Things to Do on the Big Island for Free

🏝️ “Explore the Best of Big Island: Free Activities and Hidden Gems” 🌺

Looking for budget-friendly things to do on the Big Island? You might be surprised to discover the wide range of free activities available. From outdoor adventures to cultural experiences, the Big Island of Hawaii offers something for everyone without breaking the bank. So, what are the top picks for free activities on the Big Island? Are there really that many free attractions? Let’s dive in and explore the best no-cost activities and tips for sightseeing on a budget.

Key Takeaways:

  • There are numerous outdoor activities to enjoy for free on the Big Island, including beaches and hiking trails.
  • You can immerse yourself in the island’s rich cultural heritage by visiting historic sites and experiencing traditional Hawaiian luau shows.
  • Adventure seekers can indulge in ATV rides and water activities like snorkeling.
  • Scenic drives and picnics offer a chance to explore the island’s breathtaking landscapes.
  • Unique experiences await with volcano viewing and stargazing opportunities.

Outdoor Adventures: Beaches and Hiking

The Big Island of Hawaii is renowned for its stunning beaches and breathtaking hiking trails. Whether you’re a beach lover or an avid hiker, the island offers a plethora of outdoor activities that won’t cost you a dime. From relaxing on pristine beaches to exploring lush landscapes, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Beautiful Beaches

The Big Island boasts some of the most exquisite beaches in Hawaii. Two of the must-visit free beaches are Hapuna Beach and Kahalu’u Beach. Hapuna Beach is known for its crystal-clear waters and powdery white sand, making it an ideal spot for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. Kahalu’u Beach, on the other hand, provides an excellent opportunity to snorkel and observe vibrant marine life up close.

Thrilling Hiking Trails

If you’re a hiking enthusiast, the Big Island offers a plethora of free trails that showcase the island’s natural beauty. One of the popular trails is Pololu Valley, located on the northern coast. As you trek through the trail, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the coastline and lush greenery. Another must-visit trail is Waipio Valley, known for its scenic vistas and enchanting waterfalls.

“The Big Island’s hiking trails provide stunning views of the coastline and lush landscapes.” – Local Hiker

Top Beaches and Hiking Trails on the Big Island

Hapuna BeachA stunning beach with clear waters and powder-white sand. Perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing.
Kahalu’u BeachA popular beach for snorkeling, where you can witness colorful marine life up close.
Hiking TrailsDescription
Pololu ValleyA scenic trail that offers breathtaking views of the coastline and lush landscapes.
Waipio ValleyAn enchanting trail known for its panoramic vistas and stunning waterfalls.

Whether you choose to spend your day soaking up the sun on the pristine beaches or embark on an adventurous hike through the island’s captivating landscapes, the Big Island of Hawaii has plenty to offer. So pack your sunscreen, put on your hiking shoes, and get ready to explore the best of Hawaii’s outdoor wonders without spending a dime.

Cultural Experiences: Historic Sites and Luau Shows

The Big Island of Hawaii is a treasure trove of cultural experiences, offering visitors the opportunity to explore historic sites and immerse themselves in traditional Hawaiian culture. From ancient archaeological sites to captivating luau shows, there are plenty of free cultural activities to discover on the Big Island.

Historic Sites

One of the best ways to delve into the island’s rich cultural heritage is by visiting its historic sites. The Big Island is home to several significant cultural sites that showcase the island’s history and traditions. Some notable cultural sites to visit include:

  1. Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park: This sacred site was once a place of refuge for those seeking forgiveness for their crimes. Explore the ancient temples, royal grounds, and mysterious petroglyphs.
  2. Lapakahi State Historical Park: Step back in time at this preserved ancient Hawaiian fishing village. Walk among the ruins and learn about the lives of the early island inhabitants.
  3. Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve: Discover more than 3,000 petroglyphs etched into the lava rocks. These ancient carvings provide a fascinating glimpse into the island’s past.

By visiting these cultural sites, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of the island’s history and the significance of these sacred places to the Hawaiian people.

Luau Shows

No visit to the Big Island is complete without experiencing a traditional Hawaiian luau. These lively gatherings celebrate Hawaiian culture through music, dance, and cuisine. While some luau shows require paid admission, there are also free or low-cost options available. These shows offer visitors the chance to witness captivating hula performances, listen to enchanting Hawaiian music, and savor delicious traditional dishes. It’s a cultural immersion that shouldn’t be missed.

