Fun things to do in Hawaii (Big Island)

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Most Viewed Things to Do in Hawaii (Big Island)

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    Kapohokine Adventures

    by cjg1 Updated Mar 31, 2015

    My wife and I booked an excursion in Hilo through our cruise ship. We always book our excursions through the ship and it provides insurance protection and a guarantee that you will get back to the ship if anything goes wrong on the tour. We had friends who had their tour bus break down and it took three hours for them to get back to the cruise ship; because it was an excursion through the cruise ship they held the departure time from port until they all made it back. I don’t mind paying more for an excursion for that sense of security.

    Our shore excursion was booked with Kapohokine Adventures which is an ecofriendly tour company. I had been to the Big Island previously but this was my wife’s first time and she wanted a tour. Our tour guide Josh was a local who was born and raised on The Big Island in Puna. We had an amazing day and saw some incredible sights: Macadamian Nut Plantation, Lava Tubes, Botanic Gardens, Akaka Falls, Pe’epe’e Falls, Uma Uma Falls, Onomea Bay, Rainbow Falls, Onomea Falls, and some other sights along Route 19. We had some interesting weather that day that ranged from sun to torrential downpours; we had fun despite getting a bit soggy. The rain mad the weaterfalls roar with the abundance of water which made for a spectacular sight.

    The last part of our tour that day was a hike to a private waterfall followed by a picnic lunch. Due to the rain that day the trail was incredibly muddy and my wife was up to her thigh in mud during the trek; fortunately she had water shoes on to keep herself steady. Our lunch was a nice one with grilled meats and chicken along with assorted veggies and salads.

    We had a great time with the tour and met some nice people as well. Our tour guide was amazing and very funny. I would suggest this tour to anyone visiting the island.

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    Akaka Waterfalls

    by Gypsystravels Updated Jan 26, 2015

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    During our short stay on the Big Island we decided that waterfalls and volcanos would be the only things we would be able to see with our limited time.

    We did the waterfalls all morning long, chasing them up the coast before heading to Volcanoes National Park.

    Akaka Falls is a beautiful 420+ ft. fall. As you arrive to the parking area, take the winding stair case down a winding path. You can take the short cut and head directly to Akaka Falls or you can walk around to the other lesser known fall (will search for the name of this one).

    I would highly recommend that you get here early as soon as soon as the park is open, You can easily see the falls and the area in less than 1 hour.

    The views are spectacular.

    At the Akaka falls Path to the falls You have arrived at the park Be back with the name of this fall
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    Driving Rt. 19

    by Gypsystravels Updated Jan 26, 2015

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    We rented a car to take the drive along the scenic Rt. 19 . We stopped along the way to view some beautiful lava tubes flowing with water along on our way to Kaimana Caves, Akaka Falls and then on to Volcanoes National Park.

    The route is a short one but a good way to get off the highway and see the beautiful coast line.

    Solitary Rt. 19 A beautiful scenery along the coast on Rt. 19 An impressive lava tube with flowing water on Rt. A small waterfall along Rt. 19
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    Thurston Lava tube

    by Gypsystravels Updated Jan 26, 2015

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    Located inside the Volcanos National Park, the Thurston Lava tube is a huge tourist stop during the trip around the Crater.

    I wasn't impressed. There is absolutely nothing, I mean nothing to this tube. It is an empty long tube which can be walked a short distance to the other end, and you are done.

    If you are short on time, ship this...you really aren't missing much.

    View of the entrance from inside the tube
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    Road Trip

    by GracesTrips Updated Sep 2, 2014

    This is a BIG island! So, inevitably, you will be driving a lot. The towns are spread out and you should consider spending some time on various parts of the island. We stayed the majority of our trip on the Kona side of the island but we did spend a couple of days on the Hilo side. In between we spent a day on the northern part of the island and half a day on the southern tip of the island. I suggest skipping the southern tip of the island. There really isn't much to see.

