To some, island life sounds like it might get a bit boring but when you are on the Big Island of Hawaii. Boredom is not an option. Hawaiʻi, more often called just the Big Island to avoid confusion between the island itself and the state is larger than all the other Hawaiian islands combined. It has everything from snowy peaks to gorgeous beaches to active volcanos. If you have to find yourself stranded on an island, this is the island you’d want to choose. It is packed with great places to see and things to do but below are a handful of the best.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
There is nothing quite like seeing an active volcano up close. The raw power of mother nature is truly beautiful and yet so deadly. Bright red lava flows through Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on it’s way to the sea and it visible from a number of different areas of the park. For a truly remarkable experience, try and get a spot on the weekly Secret Lava Tube Tour.
Though sections of the park are off limit due to active moving lava, many hiking trails also run through the park; letting you pass from smoking craters and blackened desert landscapes to lush rainforest jungles and beautiful beaches. Be sure to stop by the Visitor Center at the beginning of your visit to get the best updates on where to safely see the lava and on your way out of the park. Check out the interesting Volcano Art Center.
The breathtaking Waipi’o Valley is one of the most incredible places in all of Hawaii. A deep valley running from the coast inland for around six miles, it has everything you could want – waterfalls, jungles, black sand beaches, and amazing views throughout. Starting at the coast, check out the famous black sand beaches which have been featured in many Hollywood movies. Inland you can explore by foot, hiking through jungles filled with tropical plants and flowers, or by kayaking on the river. If you are lucky, you might even spot the valley’s famous wild horses.
‘Akaka Falls State Park
While hiking deep into Hawaii’s national parks is a great way to experience the true beauty of the island, you can get a taste of it with no more than a mile hike from the road at the ‘Akaka Falls. Even the short hike up to the falls is worth it with an endless array of tropical plants like bird of paradise and beautiful Hawaiian Ti plants. The falls themselves sit at over 400 feet tall plunging down through the rainforest. It is best to visit in the morning before the tour busses arrive and if you want to see the falls at their most impressive, try to visit during the rainy season.
Find The Perfect Beach
No matter what island you find yourself on, you simply can’t come to Hawaii and not go to a beach. Luckily, the Big Island has lots of great options. Naming the “perfect beach” is impossible as each beach on the island has its own fans and many appeal to people for different reasons. Decide what you want to do – surf, sunbath, snorkel, and narrow down your choices from there.
One of the most recommended beaches for first time visitors to the island is Hapuna Beach for its beauty and because it makes a great place for swimming, snorkeling, or just relaxing on the sand. Seeing Hawaii’s famous black sand beaches is another must with Punalu’u beach being a great option. Black sand beaches are known to attract sea turtle and at this beach you have a good chance of seeing one. While black beaches are beautiful, it’s the green sand that is truly rare. Getting to Papakōlea Green Sand Beach can take a bit of work but if you make it here, you will be lucky enough to enjoy one of only two green sand beaches in the United States.