The Big Island of Hawaii is a captivating destination that offers a plethora of tourist attractions for visitors to explore. From stunning natural wonders to rich cultural experiences, there is something for everyone on this diverse and enchanting island.
One of the most iconic attractions on the Big Island is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to two active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Visitors can witness the raw power of nature as they hike through lava fields, explore volcanic craters, and even witness lava flowing into the ocean. The park also boasts an array of unique flora and fauna, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts.
For those seeking adventure, the Big Island offers numerous opportunities for outdoor activities. From snorkeling in crystal-clear waters to surfing some of the world’s best waves, the island’s beaches are a haven for water sports enthusiasts. Additionally, hiking enthusiasts can explore breathtaking trails such as the Pololu Valley or Waipio Valley, where lush landscapes and panoramic views await.
The Big Island is also rich in cultural heritage. Immerse yourself in Hawaiian history by visiting Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, where you can learn about ancient Hawaiian customs and traditions. The island also hosts various festivals throughout the year that celebrate Hawaiian culture through music, dance, and arts.
Another must-visit attraction on the Big Island is Akaka Falls State Park. Here you can marvel at cascading waterfalls surrounded by lush rainforests. The towering Akaka Falls drops 442 feet into a gorge below, providing visitors with a truly awe-inspiring sight.
If you’re interested in astronomy and stargazing, don’t miss out on visiting Mauna Kea Observatory. Located atop one of Hawaii’s tallest mountains, Mauna Kea offers unparalleled views of the night sky. With its clear air and minimal light pollution, it has become one of the world’s premier locations for astronomical research.
When it comes to dining and shopping, the Big Island has a vibrant culinary scene and bustling local markets. Enjoy fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and traditional Hawaiian dishes at local restaurants. Don’t forget to explore farmers’ markets where you can find unique crafts, locally grown produce, and delicious treats.
The Big Island of Hawaii truly offers an unforgettable experience for every type of traveler. Whether you are seeking adventure, cultural enrichment, or simply relaxation on pristine beaches, this island has it all. Come and discover the magic of the Big Island’s tourist attractions – an experience that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
Frequently Asked Questions: Big Island Tourist Attractions
- What are the best tourist attractions on the Big Island?
- What is there to do on the Big Island?
- Where can I find information about Big Island activities and attractions?
- Are there any beaches on the Big Island worth visiting?
- Are there any national parks or monuments on the Big Island?
- What are some of the most popular water activities in Hawaii (Big Island)?
- How can I get around the island while exploring its attractions?
- Are there any unique restaurants or shopping experiences to be had on the Big Island?
- Is it easy to find accommodations for my stay on the Big Island?
What are the best tourist attractions on the Big Island?
The Big Island of Hawaii is home to a multitude of incredible tourist attractions. While everyone’s preferences may vary, here are some of the top attractions that consistently captivate visitors:
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: This iconic park showcases the power and beauty of active volcanoes, including Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Witness lava flows, hike through lava fields, and explore volcanic craters for an unforgettable experience.
- Akaka Falls State Park: Discover the mesmerizing Akaka Falls, a 442-foot waterfall surrounded by lush rainforest. Take a stroll along the scenic loop trail to witness other stunning cascades and immerse yourself in nature.
- Mauna Kea Observatory: Situated atop one of Hawaii’s tallest mountains, Mauna Kea offers breathtaking views of the night sky. Visit the observatory to learn about astronomy or join a stargazing tour for an awe-inspiring celestial experience.
- Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park: Step back in time at this historical park that served as a place of refuge in ancient Hawaiian culture. Explore sacred grounds, learn about traditional customs, and appreciate the rich cultural heritage.
- Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area: With its crystal-clear turquoise waters and pristine white sand, Hapuna Beach is often regarded as one of Hawaii’s best beaches. Enjoy swimming, snorkeling, or simply basking in the sun on this picturesque stretch of coastline.
- Waipio Valley: Embark on an adventure to Waipio Valley, known as “The Valley of Kings.” Marvel at its dramatic cliffs, lush landscapes, and black sand beach. Hike down to explore waterfalls or take a guided tour to learn about its fascinating history.
- Kealakekua Bay: Snorkel or kayak in this stunning marine sanctuary teeming with colorful coral reefs and tropical fish. The bay is also home to the iconic Captain Cook Monument, commemorating the famous explorer’s death.
- Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve: Discover ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs etched into lava fields at this unique preserve. Take a self-guided tour to learn about the island’s rich cultural history through these captivating rock carvings.
- Kohala Coast: Indulge in luxury resorts, world-class golf courses, and pristine beaches along the beautiful Kohala Coast. Relax, unwind, and enjoy the breathtaking ocean views while experiencing the island’s renowned hospitality.
