The Blonde Abroad on suggestions for things to do on the Big Island. Join us on an amazing manta ray tour for once-in-a-lifetime experience getting up close to the majestic creatures off the coast of Kona.
It’s no secret that the Hawaiian Islands offer a lot of opportunities to get outdoors, and hit the beach. My favorite things to do on the Big Island include exploring their many walking and hiking trails, checking out the beautiful waterfalls, scuba diving, relaxing on the beaches, and of course, eating my way through the local markets!
Located on the Hilo Coast, a short 0.4-mile hike will bring you to two beautiful waterfalls known as Akaka Falls. The falls plummet 442-feet into a gorge that is surrounded by lush greenery.
VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
Home to Kilauea and Mauna Loa, two of the world’s active volcanoes, the Volcanoes National Park allows you to experience these wonders up close and personal. Within the park, there are 150-miles of hiking trails, volcanic craters, desert and rainforests, and more.
MANTA RAY NIGHT DIVE
Regarded as one of the most memorable dives on Earth, the Big Island is one of the only places in the world where you can night dive with manta rays. Using lights brought by tour guides, plankton is attracted to the shores of Kona, bringing the manta rays along with them. You have the ability to swim or dive with these majestic creatures as soon as the sunsets.
VISIT THE TOP OF MAUNA KEA
Mauna Kea, the highest volcano in the state, is one of the best places to watch the sunset or stargaze. In the evening, local volunteer astronomers set up telescopes outside of the visitor center.
To visit the summit to watch the sunset, you will need a 4WD vehicle and you’ll want to take a break at the Visitor Center before reaching the top to help you acclimate to the altitude. When up there, just remember to be respectful as the locals view the summit as sacred. It is said to be the place where Poli’ahu (a snow goddess) resides.
There are so many amazing local farms throughout the Hawaiian Islands, so their Farmer’s Markets are a must-see if you’re staying more than a few days. The Big Island has a few weekly markets—you can find them in Kona, Hilo, Volcano, and Waimea!
Waipi’o Valley was once home to old Hawaiian kings and was extremely populated. These days it’s home to taro fields and a small handful of residents. Here you can take a 6.5-mile (difficult) hike down to a black sand beach or you can simply enjoy the view at the lookout. There are also tours that drive you down to the bottom of the valley if you’re looking to experience it without the hike!
TAKE A DAY TOUR
Taking a day tour is one of the best ways to see the island. You can find tours that take you to volcanoes, waterfalls, coffee plantations, black sand beaches, and snorkeling. The options are endless.
TURTLES AT KIHOLO BAY
Kiholo Bay, located in the Kona District, is one of the island’s largest bays and one of the best places to spot sea turtles. Green sea turtles love the Wainanali’i Pond aka Hawaii’s Blue Lagoon, located at the northern end of the bay. Recent conservation efforts have helped protect the animals.
CITY OF REFUGE
The City of Refuge (aka Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Park) is one of the best places to experience Hawaiian history. In ancient Hawaiian times, commoners were not allowed to get too close to the chief nor were they allowed to come anywhere near his possessions or grounds. The penalty for breaking this kapu (taboo) was death. That is unless they reached puuhonua or a place of refuge.
The City of Refuge is the island’s most famous and most well-maintained place of refuge. Here you’ll experience ancient homes, temples, traditional Hawaiian games, and more.
BLACK SAND BEACHES
Hawaii has two famous black sand beaches, a product of volcanic eruption. Waipi’o Valley is home to one but there is also Punalu’u Beach, located on the southeastern coast, about 67-miles south of Kona. On your drive to the beach, you will pass by Ka Lae, the southernmost point of the US. This one-of-a-kind beach is a great place to swim or snorkel.