Ultimate Big Island, Hawaii Guide

Advisor - Taylor Morris
Curated By

Taylor Morris

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  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Digital Nomad Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Hawai'i

  • Romantic

  • Island

  • Outdoors

Valley Island Green Places Hawaii
Curator’s statement

If you want to see the adventurous side of Hawaii, head to the Big Island. It is nicknamed as such because it is the largest of the Hawaiian islands and contains eight of the Earth's thirteen climate zones. There is no shortage of things to see. Whether you spend a few days hanging on the beach with the local Honu (turtles), hiking around Kilauea, an active volcano or stargazing atop Mauna Kea, there is something for everyone on my favorite Hawaiian island.

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Insider knowledge

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Where to stay in Hawaii

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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.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

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.

Fora Perks
  • When you book Four Seasons through Fora, you will enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits. Your advisor will be pleased to give you more details.

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection

Island-style hotel with an array of activities including legendary Hawaii surfing.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

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Advisor - Taylor Morris

Unlock perks by contacting Taylor to book your trip.

Things to do in Hawaii

Waterfall grass and trees in Hawaii

If you're looking to tackle all the adventure the Big Island has to offer, I recommend renting a jeep to circumnavigate the island, stopping for lodging along the way.

South Point Park Overlook

This is the southernmost point in the US and a beautiful place to watch the waves crash against the cliffs. You can drive, if you dare, or hike 2.5 miles into the green sand beach.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

You could spend the afternoon or a few days here. Check out the Jaggar Museum, smell the sulfur dioxide at the Steam Vents, and walk through the Thurston Lava tube if you're short on time. For a longer adventure, I recommend the Kilauea Iki trail. If you're lucky enough to visit during an active eruption, take a helicopter tour with Blue Hawaiian.

Volcano Winery

Unique winery producing some full grape varietals and some fruit-blended varietals.

Poihiki (Issac Hale) Beach Park

Established in 2018 by the eruption of Kilauea, Hawaii's newest black sand beach! Here you can see different stages of the lava being pulverized by the ocean into sand.

Hilo's Waterfalls

These can easily be seen in an afternoon. Akaka Falls & Kahuna Falls can be accessed from an easy 0.5mi loop. Umauma Falls has drive-up access. Rainbow Falls & the Boiling Pots drive-up access can be found at Wailuku River State Park. These are best seen during the rainy season; November - April.

Kaumana Caves

Descend into a lava tube formed in 1881 by Mauna Loa.

Mauna Kea

If it gets too hot by the beaches, head to the tallest peak in the state for stargazing. Remember to dress warm! The average night temperature hovers around freezing!

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park

The City of Refuge, a place of spiritual sanctuary, is best viewed at sunset.

Snorkeling at Two-Step

Best snorkeling with a natural stepped entry into the ocean.

St. Benedict Catholic Painted Church

In 1842 industrious Belgian priest, Father Jean, painted the interior of the church with lifelike depictions from the bible and the lives of the saints.

Manta Ray Night Snorkel

By far one of the coolest snorkel tours. A must do!

Hawaii Nautical Sailing Charter

There's nothing better than seeing the coastline from the sea. You can opt for a day or sunset sail, small group or private. I saw tons of fish snorkeling and hundreds of Spinner dolphins swimming alongside our boat!

Makalawena Beach

This is a popular spot, for good reason! After following the trail for a hot 1.4mi hike over the lava field, you are rewarded with a gorgeous white sand beach.

Kiholo Bay (Queen's Bath)

One of the best places to see Green Sea Turtles. Swimming with a turtle with no other people around is a magical experience to say the least!

Waipi'o Valley

Take a tour with Waipi'o on Horseback to explore the beautiful taro fields and waterfalls. You can also hike to the beautiful black sand beach seen from the overlook.

Places to eat & drink in Hawaii

guide picture glasses of juice


Basik Cafe: their acai bowls are the perfect start to your day

The Coffee Shack: 100% Kona coffee grown on-site with incomparable views of Kealakekua Bay and delicious breakfast, yes please! Get there early, this is a popular watering hole for locals and tourists alike.

Barefoot Zone

Island Lava Java

Umekes: For Kona's best poke

Super J's: hole-in-the-wall Hawaiian specialties

Huggo's & On the Rocks: Upscale seafood restaurant with beachfront bar next door

Kona Brewing Co

Gertrude's Jazz Bar: The hippest bar in Kona, check it out!

Don's Mai Tai Bar: Birthplace of the Mai Tai with a good view of the Royal Kona Luau.


Nori's Saimin & Snacks

Kawamoto Store: Family-owned spot serving up delicious Japanese, Hawaiian, Filipino and Chinese take-out. Perfect for taking to the beach

Two Ladies' Kitchen: Fresh Mochi.

Makani's Magic Pineapple Shack: Insta-worthy ice cream cones, smoothies and acai bowls.


Hawaiian Style Cafe: Best banana macadamia nut pancakes.

Village Burger

Tex Drive-In: Longtime diner joint known for their malasadas.

Moa Kitchen

Big Island Toyko Table: Great sushi from a food court.

Yong's Kal-Bi

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Michelle & Justin Salzer guide, Beach-Lover's Guide to Oahu, Hawai'i.

Advisor - Taylor Morris

Travel Advisor

Taylor Morris

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Hawaii.