Hawaii’s Big Island – What to Do & See

The Big Island of Hawaii is full of adventures on land and in the water. We’ve spent an extensive amount of time vacationing on the Big Island and you can benefit from our experiences. As you are making your vacation activity plans,  make sure you review all our recommendations on all the  best things to do on the Big Island. You’ll be pleased to know that most of them are very budget-friendly. That article also leads you to the most interesting and scenic attractions – including watching the lava flow, finding waterfalls, learning about ancient Hawaiian culture and seeing sights that will definitely make you say wow! Follow those recommendations and you will have vacation memories to last a lifetime.

In addition to that popular article, you might also want to consider adding in some of these fun and unique Big Island activities and attractions:

Stargaze high up on Mauna Kea. There are few places on earth that are better for stargazing.

Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls

– Snorkel, Snuba or Scuba Diving– there are many places to snorkel from the shore or you can board an excursion boat for an organized snorkeling and diving tour. One thing particularly unique to the Big Island is that you can go night diving and snorkeling with manta rays. For a great snorkel excursion, visit Kealakekua Bay. It’s historic and one of the most pristine snorkeling spots in the state of Hawaii.

– Horseback riding – there are two key places for horseback riding on the Big Island – at the Waipio Valley and in the Waimea area.

– Hike – there are miles and miles of hiking trails throughout the Big Island. Where else can you hike through a rain forest and across a dormant volcano (Kilauea Iki trail)? It’s amazing!

– Kayaking can be done along the shores at Hilo Bay and along coves of the Kohala Coast.

– Whale watching can be done from December through April, but the peak months are January through March. You can watch for whales from the shore or take a whale watching tour.

– Take a thrilling ride on a zipline. See our advice for ziplines in Hawaii.

– Tour a farm that produces the world famous Kona Coffee.

– Go fishing on board a charter fishing boat and catch some delicious fish.

– Surf the waves

– Play a round of golf at one of the many world class golf courses on the Big Island

– Enjoy a rejuvenating spa treatment

– Golf on one of the many courses with postcard quality scenery.

– Enjoy Polynesian food, music and dancing at a Big Island luau.

– Take a helicopter tour of the island to get a bird’s eye view of the lava flows.

– Take an ATV tour in the Kohala Mountain

– Take a boat tour like a catamaran sunset cruise. One cruise we particularly like is Ocean Sports Sunset Sail.

– Tour one of several botanical gardens. Our favorite is Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.


More resources for your Big Island vacation planning:

>> Go back to the Big Island Vacation Guide

Big Island Calendar

>> Go back to the Big Island Vacation Guide


  1. Looking to book trip to pearl harbour and we arrive by cruise ship called dawn princes at 6am is docking time on 10 October depart 11pm. Like to get a tour for 4 people at an 830 time please.
    Thank you

  2. We are planning to visit Oahu in April, but thinking of doing 1 or 2 day Big island visit. We are mostly interested in the volcanic siting, so what would be a short itinerary for 2 days on Hilo side ?

    • If your interest is the volcano activity, then there’s lots to see and do in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. One of our favorite hikes in all of Hawaii is the one across a crater and through a rainforest in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. That hike is called Kilauea Iki.

      There’s no way to predict where and what the lava will be doing, but if it’s flowing where you can see it, an evening or early morning view (while it’s dark) of the lava flow is amazing.

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