You can see many of the most beautiful places on the Big Island of Hawaii in one day. I recommend taking a tour for your first circuit. This will allow you to soak in the beautiful scenery and all the variety the island has to offer. When you are ready to strike out on your own, here is my list of the top 5 things to do on the Big Island.
All of the beaches in Hawaii are public and we always devote at least one day to beach hopping. Here is number one on my list of top 5 things to do on the Big Island:
A Bay as it is called, is located right in the Waikoloa Village. It is home to a canoe club. If you arrive in the morning, you will see the club members launching their canoes. The beach has some trees for shade but it is a bit rocky. If you walk down the beach away from the hotels, you will often find a turtle sunning himself or some small fish, crabs and maybe even an eel in the tidal pools.
Located 15 to 20 minutes north of Waikoloa, Puako Beach provides excellent snorkeling. The beach is very rocky so be sure to bring your beach shoes.
Mau’umae Beach, Mauna Kea Resort
Just a short distance north of Puako Beach is Mau’umae Beach. You access the beach through the gate for the Mauna Kea Resort so parking is limited (10 passes at a time). You will want to arrive early or later in the afternoon for your best chance is getting a parking place. This beach is a white, sandy beach with rock outcroppings at each end of the bay. The beach’s location in a bay means the water is calm and perfect for families.
Old Kona Airport Beach
Located just north of Kona, this state park was the home of the Kona Airport until 1970. The beach is a wonderful combination of sandy and rocky. You can relax near the water in the sand or explore the seemingly infinite tidal pools. There are picnic pavilions, which the locals enjoy on the weekends. This is a perfect spot for watching sunset.
The Waipio Valley was once the boyhood home of King Kamehameha I and thousands of Hawaiians. The valley has been uninhabited since a powerful tsunami in 1946. It is still regarded as sacred ground. You can hike or take a 4 wheel drive guided tour into the valley where you will see taro fields, amazing vegetation and waterfalls galore. For the less adventurous, the views from the parking lot are spectacular as well, although the waterfalls are not visible .
Definitely one of the most beautiful places on the Big Island and number 2 on my list of top 5 things to do on the Big Island, it literally took my breath away on my first visit. The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens is located 8 1/2 miles north of Hilo. It is a 40 acre valley FULL of the most beautiful plants and scenery I have ever experiences. It is a valley so be prepared for some stairs but trust me it is worth it. At the bottom of the valley is Onomea Bay. This was one of the first natural landing areas for ships. There are lots of legends about the bay but what brings me back each time we visit the Big Island is the view! There is a picnic area. I strongly recommend you pack a snack so that you can spend some time soaking up one of the most beautiful places on the Big Island.
Volcano National Park
Located on the southeastern coast of the Big Island, Volcano National Park is definitely one of the top 5 things to do on the Big Island. In fact an argument can be made that it is the number one attraction. Kilauea, the Big Island’s youngest and most active volcano, is the star of the park. Eruptions in 2018 have closed parts of the park including the Jaggar Museum which was located along the rim of Kilauea. There are still lots of things to see, however. Not to be missed is the Thurston Lava Tube. A 20 minute walk through tree fern forest takes you to the 600 ft tube. The lava tube is lit from 8am to 8 pm. Flashlights or head lamps are recommended outside those hours. Parking is very limited so arrive early and be prepared to circle until you find a place.
Best Food on the Big Island
Merriman’s Restaurant, located in Waimea, is without a doubt our favorite food on the Big Island. Chef Peter Merriman has been serving local cuisine for over 25 years, well before the current farm to table trend. His meals feature local produce, seafood and beef. The dishes are incredibly fresh well composed. I LOVE that the restaurant has open windows on both sides so that the wonderful Hawaiian breeze is part of the experience.
These are just a few of the most beautiful places on the Big Island. We can never get enough of its magic and mood.