The Big Island is the largest and most exciting of all Hawaiian islands. The island stills grows every day because of its #1 tourist attraction, which also happens to be one of the most active volcanoes in the world: the Kilauea volcano. There are plenty more things to do on the Big Island besides visiting an active volcano despite it’s size 🙂
Hawai’i actually is pretty small despite having a ‘Big Island’. There are only 3 states (Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island ) with less land surface than the aloha state. Yet, this small island chain hosts 8 / 13 of the climate zones in the world, and there are many fun, exciting and accessible activities possible for you to explore it.
These highlights for the Big Island are an efficient way to get to know our “favorites” of Hawaii:
Local food and snacks
Many people tend to ignore the culinary side of their vacation, try not to do that yourself! The Big Island is one destination where you should do anything to avoid that trap.
It is easy (and tasty!) to find local food in restaurants, farmers markets, supermarkets or, at the source, the farm/orchard.
Malasadas (Portuguese sugared fried dough snacks) are a great snack for when you are on the road. The combination of Kalua pig with one of the many locally produced microbrews never gets old, and don’t leave the Big Island without a taste of one of the world’s most famous coffees: Kona coffee.
- List of farmers markets, directions and opening times on the Big Island of Hawaii. Find farmers markets near Hilo, Kona, Volcano village and Waimea.Continue reading about: Farmers Markets on the Big Island
- Guide for organizing a DIY Kona Coffee Tour on the Big Island of Hawaii. Learn how to visit, where the best farm tours are, what the best time is for a tour.Continue reading about: Kona Coffee Tours
- Hawaiian food is a mix from traditional local food and exotic dishes and crops introduced by immigrants. Learn about the many local snacks and specialties.Continue reading about: Get to know the local food in Hawaii
- Hawaiians love good beer, and know how to make it. Read about the three very good local breweries on the Big Island of Hawaii (as well as a beer festival)..Continue reading about: Big Island Beers – Delicious Hawaiian Brews
Beaches on the big Island
If you like beaches you are in luck! The Big Island is a true paradise, and has quite some amazing white, black and green sand beaches!
Our hands-down favorite beaches on the Big Island are Hapuna and Mauna Kea beach (white sand), Punalu’u beach (black sand + turtles!), and Papakōlea (green sand). Read more about these beaches in the following guides:
- Kauna'oa Beach (Mauna Kea Beach) is one of the prettiest white sand beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii. A family beach good for sunbathing and snorkeling.Continue reading about: Kauna’oa (Mauna Kea) Beach
- Punalu'u beach is the most famous black sand beach of Hawaii. It is easily accessible and great for swimming, snorkeling, coastal hikes and seeing turtles.Continue reading about: Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
- Guide to visiting Green sand beach (Papakōlea) on the Big Island, Hawaii. Driving directions and hiking tips for one of two(!) green sand beaches in the USA.Continue reading about: Green sand beach (Papakōlea)
- Hāpuna beach on the Big Island is consistently voted among the 'best beaches of the world' and our favorite. Activities, directions and local information.Continue reading about: Hāpuna White Sand Beach
Do you wonder where black and green sand come from? Easy: lava and crystals! Read more about why the sand is white/green/black on these favorite Big Island beaches.
Activities on the Big Island
The Big Island spans 8 out of the world’s 13 climate zones, and the activities you can enjoy here are almost as distinct.
First of all, there is the lava, but you can also go snorkel over tropical reefs and enjoy a sunset snowball fight on the summit of Mauna Kea a few hours later. And then there is, of course, the unforgettable Manta Ray night dive. Read more about these 4 fantastic activities in our guides linked below:
- Stargazing on MaunaKea DIY guide for the Big Island of Hawaii. Visit telescopes and see the sunset. Find (free) astronomy tours + Mauna Kea summit tours.Continue reading about: Stargazing on MaunaKea: DIY guide + summit tours
- The manta ray night dive (or snorkel) is our #1 favorite thing to do on the Kona coast. Guide with background + list of favorite tours on the Big Island.Continue reading about: Manta Ray night dive and snorkel (Kona coast)
- Snorkeling guide for the Big Island of Hawaii. Favorite snorkeling spots, where to rent or buy gear, learn how to find the fish, booking a tour, safety tips.Continue reading about: Snorkeling on the Big Island
- Guide to safely seeing lava yourself on the Big Island of Hawaii. Lava viewing In the Halema'uma'u crater (Kilauea Volcano) or close-up at the lava flows.Continue reading about: Lava viewing guide for the Big Island
Destinations on the Big Island: “Must Do” activities for your itinerary
These are our “local flavor” unmissable activities for each of the four largest cities on the Big Island: Hilo, Kailua Kona, Volcano Village and Waimea.
If there is only one thing you can do in Volcano Village, let this be it. The Hawaii Volcanoes national park is for us the only “must visit” attraction on the Big Island!
A visit to Hilo isn’t complete without a stop at the Hilo farmers market for souvenirs and tasty food. Pick up some lunch for on the road, when you are taking one of the incredibly scenic drives close by.
- The Hilo Farmers Market is a must-visit when you are in Hilo. Over 200 local farmers and crafters sell produce, crafts, gift items and tropical flowers.Continue reading about: The Hilo Farmers Market + 5 smaller farmers markets near Hilo