Here are a few popular luau shows on the Big Island:

  1. Island Breeze Luau: Held at the historic King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, this luau features authentic Polynesian music and dance performances.
  2. Haleo Luau: Located at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort, this luau showcases the legends and stories of the Hawaiian islands through song and dance.
  3. Hale Hoʻikeʻike at the Bailey House: This unique luau on Maui offers a cultural journey through Hawaiian history, highlighting the customs and traditions of the islands.

At these luau shows, visitors can experience the vibrant spirit of Hawaii and gain a deeper appreciation for the island’s cultural heritage.

“Visiting the cultural sites and attending a luau show are truly immersive experiences that allow visitors to connect with the rich history and traditions of the Big Island.” – Local Hawaiian resident

So, whether you’re exploring the ancient ruins or enjoying a captivating luau performance, the Big Island offers a wealth of cultural experiences that can be enjoyed free of charge or at a low cost. Immerse yourself in the island’s vibrant culture and create unforgettable memories during your visit.

Outdoor Adventures: ATV Rides and Water Activities

big island outdoor activities

Are you an adventure seeker looking for thrilling outdoor activities on the Big Island? Look no further! The Big Island offers exciting ATV rides and fun-filled water activities that will satisfy your craving for adrenaline and exploration.

ATV Rides: Exploring Off-Road Areas

If you’re up for a rugged adventure, hop on an ATV and get ready to explore the island’s off-road areas. Feel the excitement as you navigate through challenging terrains and witness the island’s natural beauty up close. Whether you’re racing through muddy trails or trekking through dense forests, ATV rides on the Big Island are guaranteed to leave you exhilarated.

Take a moment to imagine the thrill of zooming through untouched landscapes, surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature. ATV rides on the Big Island offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the island’s wild side while creating unforgettable memories.

Snorkeling: Underwater Exploration

Dive into the crystal-clear waters of the Big Island and discover a mesmerizing underwater world. Snorkeling is one of the best water activities you can enjoy for free on the island, and there’s no better place to do it than at Kahalu’u Beach.

Put on your snorkel gear and dive into the vibrant marine ecosystem. Swim alongside colorful fish, graceful sea turtles, and mesmerizing coral reefs. The clear visibility and abundance of marine life make snorkeling on the Big Island an unforgettable experience.

Snorkeling at Kahalu’u Beach offers the perfect blend of tranquility and excitement. Spend your day exploring the underwater wonders and marveling at the beauty of nature beneath the surface.

Is there anything more invigorating than the thrill of riding an ATV through off-road terrain or the sense of wonder you experience while snorkeling in the depths of the ocean? The Big Island offers an incredible array of outdoor adventures, ensuring that you’ll never run out of things to do.

“ATV rides on the Big Island offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the island’s wild side while creating unforgettable memories.”

So, gear up for an adventure-filled day with ATV rides and dive into the stunning underwater world with snorkeling on the Big Island. Whether you prefer the rush of adrenaline or the tranquility of underwater exploration, these outdoor activities will leave you with incredible memories of your time on the Big Island.

Scenic Drives and Picnics

scenic drives big island

The Big Island of Hawaii is not only known for its beautiful beaches and outdoor adventures but also for its breathtaking scenic drives. These drives take you through some of the island’s most stunning landscapes, providing a feast for the eyes and a memorable experience. Whether you’re a photography enthusiast or simply enjoy immersing yourself in nature’s beauty, these scenic drives are a must-do on the Big Island.

Popular Scenic Drives

Two popular routes to explore on the Big Island are the Hamakua Coast and the Kohala Mountain Road.

“The Hamakua Coast drive offers spectacular views of towering sea cliffs, lush green valleys, and cascading waterfalls. The drive takes you along the eastern side of the island, providing breathtaking coastal panoramas. Don’t miss Waipio Valley Lookout, where you can gaze at the verdant valley and stunning black sand beach below.”

“The Kohala Mountain Road is another scenic drive that takes you through the lush greenery of the Kohala Forest Reserve. As you wind your way up the mountain, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the island’s rugged coastline. Be sure to make a stop at the scenic lookout points along the way.”

These scenic drives offer numerous opportunities to stop and capture stunning photos. So don’t forget to bring your camera and take advantage of the photo-worthy moments that await you.

Picnic Spots with Stunning Views

What better way to enjoy the beauty of the Big Island than by having a picnic amidst nature’s splendor? The island offers several picnic spots where you can relax, savor a meal, and soak in the picturesque surroundings.

Two recommended picnic spots on the Big Island are:

  1. Waipio Valley
  2. Akaka Falls State Park

Waipio Valley: Nestled along the Hamakua Coast, Waipio Valley is a stunning location for a picnic. The lush green valley, framed by steep cliffs and a beautiful black sand beach, creates a picturesque setting for a relaxing meal.

