Big Island, Hawaii

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Top 10 things to do on the Big Island

On the island of Hawai’i, known by the locals as “The Big Island,” you can fly above flowing molten lava, stargaze atop Mauna Kea, and swim with manta rays at night. For the outdoor adventure-seeker, this is the ultimate Hawaii experience.

  • Mauna Kea summit

    1. Mauna Kea summit

    In Hawaiian, Mauna Kea means “White Mountain” named for its snow capped slopes. At 13,803 feet above sea level, this is the Hawaiian Islands’ highest peak. Stargaze atop Mauna Kea Summit and learn about the stars or join in a sunrise experience and watch the sun rise above the vast lava fields.

  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

    2. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

    Visit the Jaggar Museum and learn about the history of Hawaii’s many volcanic eruptions. Enjoy the day hiking through lava fields or take an alternative route by flying above by helicopter. See the glowing red of Kilauea volcano from a bird's eye view on a scenic flight tour.

  • Kealakekua Bay

    3. Kealakekua Bay

    Rent a kayak and head out to sea to Captain Cook’s Monument. This bay is home to local Hawaiian spinner dolphins and many other tropical fish endemic to Hawaii. As you kayak across the bay, take in the serene beauty of dolphins frolicking in the distance.

  • Waipio Valley Lookout

    4. Waipio Valley Lookout

    Located on the Hamakua Coast, the sacred Waipio Valley was the boyhood home of Hawaiian Royalty, King Kamehameha I. Journey to the end of the Hamakua Heritage Corridor to look out upon the “Valley of the Kings.” Marvel at the valley floor filled with taro farms, sprawling streams, an expansive black beach, and beautiful vistas.

  • Punalu’u Beach

    5. Punalu’u Beach

    Experience the feeling of sand between your toes at one of Hawaii’s most famous black sand beaches. The beach has black sand made of basalt, which is created when lava flows into the ocean and explodes as it cools. If you’re lucky, see Hawaiian green sea turtles come ashore to bask in the sun.

  • Papakolea Beach

    6. Papakolea Beach

    Escape on a hike through rugged terrain to access one of only four green sand beaches in the world. Marvel at this rare sight nestled inside Mauna Loa crater, one of Hawaii’s dormant volcanoes. Find grains of sand with shades of green across the color spectrum, made from green olivine crystals.

  • ‘Akaka Falls State Park

    7. ‘Akaka Falls State Park

    Located along the northeastern Hilo Coast, you can see two gorgeous waterfalls at Akaka Falls State Park. See an abundance of wild orchids, bamboo groves and draping ferns as you hike through the tropical rainforest on this easy to moderate hike. Follow the footpath leading to the iconic 400-foot waterfall known as ‘Akaka Falls.

  • Kohala Coast

    8. Kohala Coast

    In stark contrast to the Big Island’s miles of dark lava fields, the Kohala Coast is known for its lush green foliage and thousand foot waterfalls. Take in the sites by zipline, go tubing with Flumin’ Kohala, or take a scenic helicopter tour over startling sea cliffs.

  • Hapuna Beach State Park

    9. Hapuna Beach State Park

    Because the Big Island is one of the newest islands in the Hawaiian island chain, most of the beaches here are made of hardened lava rock. If you’re looking for an iconic white sand beach, Hapuna Beach is one of the Big Island’s best places to soak up the sun.

  • Kona Coffee

    10. Kona Coffee

    Explore the coffee farms just south of Kona to see how coffee is farmed, harvested, and roasted. Enjoy coffee tastings at many of the Kona Coffee farms throughout the region. Learn why Hawaii is known for some of the best coffee in the world.

Other Sightseeing Options in Big Island, Hawaii

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What people are saying about Big Island, Hawaii

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 553 reviews

Friendly, lively, and helpful crew and a great snorkel location. My kids were new to snorkeling and did great. My daughter lost a flipper which we had brought, and it didn’t float unfortunately. One of the crew dove and retrieved it! The boat ride out and back in was very enjoyable, and we had a dolphin swimming in front of the boat on the way back. It was a memorable experience. Snorkel gear is provided, but if you are bringing your own gear, keep in mind that full face masks are not allowed for safety reasons. We brought 2 and couldn’t use them.

This app is a must if you want to see the island with the eyes and knowledge of a local. We were able to see so many things I'm sure we wouldn't know about if we just tried to figure it out on our own. The only difficulties we had were some of the hikes not being marked well enough. The app gives instructions but its not always clear (was that the fork back there?)

There’s not many words to describe this adventure..... This was a privilege and breathtaking at each turn!! The guide was awesome, knowledgeable, and you knew that Mark cared about the adventure he was taking you on. Must experience.

I took my three young sons 12,10,6 to Hawaii for the first time and this tour was a hit!! We loved it! Can’t wait to do the beach tour in a couple days. They loved the story’s of the narrator. Memories for a life time!

Very detailed tour of The Big Island. Guide was very flexible in what we saw and what options we had in doing so. Helped us get the most out of our tour. If information is what you're looking for, Awana is your guide.