The Big Island of Hawai’i
The Big Island of Hawai’i, also known simply as "Hawai’i," is the largest and youngest of the Hawaiian Islands. It is a part of the state of Hawaii and is located in the central Pacific Ocean. The island is known for its diverse landscapes, including active volcanoes, lush rainforests, beautiful beaches and unique geological formations.
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Where to stay in the Big Island, Hawai'i
A Hawaii resort and spa located on the Kohala Coast, surrounded by lush tropical gardens, cascading waterfalls and a tranquil white sand beach and lagoon.
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Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
The Big Island’s standout resort on the quiet Kona-Kohala coast, home to an enormous spa, lauded golf course and raft of family-friendly activities.
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Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection
Royal, family-friendly Hawaiian hotel nestled along the dramatic Kohala Coast, in the center of five great mountains.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
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Things to do in the Big Island, Hawai'i
The Big Island of Hawaii offers a wide range of activities and attractions to suit various interests. Here are some popular things to do and places to explore on the island:
Explore Volcanoes National Park
Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to witness the active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Take a hike through the otherworldly landscapes, explore lava tubes and learn about the island's geology and natural history.
Visit Mauna Kea Observatories
If you're interested in astronomy, consider joining a stargazing tour or visiting the Mauna Kea Observatories to witness the breathtaking night sky from one of the world's best vantage points.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Discover the vibrant marine life and coral reefs by snorkeling or scuba diving in the crystal-clear waters off the island's coast. Popular snorkeling spots include Kealakekua Bay and the Kapoho Tide Pools.
Black and Green Sand Beaches
Explore the unique black sand beaches, such as Punalu'u Beach, where you might spot sea turtles. For a more unusual experience, hike to Papakōlea Beach, which has green sand due to the presence of olivine crystals.
Engage in various water sports, such as kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, or taking a boat tour to see dolphins, whales (seasonal) and other marine life.
Take a guided tour or hike down to the stunning Waipi'o Valley, a lush and dramatic landscape surrounded by steep cliffs. You can also explore on horseback or in a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Akaka Falls State Park
Experience the island's lush rainforest environment by visiting Akaka Falls State Park, which features a short hike leading to a cascading waterfall.
Hawaiian Culture and History
Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture by attending a traditional luau, learning hula dancing, and exploring historic sites like Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park.
Visit coffee farms in the Kona region to learn about the coffee-growing process and sample some of the world-famous Kona coffee.
If you're up for an adventure, consider a guided tour to the summit of Mauna Kea to watch the sunrise or sunset from an elevation of over 13,000 feet.
Whale Watching (Seasonal)
From December to April, you can go whale watching to observe humpback whales that migrate to Hawaiian waters during this time.
The island offers a variety of hiking trails, from easy walks to challenging hikes. Popular options include Pololu Valley Trail, Waialea Beach Trail and the Mauna Loa Summit Trail.
Experience the thrill of ziplining through the lush canopy of the island's rainforests.
Remember that the Big Island is quite large, and distances between attractions can be significant, so planning your activities and transportation in advance is recommended. Whether you're interested in nature, adventure, culture, or relaxation, the Big Island has something for everyone to enjoy.
For a coffee plantation, I really enjoy going to Bay View Coffee. It's a family run business and usually it's Iwa that will give you the tour accompanied by her "watch dog", a long-haired Chihuahua named Honey Girl, wearing a lei around her neck. I would also make a stop at The Painted Church right down the little road to Bay View coffee. This is easily combined with a visit to The Place of Refuge, Pu'uhonua O Honaunau. In Hilo, I just help myself. I have to stop at Big Island Candy! They have the best cookies in the world made right there on the premises. For snorkeling I do Captain Zodiac leaving from Kona Harbor and going along the rugged coastline to Kealakekua Bay, where, by the way, Captain Cook was killed. There is a monument there.
Places to eat & drink in the Big Island, Hawai'i
Da Poke Shack: A popular spot for fresh and flavorful poke bowls, offering a variety of seafood and toppings.
Huggo's on the Rocks: Enjoy oceanfront dining in a casual atmosphere, offering seafood, cocktails and live music.
Kona Brewing Co.: A well-known brewery offering craft beers and a pub-style menu in a relaxed setting.
Umeke's Fish Market Bar & Grill: Serving delicious Hawaiian seafood dishes and poke bowls using locally sourced ingredients.
Basik Acai: For a healthy and refreshing option, try their acai bowls and smoothies.
Pineapples Restaurant: A popular breakfast spot known for its creative Hawaiian-style dishes and tropical ambiance.
Café Pesto: A local favorite offering a mix of Pacific Rim and Mediterranean cuisine, with an emphasis on fresh and local ingredients.
Moon and Turtle: A farm-to-table restaurant serving inventive and seasonal dishes in a cozy setting.
Hilo Bay Café: A waterfront restaurant offering a diverse menu featuring local ingredients, seafood and creative cocktails.
Waimea (Kamuela) Area
Merriman's: A high-end restaurant focused on showcasing locally sourced ingredients and offering a fine dining experience.
Village Burger: A casual spot for gourmet burgers made with locally raised beef and a variety of toppings.
Roy's Waikoloa Bar & Grill: Known for its fusion of Hawaiian and international flavors, offering creative seafood and steak dishes.
Lava Lava Beach Club: Enjoy beachfront dining, cocktails and a relaxed atmosphere with your toes in the sand.
Volcano House: Dine with a view of the Kilauea caldera at this historic hotel's restaurant, offering a mix of local and contemporary cuisine.
Tex Drive-In: Famous for their malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts), as well as plate lunches and other local comfort food.
Anuenue Ice Cream & Shave Ice: Satisfy your sweet tooth with tropical-flavored shave ice and unique ice cream creations.
Maku'u Farmers Market: Visit this lively farmers market for a variety of local foods, fresh produce, and artisanal products.
Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company: Sample and purchase locally grown macadamia nuts and products.
Need to Know
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, Oahu, Hawai’i: A Perfect Blend of Natural Beauty, Cultural Exploration and Relaxation.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Hawai'i.