with all the necessary gear needed to embark on your experience including snorkel gear, wetsuits, and flotation devices. After a quick safety briefing, plunge into the dark waters and be captivated by these graceful creatures as they feast on plankton. Grip onto the flotation swim ring with high-illumination blue water lights that attract the plankton on which the mantas feed. Soon afterward, rays will glide through the water almost at arm's length opening their enormous mouths to feast. After your remarkable underwater adventure, return to your boat and warm up with a nighttime snack of hot chocolate and cookies

Big Island: Voyagers of the Pacific Luau with Buffet

2. Big Island: Voyagers of the Pacific Luau with Buffet

Visit the Royal Kona Resort to experience an interactive luau show celebrating the rich cultural history of Hawaii with seating on the glimmering shores of Kailua Bay. Start the evening with an aloha shell lei greeting, and craft demonstrations. Soon after, feast on a delicious all-you-can-eat buffet with traditional Hawaiian dishes made with local ingredients. Savor authentic island entrees such as honey soy braised beef, and fresh-catch fish. Be treated to Big Island flavors with sides like Hawaiian sweet potatoes, coconut rolls, macaroni, and Lomi Lomi salmon salad. Enjoy stir friend vegetables and kalua style pork and cabbage. Finish off your culinary experiences with tasty favorites like Hawaiian haupia pudding and coconut cake. Sip Mai Tais, wine, beer, and soft drinks as you embrace the local culture and radiant sunset. Then, as drumbeats build, the sensational Voyagers of the Pacific Luau show unfolds on stage. Be captivated by a dramatic show inspired by Polynesian stories told through live music, song, and dance, culminating in the exciting Samoan fire knife dance finale.

Mauna Kea Summit: Sunset Stargazing Adventure w Free Photo

3. Mauna Kea Summit: Sunset Stargazing Adventure w Free Photo

Get your photos taken by the stars during this sunset and stargazing adventure on the summit of Mauna Kea. Learn about the area from your guide as you sip on hot chocolate and eat snacks. Choose from pickup and drop-off options at several locations.  Delight in the awe-inspiring sunset at the top of Mauna Kea, the highest point in the Pacific. Get cozy with a parka, gloves, and hot drink as you learn historic accounts of Hawaii, the Big Island, from your guide. Stand amidst the world’s largest collection of research telescopes and see two of the eight telescopes which took the first photo of a black hole. Enjoy your very own private star show with a Celestron telescope. Capture your experience forever with photos taken by your guide on a DSLR camera. Get emailed these photos after your experience. After your unforgettable evening with the stars, depart back to your pickup location for drop-off.

Big Island: 3 Hour Waikoloa Snorkeling & Sailing Adventure

4. Big Island: 3 Hour Waikoloa Snorkeling & Sailing Adventure

The iconic Spirit of Aloha provides the ultimate in sailing comfort and snorkeling fun. Choose from morning or afternoon excursions, where you are likely to see dolphins, sea turtles and other marine life unique to the warm waters of Hawaii. Explore parts of the Big Island Kona coast on the Waikoloa and Kohala-Kona coastline aboard a 54-foot sailing catamaran. Dolphins, green sea turtles and seasonal whales are some of the creatures that can be seen. Board from Anaehoomalu Bay to snorkel, sail, enjoy and relax. The custom-designed sunset-orange and maile lei sail is a stunning contrast to the azure Pacific as it sails along the blue Pacific ocean. Itineraries include morning and afternoon snorkel sails, and sunset cruises. The beautiful 53-foot (16-m), custom-built catamaran offers a smooth, comfortable, and relaxing ride. There is onboard bar, plenty of shade, 2 restrooms, ample seating both indoors and outside, fresh-water shower rinse, and a sound system. Lifeguard-certified, in-water guides are there for your service and comfort. During whale season December through April, majestic humpbacks are likely to be spotted. Snacks and beverages served aboard.

