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Cool Things To Do On The Big Island In Hawaii: From Kona to Hilo


arnold on Dec 09, 2019

Best Hikes:

Kilauea Iki hike

Kīlauea Iki Hike:  You walk across the floor of a dried up crater of a volcano.  It is still smoking sometimes. Hike is awesome. You follow the pile of rocks to find the other side. You have to do a fairly steep hike down to the Crater and then back up.

It is in Hawaii Volcanoes national park and the entire hike takes about 3 hours. There are other cool things to do in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park besides Iki so spend the day.

Volcano Winery

Volcano Winery Wines And Food

This is a fun winery to visit and it is located in a town called Volcano. The wine is decent and it is a cool place to do a tasting. The wine tasting costs $15 and it includes six 1-ounce pours. They also offer house made cheese platters and some estate tea and coffee tastings. There is not a lot nearby so make sure you get some food in you!

GPS Directions:


Hilo Hikes: I am including these because they are near Volcano national park which is near Hilo. (These can all be done in one day total for all). It rains about everyday in Hilo but it is worth stopping by for a day or two.  There are some great places to eat around town.

Akaka Falls State Park: Fun hike to view a huge waterfall from a distance. Research how to pay for parking. Bring cash.

Rainbow Falls: Park and walk a few feet to the waterfalls.

The Abandoned Zoo (free):  Not really abandoned but it is always empty. Cool place to walk around if you have kids…  There are animals but almost no other people there… kind of eerie.

More Hikes Around The Island:

Green Sand Beach: You park and then have to walk about 3 or 4 miles. It is a sandy hike to get to the green beach. Sand is green and it is a pretty cool beach. Not a beach you would spend more than an hour or two at but worth the adventure. You can hire a car in the parking lot to drive you for $10 each way.

Nearby: The southernmost point in the US. Cool cliff jumping spot and view.  Bring beers!  GPS: 18.911470100730664, -155.67670863407892

Two cool half day hikes at top of Island:

Pololū Valley LookoutQuick steep hike down and a fun beach/forest to explore. Nearby towns are cool.

Waipi’o Valley: Very steep long walk down to beach. Wild horses and cool black sand beach. Don’t look for waterfall. The trail is blocked. We tried. Not too much nearby but you could explore Waimea which is nearby and is a cowboy-ish town with good food.

Best Beach on the Big Island

The Best Beach on the island is Mauna Kea Beach.  The water and sand are perfect. However, there are only 5 public parking spots and a manned gate you need to get through. There are ways to talk your way through the gate such as reservations at one of the restaurants at the Mauna Kea hotel.  Then you can park at the hotel and just pay.

Otherwise you could park at another really nice beach (Hapuna Beach: State Recreation Area) and walk a mile to Mauna Kea Beach. Hapuna Beach is a pretty cool beach with decent parking.  But Mauna Kea is much better.

Bonus Adventure:

At the Mauna Kea Beach hotel, if you stay there until dark they put lights in the water and the manta rays come to the hotel.  They charge $100 a person to swim with them but we just brought our own snorkle gear and swam out from the beach. A few other people did this while we were there. The Manta Rays are huge and this is a very cool experience!

Best Hotels:

Westin Hapuna: New hotel with awesome beds and a super cool gigantic property with great pools.

Maun Kea Beach Hotel: THE place to stay on the Big Island.  A little dated in the rooms but the beach and their beach chairs are so relaxing. Pool sucks though.

Hilton Waikoloa hotel: Very cool property. Rooms can be cheap or nice depending on what you spend. The resort is awesome. Crazy pools and a bay you can snorkel in. Easy access to Dolphins.  Easy to spend a couple days here and not be bored.

Other Cool things to do on the Big Island:

Swim with Manta Rays: See above.

Mauna Kea Star Gazing: This is where all the big telescopes of the world are located because of how high up it is and how clear the skies are.  If the visitor center is open, they will set up a bunch of telescopes pointing at planets like Pluto, where you can see the rings, and Mars, etc.  It is cold but awesome.  You can also go to the very top near the telescopes, but you need a 4×4 and it is a bit of a crazy ride. There are some short hikes nearby if you get there before dark.

Coffee Plantation Tour:  Kona is the most valuable coffee in the world.  There are a lot of very cool plantations you can tour and do coffee “cuppings”

Kona Brewing:  I love their beer.  It was reasonably priced, and the food was really good. Try the pizza rolls for happy hour. Downtown Kona is busy and not that great. Parking is expensive. If you want to see downtown, then use Kona brewing as an excuse.

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