More 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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    '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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    • Museum Visits
    • Arts and Culture

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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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    • Eco-Tourism

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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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    Thurston Lava Tube

    by ArenJo Written Jan 16, 2014

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    First you walk through a little mini rainforest, then you get into the tunnel. We all thought it was pretty awesome and of course the way it was formed is pretty awesome. If you are in Volcanoes National park already, you should definitely do it. Very easy walk for all of us, aged 4, 28, 58, 70. We finished it in about 30 or 35 minutes. It is cool up here so there isn't such a need for water as some other hikes, but do bring closed footwear because there are some damp areas inside the tunnel and water drips from the top. I definitely wouldn't recommend flip flops. Also, my dad hit his head so just be careful of where you are walking.

    Me and my son in the tube Entering / exiting Thurston Lava Tube
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    Beautiful Waterfalls

    by cjg1 Updated Nov 5, 2013

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    The first thing you think of when you hear the Big Island is usually; Volcano National Park...but I think waterfalls. The waterfalls here on the Big Island are just as big of a draw for me as the VNP. There are some beautiful waterfalls dotting the island and many you stumble upon while just driving around.

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    Hawaiian Volcanos National Park

    by yooperprof Updated Sep 19, 2013

    It's like the best Science Class EVER!

    Coming here is the equivalent of a whole semester of College Geology. You will learn so much about the wondrous processes of our earth. All you need to do is pay attention at one of the visitors' centers, walk to one of the overviews, and observe the vents of steam and gas that are flowing out of the bowels of the earth.

    There is easily enough to see within the park that you should plan on a full day. And if you are driving here from Kona or Hilo, you should realize that driving times will further reduced your ability to really experience as much of the park as you perhaps would like. Some of the most fascination things in the park can only be reached after longer walks of half an hour or more. for example, I would have dearly loved to have walked down to the floor of the main crater, but we just didn't have enough time.

    Calderas I have known Tubular, man! I'm just venting Crater floor historical role-player
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    Lava Tubes

    by cjg1 Updated Sep 13, 2013

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    Along Route 19; there was a Lava Tube that now is more of a water tube. We were on our tour of Hilo when my wife spotting this off the side of the road. The tube gushed a nice amount of water down into a small river under a bridge on the road. This is just one of those facinating finds you encounter along the roads on the Big Island.

    Lava Tube as seen from the Highway (2/2013)

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    Banyan Tree Drive

    by cjg1 Updated Sep 13, 2013

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    Banyan Drive is a street at the shoreline of Hilo that is lined with huge Banyan Trees. This street is also known as the "hilo Walk of Fame" due to the act that celebrities planted these Banyan Trees. Franklin Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Babe Ruth and Cecil B. DeMille are just some of the celebrity planters. The fifty trees each have their own plaque to signify the date planted and by whom.

    I am a lover of trees and these are quite spectacular. They are also very sturdy trees as they have survived several Tsunamis that have devastated the island over the years. My last visit here in February 2013, provided us some time to explore the trees at our leisure.

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    Macadamia Nut Plantation

    by cjg1 Updated Sep 13, 2013

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    My last visit to the Big Island in 2013, allowed us a tour of a Macadamia Nut Plantation. We were able to see the trees, the harvesting process and observe some wild pigs munching on some of the nuts on the ground. The wild pigs are the only animal on the island with a strong enough jaw to break into the extremely hard shelll of the nut.

    Macadamia nuts are very popular in Hawaai and are used in a a variety of foods as main ingredients and well as garnishes. Macadamia Nut candy and nuts are a popular souvenir item on the islands. I like the nuts crushed and used as a crust on local fish; which is very good. My wife on the other hand can't eat nuts so she can only buy some for family back home.

    Macadamia Nut Trees

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