Akaka Falls State Park: Located near Hilo, Akaka Falls State Park is home to the towering Akaka Falls, which plunges 442 feet into a lush gorge. The park features well-maintained trails and picnic areas where you can enjoy your meal while surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature.

Both of these picnic spots offer a tranquil atmosphere and breathtaking views, making them ideal locations to unwind and connect with nature.

Scenic Drives and Picnic Spots Table

Scenic DrivesPicnic Spots
Hamakua CoastWaipio Valley
Kohala Mountain RoadAkaka Falls State Park

Embark on a memorable journey along the scenic drives of the Big Island, capturing breathtaking views and creating lasting memories. Take a break from exploring and enjoy a picnic at renowned spots like Waipio Valley and Akaka Falls State Park. These experiences will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty that surrounds you on the Big Island.

Unique Experiences: Volcano Viewing and Stargazing

volcano viewing big island

The Big Island of Hawaii offers unique experiences that allow visitors to witness the power of nature and explore the wonders of the night sky. Volcano viewing and stargazing are two captivating activities that should not be missed during your stay.

Volcano Viewing at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park

Located on the Big Island, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is home to Kilauea and Mauna Loa, two of the world’s most active volcanoes. While there may be entrance fees to access the park, volcano viewing from designated areas is completely free. Witnessing the raw power and beauty of an active volcano is an awe-inspiring experience that will leave you with a lasting impression.

“The sight of lava flowing from Kilauea’s vent into the ocean was truly mesmerizing. It’s a reminder of the dynamic nature of our planet and the forces that shape it.” – Visitor at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park

Stargazing at Mauna Kea Summit

On the Big Island, the Mauna Kea summit offers an exceptional stargazing experience. With its high elevation and minimal light pollution, Mauna Kea is one of the best places in the world for observing the night sky. The summit is home to world-class observatories, providing opportunities for both amateur and professional astronomers to explore the wonders of the universe.

stargazing big island

“The view from Mauna Kea summit was breathtaking. I’ve never seen so many stars in my life. It felt like I was floating among the galaxies.” – Stargazing enthusiast

Set aside an evening to visit Mauna Kea summit and be prepared to be amazed by the magnificence of the night sky. Remember to dress warmly as temperatures can be quite cold at higher altitudes.

Volcano Viewing at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National ParkStargazing at Mauna Kea Summit
Experience the power and beauty of active volcanoesObserve the wonders of the universe from a world-renowned summit
Free volcano viewing from designated areasEnjoy exceptional stargazing opportunities
Entrance fees may apply for the national parkMinimal light pollution for optimal stargazing

Note: It’s important to check the park’s website or consult with local authorities for any restrictions or safety measures before planning your visit to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park or Mauna Kea summit.

Local Experiences: Farmers Markets and Cultural Shows

farmers markets big island

When visiting the Big Island, immerse yourself in the local culture by exploring the vibrant farmers markets and attending captivating cultural shows. These experiences offer a unique glimpse into the island’s traditions, flavors, and artistic expressions. Whether you’re a food lover or a fan of traditional performances, the Big Island has plenty to offer.

Farmers Markets: A Feast for the Senses

The farmers markets on the Big Island are a delightful fusion of flavors, aromas, and colors. Here, you can indulge in an exquisite selection of fresh local produce, tantalizing snacks, and unique handmade crafts. These markets provide an opportunity to interact with local vendors, learn about their farming practices, and support the island’s agricultural community.

The Big Island boasts a variety of farmers markets scattered across its different regions. One notable market is the Hilo Farmers Market, located in the heart of the town. With over 200 vendors, this market offers a diverse range of tropical fruits, vegetables, and exotic treats. Another popular option is the Pure Kona Green Market, nestled in the charming town of Captain Cook. This market showcases locally grown organic produce, homemade artisanal products, and live music to create a vibrant atmosphere.

Cultural Shows: An Enchanting Display of Tradition

Experience the rich heritage of the Big Island through its captivating cultural shows. These performances showcase the island’s traditional music, dance, and storytelling, allowing you to immerse yourself in the mesmerizing rhythms and ancient tales of Hawaii.

Many cultural shows on the Big Island are either free or offered at affordable prices, making them accessible to all visitors. These shows often take place in historical venues, providing a unique setting that adds to the overall experience. From hula dances to Polynesian drumming, these shows celebrate the island’s diverse cultural heritage.

