Most Hawaii tours are focused on snorkeling, the islands’ most visible and accessible tourist attraction, and the world’s premier site for scuba diving. But Hawaii has much more to offer than that.
Hawaii Island is a small, tropical archipelago north of the big island of Hawaii and east of Kauai. Because of its relatively smaller size, travel on the island can be slower. But for avid travelers, it’s well worth visiting. This diverse tropical paradise has the best food, drinks, and activities on the entire island of Hawaii.
Here are 20 reasons you need to visit Hawaii Island!
1. The Big Island
The island of Hawaii’s main island is also home to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which is the world’s premier site for amateur and professional volcanologists, as well as the world’s largest caldera. For nature enthusiasts, the area is also home to the island’s best botanical gardens.
Must-See Attractions On The Big Island
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Akaka Falls State Park
- Kona Coffee Living History Farm
- Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
- Pololu Valley Lookout
- Mauna Kea Summit
- Hapuna Beach State Park
- Waipi’o Valley
- Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve
- Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park
One of the islands’ main cities, Hilo is located on Hawaii Island’s eastern side. It’s here where visitors can find the island’s most famous attraction, the Rainbow Falls. Also located in Hilo, the Hilo Botanical Gardens are the largest collection of Hawaiian plant species in the world.
Must-See Places To Visit Hilo,Hawaii
- Rainbow Falls: A beautiful waterfall located in Hilo, Hawaii that produces a rainbow in the mist created by the sun.
- Mauna Kea: A dormant volcano with a summit at 13,796ft above sea level, making it one of the tallest mountains in the world.
- Akaka Falls: A spectacular 442ft waterfall that is set in a tropical rainforest.
- Hilo Farmers Market: A vibrant market situated in downtown Hilo, Hawaii that offers a wide range of fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, and locally made products.
- Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens: A one-of-a-kind zoo that showcases Hawaiian plants and animals.
- Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park: A national park that is home to a reconstructed Hawaiian village and ancient temple.
- Imiloa Astronomy Center: A science center that offers an interactive learning experience about Hawaiian culture and astronomy.
- Pacific Tsunami Museum: A museum that tells the stories of the two major tsunamis that hit Hilo in 1946 and 1960.
- Coconut Island: A small island located in Hilo Bay that is home to a variety of marine life.
- Hilo Bayfront Beach Park: A beach park with a beautiful view of Hilo Bay and Mauna Kea.
One of Hawaii Island’s best beaches, Kona is situated along the western coast. The town of Kailua-Kona, along with surrounding areas like Lanikai and Captain Cook, offer the best beaches on the island. Here, visitors can enjoy the views and tranquility of ocean waters and can also enjoy some of the island’s best golf courses.
Must-See In Kona Hawaii
- Kailua-Kona Town – Stroll through the historic downtown, browse unique shops and restaurants, and experience the local culture.
- Historic Kona Coffee Farms – Visit the farms to learn about the history of the area and to sample some of the freshest coffee around.
- Hulihe’e Palace – Tour the former vacation home of Hawaiian royalty and view the museum displaying artifacts from Hawaii’s past.
- Kona Brewing Company – Sample the locally crafted beer and enjoy a meal at the restaurant overlooking the Big Island’s Kailua Bay.
- Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory – Take a tour and purchase some of the world-famous macadamia nuts and other treats.
- Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park – Explore the ancient Hawaiian city and learn about the history and culture of the island.
- Kona Coast – Spend a day on the beach, snorkel in the tranquil waters, and take in the stunning views.
- Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park – Explore the ancient Hawaiian grounds and learn about the unique Hawaiian culture.
- Kona Night Market – Experience the vibrant culture of Hawaii while strolling through the night market and sampling local foods and crafts.
- Ironman World Championship – Watch world-class athletes compete in the iconic triathlon event held each October in Kona.
With the best kite surfing in the Hawaiian Islands, Kaumakapao Beach in the town of Kailua-Kona is a go-to spot for both surfers and non-surfers. A visit here offers the chance to see the islands’ wildest surf, as well as explore the stunning landscape of Kailua-Kona.
5. Captain Cook National Historic Park
Captain Cook National Historic Park is a national monument located in Kailua-Kona that commemorates the life of the infamous 17th century British explorer and navigator James Cook. The park houses the historic Captain Cook Monument, built to honor Cook’s death, as well as the Cook Islands Culture Museum, with many historical artifacts from the island of the same name.
If you’re looking for more than just beaches on Hawaii Island, check out Waikoloa. Here, visitors can enjoy a variety of adventure activities, including kite surfing, parasailing, boating, camping, and kayaking. For those looking to get an adrenaline rush, parasailing and kite surfing are available here.
