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Hawaii Island is often overlooked when it comes to vacationing in the Aloha State. For those interested in active lava flows, excellent scuba diving and rugged landscapes, however, the Big Island is a great choice for your next island destination.
Below, in no particular order, are our picks for the best activities on the Big Island. Enjoy and get exploring!
Top 10 Things to Do on the Big Island
#1 Tour Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Home to 5 volcanoes, both active and dormant, no trip to the Big Island is complete without exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Available activities include the Crater Rim Drive, Chain of Craters Road, backcountry hikes, biking, camping, day hikes, the chance to see active lava flows, and special events and presentations.
#2 Hike to Papakolea Beach
One of only two green sand beaches in the world, Papakolea is located within a former cinder cone at the southern tip of the island. Only accessible by a 2.5 mile, one-way hike, rest assured that the beauty is worth the journey.
#3 Swim with Manta Rays
Kona is home to a large population of manta rays, who feed off the plankton that gather around the surrounding underwater lights. The Big Island offers a unique opportunity to scuba dive or snorkel with these magnificent creatures, whose wingspan can reach over 15 feet!
#4 Visit Akaka Falls State Park
One of the most beautiful hiking trails on the island, Akaka Falls is a half mile, uphill hike through bamboo groves, ferns and lush plant life. Two waterfalls are visible along the hike, including Kahuna Falls and the impressive, 440 foot, cascading Akaka Falls.
#5 Tour Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park
Known as the Place of Refuge, this 180-acre historical park was once home to royal grounds and a refuge for ancient Hawaiians who broke the law. Once they arrived, a ceremony of absolution was held before they were permitted to return to society. Today, visitors can take a self-guided walking tour, exploring sites like the Great Wall, Hale o Keawe Heiau, Keoneele Cove, Keoua Stone, ancient halau and more.
#6 Explore Waipio Valley
An area rich in legends and sacred sites, Waipio Valley is located on the northeastern coast of the Big Island. Explore the valley by hiking, horseback, mule-drawn wagon or kayak, and keep in mind that the most rewarding views are Muliwai Trail.
#7 Snorkel at Kealakekua Bay
Once the landing place of Captain James Cook, Kealakekua Bay is now an official Marine Life Conservation District. Home to a variety of unique marine life, including Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins, this is a great place to kayak and enjoy some of the best snorkeling in the state.
#8 Go Stargazing on Mauna Kea
Hawaii's Mauna Kea Volcano, reaching 9,300 feet above sea level, is one of the world's premiere stargazing destinations. The Visitor Information Station offers free stargazing opportunities every night from 6pm to 10pm. Remember to bring warm clothes, as temperatures are often near freezing at the summit!
#9 Relax on Hapuna Beach
Located on the Kohala Coast, Hapuna Beach is the largest white sand beach on the Big Island, not to mention one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Head here for a relaxed day of fun in the sun, and enjoy activities like snorkeling, bodyboarding, surfing and swimming.
#10 Take an Aerial Tour
One of the best ways to see the Big Island is to view it from above. Blue Hawaiian Helicopters offers several aerial tours of the Big Island's biggest and most stunning attractions, including Kilauea Volcano, sea cliffs of the Kohala Coast, black sand beaches, Madame Pele's lava and volcanic badlands, Hamakua Coast rainforest, cascading waterfalls, ancient Hawaiian settlements and more.
Mahalo for reading, and we hope you have a great time exploring the amazing sights of Hawaii's Big Island! Tell us about your favorite Big Island activities in the comments below.