Things to do on the big island Hawaii

The state of Hawaii has a plethora of islands, and each of those islands is like a world in its own; it has features and attractions that cater to certain interests. The Big Island, the biggest landmass in all of the Hawaiian Islands, shares the name with the state of Hawaii, but it certainly is fitting for its nickname. It sits right smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but even in an ocean that great, the Big Island still stood out from the blue-green waters. Presently its size is approximately 4,050 sq. miles, about the size of Connecticut, but thanks to Kilauea Volcano on the eastern shore of the island, the numbers grow daily. 

When you think of Hawaii, it is next to impossible not to picture pristine beaches, stunning volcanoes, the terrific hospitality of its people, and their iconic Hula dance—of course, the Hula! 

Although the tropical climate is prevalent in most parts of Hawaii, here in the Big Island, it’s not all coconut and palm trees; you’ll see lots of verdant forests, lava fields, and green beaches. 

Because of the immensity of the island’s size, there are more things to do here than your fingers and sand-covered toes could count.  Nevertheless, let’s start with the best ten: 

1. Sky-gazing atop Mauna Kea

Sky-gazing atop Mauna Kea

Sunsets are just beautiful, no doubt about that, but it is ten times more beautiful when you gaze at it from the summit of Mauna Kea. Before the climb, guests would be served a hot and hearty dinner at a previous Hawaiian ranch. After a brief rest, guests would proceed to the climb while they learn about  the culture and ecological history of the Big Island.

At the peak of Mauna Kea, the sky isn’t only the wondrous thing to see; panoramic views of Mauna Loa and Haleakala, Mau’s volcano, can be seen from there as well. Several of the world’s most powerful telescopes are also at the summit of Mauna Kea. In this tour, guests would also learn about why the mountain’s one-of-a-kind geography draws scientists and astronomers from all over the world.

Check out this amazing timelapse video

Before descending back to Kona, the guide would give a brief astronomy lesson as part of the guided tour. 

2. Doors Off Lava and Rainforests Adventure

Doors Off Lava and Rainforests Adventure

For guests looking for an adrenaline high, this tour is best for them. This 50-minute ride on a door-less helicopter takes guests above a radiating and active Hawaiian volcano, so they could appreciate the volcanic landscape and take a peek inside the volcanic craters. 

This aerial adventure offers the chance to soar above and get up-close and personal with actual lava, with practically nothing to hinder the view. This once-in-a-lifetime adventure is next to nothing as guests get terrifyingly near a great and powerful natural wonder. 

Aside from volcanoes, stunning waterfalls and lush tropical rainforests can also be seen from up above.

The Blue Hawaiian helicopter tour base is only 5 minutes from our villa

3. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Aside from their famous Hula, Hawaii is also known for their volcanoes. Big Island has a plethora of volcanoes, so much so that it has a national park dedicated to these natural marvels. The world’s most active volcanoes can be found here, and this tour will take guests to some of them while the guide shares bits of information about them.

Aside from the volcanoes, guests also get to see the beautiful Rainbow Falls, the historic Banyan Drive, Akatsuka Orchid Nursery, Hilo Bay Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory. Moreover, they can sink their toes in one of the planet’s few black sand beaches: Richardson Black Beach.  

4. Manta Ray Night Snorkel

manta ray night snorkel

Get to swim with these docile creatures in their natural habitat. The two and a half hour tour starts by travelling out into the sea to watch the Kona sunset, then jumping in to swim with the manta rays while they feed on microscopic plankton.

The lighted tour boats glide across the rays’ habitat, and because these gentle and graceful creatures are attracted to bright lights, guests can expect a fun and lively “manta rave” of bubbles, lights, and mantas. The tour guarantees manta sightings, or else they would provide a voucher for another tour. All snorkel gear, wet suit and flotation devices are provided, so guests need not worry about those. 

