Why I love Hawaiʻi the Big Island
“Growing up in Hilo, I took my island home for granted. Didn't everyone wake to birdsong, homegrown bananas for breakfast and the unmistakable silhouette of Mauna Kea in the distance? Didn't everyone gaze at an unobstructed blue horizon and fall asleep to the rat-a-tat of pounding rain on metal rooftops? It wasn't until I explored Hawai‘i as a writer that I finally appreciated the island's uniqueness. The power of...” Read More
Top experiences in Hawaiʻi the Big Island
Hawaiʻi the Big Island activities
Big Island in One Day: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, Sightseeing, and History Small Group Tour
This full-day nature tour kicks off when you are picked up directly from any of the Kona or Kohala resorts and hotels, and then heads north from Kona on a brief scenic drive, with snacks and refreshments provided throughout the day. On the way to the first destination, you’ll pass some of the island’s oldest volcanoes, as well as Hawaii’s largest ranch, the Parker Ranch in Waimea, which has been operating on the island since 1847.The morning is filled with visits to some of the most majestic waterfalls on the Big Island. First, the views will stop you in your tracks at the Waipio Valley lookout, where a dramatic backdrop of verdant cliffs drops into the sparkling blue ocean. Continuing on the drive along the Hamakua Coast, more postcard-worthy views will pass by your window, ushering you to the next destination, Akaka Falls. This towering 442-foot (135-meter) waterfall plummets into a lush ravine at the center of a state park. You’ll enjoy a short walk through the vegetation for an up close view and plenty of photo ops. Next is a waterfall that’s small by comparison, but not by beauty: Rainbow Falls, a beautiful 80-foot (24-meter) waterfall with a giant banyan tree beside it. You’ll get lunch around noon of Teriyaki Chicken, Grilled Fish, Rice, and seaweed salad (Vegetarian meals are available upon request). Then explore the wonders of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, including steam vents, the Jaggar Museum and the Halema'uma'u and Kilauea Iki crater lookouts. Walk along a bridge that gives you a literal inside look at Hawaii, as you follow it to the eerie Thurston Lava Tube, a 600-foot-long (183-meter) cave formed hundreds of years ago by an underground river of magma. From there, you’ll have time to relax and take it all in at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, a great place to spot marine life from the shore, like Hawaii’s green sea turtles. On the leisurely drive back around sunset, you'll see views of South Point, the southern most point of the United States, and Kealakekua Bay, before arriving back in Kona or Kohala. Please note: Wear good, closed-toe walking shoes and comfortable clothes in layers, as temperatures may vary.
Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small-Group Adventure Tour
View a spectacular sunset from the top of Mauna Kea and enjoy a unique stargazing experience on this Big Island adventure tour. After departing Kona and a brief pickup from the Queens' MarketPlace in Waikoloa, you'll travel through a Hawaiian historical ranch in a 4x4 luxury van to Mauna Kea summit. Enjoy a hot, picnic-style dinner (see sample menu in the Itinerary section below) at a former Hawaiian ranch site where you're provided with a warm, hooded parka. Then prepare to make the climb to the summit area of Mauna Kea, learning about the Big Island's cultural, natural and ecological history from your naturalist guide. From the summit, enjoy views of Mauna Loa and see Maui's volcano, Haleakala, along with other special points of interest. Stand among some of the earth's most powerful telescopes as you enjoy the sunset view. After sunset, travel to the Mauna Kea Visitor Station at 9,000 feet (2,743 meters), where your guide sets up a telescope for a personal, entertaining and educational star party. Learn how Mauna Kea's unique geography draws scientists from all over the world to study the heavens, and also allows for incredible nighttime views of the stars. Enjoy hot beverages and dessert as your guide gives a personal astronomy lesson before your return to Kona.