- Kona Coffee Farms: Delve into the world of coffee production by visiting one of the many Kona coffee farms. Take a tour to learn about the cultivation process, sample freshly roasted beans, and savor some of the finest coffee in the world.
These are just a few of the many incredible attractions that await you on Hawaii’s Big Island. Each offers a unique experience that showcases the island’s natural beauty, cultural heritage, and adventurous spirit.
What is there to do on the Big Island?
The Big Island of Hawaii offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Here are some popular things to do on the island:
- Explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Witness the power of nature as you hike through lava fields, explore volcanic craters, and even see active lava flows. Don’t miss the Jaggar Museum and Thurston Lava Tube.
- Visit Akaka Falls State Park: Marvel at the stunning Akaka Falls, which drops 442 feet into a lush gorge. Take a leisurely walk through the park’s rainforest trails and enjoy the beauty of Hawaii’s flora and fauna.
- Snorkel or Dive in Kealakekua Bay: Discover vibrant coral reefs and swim alongside tropical fish in this pristine marine sanctuary. Kealakekua Bay is also home to the iconic Captain Cook Monument.
- Relax on Beautiful Beaches: The Big Island boasts numerous picturesque beaches, including Hapuna Beach, Mauna Kea Beach, and Makalawena Beach. Enjoy swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, or simply taking in the breathtaking coastal views.
- Take a Helicopter Tour: Get a bird’s-eye view of the island’s diverse landscapes, including lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, volcanic craters, and rugged coastlines.
- Visit Historic Sites: Explore Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park to learn about ancient Hawaiian customs and traditions. Discover petroglyphs at Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve or explore the historic town of Kailua-Kona.
- Experience Manta Ray Night Dives: Dive or snorkel with majestic manta rays after sunset for an unforgettable encounter with these gentle giants.
- Attend a Luau: Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture by attending a traditional luau where you can enjoy delicious food, music, hula dancing, and learn about Polynesian history and traditions.
- Explore Waipi’o Valley: Embark on a guided tour or hike into the lush Waipi’o Valley, known as the “Valley of the Kings.” Marvel at its dramatic cliffs, waterfalls, and black sand beach.
- Stargaze at Mauna Kea: Visit Mauna Kea Observatory, one of the world’s premier locations for astronomy. Enjoy breathtaking views of the night sky from this high-altitude vantage point.
These are just a few examples of the many activities and attractions available on the Big Island. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural experiences, there is something for everyone to enjoy on this captivating island.
Where can I find information about Big Island activities and attractions?
To find information about Big Island activities and attractions, there are several reliable sources you can explore:
- Official Tourism Websites: Visit the official tourism websites dedicated to the Big Island of Hawaii. These websites often provide comprehensive information on attractions, activities, events, and accommodations. Examples include GoHawaii.com and LoveBigIsland.com.
- Visitor Information Centers: When you arrive on the Big Island, make a stop at one of the visitor information centers. They can provide brochures, maps, and personalized recommendations on activities and attractions based on your interests.
- Local Tour Operators: Reach out to local tour operators who specialize in Big Island excursions and activities. They can offer guided tours to popular attractions or off-the-beaten-path experiences tailored to your preferences.
- Online Travel Forums: Join online travel forums or communities where fellow travelers share their experiences and recommendations for the Big Island. Websites like TripAdvisor or Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum are great places to seek advice from those who have visited before.
- Guidebooks: Purchase or borrow guidebooks specifically focused on the Big Island. These books often provide detailed descriptions of attractions, suggested itineraries, and insider tips for making the most of your visit.
- Social Media: Follow social media accounts dedicated to promoting tourism on the Big Island. Many local businesses and organizations share updates about events, activities, and special offers through platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
Remember to cross-reference information from multiple sources to ensure accuracy and relevance. This way, you can plan your itinerary with confidence and make the most of your time exploring the incredible attractions that the Big Island has to offer!
Are there any beaches on the Big Island worth visiting?
Absolutely! The Big Island is home to some stunning beaches that are definitely worth a visit. Here are a few notable ones:
- Hapuna Beach: Known for its crystal-clear turquoise waters and pristine white sand, Hapuna Beach consistently ranks among the top beaches in the world. It offers excellent swimming and snorkeling opportunities, as well as ample space for sunbathing and picnicking.
- Kua Bay (Manini’owali Beach): Located within Kekaha Kai State Park, Kua Bay is a picturesque beach with azure waters and soft white sand. It’s an ideal spot for swimming, boogie boarding, or simply relaxing under the sun.
- Makalawena Beach: Accessible via a short hike or a 4-wheel drive vehicle, Makalawena Beach is a secluded gem that offers tranquility and natural beauty. With its sparkling turquoise waters and golden sand, it’s perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
- Green Sand Beach (Papakolea Beach): One of the rarest beaches in the world, Green Sand Beach gets its name from the unique green hue of its sand caused by olivine crystals. Located near South Point, it requires a scenic hike or a bumpy ride to reach it but is well worth the effort.
