Top ChoiceBeach in Puako

Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area

Hapuna Beach is world famous for its magnificent half-mile sweep of white powder sand and fabulously clear waters. In summer, waves are calm and allow good swimming, snorkeling and diving. When the surf's up in...

Top ChoiceHistoric Site in Kawaihae & Around

Puʻukohola Heiau National Historic Site

By 1790 Kamehameha the Great had conquered Maui, Lanaʻi and Molokaʻi. But power over his home island of Hawaiʻi was a challenge. When told by a prophet that he would rule all of the Hawaiian Islands if he built a...

Top ChoiceBeach in Mauna Kea Resort Area

Mauʻumae Beach

What’s not to love about Mauʻumae (pronounced Mao-oo-my)? It has white sand, teal water, shady trees and protected waters – and is even more private than Kaunaʻoa Bay. Locals are proprietary about this gem, and...

Top ChoiceBeach in Puako

Beach 69

This lovely powdering of white sand is a local favorite but remains somewhat off the tourist radar. Both family-friendly and gay-friendly, its calm, protected waters are ideal for a bout of casual snorkeling....

Top ChoiceBeach in Mauna Kea Resort Area

Mauna Kea Beach

Crescent-shaped Kaunaʻoa Bay (nicknamed 'Mauna Kea Beach' after Rockefeller built his landmark hotel on it) is blanketed in powdery white sand, with clear waters that are calm and shallow (generally less than...

Beach in Waikoloa Resort Area

ʻAnaehoʻomalu Beach Park

ʻAnaehoʻomalu Beach Park

Don't worry about that tongue twister of an official name; everyone on the island calls this beach 'A Bay.' 'A-plus' is another way of putting it: this beach has easy access, salt-and-pepper sand and calm waters...

Historic Site in Mauna Lani Resort Area

Kalahuipuaʻa Historic Trail

The first segment of this easy trail meanders through a 16th-century Hawaiian settlement, passing lava tubes once used as cave shelters and a few other archaeological and geological sites marked by interpretive...

Historic Site in Waikoloa Resort Area

Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve

This collection of petroglyphs carved in lava rock is so easy to access that it merits a stop, although the Puako Petroglyph Preserve further north is more spectacular and doesn't abut a shopping mall. Many...

Beach in Kawaihae & Around

Spencer Beach Park

Shallow, sandy and gentle, this beach lacks the dramatic sweep of Mauna Kea or Hapuna, but it's ideal for kids and popular with local families. Come to swim rather than to snorkel; the waters are slightly silty...

Historic Site in Mauna Lani Resort Area

Puako Petroglyph Preserve

With more than 3000 petroglyphs that date back as far as the 16th century, this preserve is among the largest collections of ancient lava carvings in Hawaii. Scratched into the stone are thousands of stark...

Beach in Mauna Lani Resort Area

Holoholokai Beach Park

Forget about sand and enjoy picnicking and strolling at this pleasantly uncrowded beach, blanketed by chunks of coral and lava. Facilities include restrooms, showers, drinking water, picnic tables and grills. The...

National Park in Waikoloa Resort Area

Ala Kahakai

A portion of Ala Kahakai – the King's Trail – winds through Waikoloa, offering a somewhat incongruous dose of ancient Hawaiian history and heritage within Waikoloa's pruned landscape and resort amenities. The...

Pond in Waikoloa Resort Area

Waikoloa Anchialine Pond Preservation Area

Here's your daily dose of science: anchialine ponds are coastal ponds that have no surface connection to the ocean, but that nonetheless rise and fall with the tides. A series of such ponds can be found within...

Factory in Kawaihae & Around

Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company

It's a tourist stop, but a darned good one, featuring a spanking-clean factory, gift shop and generous free samples. This eco-conscious company generates much of its energy needs from solar power and a little bit...

Landmark in Puako

Puako Shoreline

Puako is known for its large, attractive tide pools. There are multiple public shoreline access points along Puako Beach Dr, but the entrance area before the end of the road has parking space for several vehicles...

Historic Site in Mauna Lani Resort Area

Kalahuipuaʻa Fishponds

These ancient fishponds are among the island's few remaining working fishponds. As in ancient times, they're stocked with awa (Hawaiian milk fish). Water circulates from the ocean through traditional makaha...

Archaeological Site in Waikoloa Resort Area

Kuʻualiʻi and Kahapapa Fishponds

Physical evidence of the ancient aquaculture system that once formed a crucial component of Native Hawaiian foodways is located smack-dab behind ʻAnaehoʻomalu Beach (sidenote: ʻAnaehoʻomalu means 'restricted...

Beach in Kawaihae & Around

Pua Ka ʻIlima ʻO Kawaihae

This park, which seems to be in a perpetual state of work-in-progress, encompasses 1.4 acres of beach by the Kawaihae breakwater and is the most accessible surfing spot in the area. Historical tidbit: Kawaihae...

Gardens in Kawaihae & Around

Pua Mau Place Botanic & Sculpture Garden

In a region that receives only 3in to 10in of annual rainfall, this 13-acre botanic and sculpture garden is a questionable endeavor, but is of interest to botanophiles and those who appreciate a giant statue of a...

Church in Puako

Hokuloa United Church

Heading toward Puako ‘town’ you’ll pass the Hokuloa United Church on your right. This may be the cutest little white seaside church on the Big Island. Originally built in 1860, the structure fell apart and was...