Best Things to do on the Big Island
Best Things to do on the Big Island
Getting to Hawai’i Island feels like quite an accomplishment because no matter where you’re traveling from you have at least a 5 – 6 hour flight (depending on tailwinds or headwinds). Add on all the time you’ve spent getting to the airport and through the airport, it can feel like a full day has gone by and that’s if you’re lucky enough to be traveling from the West Coast of the US. The Hawaiian islands are the most remote places on earth and farthest from any major landmass than any other place on earth. Pretty cool!
Planning a vacation to Hawai’i island can be overwhelming. First off, it’s a BIG island! Did you know that you can fit all the other islands inside this one and you’d still have plenty of room left over? Yup, it’s that big. This is why the distance between things needs to be accounted for when planning your day – be sure to keep that in mind.
If your idea of a vacation is lounging by the pool and sipping cocktails you can certainly do that here, but this island is made for adventure and exploring. Here are some of the best things to do while visiting the Big Island.
Take a helicopter tour
A full island tour is just what you need to get the lay of the land to see the diversity of Hawai’i Island’s topography. Blue Hawaiian Helicopters has a full island tour that departs from Waikoloa and will cover a close-up look of the Kilauea volcano and the stunning valleys of the Kohala mountains. It can help map out your plan of attack on exploring the island by car.
Manta Ray Night Snorkel
Join us for a night snorkel you won’t soon forget. The manta ray night snorkel could quite possibly be one of your favorite life experiences. We say this with confidence because we’ve heard it over and over time and again from our guests. There is something magical about snorkeling with these gentle giants in the warm pacific ocean. Be sure to join us and book in advance as the tours do sell out.
Get your coffee on
Kona Coffee is some of the best in the world. Spend a morning exploring coffee farms like Hula Daddy or Greenwell Farms as well as a host of others to see the process from farm to cup. Be sure to pick some up to bring home with you.
Volcanos National Park
There is so much to see inside Volcanos National Park with tons of hiking trails just waiting to be explored. Be sure to plan on starting early and staying late to get the most out of your visit. Make sure to stop at the visitors center to see what the activity of the volcano is for that day and talk to the rangers about any potential hazards. It’s wise to have a stockpile of snacks and drinks with you that will last you throughout your time exploring the park.
Hit up a Farmer’s Market or Night Market
With delicious produce and handcrafted items stopping at a few Farmer’s Markets or Night Markets is not to be missed. Waimea and Hilo have farmer’s markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Volcano Evening Market happens on Thursdays from 4-7pm. It’s Food Truck Friday in Kona on Friday nights and Waikoloa Night Market on Saturdays. Keauhou Farmer’s market is on Saturday mornings where you might spot some of our snorkel guides Brenna and Ben slinging smoothies with Buzzin’ Blends! If you’re here on the first Friday of the month head up to Holualoa for the town’s First Friday After Dark. There are many other Farmer’s Markets spread throughout the island so if you see one be sure to pull over and check out the goods. These are the best places to find gifts for loved ones back home. Support the local community of Hawai’i.
Star Gaze on Mauna Kea
Did you know that Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain the world? That’s right, even taller than Mt. Everest. That’s because its base starts below sea level. From base to peak it’s 33,500ft compared to Mt. Everest which is only 29,032 ft from base to peak. That’s a pretty fun fact you can trick your friends with back home. You can drive your rental car up to the visitors center which is 9200ft, but to get to the top you need to have a 4wheel drive vehicle. Why? Because it’s steep and coming back down you can burn your brakes up quickly. You’ll want to engage your 4wheel drive low range to come down so you let the engine do the braking and not the brakes. It’s also pretty darn chilly up there and who thinks to pack winter clothes when going to a tropical location? To avoid the hassle of driving and being chilly book a tour with Hawai’i Forest & Trail. Choose the Give Back Experience so you can stop at an endangered native dry forest habitat and participate in some conservation work!
Captain Cook Monument in Kealakekua Bay
Visit the monument which marks the place where Captain James Cook died. He is thought to be the first Westerner to have ever laid eyes on the Hawaiian islands. It’s a gorgeous marine sanctuary with an abundance of fish and other marine life. The bay is protected from most swells, has dramatic cliffs, and an abundance of life on its coral reefs. It’s one of the most beautiful places to snorkel. Coral reefs are extremely delicate so be sure to take extreme care whilst snorkeling. There are three ways to get there in order of hardest to easiest. You can hike the historic Ka’awaloa Trail! It’s a 1.8-mile each-way hike with an elevation change of 1300ff. Going down isn’t so bad, but going up can be brutal in the hot sun. You can do a guided kayak tour (personal kayaks are not permitted) with one of three companies with permits – Adventures in Paradise, Aloha Kayak Co., or Kona Boys. Inc. The third way, and in our opinion the best way (because it’s with us), is to take a boat! You’ll not only get to snorkel this beautiful and historic bay, but you’ll get a chance to see the dramatic Kona coastline from the ocean. Join us on our Kona snorkeling tour to Kealakekua Bay.
Explore historic Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Park
One of the best places to learn about Hawaiian history and culture is Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Park also known as Place of Refuge. There are many sacred sites within the park lands and this is one of the best places to learn about the history of Hawai’i. Go explore, but tread lightly and respectfully.
Malama Hawai’i and be respectful of the culture, the land, the people, and embody the spirit of aloha. Enrich your experience by giving back and making your trip a more rewarding one with Voluntourism.