Big Island of Hawai'i Locations You Can't Miss
I lived in Hawai'i for 27 years. Many people mistakenly skip the Big Island or undervalue parts of it. It has 8 climate zones and so much to see!
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is in Volcano. It was a place I loved visiting, with everything from sea cliffs to tropical rainforests to lava tubes.
I recommend the Kilauea Iki trail, Thurston Lava Tube, the sulpher banks, the petroglyphs, Devastation Trail....almost anywhere, it is a great park!
Explore the town of Hilo. Although rainy, it is lovely. Many tourists undervalue it since it is less touristy than Kona. See my Hilo Jumprope.
If you do skip staying in Hilo, be sure to at least check out Lili'uokalani Gardens, a 24.67 acre Japanese Garden, and the nearby Banyan drive.
Another hike to check out along Saddle Road outside of Hilo is the Kipuka Pu'u Huluhulu. It is a native tree sanctuary.
From the trail, you can get some cool views of the highway below. Be careful on the trail if it has been rainy, as it can be slippery.
Along Saddle Road (Hawai'i Route 200), you can also stop and take some cool pictures, with the exception of the area around the army base.
From Saddle Road, you can see Mauna Kea, a famous dormant volcano that gets snow in the winter. I've linked how to visit Mauna Kea and drive up.
Another thing not to miss near Hilo is Akaka Falls, a 442 foot waterfall that is famous and very inexpensive to see. There is a lovely loop walk too.
Don't miss the Hamakua Coast. Drive the Old Mamalahoa Highway to the Onomea Bay Trail. Also drive to Botanical World Adventures for more views.
On your drive to Waimea, be sure to go to TEX Drive In and get some malasadas, an amazing portuguese-style donut.
No matter what, don't miss stopping to see the Waipi'o Valley Lookout for one of the most beautiful scenic overlooks in Hawai'i.
The hike is 2.8 roundtrip, and is very steep, but is very worth it. I do NOT recommend driving down. If you hike down, avoid swimming due to the tides
Drive all the way to the north of the Island to visit Kapaau/Hawi. Drive from Waimea via Kohala Mountain Road, which is very scenic.
Go see Pololū Valley, which is also very pretty and a much easier/shorter steep hike down than the Waipio Valley hike.
The 490 foot hike down is very worthwhile for all the pretty photo ops, including the forest. This beach also has rip tides, undertow, and high surf.
Next up, Kailua-Kona is very popular with tourists for its shopping, sunsets, hotels, beaches, and luaus. It is more touristy than Hilo.
Some of the most luxury shopping and dining are in Waikoloa. Make sure to check out the BEST shave ice at The Original Big Island Shave Ice Co.
Some of the best beaches in West Hawai'i are Mauna Kea Beach, Hapuna Beach, Kua Bay, and Magic Sands Beach. Always be cautious though with the ocean.
Ali'i Drive is a popular tourist location with tours, shopping, restaurants, and lodging. You can also see historical places like the Hulihe'e Palace.
South of Kona, visit the Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, also known as "Place of Refuge."
You can see a reconstruction of Hale o Keawe and see the great wall. This land was a safety refuge for the crime of breaking ancient Hawaiian laws.
The Painted Church is nearby in Honaunau, built in 1842. A Belgian priest painted the inside of the church. Tourists often photograph this church.
Finally, make your way down to South Point. In South Point, you can hike to see Green Sand Beach. This is one of four in the world.
The green comes from olavine crystals. The wind and surf can be high, and there are rip currents as well, so be prepared.
In Naalehu, get more malasadas and sweet bread at Punalu'u Bakeshop. Then as you drive to Punalu'u, stop at the scenic outlook right outside Naalehu.
Punalu'u Black Sand Beach is one of the most easily accesible black sand beaches and one of the best places to see turtles! This is a popular beach.
I hope that I convinced you to visit the Big Island of Hawai'i!
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