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Things to do in Big Island of Hawaii

Things to do in  Big Island of Hawaii

Welcome to Big Island of Hawaii

The Big Island of Hawaii provides visitors a true escape from daily life, whether you’re hunting for glowing lava, beaches, adventure, or tropical rain forests. Nature lovers find endless places to explore on the lush isle, from the peaks of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to the Waipio Valley. Become part of the local culture by dancing to Polynesian rhythms or dining on roasted pig at a Hawaiian luau. The Big Island brims with opportunities to discover new trails, find your own perfect beach for snorkeling, admire waterfalls, and savor Hawaiian sunsets with a fruity cocktail in hand.

Top 10 attractions in Big Island of Hawaii

#1
Mauna Kea Summit & Observatory

Mauna Kea Summit & Observatory

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Visiting the Mauna Kea Summit and Observatories gives you the feeling of being on top of the world for good reason: You’re actually pretty close. Standing at 13,796 feet (4,138 meters), the mountain is Hawaii's tallest and the highlight of many visitors' trips to the Big Island of Hawaii. The Mauna Kea Observatories (MKO) feature some of the world's largest telescopes, including equipment from Canada, France, and the University of Hawaii, due to its designation as an unparalleled destination for stargazing.More
#2
Kealakekua Bay

Kealakekua Bay

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The marine sanctuary of Kealakekua Bay ranks among Hawaii’s most scenic spots for snorkeling, swimming, and hiking. The beautiful bay, home to spinner dolphins and backed by green mountain slopes, was the site where Captain James Cook landed—and was later killed—on the Big Island in 1779, forever altering the history and culture of the archipelago.More
#3
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park offers visitors a front-row seat to the region’s striking natural beauty. Home to everything from lush rain forest and the Halemaumau Crater to lava tubes and rolling black lava fields—where hot steam still rises from fissures and rifts that dot the rugged landscape—Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a must on the Big Island.More
#4
Kailua Pier

Kailua Pier

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Kailua Pier is the northern bookend to most of Kailua-Kona’s restaurants, shops and bars, a stretch of concrete wide enough to host four-lanes of traffic (if it wasn’t closed off to cars). The historic pier was first built as a downtown fishing dock in 1900 and utilized rocks from deconstructed Hawaiian palace and fort walls, but today few boats moor here. Instead, the pier is mostly used for large events and festivals including the annual Kona Ironman World Championships, which starts and finishes at the pier, and the Kona International Billfish Tournament whose daily catches of sometimes-massive fish species including Pacific blue marlin are weighed from pier-side scales for all to see.On the pier’s northern side, a small beach fronting the King Kamehameha Marriott Hotel has public showers, restroom blocks and hosts community events such as the Kona International Surf Film Festival and the Kona Brewers’ Festival. Aside from the beach, the best vantage forAhu’ena Heiau, a still-revered thatch-roof temple dedicated to Lono and dating to the early 19th century, is from Kailua Pier. Some say the temple is just 1/3 of its original size when built by Island-uniting King Kamehameha I. Because it is believed the monarch also died here, the site and its tiny man-made island remain sacred and off-limits to the public, despite being on the National Register of Historic Landmarks.More
#5
Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

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One of the most popular waterfalls on the Big Island of Hawaii, Rainbow Falls is loved for its easy access and the rainbows that frequent the falls on misty mornings. The Wailuku River varies dramatically based on rain, but this 80-foot (24.4-meter) cascade wows viewers whether it is a thundering torrent or delicate trickle.More
#6
Waimea

Waimea

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Situated on the northern end of Hawaii’s Big Island, Waimea is the center of Hawaiian cowboy (paniolo country. This historic area is filled with rolling green hills, endless open pastures, and spectacular valleys. With its stunning scenery and great local food, Waimea is one of the Big Island’s top tourist towns.More
#7
Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach

Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach

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Hawaii’s volcanic activity creates a dynamic array of beaches ranging from soft white shores to the black pebbles of the Big Island’s Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach. But, travelers aren’t the only visitors to Punaluʻu; the area is known for the large green sea turtles (honu) that come out to bask along the black sand shoreline.More
#8
Waipio Valley

Waipio Valley

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Forming a deep natural amphitheater that’s washed by the sea and waterfalls, the Waipio Valley, on the Big Island of Hawaii, is a natural wonderland marked by rain forests and hiking trails. Cliffs thousands of feet high plunge to the valley floor, where a curved black-sand beach meets the sea.More
#9
Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku)

Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku)

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Located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Thurston Lava Tube is the most accessible lava tube on the Big Island. Discovered in 1913, this 500-year-old tube was created by subterranean lava that once flowed through this young section of earth. Today, the tube is illuminated to create an eerie glow for visitors who venture inside.More
#10
Captain Cook Monument

Captain Cook Monument

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British explorer Captain James Cook met his death at Kealakekua Bay on February 14, 1779, after a skirmish with the king of Hawaii in a local village. Today, a white obelisk in Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park stands sentinel over the lush coast and its crystal clear waters, commemorating his death.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Big Island of Hawaii

Night Manta Ray Adventure on the Big Island, Hawaii
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Big Island in a Day: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, Sightseeing, History
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Afternoon Sail & Snorkel to the Captain Cook Monument
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Captain Cook /Kealakekua Bay
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Captain Cook /Kealakekua Bay

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Small Group Big Island Twilight Volcano and Stargazing Tour
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Atlantis Submarine Kona - Hawaii Island
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Manta Magic - Night Manta Ray Snorkel At Manta Village, Kona, Hawaii
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Polynesian ATV Tour

Polynesian ATV Tour

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9-Line Zipline Experience on the Big Island, Hawaii
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Keauhou Manta Ray Night Snorkel in Kailua-Kona, HI
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Morning Kealakekua Snorkel Tour
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Morning Kealakekua Snorkel Tour

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Things to do in Big Island of Hawaii this...

Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Big Island of Hawaii

star-5
Fun experience
Kaitlynn_G, Jun 2022
Captain Cook /Kealakekua Bay
We were able to see some spinner dolphins, go along the coast and learn some Hawaiian history, and snorkel.
star-5
Wonderful Waterfall Tour
Shelby_B, Jun 2022
Kohala Waterfalls Small Group Adventure Tour
Our knowledgeable, friendly guide, Taro, did a great job informing us about Native Hawaiian history and local culture as he led us to several lovely waterfalls.
star-5
Great tour of the Island of Hawaii
Margaret_F, Jun 2022
Big Island in a Day: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, Sightseeing, History
We were able to see highlight of the island.
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Breath taking!
ANDREW_V, Jun 2022
Manta Ray Snorkeling by Night in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
We got to see so many Ray.
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Awesome Manta Rays & Captain & Crew
Patricia_K, May 2022
Manta Ray Snorkeling by Night in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Knowledgeable and helpful crew and captain and Manta Rays Tulare extraordinary to see up close—and we say lots of them.
star-5
Amazing experience
Delphine_N, Apr 2022
Afternoon Sail & Snorkel to the Captain Cook Monument
The crew is great and sailing are snorkeling are our favorite activities in Hawaii
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AWESOME!
Tessia_S, Apr 2022
Big Island in a Day: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, Sightseeing, History
Best tour to see the highlights of the island.
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Great day
Frances_W, Mar 2022
Small Group Big Island Twilight Volcano and Stargazing Tour
Definitely recommend this tour as it was the only one that you were able to see the lava at night.
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Allen was an amazing...
Kevin_D, Mar 2022
Doors-On Helicopter Lava and Rainforests Adventure from Hilo
Allen was an amazing pilot and tour guide, very calming sense of humor and had wonderful stories to share of the island, would definitely do it again and glad to see the whole island on my first full day in Hawaii!
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Great ocean excursion with friendly crew!
Mariposa_W, Feb 2022
Kawaihae Luxury Snorkel Cruise & Wildlife Watch with Lunch
We got to see whales & dolphins.
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Great trip!
Xin_W, Feb 2022
Small Group Big Island Twilight Volcano and Stargazing Tour
We were lucky to see some lava under the crack of the lava lake surface.
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The Best Way to See the Big Island of Hawaii
Penelope_D, Feb 2022
Volcano National Park Adventure from Waikoloa
The tour covered a broad range of attractions on the Big Island in a very informative way.
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Go! Do this!
lisa_s, Jan 2022
Manta Ray Night Snorkel
These manta rays are incredible, and with this tour you get to see them so so close.
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The driver was very...
Madhavi_C, Dec 2021
Private Transfer From Kona International Airport to Hotels in Kailua-Kona
We got some good information about the local attractions from the driver.
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Must do on the Big Island
Brandi_C, Jun 2022
Polynesian ATV Tour
I absolutely recommend that everyone add this to their list of activities to do on the Big Island.
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A MUST DO TOUR
Anthony_S, Jun 2022
Mauna Kea Summit Sunset and Stars Free Astro Photos Hilo Kona Waikoloa Pick Up
It was a beautiful clear night and we were able to see thousands of stars.
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Spectacular
Sandra_I, Mar 2022
Big Island in a Day: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, Sightseeing, History
Very accommodating The trip was a great way to see the island.
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Wonderful experience!!
Kim_R, May 2022
Night Manta Ray Adventure on the Big Island, Hawaii
I would definitely recommend this particular tour to anyone that wants to see some beautiful sea life up close.
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A great tour and a great tour guide.
Michael_C, May 2022
Small-Group Big Island Tour: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Kona Coffee Farm
There is a lot to see on this tour; some of it is drive-by but the best parts are planned stops.
star-5
Extra personal touch, not just your average tour!
Robbie_M, May 2022
Kohala Waterfalls Small Group Adventure Tour
Travis shared his knowledge of the locals and all of the the great places to see and eat.
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All about Big Island of Hawaii

Currency
US Dollar ($)
Time Zone
HST (UTC -10)
Country Code
+1
Language(s)
English

People Also Ask

What is the Big Island of Hawaii known for?

The Big Island of Hawaii is known for its natural attractions, from white and black sand beaches to emerald cliffs, misty valleys, and steaming lava fields. Most famous is the active Kilauea volcano in the UNESCO-listed Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and Mauna Kea, the world’s tallest (but not highest) mountain.

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How many days do you need on the Big Island of Hawaii?

Ideally, you should spend seven days on the Big Island of Hawaii. If that’s not possible, aim for at least five days to see much of what the island has to offer. Try splitting your time between Kailua-Kona on the west side of the island and Hilo on the east.

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Is there a lot to do on the Big Island?

Yes. There is much to see and do on the Big Island of Hawaii—even a week-long stay may not be long enough. From the peaks of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to the Waipio Valley and from white sand beaches to the lush rainforest, the island is brimming with adventure opportunities.

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What should I not miss on the Big Island of Hawaii?

One place that you should not miss on the Big Island of Hawaii is the UNESCO-listed Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home to the active volcano Kilauea. Other unmissable attractions include the Mauna Kea Summit and Observatory and the Waipio Valley, where tall cliffs plunge to a black sand beach.

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Should I stay Kona or Hilo?

If you have a week on the Big Island of Hawaii, split your time between the two: four nights in Hilo and three in Kailua-Kona. If you have less time, opt for Kona as it has more accommodation options, better beaches, and easier access to the island’s main airport.

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How long does it take to drive around the Big Island?

It takes up to eight hours to drive all the way around the Big Island of Hawaii. To drive between Kailua-Kona and Hilo, it typically takes just under two hours on the scenic Saddle Road, which offers views of lava fields and the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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