    Driving to Mauna Kea from Kona Driving to Waimea from Kona Driving to Isaac Hale Beach Park Driving to Isaac Hale Beach Park Driving back to main HWY from Akaka State Falls
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    Waikoloa Beach Area

    by GracesTrips Updated Sep 2, 2014

    We had reservations for dinner at the Brown's Beach House located at the Fairmont Resort in the Waikoloa Village area. We arrived quite early and check out the shopping area and proceeded to see what else we might find. Road signs indicated there was beach access so we followed the arrows and came to a small parking lot. There were nice bathroom facilities and a pathway leading towards the beach. Being that our dinner reservations were at a nice restaurant, instead of flip flops I was wearing my shimmery heels. Anyway, the pathway was quite long but interesting reading along the way describing the lava tubes that you could see and other information about the landscape. All leading past a condominium complex and then to the beach. It was quite nice with the sun about to set.

    Small parking lot Lava Tubes Walking path to beach
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    'Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii

    by GracesTrips Updated Sep 2, 2014

    Looks like to be a very complete and comprehensive center on space explorations, scientific beliefs and theories. We didn't make it to see the astronomy center but thought I should keep the tip posted for those of you interested in checking it out.

    Mauna Kea's summit is 13,780 feet and home to the largest observatory in the world. The center has a full dome planetarium. Current general admission is $17.50 per adult. Shows are additional costs. Open Tuesday through Sunday 9am-4pm.

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    See a Volcano if you can!

    by GracesTrips Updated Sep 2, 2014

    We went to visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National park. Boy, was it far - a really long drive from Kona. And, I'm not sure worth the drive. Do your research in advance if you want to check it out. Make sure there are no area closures and there will be something you can walk/hike out to see. Otherwise, you are limited to just seeing the visitor center. They did show a nice film with some history as to the development of the Hawaiian Islands and description of the lava flows.

    It's open 24 hours a day year round but at times there are temporary road closures.

    The visitor center is located on Crater Rim Drive off Highway 11 between mile marker 28 and 29 south of Hilo.

    Currently, the fee is $10 per vehicle or $5 per individual.

    For information on actually seeing the lava flows, see my tip posted in Off the Beaten Path!

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    Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

    by GracesTrips Updated Sep 2, 2014

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    Located on the Hilo side of the island near Onomea Bay, the garden is a tropical nature preserve and sanctuary. I won't go into detail about the story behind the existance of the gardens because I think you need to read for yourself and experience it while you are there. I will just say it is a phenomenal story and amazing feat that this garden exists.

    Definitely worth the visit, there are steep areas in the garden to walk down and up so if you need assistance - they can arrange a golf cart tour for you. There is a gift shop with beverages and snacks but inside of the garden, there is nothing. So, you should consider at least carrying a bottle of water with you. There are restroom facilities available.

    See more photos of the garden on my travelogue!

    Open daily except for 3 majoy holidays from 9am - 5pm and current admission cost $15 per adult.

    Gift Shop where you need to pay for tickets Initial walk down into the gardens Garden Entrance
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    Lava Tree State Park

    by ArenJo Written Jan 16, 2014

    The whole walk at a slow pace with short breaks took 45 minutes to an hour. We enjoyed the walk too. The lava trees are really cool to see and there are also pretty flowers along the way. The trail is very well maintained and good enough for a wheelchair or stroller. The parking area is abundant and well maintained. The bathrooms are clean. There is not any place here to get food or drinks though.

    One of the lava trees The nice paved walkway
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    Ahalanui Park

    by ArenJo Written Jan 16, 2014

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    We all enjoyed it here. It is a safe swimming area for families and the water is warm (unless you get too close to the incoming ocean water). There are fish in the water which I thought was cool, but may make some people uncomfortable. The port-a-potties are big enough to change comfortably. I recommend water shoes because the bottom surface is rough and uneven. Also, if you have an open wound DO NOT get in. The water has been shown to be safe, but there has been a few cases of people with open sores swimming here and ending up in the hospital with severe infections. I had a small sore on my foot and no problems with it since, but it was almost healed up by the time I went. Definitely be careful if you have immune system issues. Parking is abundant and both parking and entrance are free. There is a lifeguard on duty as well. No food / drinks available.

