The Big Island has some of the most spectacular sites to be found in all of the world! Whether you are visiting the earth's largest volcano, sitting on the rare green sands beach, or sipping on some of the Hawaiian coffee at the plantation before going to watch turtles on the beach, you will be amazed by all that we have to offer!
At Akaka Falls State Park, located along the northeastern Hamakua Coast, you can see two gorgeous waterfalls on one short hike. The pleasant 0.4-mile uphill hike will take you through a lush rainforest filled with wild orchids, bamboo groves and draping ferns. As you follow the paved footpath, you'll first see 100-foot Kahuna Falls. Continue to follow the loop around the bend, and you'll discover towering Akaka Falls which plummets 442-feet into a stream-eroded gorge. The beautiful Akaka Falls is perhaps Hawaii Island's most famous waterfall. Easily accessible, this hike takes less than an hour.
Located just downstream from world-famous Akaka Falls, the Akaka Falls Skyline Tour offers a 7-line course that accommodates ages 10 and up. The course traverses areas of tropical farmland, waterfalls, and deep ravines with each zipline progressively building on the prior until the ultimate breathtaker that is the longest zipline in the state. The lush scenery, dramatic ocean views, and world-class guides will make this 2.5 hour tour one to remember for a lifetime.
Mauna Kea Volcano rises high above the landscape on the north side of the Big Island, stretching 13,796 feet (4,205 meters) above the beaches along the Kohala coast. Measured from its base, massive Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world, towering 33,476 feet (10,204 meters) above the ocean floor.
Mauna Kea is over 1 million years old. Even though the last eruption is estimated to have occurred around 4,500 years ago, it is not considered extinct. If the altitude doesn't take your breath away, the view certainly will! The air at this elevation is clean and crisp, making for impressive views in all directions. The Mauna Kea Observatory is second to none, with more than a dozen giant telescopes focusing on deep space.
Punalu’u Beach (Turtle Beach) is the most famous black sand beach of Hawaii, which has earned it the nickname ‘Black Sand Beach’. It is an expansive and easily accessible black sand beach on the Big Island that is great for swimming, snorkeling, coastal hikes or a picnic. You can often see endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtles and Green Sea Turtles basking in the sun on the beach!
Green Sand Beach is named Papakolea. The green sand gets its color from olivine crystals created from volcanic eruptions over 49,000 years ago. Nestled in Mahana Bay, this is truly a unique place and one of only four green sand beaches in the world. It is a magical location cut by the ocean into a side of Puʻu Mahana, a cinder cone that first erupted about 50,000 years ago.
From the trailhead entry point it is only a 1 hour hike along the beautiful oceanside, or you can pay a local to drive you in their 4-wheel vehicle back to the beach. Count on a fresh ocean breeze while looking for several ancient sites along the way. The ancient Hawaiians would make an offering of their first catch on these temples to appease the gods. Most of the sites are very eroded and are only foundations. In honor of the land, please don't touch anything and leave no trace.
The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is a museum of living plants that attracts photographers, gardeners, botanists, scientists, and nature lovers from around the world. The Garden's collection of tropical plants is international in scope. Over 2,000 species, representing more than 125 families and 750 genera, are found in this one-of-a-kind garden.
The 40-acre valley is a natural greenhouse, protected from buffeting trade winds and blessed with fertile volcanic soil. Throughout this garden valley, nature trails meander through a true tropical rainforest, crossing bubbling streams, passing several beautiful waterfalls and the exciting ocean vistas along the rugged Pacific coast.
Hawaii's Big Island contains two of the most active volcanoes in the world, Kilauea towers over the Pacific Ocean. Volcanic eruptions have created a constantly changing landscape, and the lava flows reveal surprising geological formations. Rare birds and endemic species can be found here, as well as forests of giant ferns. This accessible volcano serves as an excellent example of island building through volcanic processes. Through the process of shield-building volcanism, the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park's landscape is one of relatively constant, dynamic change.
Ahalanui Park is a lovely park built around the Ahalanui Hot Pond. There is a picnic area, showers, toilet facilities and a lifeguard on duty daily. It is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. The best time to go is during low tide when the ponds are the warmest (water temperatures average 90°F/32°C). The part natural part man-made pool is located right next to the ocean and is connected by a small inlet. This allows for beautiful tropical fish to enter the pool, which you can see through the crystal clear water.
Green Mountain is one of the most scenic spots in Hawaii. Surrounded by rainforest, the spring-fed Green Lake that sits in the center is one of only two natural freshwater lakes on the Big Island. Green Mountain, the crater that holds the lake, is over 400 years old. Enjoy the pristine rainforest and beautiful hikes throughout the land. Exotic birds and plants line your journey as you hike towards the stillness of the lake nestled within. Perfect for the adventurous trekker.