Details are as follows

Day: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Time: 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm – changes with sunset – boat departs on time
$125 to dive Includes air tanks or nitrox, weights, dive light
$115 to snorkel Includes mask, snorkel, fins, and wetsuit
$1 fee towards conservation efforts that KHD matches
(all prices shown are before taxes, fees, and scuba equipment needed)

5. Deluxe Kona Coast Snorkel and BBQ Cruise

5. Deluxe Kona Coast Snorkel and BBQ Cruise

Cruise trip, anyone? 
This luxurious tour transports guests to South Kona coast for snorkelling, on a boat with theatre-style seating, armrests, and hearty breakfast buffet and barbecue lunch. Top-notch snorkelling equipment is also provided for diving off the remote areas of South Kona coast and seeing the teeming aquatic life in this area of Hawaii, although guests should be able to swim on their own and have prior snorkelling experience.

The Kuhalalua Sea Spring is also a part of the itinerary. This was once a Royal Birthing Pool where Queen Keopuolani bathed just before she gave birth to King Kamehameha III.

6. Big Island Ziplining


The big island is blessed with natural wonders that would take anyone’s breath away when seen from above: mighty waterfalls, lush tropical rainforest, and artistically carved valleys. Suffice it to say, this is the perfect place to glide on a zipline across the sky. Skyline eco adventures offer guests a dramatic mid-air view of waterfalls and the charming botanical gardens along the Hamakua shore. This zipline tour spans seven lines, and also boasts of stunning Pacific Ocean views from up on the ridgelines.

One need not be an experienced zipliner because they provide adventures for different comfort levels. If you’re not too queasy from the altitude, you could also sample some local Hawaiian fruits while walking between the 7 ziplines.

7. Bike to Pele Tour

Although biking on volcanic eruption sites near a still very much active volcano might not sound as fun as you thought, this guided tour would make you glad that you thought twice and proceeded with the tour anyway. This exciting bike adventure starts at the Star of the Sea Painted Church, one of the spots that were saved from the lava flow in the year 1990 that ravaged the town of Kalapana, then along “Red Road” a literally less traveled road along the shores of the lower Puna district. The seasoned guide would take guests to significant eruption sites and paradisiacal coconut groves and dramatic caves along the way. The finale of the tour would take guests on a van to witness an active lava flow in this unspoiled part of the island. 

8. Kona Coffee Plantation and Bee Farm Tour

There’s more to the Big Island than tropical beaches, mighty volcanoes, and amazing people doing the Hula in grass skirts. In this tour, guests get to sample the famous Kona coffee along with local honey. But wait, there’s more: aside from sampling those treats, experienced guides also take guests to petroglyphs, along the shorelines to see green turtles and monk seals, and finally, sacred Hawaiian temples while listening to legends, folklores, and myths of ancient Hawaii to this day. 

The 15-people tour ends with a satisfying lunch on the coffee farm, after learning about how the Kona coffee starts off as beans, then processed and roasted to be the world-class coffee that a  lot of people get to enjoy. 

9. Hawaii Laser Tag

You might think, “Eh. Laser tag? But there are laser tag centers almost everywhere.” True. But in Hawaii, players get in tune with Mother Nature and play in peace and quiet as they complete their stealth missions. Deep in the heart of the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary, Hawaii Laser Tag Park has an estimated 10 acres of verdant forest, bunkers, and trails specially designed to help teams successfully execute their missions. All the necessary gear and equipment are provided by the park, so no matter what the age, the only thing that players need to worry about is how to have the best of fun in this unique laser tag setting. 

10. Endangered Birds of Hawaii

Hawaii is home to a diverse array of wildlife species, and that includes several species of endangered birds. This 12-hour tour takes guests to some bird habitats which are naturally away from the bustling crowd.  It starts with an inland travel to Saddle Road area for breakfast, and then proceeds to tracking down endangered birds in the area. If the group is lucky, they could even spot a palila—a critically endangered bird species that lives on the seeds of the mamane tree and is endemic to Hawaii. The tour also includes lunch and a return trip back to the guests’ accommodation. 

Hawaii the Big Island really lives up to its name; it is that big – which means there are many more things to do and much more to explore than listed here.

There are a plethora of islands that comprise Hawaii, but the Island is incomparable to any of them, in fact, to any place in the world. It seems to us like Mama Nature spent more time on this humongous island. We suggest staying for a few more days to fully appreciate what the Big Island has to offer.

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