    Ahalanui Park The parking area at Ahalanui Park Ahalanui Park Ahalanui Park Ahalanui Park and a view of the ocean next to it
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    Beautiful

    by ArenJo Written Jan 16, 2014

    Rainbow Falls - Nice little stop, but can be missed if you don't have much time. Ample parking. Close to the boiling pots, which in my opinion could also be missed.

    Akaka Falls State Park - There are multiple waterfalls here. Akaka falls has a 442 foot drop. The walk is well maintained and the whole circle walk took about 45 minutes and wasn't too strenuous for our group - ages 4, 28, 58, and 70. Many beautiful spots to take photos. There are picnic tables here and good bathrooms. It costs $5 to park there or you can park free on the roadside right before there. IF you park free, you pay $1 per person to get in. So, if you have 5 or more people you might as well park close and get in free.

    The entrance to the park My family at Akaka Falls Beautiful, unique plant at Akaka Falls State Park Kahuna Falls at Akaka Falls State Park Rainbow Falls
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    One of a kind, once in a lifetime

    by ArenJo Written Jan 16, 2014

    No one in my family had ever seen anything like this and we were all so impressed. I will say though that my son was a little bored at times. Do not miss the Jaggar Museum at night. There is a place inside the national park called Kilauea Military Camp. There you can get cabins at a very good price right inside the park. You can also get a good, decent priced meal there. They offer a much better price than the Volcano Lodge. And they let us adults get kids meals too and it was enough food for us. There is also a playground there if your kids need to run around. There is a coin Laundromat where we did our laundry. There is also a bowling alley if you are staying there overnight and need a little something to do. And there is a convenience store that sells about anything you would need while there. Also the Namakanipaio cabins are a great price and the beds are comfortable. The only problem with that is it is a few miles outside of the park and it does get chilly at night. Most or all of the cabins do now have electricity in the form of one plug in and lights. Since I had a Hawaiian ID I got the cabin for $55 a night, a real steal in Hawaii.

    Entrance to the Thomas A Jaggar Museum Namakanipaio cabins My son at the Jaggar Museum at night My son and father at the steam vents Volcano during the day at the Jaggar Museum
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    Gorgeous and Fun

    by ArenJo Written Jan 16, 2014

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    My family loved this. The waves are perfect (not too strong or too tame). There are lots of little play areas for kids, little ponds removed from the waves where the kids enjoy using buckets and shovels. Local teenagers are also constantly seen jumping off the cliffs.
    One word of warning though, wear shoes if you are going to walk around exploring because we were told there are sometimes scorpions spotted around the trees.
    No fees here which is awesome.

    Me and my son enjoying the waves My son and my mom playing in the still water A pond area near the ocean My son digging with other kids Wooded area nearby with scorpions
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    A must do for any Hawaiian Visitor

    by ArenJo Written Jan 16, 2014

    We did not go to the summit due to the fact that we had a rental car AND we had a 4 year old child. They do not cover rentals to go past the visitor's center and the visitor's center doesn't recommend anyone under the age of 16 to go past the visitor's center. Having said that, people can get altitude sickness at the visitor's center as well so keep a close eye on all the people you travel with. It is worth the drive just to go to the visitor's center. We went at night to look through the telescopes and it was amazing. Everyone in my group loved it - ages 4, 28, 58, 70. You do have to have a little patience and wait in line though to look through the telescopes. They do little presentations to explain the solar system as well. We could clearly see Venus without a telescope which I wasn't even aware was possible! The visitor's center offers cups and hot water, so you can walk inside and buy a cheap packet of hot chocolate which is nice since it is slightly chilly up there. The visitor's center has very good prices and has food and packaged snacks. I lived in Hawaii 4 months and I think this was my favorite thing I did the whole time.

    Watch out for invisible cows
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Hawaii (Big Island) Things to Do

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