Big Island, Hawaii

Enter your dates to find available activities

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.

What people are saying about Big Island, Hawaii

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 408 reviews

We had a wonderful time. I definitely was excited to go, but hesitant about riding an ATV. We got an overview of what to expect and a lesson on riding all terrain vehicles. Then after some reassurance and encouragement from both my family and them, that I would enjoy riding more than just being a passenger, I gave it a try. I’m really glad I did. The experience was a little different than I anticipated, but way more fun. Though I gripped the handlebars as if my life depended on it, the terrain wasn’t too rough and I even took a couple of hills and puddles fearlessly. The tour was very informative and interactive. The brothers were very patient and eager for us to have a basis for understanding the Polynesian culture. They frequently checked to be sure I was doing okay and encouraged me throughout. It was well worth it!

My 2 friends and I did this tour our last day of the trip and it was a great way to end a wonderful vacation. Our tour guide Derek arrived on time in an air conditioned, clean and comfortable vehicle. He was extremely helpful, sharing knowledge and history of the island that he's learned as a guide and also as a resident for many years. He was always sure to communicate the flow of the day or activity we were about to do, what to expect with the terrain and accompanied us on certain walls to point out things we would have otherwise missed. A great guide, adored by many vendors and locals on the tour route. We stayed on the right side of the island and it was great to have someone experienced get us and show us through the southern area and let side of the island. Great trip, would highly recommend.

The trip was excellent. Plenty of time snorkling and also plenty of time getting into close to rocks to look at things. Also stopped to see dolphins and whales. We got lucky and saw one dolphin spin out of the water 10 feet from us. Great guides with a small group of people. Highly recommend. Captain Steve and Jill were great.

Amazing experience. An absolute must for anyone visiting Hawaii. Saw many different manta rays and even swam with some unexpected visitors...Dolphins!!! Simon and his crew made everything super easy and fun. Would recommend this to everyone and we will most certainly be doing it again.

This was an outstanding adventure that we would definitely do again. We highly recommend it. Our guides, Hunter and Kanoa (not sure that is how it is spelled) were top notch!