- Carlsmith Beach Park (Four Mile): Situated on the east side of the island in Hilo, Carlsmith Beach Park is known for its calm waters and abundant tide pools filled with colorful marine life. It’s an excellent spot for snorkeling or simply enjoying a peaceful day by the ocean.
These are just a few examples of the beautiful beaches you can find on the Big Island. Whether you’re looking for relaxation, water activities, or unique natural features, you’ll find something to suit your preferences on this diverse island paradise.
Are there any national parks or monuments on the Big Island?
Yes, the Big Island of Hawaii is home to several national parks and monuments that showcase the island’s unique natural and cultural heritage. Here are a few notable ones:
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: This iconic national park encompasses the active volcanoes of Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Visitors can explore volcanic landscapes, hike through lava fields, witness volcanic activity, and learn about the island’s geology and native flora and fauna.
- Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park: Located on the west coast of the Big Island, this historical park preserves an ancient Hawaiian place of refuge (pu’uhonua) where lawbreakers sought forgiveness and sanctuary. Visitors can explore reconstructed temples, royal fishponds, and learn about traditional Hawaiian customs.
- Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park: Situated along the Kona Coast, this park showcases ancient Hawaiian fishing villages (heiau), fishponds, petroglyphs, and sacred sites. Visitors can hike along coastal trails, spot wildlife such as green sea turtles or monk seals, and gain insights into Hawaii’s rich cultural history.
- Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site: This site preserves an important heiau (Hawaiian temple) built by King Kamehameha I in the late 18th century. It played a significant role in his quest to unify the Hawaiian Islands under his rule. Visitors can explore the temple grounds and learn about Hawaiian history.
These national parks and monuments offer a unique opportunity to delve into the rich heritage of Hawaii while experiencing its breathtaking natural beauty. They provide educational resources, interpretive programs, hiking trails, and opportunities for cultural immersion that enrich visitors’ understanding of the Big Island’s past and present.
What are some of the most popular water activities in Hawaii (Big Island)?
The Big Island of Hawaii is a paradise for water activities, offering a wide range of options for visitors to enjoy. Here are some of the most popular water activities on the island:
- Snorkeling: Explore the vibrant underwater world surrounding the Big Island. Popular snorkeling spots include Kealakekua Bay, where you can swim alongside colorful coral reefs and tropical fish, and Honaunau Bay, known for its crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life.
- Scuba Diving: Dive deeper into the ocean and discover an underwater wonderland. The Big Island offers excellent diving sites such as the Kona Coast, where you can encounter manta rays, dolphins, and even explore lava tubes.
- Whale Watching: From December to April, humpback whales migrate to the warm Hawaiian waters. Take a boat tour or join a guided excursion to witness these majestic creatures breaching and spouting in their natural habitat.
- Kayaking: Embark on a kayaking adventure along the coastline of the Big Island. Paddle through calm bays, explore sea caves, and keep an eye out for marine wildlife such as sea turtles and dolphins.
- Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP): Try your hand at SUP, a popular water activity that combines surfing and paddling. Rent a paddleboard and glide across tranquil bays or ride gentle waves along the coast.
- Jet Skiing: Experience an adrenaline rush by renting a jet ski and speeding across the sparkling waters of the Big Island’s beaches. Enjoy breathtaking views while feeling the wind in your hair.
- Fishing: Join a fishing charter or hire a local guide for an unforgettable fishing experience in Hawaii’s abundant waters. Test your skills by catching big game fish like marlin, tuna, or mahi-mahi.
- Sunset Cruises: Relax on a sunset cruise along the coast while enjoying breathtaking views of the ocean as the sun dips below the horizon. Many cruises offer dinner, drinks, and live entertainment.
- Surfing: The Big Island offers excellent surf spots for both beginners and experienced surfers. Head to beaches like Banyans or Kahalu’u Beach Park to catch some waves and experience the thrill of surfing.
- Waterfall Tours: Explore the island’s lush landscapes and majestic waterfalls through guided tours. Take a refreshing dip in waterfall pools or simply enjoy the beauty of these natural wonders.
These are just a few of the many exciting water activities available on the Big Island of Hawaii. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a chance to connect with nature, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Hawaii’s pristine waters.
How can I get around the island while exploring its attractions?
Getting around the Big Island of Hawaii is relatively easy, and there are several transportation options available to explore its attractions:
- Car Rental: Renting a car is the most convenient way to get around the island. There are several car rental agencies at the airports and in major towns. Having your own vehicle gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace and visit remote areas that may not be easily accessible by public transportation.
