Big Island Activities

Explore the Best of the Big Island 🌴🌋 Adventure, Culture, and Natural Wonders

If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, the Big Island is a must-visit destination. With its diverse range of activities and attractions, the island offers something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or an immersive cultural experience, you’ll find it on the Big Island.

From exploring volcanic landscapes to snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, the Big Island is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Families with children can participate in cultural activities or visit family-friendly beaches. And for those seeking something unique, stargazing on Mauna Kea or visiting active volcanoes offer unforgettable experiences.

So, pack your bags and get ready to discover the best things to do on the Big Island. Read on to learn about top attractions, adventure activities, water-based activities, family-friendly options, and off-the-beaten-path experiences.

Key Takeaways

  • The Big Island offers a diverse range of activities and attractions to suit every preference and interest.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, ziplining, snorkeling, and surfing.
  • The island’s crystal-clear waters, vibrant marine life, and opportunities for unforgettable aquatic experiences are perfect for water-based activities.
  • Families with children can participate in cultural activities or visit family-friendly beaches.
  • Unique experiences like stargazing on Mauna Kea or visiting active volcanoes offer unforgettable memories.

Top Attractions on the Big Island

The Big Island of Hawaii is home to some of the most breathtaking natural wonders, historical landmarks, and cultural sites in the world. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or a history buff, there’s something for everyone on this enchanting island.

Volcanoes National Park

One of the most iconic attractions on the Big Island is Volcanoes National Park. This park features two active volcanoes, KÄ«lauea and Mauna Loa, and offers visitors the opportunity to witness the power of nature firsthand. Explore the park’s craters, lava tubes, and steam vents, and learn about the island’s geologic history.

Top Attractions on the Big Island

Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park

Step back in time at Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park, a sacred site that served as a place of refuge for ancient Hawaiians. This park offers visitors the chance to learn about traditional Hawaiian culture and history, explore ancient temples and petroglyphs, and relax on a stunning beach.

Akaka Falls State Park

Take a scenic hike through Akaka Falls State Park and marvel at the park’s two stunning waterfalls, including the 442-foot Akaka Falls. This park is home to a variety of tropical plants and wildlife, making it a must-see for nature lovers.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park Art Center

For art lovers, a visit to the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park Art Center is a must. This center features works by local artists inspired by the park’s natural beauty. Visitors can view a variety of art forms, from painting to sculpture, and even purchase artwork as a souvenir.

Adventure Activities on the Big Island

For thrill-seekers and adventure enthusiasts, the Big Island offers a wealth of outdoor activities that will get your heart racing.

One of the most popular adventure activities on the island is hiking. With over 200 miles of trails, the Big Island has something to offer hikers of all levels. One of the most challenging hikes is the Kalalau Trail, which takes you along the breathtaking Na Pali Coast on Kauai. This 22-mile round-trip hike features steep cliffs, narrow ridges, and stunning views.

Adventure Activities on the Big Island

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If you’re looking for something a bit faster-paced than hiking, consider ziplining. The Big Island has several zipline tour operators that offer thrilling experiences soaring over lush rainforest canopies and cascading waterfalls.

The island’s crystal-clear waters also provide fantastic opportunities for aquatic adventures. Snorkeling and scuba diving are popular activities, allowing you to explore the vibrant marine life and coral reefs that surround the island. Surfing and paddleboarding are also popular pastimes, with beaches like Waikiki and Waimea Bay offering perfect conditions for catching some waves.

Discover the Natural Wonders of the Big Island

But the adventure activities on the Big Island aren’t just limited to adrenaline-pumping experiences. The island’s natural wonders also provide opportunities for more relaxed but still unforgettable outdoor adventures.

One of the most unique experiences is exploring the island’s many lava tubes. These underground tunnels are formed by flowing lava and offer a fascinating glimpse into the geological history of the island. The Thurston Lava Tube in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a popular attraction that’s easily accessible and suitable for the whole family.

The island’s diverse landscapes also make it an ideal destination for hiking and exploring. From the lush rainforests of Hilo to the rugged coastline of the Kohala Coast, the Big Island offers a variety of environments to discover.

Whether you’re looking for an exhilarating adventure or a peaceful outdoor escape, the Big Island has something for everyone.

Water Activities on the Big Island

When it comes to water activities, the Big Island is a paradise for aquatic enthusiasts. With crystal-clear waters and a vibrant marine life, the island offers plenty of options for unforgettable experiences.

