When you visit the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii, get ready for a whirlwind of adventure! From the exhilarating experience of swimming with manta rays to exploring the lush rainforests and witnessing the awe-inspiring lava flow, there are so many incredible activities waiting for you. Don’t forget to use the 5% discount code for most activities, and remember the importance of using reef safe sunscreen. Whether you’re visiting Mauna Kea for a stunning sunset or thrillingly ziplining through the tropical forest, this list of the top 10 things to do on the Big Island will provide you with plenty of inspiration for your trip. So get ready to explore, have fun, and create unforgettable memories in this island paradise!
The Big Island of Hawaii offers a wide range of attractions and activities that will satisfy any adventurer’s heart. From guided lava tours that bring you up close to the mesmerizing lava flow to stargazing atop the majestic Mauna Kea, there is no shortage of breathtaking experiences. Night diving with manta rays will leave you awe-struck, while zip lining through the lush rainforest at high speeds will provide an adrenaline rush like no other. Snorkeling in Kona’s crystal clear waters will allow you to witness the vibrant marine life, and off-roading adventures in UTVs or ATVs will let you explore the island’s stunning landscapes. With unique black sand beaches, horseback riding, hiking to magnificent waterfalls, and helicopter tours offering panoramic views, the Big Island of Hawaii is a treasure trove of unforgettable experiences. So pack your bags, embrace the spirit of adventure, and get ready to make memories that will last a lifetime.
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Swimming with Manta Rays
Guided tour to witness the awe-inspiring lava flow
Swimming with manta rays is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you don’t want to miss on your trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. These gentle giants can grow up to 20 feet in wingspan and are known for their graceful movements in the water. There are several tour operators on the island that offer guided snorkeling or diving tours to see these magnificent creatures up close.
One of the best places to swim with manta rays is in Keauhou Bay, located on the Kona coast. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to join a guided tour that will take you out to the manta ray cleaning stations, where the rays come to feed on plankton. These cleaning stations are lit up at night to attract the plankton, which in turn attracts the mantas.
During the tour, you’ll receive all the necessary equipment, such as snorkel gear or scuba diving equipment, depending on your preference and certification level. Professional guides will accompany you to ensure your safety and provide intriguing information about these fascinating creatures.
Experience the thrill of night diving with manta rays
For those who are certified scuba divers and want a more immersive experience, night diving with manta rays is an incredible opportunity. Imagine being surrounded by darkness, only illuminated by the glow of underwater lights, while these majestic creatures gracefully swim around you. It’s a surreal experience that will leave you in awe.
Night dives with manta rays are typically conducted in the same locations as the guided snorkeling tours. The dive masters will set up the lights on the seabed, attracting the plankton and the mantas. As you descend into the dark waters, you’ll soon be greeted by the sight of these magnificent creatures soaring above you. It’s an otherworldly experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
Hiking through a Rainforest
Explore the vibrant nature of the Big Island
Embark on a hiking adventure through the lush rainforests of the Big Island and immerse yourself in the vibrant nature that surrounds you. The island is home to several hiking trails that cater to all levels of experience, from beginners to seasoned hikers.
One popular trail is the Akaka Falls Loop Trail, located in Akaka Falls State Park. This easy hike takes you through a dense tropical rainforest, showcasing a variety of native plants and flowers. The highlight of the trail is the stunning Akaka Falls, a towering waterfall that drops 442 feet into a picturesque gorge. The trail is well-maintained and features paved paths and stairs, making it accessible to all visitors.
Another must-visit trail is the Pololu Valley Trail, leading to the breathtaking Pololu Valley. This intermediate-level hike offers panoramic views of the coastline and takes you down into the valley itself. The trail can be steep and challenging at times, but the reward is well worth the effort. Once you reach the black sand beach at the valley floor, you’ll be surrounded by pristine beauty and the sound of crashing waves.
Discover hidden waterfalls along the way
Hiking through the rainforest on the Big Island also presents the opportunity to discover hidden waterfalls along the way. The island is known for its abundant waterfalls, cascading down lush mountainsides and creating a symphony of sounds.
One of the most iconic waterfalls on the island is Rainbow Falls, located in Hilo. This majestic waterfall gets its name from the rainbows that can often be seen in the mist. A short hike will take you to the viewing platform, where you can marvel at the natural wonder before you.