Big Island Grand Circle Island Tour
Get a complete Big Island experience on the Grand Circle Island Adventure. Hawaii’s Big Island is blessed with spectacular landscapes, including volcanoes and rain forests, and this is the best way to see it all. You’ll have between 15 minutes to one hour at each of the following stops; the order could change, depending on factors like weather, but you will see it all. Kailua Town:Kailua Town was considered the premier place to live in ancient times; kings called it home.Kealakekua Bay:Catch amazing Hawaiian views here.Kona Coffee Plantation:Sample Kona’s delicious export.Volcanoes National Park:The Grand Circle tour includes admission to the park. Built in 1916, the park features the results of 70 million years of volcanic activity, migration and evolution. See the Kilauea Iki crater, Thurston Lava Tube and the steam bluffs. Bring a light sweater or jacket to wear here.Jagger Museum:You can watch films of past eruptions and current volcano activity at this free, hands-on museum.Volcano Observatory:This is where the US Geological Survey monitors volcanic activity using a variety of technological and scientific data. You’ll be fascinated by what they know. Additional stops on the tour include a drive through Parker Ranch’s gentle hills and a view of flowing waterfalls along the gorgeous Hamakua Coast.
Volcano National Park Small Group Twilight Tour
Begin your 12-hour, small-group tour with a visit to see two of the world's largest volcanoes, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. The region is locally known as the Saddle, and it's also home to some of the rarest plants and animals in the world. After a brief stop for lunch at Mauna State Park, continue east towards Hilo to explore a lava tube. Here you'll turn on your provided flashlight and look around these spellbinding passages that once carried molten rock from Mauna Loa's upper rift zones to the ocean. From there, head into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park via the Crater Rim Drive. The park, which is both a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Preserve, is filled with must-see spots such as the active Kilauea. Throughout the afternoon, your guide leads your group on moderate 1.5-mile (2 km) hikes, with breaks in between, along mostly flat trails; if need be, you can use provided walking sticks in areas with uneven or muddy terrain. Since Pele (the fire goddess said to live here) is unpredictable, it’s not guaranteed that you get to see lava flowing firsthand on this hike, but your guide will do their best to take you to prime viewing spots if the conditions are safe. When Kilauea isn't erupting, you actually get to walk the summit caldera, peer down steam vents, and marvel at the cinder fields. Such dramatic displays aren't the only natural wonders of the park. You'll also explore trails carved into a native rain forest before you head to a spot where you'll get to see active lava glowing at twilight.Your Big Island volcano tour includes a delicious picnic style dinner.
Manta Ray Night Snorkel from Kona
Although you are able to view mantas during daylight hours, they feed most actively at night when many plankton rises towards the water's surface. By using dive lights that are safe for the mantas, you'll be able to attract and get close to the mantas.Unlike sting rays, mantas are very gentle and don't have teeth, stingers or barbs. These big and beautiful animals are truly amazing, boasting wingspans that can exceed 15 feet (4.5 meters) in width! They are completely safe to be around, so hop aboard for the aquatic experience of a lifetime!
Island Breeze Luau on the Big Island
While on Hawaii’s Big Island, have an authentic, fun and entertaining experience at the Island Breeze Luau. Winner of the "Best of West Hawaii" award, the Island Breeze Luau at King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel is a favorite of both visitors and locals. You are invited to join the Island Breeze Luau for a unique cultural experience featuring delicious food, drinks and an amazing Polynesian production!The luau is held in a beautiful oceanfront setting near the historic Kamakahonu Bay and Ahu’ena, King Kamehameha’s former estate in Kailua-Kona. Guests of the Island Breeze Luau will enjoy a backdrop of passing boats, outrigger canoes, Mt Hualalai and the twinkling lights of Kona. During the show, enjoy a 22-dish buffet, open bar, Polynesian arts and crafts demonstrations and a Royal Court procession. A highlight of the evening is the spectacular Polynesian Revue, consisting of cultural dances from around the islands.Watch as a symbolic King Kamehameha I arrives by canoe, his arrival signaled by a Court Conch Herald and a Court Chanter. Follow his procession into the royal grounds to experience a luau that truly deserves Hawaii's royal title. Be amazed by other performances including Fijian and Maori dances of war, graceful Hawaiian hulas and daring Samoan fire-knife dancing. See a full schedule and sample menu in the Itinerary section.