There is a greater number of interesting and uniquely Hawaii attractions on the Big Island than perhaps any of the other islands.
On the Big Island alone there are fourteen Hawaii State Parks, Monuments, and State Recreation Areas, offering everything from the lush rainforest and spectacular Hawaii waterfalls of 'Akaka Falls State Park to the mesmerizing old growth forest of Lava Tree State Monument.
Throw in three National Parks and you have a wealth of Hawaii attractions just waiting to be explored.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is of course full of amazing sights, 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.
Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park south of Captain Cook 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 best snorkeling in Hawaii and 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 National Historical Park 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 Heiau National Historic Site is the location of one of the last major traditional sacred structures 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.
On the north side of the island along the Kohala Coast, the overlooks at Waipio Valley and Pololu Valley are simply breathtaking. Pololu is one awesome Hawaii hike - not overly strenuous, simply spectacular. Even if you opt to not hike into the depths, the views from the top make this Hawaii attraction well worth the drive.
Keep an eye out for another of the amazing sea creatures that inhabit the Big Island, the adorable Green sea turtle. They are frequently found in many of the tidepools around the island or resting in the sand along some of the Big Island beaches. Turtles are particularly fond of Punalu'u Black Sand Beach near the southern tip of the 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. This unique green sand beach near South Point is a magical spot that is definitely worth exploring.
Located on the outskirts of Waimea, Parker Ranch is the home of the Paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboy. One of the largest cattle ranches in the country, they offer daily trail rides through the magnificent mountain scenery around their ranch.
For you ornithologists, Hakalau Forest Wildlife Refuge offers some interesting bird watching opportunities. Hakalau Forest Wildlife Refuge is recognized as critical bird habitat, established primarily for different species of forest birds. It’s a tricky place to find, so we recommend joining the folks at Hawaii Forest and Trail. Their guides know the birds by ear and will show you the best viewing locations. Easy hiking and good photo opportunities as well.
For ocean adventures (including dolphins and whales) and more land excursions (including volcanoes, observatories, luaus and the Hilo zoo), hop on over to our Vacation Information page!
Whether in the ocean or on the Island, there are so many amazing attractions! What's your favorite? Everyone has a story! Won't you please share yours?