- Public Buses: The Hele-On Bus system operates on the Big Island, offering affordable transportation between major towns and some tourist destinations. While it may not be as frequent or extensive as in urban areas, this is a good option if you prefer public transportation and don’t mind adhering to a fixed schedule.
- Guided Tours: Joining guided tours is an excellent way to explore the island’s attractions hassle-free. Various companies offer organized tours that cover popular destinations such as volcanoes, waterfalls, cultural sites, and more. This option allows you to sit back, relax, and let experienced guides take care of all the logistics.
- Taxis and Rideshares: Taxis are available in larger towns on the Big Island, but they can be quite expensive for long-distance travel. Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft also operate on the island, providing an alternative mode of transportation.
- Bicycles: If you enjoy cycling, renting a bicycle can be a fun way to explore certain areas of the island. Some rental shops offer mountain bikes or beach cruisers for rent, allowing you to experience scenic routes while staying active.
It’s important to note that while public transportation options exist on the Big Island, they may not reach all attractions or remote areas. Therefore, it’s advisable to plan your itinerary in advance and consider renting a car if you want maximum flexibility during your exploration.
Remember to familiarize yourself with local traffic rules and road conditions, and always drive safely. Enjoy your journey as you explore the captivating attractions of the Big Island!
Are there any unique restaurants or shopping experiences to be had on the Big Island?
Absolutely! The Big Island of Hawaii is known for its unique culinary scene and vibrant shopping experiences. Here are a few recommendations to enhance your visit:
- Punalu’u Bake Shop: Located in Naalehu, this charming bakery is famous for its sweet bread and delicious pastries. Indulge in their signature Hawaiian flavors like taro, guava, and coconut. Don’t miss the opportunity to try their mouthwatering malasadas (Portuguese donuts)!
- Kona Coffee Farms: The Big Island is renowned for its coffee production, particularly Kona coffee. Take a tour of one of the many coffee farms in the Kona region and learn about the cultivation and roasting process. Sample some freshly brewed Kona coffee and bring home a bag of this world-class java.
- Hilo Farmers Market: Located in downtown Hilo, this vibrant market offers an array of fresh produce, tropical fruits, local crafts, and unique food stalls. Stroll through the bustling aisles and discover handmade jewelry, clothing, artwork, and more while enjoying live music and cultural performances.
- Waimea Town Market at Parker School: Every Saturday morning in Waimea (Kamuela), locals gather at Parker School to showcase their agricultural products, arts, crafts, and homemade treats. This community-oriented market provides a wonderful opportunity to support local artisans while experiencing the warm hospitality of the island.
- Merriman’s Restaurant: Situated in Waimea (Kamuela), Merriman’s is a renowned farm-to-table restaurant that focuses on using locally sourced ingredients to create innovative dishes with Hawaiian flavors. Enjoy exquisite cuisine while taking in breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.
- KTA Super Stores: With multiple locations across the island, KTA Super Stores offer a unique shopping experience where you can find a wide range of local products such as fresh produce, specialty foods, Hawaiian snacks, and souvenirs. It’s a great place to stock up on local treats or find unique gifts to bring back home.
These are just a few examples of the many unique restaurants and shopping experiences available on the Big Island. Whether you’re looking for delicious cuisine, locally made crafts, or authentic Hawaiian products, the island offers a multitude of options to satisfy your taste buds and shopping desires.
Is it easy to find accommodations for my stay on the Big Island?
Finding accommodations on the Big Island of Hawaii is generally a straightforward process. The island offers a wide range of options to suit different preferences and budgets.
One of the most popular choices for visitors is staying at hotels and resorts, which can be found in various locations across the island. From luxury resorts with stunning ocean views to budget-friendly hotels, there are accommodations to fit every traveler’s needs. It’s advisable to book in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, as availability can vary.
If you prefer a more intimate and immersive experience, you might consider renting a vacation home or villa. Many properties offer breathtaking views, private amenities, and the freedom to create your own schedule. Vacation rentals can be found through various online platforms or local property management companies.
For those seeking a more budget-friendly option or a chance to connect with fellow travelers, hostels and guesthouses are available in certain areas of the island. These accommodations often provide communal spaces where guests can socialize and share experiences.
Camping is another option for adventurous travelers who want to get closer to nature. The Big Island has several campgrounds that offer beautiful settings, allowing visitors to wake up surrounded by stunning landscapes. Permits are required for most campgrounds, so it’s important to plan ahead.
Regardless of your preferred accommodation type, it’s recommended to make reservations in advance, especially during peak travel seasons or if you have specific preferences in terms of location or amenities. This will help ensure that you secure the best options that align with your needs and preferences.
In summary, finding accommodations on the Big Island is generally easy due to the variety of options available. Whether you choose a hotel, vacation rental, hostel, or camping experience, planning ahead will help ensure a smooth and enjoyable stay on this captivating island.