Snorkeling is a favorite pastime on the Big Island, and it’s not hard to see why. With numerous snorkeling spots, visitors can explore colorful coral reefs and swim alongside tropical fish. One of the most popular spots is Kealakekua Bay, where visitors can also spot dolphins and sea turtles.

Scuba diving is another fantastic option, with the Big Island offering some of the best diving sites in Hawaii. Popular sites include the underwater lava tubes at night and the Kohala Coast, where divers can see manta rays up close.

Kayaking is a fun way to explore the island’s coastline and waterways. Paddlers can venture out to sea caves, hidden coves, and even secluded beaches only accessible by water. Visitors can rent kayaks or join a guided tour to explore the Big Island’s stunning coastline.

No trip to the Big Island is complete without a whale watching tour. From December to May, humpback whales make their annual migration to Hawaii, and visitors can witness these majestic creatures up close. Tours depart daily from various locations on the island, offering a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Water Activities on the Big Island

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Family-Friendly Activities on the Big Island

If you’re planning a family vacation on the Big Island, there are plenty of activities that will keep everyone entertained. From beaches to botanical gardens, there’s something for every age and interest.

Visit Family-Friendly Beaches

One of the highlights of a family vacation in Hawaii is spending time at the beach. The Big Island has several beaches that are ideal for families with young children. Among them are the Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area, which has white sand and gentle waves, and the Kahalu’u Beach Park, which has calm, shallow waters that are perfect for snorkeling.

Explore Botanical Gardens

The Big Island is home to several botanical gardens that are perfect for family outings. Among the most popular are the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, the World Botanical Gardens and Waterfalls, and the Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden. These gardens offer a glimpse of the island’s unique flora and fauna and provide opportunities for educational and interactive activities.

Participate in Cultural Activities

Immerse your family in the rich culture of Hawaii by participating in traditional Hawaiian activities. Attend a hula performance, make a lei, learn to play the ukulele, or take a hula lesson. These activities will not only provide entertainment but also deepen your understanding of the island’s unique heritage.

Take Educational Tours

The Big Island offers several educational tours that are perfect for families with curious minds. Among the popular options are the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which provides an up-close look at the island’s active volcanoes, and the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, which showcases the island’s rich cultural history. Both parks offer guided tours and educational programs that are suitable for all ages.

Family at Hawaii tropical botanical garden

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Unique Experiences on the Big Island

If you’re looking for something truly unique and unforgettable on your Hawaii adventure, the Big Island has you covered. From stargazing on Mauna Kea to exploring active volcanoes, the island offers experiences that are unlike any other.

Stargazing on Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea is home to some of the world’s most advanced astronomical observatories, and visitors can take a guided tour to learn more about the stars and constellations. With its high elevation and clear skies, Mauna Kea is one of the best places in the world for stargazing.

stargazing on Mauna Kea

Visiting Active Volcanoes

The Big Island is home to two of the most active volcanoes in the world: Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Visitors can explore these volcanoes and witness the raw power of nature in action. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park offers a range of hiking trails and scenic drives where visitors can witness the volcanic landscapes and learn more about the island’s geology.

Exploring Lava Tubes

The lava tubes on the Big Island are a unique and fascinating natural wonder. Visitors can explore these underground tunnels and witness first-hand the power of volcanic activity. The Thurston Lava Tube in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a popular destination for visitors, while the Kaumana Caves offer a more off-the-beaten-path experience.

Attending Traditional Hawaiian Events

The Big Island offers a range of traditional Hawaiian events that visitors can attend and participate in. From hula festivals to cultural workshops, these events showcase the island’s rich and diverse heritage. The Merrie Monarch Festival, held annually in Hilo, is a highlight for many visitors and features hula performances and competitions, as well as craft fairs and parades.

Whether you’re seeking adventure or looking for unique cultural experiences, the Big Island has something to offer everyone. Don’t miss out on these unforgettable activities during your Hawaii adventure.


As you can see, the Big Island is a destination that truly has it all. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a little bit of both, this captivating island has something to offer for everyone.

From the top attractions like Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Hilo’s Imiloa Astronomy Center, to water activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, and whale watching, to family-friendly options like visiting beaches and exploring botanical gardens, there is no shortage of things to do on the Big Island. And for those looking for something truly unique, there are off-the-beaten-path experiences like stargazing on Mauna Kea, exploring lava tubes, and attending traditional Hawaiian events.

It’s easy to see why the Big Island is one of Hawaii’s most popular destinations, with its diverse offerings, natural beauty, and cultural richness. So why not plan your own Hawaii adventure today and discover all that this amazing island has to offer?

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