Many of the best Hawaii attractions are found on the Big Island. It's a big part of why people travel here! The Big Island is larger than all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined, meaning we have lots of parks and monuments to enjoy (even a zoo!), coastal valleys and unique beaches to explore, plus an ocean of stunning scenery that awaits just beneath the surface. Whether on land or in the water, you're never far from another amazing site. Step away from your hotel and start exploring!
Some of the best Hawaii attractions are underwater. Humpback whales are part of our 'ohana, and whale watching in Hawaii is a thrill for the entire family.
Humpback whales travel thousands of miles every winter to breed here. While various whale species reside in the waters off of Hawaii, you are most likely to see the impressive Humpback whale between December and April.
Watch dolphins play close to shore, and if you are lucky you might even find yourself swimming with them! Some of our favorite snorkeling spots offer the best chance for a close encounter.
Most who experience the Manta Ray night snorkel will tell you it is one of those things everyone must do at least once! You will be entranced as you witness these graceful creatures dancing under the sea.
Strange as it may sound, Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm is a very interesting marine exhibit and farm. Discover the magic world of seahorses, learn about breeding and conservation efforts.
Honu (Green Sea Turtles) are frequently found in many of the tide pools around the island or resting in the sand along some of the Big Island beaches. The turtles are particularly fond of Punalu'u Black Sand Beach near the southern tip of the Big Island. Because the Green Sea Turtle is an endangered species, please keep your distance on the beach and in the water.
On the theme of “green”, not far from Punalu’u you will find Papakolea Green Sand Beach. The green sand comes from the mineral olivine, a mineral found in certain volcanic eruptions. This unique beach near South Point is a magical spot that is definitely worth exploring.
On the north side of the island along the Kohala Coast, the overlook at Pololu Valley is breathtaking. Enjoy a fairly short hike down to enjoy Pololu Valley's hidden treasures. Even if you don't hike into the depths, the spectacular views from the top make this iconic Hawaii attraction well worth the drive.
Waipi'o Valley is the largest of the valleys that carve down the side of Kohala mountain on the north side of the Big Island. Come enjoy the magnificent views at the overlook and learn about the history of this amazing place.
On the Big Island alone there are fourteen Hawaii State Parks, Monuments, and State Recreation Areas, offering everything from lush rainforest waterfalls (Wailuku River and 'Akaka Falls State Parks), to the mesmerizing old growth forest of Lava Tree State Monument.
Throw in five Hawaii National Parks and historic sites, and you have an abundance of Hawaii attractions just waiting to be explored.
HVNP is one of the top attractions in all the Hawaiian Islands. Be sure to include this on your list of "must see" things to do. The park is full of amazing sites, including the remarkable Thurston Lava Tube and the Kilauea Caldera overlook that offers a close-up view of the gas cloud emanating from the bubbling crater. The highway in and around the Park is one long series of scenic drives, with fantastic hiking opportunities as well.
South of Captain Cook, the "City of Refuge" sits on the southern edge of Honaunau Bay. This well preserved sanctuary of Hawaii’s past provided refuge for ancient Hawaiians. Visitors will appreciate its soothing energy.
Honaunau Bay itself is most well known for Two Step, with some of the very best Hawaii snorkeling. You might even find yourself snorkeling with dolphins, as this bay is a favorite hangout for Spinner Dolphins. Give yourself at least half a day to take full advantage of Pu'uhonua o Honaunau and all the attractions of Honaunau Bay.
Kaloko-Honokohau is a delightful area to explore along the coast north of Kailua-Kona. With nice hiking, beautiful beaches, ancient fishponds and many historical artifacts, this park is one of the more popular Hawaii attractions on the west side of the island.
Pu'ukohola contains one of the last major traditional sacred structures (heiau) built in Hawaii. This temple played a critical role in King Kamehameha’s ascending to ultimately rule over all the islands. Located near Kawaihae and Spencer Beach.
From kayaking to snorkeling to hiking to beach combing, Kealakekua Bay has it all! With the Captain Cook Monument to the north and Napo'opo'o and Manini Beaches to the south, there is plenty to explore.
We just love the Hilo Zoo, the only natural tropical rainforest zoo in the US. Pana'ewa is home to more than 80 animal species, as well as a colorful array of tropical plants and flowers. It's very easy to reach right off of Highway 11, just a few miles south of Hilo. Zoo admission is free.
For you ornithologists, Mauna Kea Forest Preserve offers some excellent bird watching opportunities. Pack your binoculars and come along in search of unusual native tropical birds of Hawaii, like the brilliant red ‘I’iwi and ‘Apapane, the endangered Palila, the specatular ‘Amakihi, the robin-like ‘Oma’o (found only on the Big Island), the songbird ‘Elepaio, and the elusive Akiapola’au. You will visit both rainforest and dry forest habitats as you are introduced to the Big Island’s wide variety of bird species. Your expert local guide knows the birds by ear and will show you the best viewing locations. This tour involves moderate hiking with plenty of good photo opportunities as you pass through several climate zones throughout the day. A MUST for any bird lover!
Whether in the ocean, in the air or on land, there are so many amazing attractions on The Big Island!
What's your favorite? Everyone has a story. Please share yours!