For a more secluded waterfall adventure, head to the Waiilu Falls Trail. This moderate-level hike leads you through dense vegetation and offers picturesque views along the way. The waterfall itself is a hidden gem, secluded from the main tourist areas, making it a peaceful and serene spot to relax and enjoy nature.
Watching Lava Flow into the Ocean
Witness the powerful volcanic activity
The Big Island of Hawaii is home to one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Kilauea. Watching lava flow into the ocean is a mesmerizing and awe-inspiring experience that allows you to witness the power of nature firsthand.
To get a closer look at the lava flow, it is highly recommended to join a guided lava tour. These tours are led by experienced guides who are knowledgeable about the current volcanic activity and know the safest viewing spots. They provide essential equipment, such as protective gear and flashlights, to ensure your safety during the tour.
As you approach the lava flow, you’ll be amazed by the glowing red lava cascading down the mountainside and into the ocean. The sight, sound, and heat of the flowing lava create a truly unique and unforgettable experience. Make sure to bring a camera to capture the incredible moments and take home lasting memories of this natural wonder.
Take a guided lava tour for an up-close experience
Guided lava tours offer an up-close and personal experience like no other. These tours take you as close as possible to the lava flow while ensuring your safety. Depending on the conditions and volcanic activity, you may be able to see the lava flow from a boat tour, a hike, or even a helicopter tour.
Boat tours provide a unique perspective, allowing you to witness the lava entering the ocean from a safe distance on the water. These tours often depart from the nearby town of Pahoa and provide excellent photo opportunities.
Hiking tours take you on a guided trek to the lava flow’s viewing points, which can be located several miles from the nearest parking areas. These tours require a level of physical fitness and endurance, as the hikes can be challenging. However, the reward of seeing the lava up close makes it all worth it.
For a more aerial view of the lava flow, helicopter tours are the way to go. These tours offer panoramic views of the volcanic activity, allowing you to see the vast expanse of flowing lava from above. It’s a truly breathtaking experience that showcases the raw power and beauty of nature.
Visiting Mauna Kea
Stargazing at the world’s largest mountain
Mauna Kea, located on the Big Island of Hawaii, is the world’s tallest mountain when measured from its base at the ocean floor. It offers an incredible opportunity for stargazing, thanks to its high elevation and clear night skies.
Several observatories are situated at the summit of Mauna Kea, including the famous Keck Observatory. These observatories take advantage of the mountain’s ideal conditions for astronomical research, making it an ideal location for stargazers.
Visiting Mauna Kea for sunset or sunrise is a popular activity for tourists and locals alike. As the sun dips below the horizon, the sky comes alive with a breathtaking display of colors. The panoramic views from the summit are truly mesmerizing and provide an unforgettable experience.
It is important to note that the summit of Mauna Kea is at an elevation of over 13,000 feet, so it is recommended to acclimate yourself to the altitude before attempting to visit. Additionally, due to its sacred nature in Hawaiian culture, it is important to respect the area and follow any guidelines or restrictions set by officials.
Catch the mesmerizing sunset and sunrise
To witness the mesmerizing sunset or sunrise at Mauna Kea, it is advisable to plan your visit in advance and check the weather conditions. Clear skies offer the best visibility for stargazing and for enjoying the vibrant colors of the sun as it rises or sets.
Sunset at Mauna Kea provides a glorious display of oranges, pinks, and purples as the sun sinks below the horizon. As daylight fades, the stars begin to twinkle above, creating a magical atmosphere.
Sunrise at Mauna Kea is equally as breathtaking, with the first rays of sunlight painting the sky in warm hues. The sweeping views of the surrounding landscape combined with the vibrant colors of the sunrise make for an unforgettable experience.
Remember to dress warmly, as temperatures at the summit can be significantly colder than at the base of the mountain. It is also recommended to bring a camera or binoculars to capture the beauty of the sunrise or sunset on this majestic mountain.
Experience the thrill of high-speed zip lining
If you’re an adventure enthusiast looking for an adrenaline rush, ziplining on the Big Island of Hawaii is a must-do activity. Soar through the lush tropical forest at high speeds and experience the thrill of flying through the air.
Ziplining tours are available throughout the island, with several reputable companies offering a variety of options to suit different preferences and skill levels. Whether you’re a first-time zipliner or an experienced thrill-seeker, there’s a zipline tour for everyone.
