The Big Island of Hawaii is such a beautiful and diverse island with so many amazing things to do! Whether you’re a surfer, hiker, or beach go-er, the Big Island of Hawaii has something for everyone. Even though it’s the biggest Hawaiian island, it’s a bit more untouched than the other islands, which makes it perfect for a relaxing getaway. You can do everything from swimming with sea turtles and dolphins to hiking waterfalls and playing on beautiful beaches. It’s not as populated as the other islands, so the towns are pretty small and everything is fairly spread out, but the terrain is so diverse and there is so much to do that we absolutely loved spending time there!
We spent most of our time around Kona, because that’s the sunnier side of the island and where the prettiest beaches are. It’s also where the best food on the island is (in our opinion). But we did spend a day on the Hilo side, and it was so worth it to see the waterfalls and jungle over there. The Hilo side is known for being more rainy and it doesn’t have as many beaches, but it’s definitely worth still visiting.
big island hawaii travel guide:
How to Get Around:
To get around the island, we rented a car. The island is so big and everything is pretty spread out, so there isn’t really any other way to be able to explore. Having a car made it to so much easier to hop around and see so much of what the Big Island has to offer in a short period of time. Tip: If you have a Costco membership, save money by filling up with gas there. We rented a four-wheel drive truck, but if we were to do it again we would have looked for a more fuel efficient four-wheel drive option. After spending ten days on the island, here’s our list of the best things to do, places to eat, and places to stay on the island:
Things to do:
Snorkel With Sea Turtles:
Relax on the Beautiful Beaches:
The Kona side of the island is known for its stunning beaches and you can’t go to Hawaii without spending some time on the beaches. All of the beaches are different, but equally beautiful. Here’s a list of our favorites:
Makalawena is our other favorite. It’s a little harder to get to, because it’s about a 15-minute walk from where you park. You have the walk past Mahai’ula Beach (which is also a beautiful beach), and then over black lava rocks. The rocks can get rather hot, so bring durable sandals and some water. But once you get to the beach, it’s a lot more secluded and has beautiful blue water and soft white sand to relax on. If you’re planning to spend an entire day just relaxing on the beach, we’d suggest packing snacks and going to this one.
Kukio Beach is just to the north of Kikaua Point Park and a beautiful beach. It’s also home to so many sea turtles! We loved watching them swim right up to the shore. Be sure to bring snorkel gear with you, so you can spend some time swimming with them (but don’t touch them) and seeing the beautiful fish around the area too!
What to do in hilo, hawaii:
The drive to the Hilo side of the island takes about an hour and a half from Kona. This side is where a lot of the waterfalls are and where Volcano National Park is. It’s also generally more rainy and doesn’t have as many beaches, so we’d suggest spending about a day or two over there.
Rainbow Falls is a beautiful waterfall and it gets its name, because on sunny days, you can generally see a rainbow. It’s a really easy walk to the lookout and the falls are really beautiful. Just above the main lookout area are several giant banyan trees that are worth checking out too.
It’s about a 15-minute walking loop to see the falls. It’s very pretty and green and honestly not very difficult. If you want to make it even shorter, when you walk down the initial set of stairs, go to the left and you’ll only be about a 3-minute walk from the Akaka Falls lookout point. Entry for Akaka Falls is $1 per person or $5 per car. If there are less than five people in your car, you can park just outside the gates of the parking lot, so you can save a few dollars and only pay the per person rate.
Punalu’u Black Sand Beach:
best places to eat in kona:
Herbivores is a completely vegan restaurant and one of our favorite places we ate on the island. It’s a little outdoor shack and everything they make is so flavorful. We recommend the jackfruit nachos.
Ululani’s Shaved Ice:
Scandinavian Shaved Ice:
Da Poke Shack:
If you like poke, Da Poke Shack is a great little spot for fresh fish. The portion sizes are fairly small, but in our opinion, it is slightly overrated.
Hayashi’s You Make The Roll Sushi:
Other things to do:
There are so many things to do on the island that we didn’t have time to do them all, but these things all seem like incredible experiences that are definitely on our list for next time.
Night Diving with Manta Rays:
If you love swimming with animals, night diving with manta rays is definitely a bucket list experience. Many companies offer a snorkel option so don’t worry if you’re whole group isn’t scuba certified!
Mauna Kea Observatories:
If you love seeing the world from above, a helicopter tour would be absolutely stunning. You’d get to fly over waterfalls, the beautiful beaches, and active volcanoes.
Cliff Jumping at South Point:
South Point is known for its cliff jumping. There’s a dedicated jumping spot, which is about 40 feet high, so this is definitely a must for the adventurous daredevils out there. You can also drive down to the southern most point of the United States from there.
Volcanoes National Park:
where to stay:
Holualoa Inn is located in the charming arts town of Holualoa. It’s up on the hill, so it overlooks the ocean and has incredible views. It’s also a short walk into the adorable village, which has a ton of local art vendors and markets. We loved the quaint and quiet feel to Holualoa Inn. The staff at Holualoa Inn are so incredible and kind and they really make you feel welcome as soon as you arrive. It’s a small bed and breakfast with only six rooms, so it has the most relaxing and friendly vibe to it. We both kept saying how we loved how it felt more like a home away from home than a hotel. They even have boogie boards, snorkels, beach chairs, and other beach items that you can use while you’re staying there.
The property is also on a huge orchard, so all of the breakfasts are farm-to-table and made fresh every morning while taking into consideration any dietary restrictions. They also make fresh snacks every afternoon. We had the most delicious banana coconut pancakes and peanut butter cookies while we were there. They also serve fresh fruit straight from their orchard, which is the perfect touch for your tropical island getaway. Holualoa Inn also hosts weddings, and it would be the most beautiful spot for an intimate wedding overlooking the ocean. We absolutely loved our stay there and would definitely recommend a few nights in the area.
Hilton Kings’ Land:
We stayed in the two bedroom suite, which has laundry, a dishwasher, and a full kitchen in the room. It is so nice, because then you can cook your own meals, which we’d recommend doing at least a few times, because eating out in Hawaii is expensive. Kings’ Land is perfect for couples or families traveling together as well, because they have plenty of different sized rooms to accommodate whatever kind of getaway you’re looking for. The resort is absolutely beautiful, and it’s truly the perfect place for a vacation!
BOOK YOUR STAY AT HILTON KINGS’ LAND HERE!
The Big Island of Hawaii is the ideal spot for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or an adventurous trip within the United States! And no matter what kind of adventure you’re looking for, you’ll love spending time on this absolutely beautiful island.