Snorkeling in the Kapoho Tide Pools is a unique and fantastic experience, some of the best on the east side of the Big Island. It is also considered to be one of the best snorkeling areas in the world, when you have a sunny day. There is a protective reef, and inside this is a maze of tide pools surrounded by lava rock to explore.
The tide pools are protected, and the official name of this area is Wai’opae Tidepools Marine Life Conservation District. Before the conservation district was established, people called them the Kapoho Tide Pools because that is the name of the community.
MacKenzie State Park is located in Opihikao on the scenic Red Road that follows the rugged Puna coastline. This remote and beautiful 13-acre park is named after Albert J. MacKenzie, a dedicated Forest Ranger on the Big Island, who died in 1938. A forest of tall ironwood trees, many of them planted by MacKenzie himself, surrounds the park and their fallen needles blanket the ground like a thick spongy carpet.
The park offers breathtaking views of the oceanfront with lava rock cliffs meeting the blue water of the Pacific Ocean. Decades ago, lava from Kilauea Volcano had flowed in underground channels (lava tubes) through the park and drained into the ocean. Today, a large lava tube cave can be seen near the park’s picnic pavilion, as well as numerous sea caves (lava tube openings) along the cliff’s edge.
Located on the eastern edge of Pohoiki Bay on the Big Island’s east shore, Isaac Hale Beach Park is a small two-acre park. It is popular among picnickers, shoreline fishermen, surfers, campers and boaters.
There is a boat ramp that fishermen use to launch their boats, and local children use as a jumping point into the water. The Pohoiki Warm Springs, a small hot pond, is another attraction in this beach park and is surrounded by lush vegetation. Water activities that are possible at Isaac Hale, besides fishing, include surfing and bodyboarding. The beach itself is composed of black sand and pebbles, but most surfers and swimmers use the boat ramp as an entry and exit point to the ocean.
Located in the Big Island's Puna district, Kehena Beach is one of the few unofficial "clothing optional" beaches in Hawaii. It is a long, narrow black sand beach that local residents also call Dolphin Beach because of the frequent appearances of spinner dolphins in this area.
The beach was formed in 1955 when lava flowed down the sea cliffs and into the ocean here. At the eastern end of the beach, a rocky point of land that was once the tip of the lava flow can still be seen. The beach is well-shaded by coconut palms and ironwood trees, which make up the backshore. Swimming is possible here but can be challenging if the ocean is not calm. This magnificent beach is fully exposed to the open ocean and during times of high surf strong rip currents and undertows can occur, and there is no lifeguard on duty.
Residents of lower Puna on the Big Island can’t wait until Wednesday! It’s the day of the night farmer's market at Uncle Robert’s located at the south end of the Red Road, near the new Kaimu black sand beach. Uncle Robert Keli'iho'omalu is the legendary and beloved patriarch of the old Kalapana village, and his family compound is where the market now stands. Normally it’s a quiet neighborhood of quaint beach shacks and lush coconut groves, but on Wednesday night, it transforms into a huge open-air market with some 700-800 people showing up for fresh produce, tasty food, dancing and live music entertainment. It’s a lively market, with wonderful sounds, sights and smells - and lots of friendly Aloha spirit - for the entire community.
SHOPPING & EATING - Besides fruits and vegetables from local farms, there are also all sorts of clothing, arts and crafts, herbal remedies, and handmade jewelry for sale. You will find locals selling homemade desserts, fresh eggs, raw honey, and many traditional Hawaiian foods like poi to sample and purchase. The most crowded area in the market is where all the food vendors set up their makeshift kitchens. Just follow the sizzling and popping sounds and the mouthwatering aroma of food being cooked, and you will find what you want to eat!
The Maku’u Farmer's Market held every Sunday is a busy open-air market with almost a carnival like atmosphere! It is one of the largest markets on the island spreading across approximately 5 acres, with plenty of parking. Maku'u is situated on an even larger, beautiful piece of property known as the Hawaiian Homelands Farm Lots. There are over 150 vendors, most of them from the Pahoa area, as well as nearby Keaau, Kalapana and Hilo.
In addition to finding souvenirs and fresh produce, going to the Maku’u Farmer's Market is like taking a culinary tour of the world! This market is famous for an eclectic mix of foods that vendors prepare and cook for you right on the spot. Nowhere else on this island can you find such a great selection of interesting ethnic foods all in one location. You will find everything from Hawaiian huli huli chicken, French crepes, Samoan breadfruit stew, Indian chickpea curry, Greek pizza, Thai green papaya salad, Indonesian satay, Puerto Rican pasteles, Vietnamese summer rolls, Mexican tamales, to Filipino pan de sal pastries. There are long picnic tables arranged under a large tent for people to sit and enjoy their lunch. There’s also a small stage where local musicians entertain the lunch crowd with everything from Beatles to Bob Marley, or occasionally a Japanese taiko drum band or a Latin marimba ensemble performs to the crowd's delight. People often clap and sing along, or get up and dance, which might prompt you to drop your groceries and join in on the dancing!