As you zip through the forest, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the vibrant greenery and surrounding scenery. The sensation of flying through the air and the wind rushing past you is an exhilarating experience that will leave you with lasting memories.
Most zipline tours provide all the necessary equipment, including helmets and harnesses, as well as professional guides who will ensure your safety throughout the experience. Safety precautions are of utmost importance, so you can feel confident and enjoy the thrilling adventure to the fullest.
Enjoy panoramic views of the lush tropical forest
Aside from the thrill of zip lining, one of the major highlights of this activity is the opportunity to enjoy panoramic views of the lush tropical forest. The Big Island is known for its dense vegetation, vibrant greenery, and diverse flora and fauna.
As you zip from one platform to another, take a moment to soak in the beauty of your surroundings. The lush forest stretches out before you, with towering trees, colorful flowers, and the sound of birds chirping. It’s a sensory experience that fully immerses you in the natural wonders of the island.
Some ziplining tours may also offer educational experiences, with guides providing information about the local ecology, flora, and fauna. This allows you to learn more about the unique ecosystems and the importance of preserving them.
Ziplining on the Big Island combines adventure, thrill, and natural beauty, making it an activity that should not be missed by those seeking an unforgettable experience.
Discover the crystal-clear waters of Kona
Snorkeling on the Big Island of Hawaii is a dream come true for water enthusiasts and nature lovers. The crystal-clear waters of Kona provide incredible visibility and accessibility to a vibrant underwater world teeming with life.
One of the best snorkeling spots on the island is Kealakekua Bay. Located on the west coast, this marine sanctuary boasts an abundance of coral reefs and colorful fish. Snorkelers can expect to see a variety of marine life, including tropical fish, sea turtles, and even dolphins if they’re lucky.
To make the most of your snorkeling adventure, it’s recommended to join a guided tour or rent equipment from a reputable provider. Guides can take you to the best snorkeling spots and provide valuable information about the marine life you encounter.
Before you embark on your snorkeling adventure, make sure to apply reef safe sunscreen to protect your skin and the delicate coral reefs. Regular sunscreen can harm the marine ecosystem, so it’s important to choose products that are safe for both you and the environment.
Get ready to explore the underwater wonders of Kona and witness firsthand the beauty and diversity of the Big Island’s marine life.
Explore the island’s rainforests and ocean views
For those looking to explore the natural wonders of the Big Island in a more adventurous way, off-road or ATV adventures are the perfect choice. These tours allow you to navigate through rugged terrains, offering unique perspectives of the island’s rainforests and ocean views.
Off-road tours take you off the beaten path and into the heart of the Big Island’s wilderness. With the guidance of experienced drivers, you’ll embark on thrilling journeys through muddy trails, rocky terrain, and lush forests. The adrenaline rush and excitement of off-roading combined with the beauty of the surroundings create an unforgettable adventure.
ATV tours provide a similar experience, allowing you to traverse the island’s diverse landscapes with ease. From rocky slopes to dense forests, ATV adventures offer a thrilling way to explore the natural beauty of the Big Island.
During these tours, you’ll have the opportunity to stop at scenic viewpoints, spot native wildlife, and learn about the island’s unique ecosystems. Experienced guides will share their knowledge of the area, providing fascinating insights into the local culture, history, and natural surroundings.
Off-road and ATV adventures are suitable for both beginners and experienced riders, as the tours are designed to accommodate different skill levels. Safety gear, including helmets and protective gear, is provided to ensure your well-being throughout the adventure.
Visiting the Best Beaches
Discover the unique black sand beaches
The Big Island of Hawaii is known for its unique black sand beaches, created by volcanic activity over centuries. These stunning natural wonders are a must-visit for beach lovers and offer a striking contrast to the typical golden sand beaches.
One iconic black sand beach is Punalu’u Beach, located on the southeastern coast of the island. This beach is not only known for its black sand but also for its resident Hawaiian green sea turtles, which frequently lounge on the shore. Snorkeling in the clear waters off Punalu’u Beach provides the opportunity to encounter these magnificent creatures up close.
Another picturesque black sand beach is Kehena Beach, located on the Puna coast. This secluded beach is accessible via a short hike and offers breathtaking views of the ocean. Its black sand and crashing waves create a dramatic and captivating setting that will leave you in awe.