Holualoa: Polynesian Culture ATV Tour

5. Holualoa: Polynesian Culture ATV Tour

Discover Hawaii's Big Island on an ATV tour. Learn about the cultures of Fiji, Samoa, Hawaii, and Tonga, drive through a Rainbow Eucalyptus tree grove, and taste coconut water. Upon arrival at the meeting point and getting geared up, listen to a quick safety briefing before setting off on your adventure. If you do not feel comfortable driving an ATV or are under 16, enjoy a ride as a passenger in a 6-seater UTV driven by the tour guide.  Kick-off your tour with a drive through an award-winning coffee farm and transition into a grove of Rainbow Eucalyptus trees before entering the jungle. Drive your fully automatic ATV on trails to reach Hawaii, Fiji, and Tonga. At each stop, play games to learn about each island's culture. Finally, make your way to the last island of Samoa. Learn about traditional culture, watch a coconut demonstration and taste the coconut water. Afterward, travel back down the mountain and admire beautiful views of Kailua-Kona and the Kona coast.

Big Island: Captain Cook Historical Dinner Cruise

6. Big Island: Captain Cook Historical Dinner Cruise

Step aboard and step back in time… Join for an enchanting Hawaiian history lesson from the experts on Kona’s one and only Historical Sunset Dinner Cruise. This 3-hour family adventure departing from the Kailua Pier is narrated by a local historian tour guide, who will reveal secrets, tell stories, and share legends related to the numerous landmarks along the 12 miles of magnificent Kona coastline. Unwind to Captain Cook’s Monument at Historical Kealakekua Bay (only accessible by boat or hiking) with a complimentary cocktail from a fully stocked, premium bar. Begin your delicious dinner starting with Mauna Loa Big Island Macadamia Nuts (Vegan/GF) appetizer. Enjoy a salad starter of Kealaola Farm mixed salad greens, Waimea grape tomatoes, Japanese cucumber, and red onion (Vegan/GF), served with house-made Maui Onionvinaigrette dressing (Vegan/GF). Choose your main course from a selection of Thai coconut curry with Hamakua sweet potatoes, Hawaiian breadfruit, carrots, and bell peppers (Vegan/GF), or steamed jasmine rice (Vegan/GF) with Kiawe mango barbecue pork short ribs served with a papaya salsa (GF) and island baked coconut dinner rolls served with butter (Vegetarian). Your dessert is a cheesecake with a local Lilikoi glaze (Vegetarian). Keep an eye out for dolphins, turtles, manta rays, and seasonal humpback whales throughout the evening. Enjoy live music from some of the Big Island's best entertainers performing slack key Hawaiian Style music. Catch the sunset on the water and make sure to look for the famous Green Flash, a fleeting glimmer of intense emerald light that appears on the horizon just after sunset. Other highlights include the Ahu’ena Heiau, the Holua Slide, and the famous Kuamo’o Battlefield, just to name a few.

Hilo: Fly over Volcano National Park and Waterfalls

7. Hilo: Fly over Volcano National Park and Waterfalls

Take a helicopter ride over ever-changing scenery at Volcano National Park with this tour from Hilo. Journey over black sand beaches where lava once flowed into the sea. Take off from Hilo and fly directly to Volcano National Park. See the caldera of the Kilauea volcano. Admire the Pu'uo'o' volcanic cone. Snap pictures of the massive volcanos Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Discover new lava fields that are forming and go over old lava fields. View how waterfalls create a deep blue pools amid jungle greenery.

Big Island: Captain Cook Sightseeing & Snorkel Expedition

8. Big Island: Captain Cook Sightseeing & Snorkel Expedition

Discover the natural beauty and history of Kealakekua Bay on this eco-friendly snorkeling adventure. This stunning 315-acre marine sanctuary boasts protected waters, making it the best place in Hawaii for snorkelers of all levels of experience. Jump in the turquoise waters and marvel at the tropical fish, colorful coral, and marine life. Keep your eyes peeled—you might even catch a glimpse of playful Hawaiian spinner dolphins. After a full hour of snorkeling, let your friendly captain and crew transport you and your small group to the historic Captain Cook's Monument. Hear about the dramatic history of this location as you gaze toward the cove where the white stone monument stands.  On your way back, enjoy snacks and beverages while you ride up the coast learning about local legends and history.   Maneuver into the sea caves at the base of Hualalai, hugging the coast and detailing the culturally significant and geologically fascinating features along the way. Watch for dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and even herds of thousands of goats. Afterwards, you’ll head back to the dock, having seen some of the most stunning natural beauty that Hawaii has to offer.