“The magic of the hula mesmerized me, as the dancers gracefully told stories through their movements. It was a truly enchanting experience.” – Visitor testimonial

Attending a cultural show is an excellent way to gain insight into the traditions and values of Hawaii’s indigenous people. Let the rhythmic beats and graceful movements transport you to a bygone era, where the spirit of Aloha thrives.

Notable Farmers Markets on the Big Island

NameLocationOperating Days
Hilo Farmers MarketHiloWednesday, Saturday, and Sunday
Pure Kona Green MarketCaptain CookSunday
Volcano Farmers MarketVolcano VillageSunday
Waimea Town Farmers MarketWaimeaSaturday

Explore these farmers markets during your visit to the Big Island to discover the vibrant flavors and cultural diversity that make Hawaii so unique. Taste the freshness, witness the craftsmanship, and embrace the Aloha spirit as you connect with the local community.

Wildlife Encounters: Whale Watching and Dolphin Spotting

whale watching big island

The Big Island of Hawaii is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts, offering incredible opportunities to spot majestic whales and playful dolphins. Whether you’re an avid photographer or simply want to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, the Big Island has you covered.

Whale Watching

During the winter months, humpback whales make their annual migration to the warm waters surrounding the Big Island. These gentle giants can be seen breaching and tail-slapping, putting on a captivating show for lucky onlookers. To get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures, embark on a whale watching tour. Experienced guides will take you to prime viewing spots and provide fascinating insights about the whales’ behavior and habitat.

Dolphin Spotting

The Big Island is also home to playful spinner dolphins that frequent the Kona coast. These acrobatic dolphins are known for their incredible aerial displays, leaping and spinning in the air. To catch a glimpse of them, head to popular dolphin spotting locations along the coast or join a dolphin-watching tour. As you cruise the sparkling waters, keep your eyes peeled for these graceful creatures and be prepared to be amazed by their playful antics.

With their breathtaking beauty and captivating behaviors, whale watching and dolphin spotting on the Big Island offer unforgettable wildlife encounters. Whether you choose to observe from the shore or join a tour, these experiences will leave you with cherished memories of the island’s abundant marine life.

Outdoor Adventures: Waterfalls and Lava Tubes

big island waterfalls

The Big Island of Hawaii is renowned for its mesmerizing waterfalls and captivating lava tubes. These natural wonders provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in the island’s stunning landscapes and volcanic origins. Discover the beauty of free waterfalls and explore the ancient lava formations of lava tubes for a unique outdoor adventure.

Free Waterfalls on the Big Island

Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of the Big Island’s free waterfalls. Two must-visit waterfalls are Rainbow Falls and Akaka Falls, both offering breathtaking vistas and photo opportunities. Rainbow Falls, located just outside of Hilo, showcases a majestic cascade plunging into a turquoise pool, while Akaka Falls, in Akaka Falls State Park, boasts a dramatic 442-foot drop surrounded by lush vegetation and vibrant flora.

Exploring Lava Tubes

Journey beneath the surface of the Big Island and delve into the captivating world of lava tubes. Kula Kai Caverns is one such lava tube that offers an exhilarating underground experience. Located on the south side of the island, Kula Kai Caverns allows visitors to explore miles of ancient lava formations, marveling at the intricate geological features created by volcanic activity. This adventure takes you on a unique journey through the island’s volcanic history.

WaterfallsLava Tubes
Rainbow FallsKula Kai Caverns
Akaka Falls

These outdoor adventures on the Big Island offer an incredible opportunity to witness the island’s natural beauty and geological wonders. From the enchanting waterfalls to the captivating lava tubes, you can immerse yourself in the island’s stunning landscapes while exploring for free. Whether you’re seeking scenic beauty, adventure, or geological exploration, the Big Island has it all.

Relaxation and Enjoyment: Sunset Viewing and Beach Activities

big island sunset viewing

Unwind and soak up the island vibes on the Big Island of Hawaii with plenty of opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment. One popular activity that shouldn’t be missed is big island sunset viewing, where you can witness breathtaking sunsets from scenic spots like Magic Sands Beach and Kona waterfront. The vibrant colors illuminating the sky as the sun dips below the horizon create a truly magical experience that will leave you in awe.

For beachgoers, the island’s expansive coastline offers endless possibilities for beach activities and free beach activities big island. Whether you enjoy swimming, sunbathing, or simply strolling along the sandy shores, the Big Island has a beach for everyone. You can indulge in beachcombing, searching for unique seashells and treasures washed ashore, or try your hand at building sandcastles with the soft, golden sand.

