Best of The Big Island, Hawai'i

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Advisor - Jen Huyck
Curated By

Jen Huyck

  • Hawai'i

  • Adventure Travel

  • Beaches

  • Family Travel

  • Island

  • Snorkeling

  • Beach Town

Blue ocean with houses and greenery on the beach.
Curator’s statement

The Big Island of Hawai'i is a remarkable and memorable place to visit. Hawai'i's Big Island is often overlooked, which can actually be advantageous. Unlike the more popular islands of Maui and Oahu, the Big Island offers a tranquil experience with fewer crowds. It caters to various types of travelers, including those who desire ultimate relaxation, adventurous individuals who enjoy hiking and snorkeling in exclusive and secluded beaches, as well as culinary and cultural enthusiasts. The landscape of the Big Island is exceptionally diverse, featuring a range of environments from black sand beaches to lush rainforests and lava rock landscapes. Without a doubt, the Big Island is a destination that should not be missed.

The Fora Difference

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Insider knowledge

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Where to stay in Hawai'i

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Things to do in Hawai'i

An outdoor deck area with surf boards laying about
  • Visit Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park to witness the most active volcanoes in the world, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. This National Park preserves some of the most unique and distinctive global geological, biological, and revered cultural landscapes.

  • Visit one of the numerous black sand beaches on the island. Check out the turtles at the easily accessible Punalulu Black Sand Beach or enjoy the secluded cove at 49 Black Sand Beach. If you’re up for an adventure, hike the three mile trail and see the rare green sand at Papakolea Beach

  • Visit the picturesque cove of Honolili Beach in Hilo for surfing, swimming, or picnicking. If in Kona, Hapuna Beach, Makalawena Beach or Kiholo Bay are all stunning beaches and great options for a relaxing beach day.

  • Anaehoomalu Bay, or “A-Bay” is located within the Wiakoloa Beach Resort area. It is a gorgeous bay and a great location for children to swim as the water is shallow in the bay. Enjoy the convenience of the free public parking lot, nice restrooms, and beach rentals all located near the bay. Check out Lava Lava Beach Club for a laid-back dining experience overlooking the beautiful bay.

  • Akaka Falls: Take a short, self-guided walk through lush vegetation to scenic viewpoints of cascading Akaka Falls and Kahuna Falls.

  • Only a short drive from downtown Hilo, Rainbow Falls is a beautiful waterfall and is easily accessible just 100 feet from the parking lot.

  • Stop by the Mauna Loa Macadamia Visitor Center for samples of macademia nut products and tasty dairy free macadamia nut ice cream!

  • Tour one of the hundreds of coffee plantations in the Kona region. Check out Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation or Greenwell Coffee to learn about the coffee growing process and sample world-famous Kona coffee.

  • Explore a lava tube at Thurston Lava Tubes, Kaumana Caves State Park, or Kazumura Cave.

  • Mauna Kea Summit: Reach the summit of Mauna Kea at 13,000' for an epic sunrise or sunset. Daily guided tours available.

Places to eat & drink in Hawai'i

A café with bar and sitting area during day time.

Hilo Side:

  • Kaleos: Visit Kaleo’s for a fun, comfortable, and casual dining experience. Grab a burger and local draft beer and enjoy the nightly live entertainment!

  • Suisan Fish Market: some of the freshest seafood on the Big Island, specializing in poke and local snacks and sides.

  • Miyos: check out this local gem for high-quality Japanese cuisine. A popular spot for locals and visitors so be sure to make a reservation in advance!

  • Hawaiian Style Cafe: The best place for local breakfast. Boasting large portions of Hawaiian comfort food at reasonable prices, this popular breakfast spot often has a line out the door.

  • Ola Brew: A Big Island based brewery with two taprooms in Hilo and Kona. Try one of their creative beers infused with local flavors such as lilikoi, guava and pineapple. Check out their calendar for live music and trivia nights.

Kona Side:

  • Da Poke Shack: A must visit “take-out” style shop specializing in fresh poke bowls and plates, featuring a variety of poke made with locally caught ahi.

  • Kona Brewing Co: Another must see while on the Big Island, Kona Brewing offers a large selection of craft beers in a relaxed setting. Swing by for a fresh pint of Liquid Aloha!

  • Umeke’s Fish Market Bar & Grill: Some of the best poke bowls on the Big Island!

  • Pineapple’s Island Fresh Cuisine: Island inspired local cuisine in a tropical setting. Daily happy hour from 3 - 5 p.m. and live entertainment Thursday through Sunday.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, The Best of Oahu, Hawai'i.

This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Hawai'i.

Advisor - Jen Huyck

Travel Advisor

Jen Huyck

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