In addition to the black sand beaches, the Big Island also boasts a unique green sand beach. Papakolea Beach, located near South Point, gets its distinct color from olivine crystals, resulting in a vibrant green shoreline. Visiting this beach is a true adventure, as it requires either a 4×4 vehicle or a shuttle ride to access the remote location.
Whether you choose to relax on the black sand beaches or venture to the green sand beach, you’re in for a memorable and picturesque beach experience on the Big Island.
Take a shuttle or 4×4 to visit the green sand beach
Papakolea Beach, also known as the green sand beach, is a remote and unique natural wonder that can be accessed by either a 4×4 vehicle or a shuttle ride. Situated near South Point, the southernmost point of the United States, this beach boasts vibrant green sand created by olivine crystals.
To reach the green sand beach, visitors can choose to either hike or take a shuttle ride. The hike is approximately two and a half miles long and can be quite challenging due to the rocky terrain and exposure to the sun. It is advisable to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and appropriate footwear for the hike.
For a more convenient option, there are shuttle services available that can take you directly to the beach. These shuttles depart from the nearby town of Naalehu and provide a hassle-free way to reach the green sand beach.
Visiting Papakolea Beach is a unique experience that allows you to marvel at the natural beauty of the Big Island. The striking green sand combined with the picturesque ocean backdrop creates a sight you won’t find anywhere else. Remember to respect the environment by taking any trash with you and leaving only footprints behind.
Connect with the land and encounter wild horses
Horseback riding on the Big Island provides a unique way to connect with the land and experience the beauty of the island from a horse’s perspective. Guided horseback tours are available for riders of all skill levels, from beginners to experienced equestrians.
Imagine riding through lush valleys, traversing open pastures, and exploring secluded areas that are inaccessible by other means. These equestrian adventures allow you to witness the natural wonders of the Big Island while enjoying the company of gentle and well-trained horses.
Some horseback riding tours even offer the chance to encounter wild horses. These majestic creatures roam freely in certain areas of the island, adding an extra element of excitement and adventure to your ride.
No previous horseback riding experience is necessary for most tours, as professional guides will provide all the necessary instructions and ensure your safety throughout the ride. Helmets and other safety equipment are also usually provided to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.
Whether you’re an experienced rider or a beginner, horseback riding on the Big Island offers a unique way to explore the island’s landscapes, connect with nature, and create lasting memories.
The Big Island of Hawaii offers a diverse range of activities and attractions for adventure enthusiasts
The Big Island of Hawaii is a paradise for adventure enthusiasts, offering a wide range of activities and attractions that cater to all interests and skill levels. From swimming with manta rays to hiking through rainforests and watching lava flow into the ocean, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Swimming with manta rays provides a thrilling and awe-inspiring experience, allowing you to witness the grace and beauty of these gentle giants. Night diving with manta rays takes the adventure to another level, providing a surreal underwater experience with these magnificent creatures.
Hiking through the rainforests of the Big Island allows you to immerse yourself in the vibrant nature that surrounds you. Discover hidden waterfalls, encounter diverse flora and fauna, and witness the breathtaking beauty of the island’s landscapes.
Watching lava flow into the ocean is a powerful and mesmerizing sight to behold. Joining a guided lava tour provides a safe and up-close experience, allowing you to witness the raw power and beauty of volcanic activity.
Visiting Mauna Kea for stargazing offers a unique opportunity to explore the night sky from the world’s tallest mountain. Catch the mesmerizing sunset and sunrise, and learn about the significance of this sacred place in Hawaiian culture.
Ziplining through the lush tropical forest provides an adrenaline rush and offers panoramic views of the island’s natural beauty. Snorkeling in Kona’s crystal-clear waters allows you to discover a vibrant reef teeming with life.
Off-road and ATV adventures provide a thrilling way to explore the island’s rainforests and ocean views. Navigate through rugged terrains and experience the wild side of the Big Island.
Visiting the best beaches on the island, from unique black sand beaches to the green sand beach, offers picturesque settings and unforgettable coastal experiences.
Horseback riding allows you to connect with the land and encounter wild horses, providing a special perspective of the island’s beauty.
With its diverse range of activities and attractions, the Big Island of Hawaii offers adventure enthusiasts an unforgettable experience. Immerse yourself in the unique beauty and natural wonders of the island through these top 10 activities and create memories that will last a lifetime.