7. Captain George
A must-do for both scuba divers and novice snorkelers, the area around the town of Waikoloa is a hotspot for recreational divers. Here, visitors will find Captain George, one of the deepest known wrecks in Hawaii’s chain of reefs. The underwater structure of Captain George was discovered in 2003, and features the remnants of a ship, complete with several cannons, which is now over 100 feet deep. A visit here will let you see the beautiful coral and marine life of the area as well as learn about the marine’s incredible history.
8. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
If you’re looking for adventure, then Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will meet your needs. With the island’s biggest and most active volcano, Kilauea, and the region’s most active volcano, Mauna Loa, this park is a great place to see an erupting volcano up close. Visitors can explore the park’s various exhibits and visit the world’s largest parking lot.
9. Mauna Kea
A perfect spot to escape the island’s urban setting, Mauna Kea offers visitors a unique landscape of high-altitude valleys, plateaus, and peaks. This vast landscape offers some of the world’s best astronomical views. Here, visitors can visit one of the world’s most unique observatories, Hawaii’s largest telescope, the Keck Observatory. Visitors can also check out the world’s largest telescope, the Arecibo Observatory, and view the nighttime sky through the telescope’s observatory.
10. Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area
Located just east of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area features beautiful white sand beaches and an island wildlife reserve. Here, visitors can play a round of golf, fish, snorkel, surf, or even canoe. This tropical island paradise is also home to the island’s famous waterfalls, the Haumea Falls.
One of the best things about visiting the island of Hawaii’s western side is the beautiful nature of the region. With its lush tropical foliage, the Kona area is a botanist’s dream. Here, visitors can enjoy the unique environment and many botanical attractions, including the Dole Plantation, Kona Zoo and Botanical Gardens, and the Kona Coffee Farm. Here, visitors can enjoy some of the island’s best food, music, and culture.
12. Puu Hana Heiau
On the northern side of Hawaii Island, visitors will find the Puu Hana Heiau, a historic religious site and the perfect spot for viewing the beautiful island landscape. For a fun night out, the Kona Town Tavern, located here, is the perfect place to watch the sunset.
13. Kalalau Beach
The Kalalau Beach area is a perfect beach for swimming, snorkeling, surfing, fishing, and diving. A visit here will not only let you enjoy the gorgeous landscape, but will also give you the chance to explore the area’s many historical sites. The area is home to an array of ancient petroglyphs and other interesting cultural relics.
14. Waimea Bay
One of Hawaii Island’s best restaurants, Keke’s, is located in this area. Here, visitors can enjoy the island’s best dining and dining options as well as witness the best nightlife scene on the island. The area also offers a variety of adventure activities, including a kite-surfing beach and a camping site.
15. Punaluu Beach
Located on the eastern side of Hawaii Island, visitors to this area will find the beautiful beaches of Punaluu Beach. Home to excellent kite surfing and sunbathing, visitors can enjoy this remote and stunning beach all year-round. Here, visitors can also enjoy surfing, fishing, snorkeling, and sailing.
16. Kealakekua Bay
Along with being Hawaii Island’s most historic bay, Kealakekua Bay is the island’s best known attraction. Here, visitors can enjoy some of the island’s best snorkeling and diving, as well as witness the beauty of the bay’s volcanic rock formations.
17. Hawaii’s Best Food and Culture
The island of Hawaii offers the best food, entertainment, and nightlife in the Hawaiian Islands. From the bustling town of Hilo to the quiet beaches of Kona, Hawaii is home to countless amazing things to do and see.
18. Punaluu Beach and Black Pot Beach
Punaluu Beach is home to many unique beachside attractions, including the Oahu Native Beach Resort and the Punaluu Beach Kiteboarding Adventures, offering kite surfing lessons and kite surfing tours. Nearby, visitors will find Black Pot Beach, a gorgeous beach which is home to numerous lava rock formations.
19. Kualoa Ranch
Located on the southern side of the island of Oahu, the scenic landscape of Kualoa Ranch offers a beautiful setting for the film industry. Known for its role in many popular movie productions, including “Taken”, Kualoa Ranch is a fun, family-friendly spot for visitors. The ranch also offers a variety of hiking and adventure activities, including horseback riding and kayaking.
Kauai is the largest island in Hawaii. Home to many of the island’s best beaches and a variety of adventure activities, Kauai is often referred to as Hawaii’s “secret” island. Here, visitors can enjoy the pristine landscapes and incredible scenery, as well as witness one of the island’s most unique cultures.
In Hawaii, life revolves around the sun. Whether you’re there during the daylight hours or enjoying the night life, you’ll have a great time. No matter what you do, it’s important to have fun when visiting this beautiful island.
Hawaii is home to hundreds of fun events year-round. If you’re planning to visit this island paradise for an upcoming vacation, be sure to check out the calendar of events on the Hawaii Tourism Authority website