Hilo: Sea Turtle Lagoon and Black Sand Beach Snorkel

9. Hilo: Sea Turtle Lagoon and Black Sand Beach Snorkel

This is your opportunity to swim in a lagoon full of abundant sea life. Join your hosts on a fully guided and narrated beach snorkel tour along the pristine Hilo coastline. Make 2 snorkeling stops and also enjoy island snacks and juices. The volcanic beaches are renowned for their abundant sea turtle population, and the brackish water bays and lagoons are home to a wealth of sea life including octopus, eagle and manta rays, eels, corals, and tropical reef fish. Your experienced snorkel guide will teach you about the beautiful and lush surroundings, how the beaches and volcanic islands are made, and about the abundant marine world which lies below. Newcomers to snorkeling and children are welcome. Your trained guide will teach you the basics and be with you every step of the way to make sure you feel safe and comfortable. Children will be introduced to nature in a spectacular way.

Big Island: Kona 2-Hour Small Group Surf Lesson

10. Big Island: Kona 2-Hour Small Group Surf Lesson

There is a saying in Hawaii that "you never forget your first wave," and this surf lesson in Kahaluu Bay brings that saying to life, providing quality surf instruction to people of all ages and skill levels. The 2-hour surf lessons are designed to teach people how to surf safely and effectively from the best surfing and snorkeling beach in Kona, Hawaii. Upon arrival at the surf shop, you will be outfitted with reef booties and rashguards. Then, before entering the water, learn how to paddle and pop up on land, as well as important surfing etiquette and how to wipe out properly. Once you are comfortable, it’s off to the water to practice your skills on the long rolling waves of Kahaluu Bay. Your surf instructor will help you catch the waves, letting you know where you need to be, when to paddle, and when to pop up. They will even give you a little push to ensure that you catch every wave you paddle for. For more advanced surfers, instructors offer advice on how to turn and catch larger waves. Instructors work in small groups, with no more that 3 participants per teacher to ensure maximum attention and a highly personalized experience.

Other Sightseeing Options in Big Island, Hawaii

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What people are saying about Big Island, Hawaii

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 1,426 reviews

This was an AMAZING tour! Highly recommended, the view was unbelievably beautiful. We couldn’t believe how many stars were visible in the night sky. We went in May, they provided coats & gloves (bring a winter hat of some kind, it was really cold once the sun went down at that altitude). Bring some Ginger chews if you get motion sick, as the ride to the top/and back down is twisty & bumpy… those helped my wife who typically gets car sick. The pictures they took turned out great. I highly recommend this experience!!!

A very different experience from being on the big boats. We were a small group of friendly strangers. Two of the snorkeling spots we had to ourselves rather than being in people soup. The small boat can go where the big ones cannot. We were very well taken care of, and really enjoyed the whole experience. As a bonus we got to hang out and watch (at a proper distance) a pod of pilot whales, and later dolphins. Don't even think of doing this if you get seasick though, or if you can't manage getting up a swim ladder.

Loved the captain Elliot. Johnny did a great job teaching us how to snorkel. Li’i was fun to be around and helpful in the water. The chef made great burgers. More than enough food for everyone. Great experience!!

Totally chill, fun day excursion. Staff was super attentive and snorkeling was good at our location. We had a blast and met new friends. Highly recommend.

This was a lot of fun, and our tour guide did everything he could to show us some stars even on a cloudy night. Dinner was good, too. Highly recommend.