Looking for a quiet spot to relax and enjoy the sounds of the ocean? Table:

Magic Sands BeachKailua-Kona
  • Crystal-clear waters
  • Boogie boarding
  • Sunset views
Hapuna BeachKohala Coast
  • Gorgeous white sand
  • Snorkeling
  • Picnic areas
Makalawena BeachKekaha Kai State Park
  • Secluded and uncrowded
  • Turquoise waters
  • Hiking trails

Spend a day at one of these stunning beaches, basking in the warm Hawaiian sun and feeling the gentle breeze on your face. Whether you’re seeking adventure or tranquility, the Big Island’s beaches provide the perfect backdrop for a memorable day by the water.


The Big Island of Hawaii is a paradise for budget travelers, offering a wide range of free activities to enjoy. Whether you’re seeking adventure, cultural experiences, or simply a relaxing day at the beach, the Big Island has something for everyone. By exploring stunning beaches and hiking trails, immersing yourself in the local culture, and encountering wildlife in their natural habitat, you can create unforgettable memories without spending a dime.

From the breathtaking beauty of the island’s waterfalls and lava tubes to the vibrant atmosphere of the farmers markets and cultural shows, the Big Island provides a diverse range of free attractions to explore. Take advantage of opportunities to witness the power of active volcanoes, gaze at the night sky from the Mauna Kea summit, and indulge in beach activities and scenic drives that showcase the island’s natural wonders.

So pack your sunscreen, grab your camera, and get ready to experience the best of the Big Island without breaking the bank. With its stunning landscapes, rich culture, and abundance of free activities, the Big Island is a destination that offers something for everyone. Discover the hidden treasures and unique experiences that await you on this beautiful Hawaiian island.


What are some free activities on the Big Island?

Some free activities on the Big Island include visiting stunning beaches, exploring hiking trails, experiencing cultural sites, attending luau shows, and enjoying outdoor adventures.

What are the best beaches on the Big Island?

Some of the best beaches on the Big Island are Hapuna Beach and Kahalu’u Beach. These beaches offer opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing.

Are there any free hiking trails on the Big Island?

Yes, there are several free hiking trails on the Big Island, such as Pololu Valley and Waipio Valley. These trails provide stunning views of the coastline and lush landscapes.

What cultural sites can I visit for free on the Big Island?

Some free cultural sites on the Big Island include Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, Lapakahi State Historical Park, and the petroglyphs at Puako.

Are there any free or low-cost luau shows on the Big Island?

Yes, there are free or low-cost luau shows on the Big Island that showcase Hawaiian music, dance, and cuisine. These shows provide a glimpse into the island’s vibrant culture.

What outdoor adventures can I do for free on the Big Island?

Some free outdoor adventures on the Big Island include ATV rides and snorkeling. ATV rides allow you to explore off-road areas and enjoy the island’s natural beauty, while snorkeling can be done for free at beaches like Kahalu’u Beach.

Where can I go for scenic drives on the Big Island?

Some popular scenic drives on the Big Island include the Hamakua Coast and Kohala Mountain Road. These drives provide opportunities to stop at lookout points and capture stunning photos.

Are there any free picnic spots on the Big Island?

Yes, there are beautiful picnic spots on the Big Island where you can enjoy a meal surrounded by nature. Some options include Waipio Valley and Akaka Falls State Park.

Can I see volcanoes for free on the Big Island?

While Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park may have entrance fees, you can view volcanoes from designated areas for free. Witness the power of nature and observe active volcanoes on the Big Island.

Where can I go stargazing on the Big Island?

The Mauna Kea summit is an ideal spot for stargazing on the Big Island. The high elevation and lack of light pollution provide a unique opportunity to observe the night sky.

Are there any farmers markets on the Big Island?

Yes, the Big Island has several farmers markets where you can sample fresh local produce, snacks, and handmade crafts. Some popular markets include the Hilo Farmers Market and the Pure Kona Green Market.

Can I spot whales and dolphins on the Big Island?

Yes, during the winter months, humpback whales migrate to the waters surrounding the Big Island. Whale-watching tours provide an opportunity to see these majestic creatures. Spinner dolphins can also be spotted along the Kona coast.

What are some free waterfalls to visit on the Big Island?

Some free waterfalls to visit on the Big Island include Rainbow Falls and Akaka Falls. These cascading falls offer scenic beauty and opportunities for swimming and photography.

What are lava tubes, and where can I explore them on the Big Island?

Lava tubes are underground tunnels formed by flowing lava. Kula Kai Caverns is a lava tube on the Big Island where you can explore miles of ancient lava formations.

What are some free spots for sunset viewing on the Big Island?

Magic Sands Beach and the Kona waterfront are popular spots for sunset viewing on the Big Island. Witness breathtaking sunsets and soak up the island vibes.

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