All manner of flora and fauna call the Big Island and its surrounding waters home. For lovers of the outdoors, something new and exciting awaits each day. Here are some of our favorite ideas.
All along the Hamakua Coast from Hilo to Waipi’o Valley, you can find a variety of viewpoints to see incredible waterfalls. Akaka Falls State Park features two gorgeous waterfalls in one short hike. The modest half-mile uphill hike through lush rainforest leads first to the 100-foot Kahuna Falls. Continue on the loop around the bend and you will discover the towering Akaka Falls, possibly the Big Island’s most famous waterfall, which plummets 442 feet into a stream-eroded gorge.
Manta Ray Diving
With a wingspan of up to 20 feet, the manta ray is one of the largest fish in the ocean. Unlike stingrays and eagle rays, mantas do not have stingers and are actually quite friendly. The Kona Coast is one of the best places to spot manta rays in Hawai’i. At night, spotlights are used to attract them as they feed on plankton illuminated by the light. Night boat tours depart at sunset and set up giant lights on the ocean floor where mantas frequent, usually in Garden Eel Cove or Keauhou Bay. Scuba divers and snorkelers are treated to an amazing show as giant mantas glide and somersault in mesmerizing patterns. Getting this close to the mantas can truly be an experience of a lifetime.
The Big Island features some of the most picturesque and varied beach landscapes in of the Hawaiian islands. White, black, and green sand beaches can be found along the coast—both calm resort beaches and off-the-beaten path beaches that are rugged and rewarding.
• One of only four green sand beaches in the world, Papakolea Green Sand Beach is located near the southern tip of the Big Island and provides hiking, scenic bay views, and swimming.
• Just 30 miles south of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Panalu’u Black Sand Beach is famous for its black sand and honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) basking on the shore.
• Along the Kohala Coast, options abound including Hapuna Beach, the largest white sand beach on the Big Island, located adjacent to the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel.
• Kua Bay, adjacent to Kukio Golf and Beach Club and the nearby Four Seasons Resort Hualālai, is a favorite of both visitors and locals alike with its white sand, crystal waters, exciting shore break, and easy road access.
• A beautiful, pristine, and remote beach awaits visitors at Makalawena Beach. Located within the Kekaha Kai State Park at mile marker 90, Makalawena is 20-30 minute coastal hike north along the Ala Kahakai Trail (King’s Trail) lavafield. The isolated beach, sand dunes, jungle, and turquoise waters are not to be missed.
Throughout the Big Island, visitors can find ki’i pohaku (petroglyphs), which are lava rock carvings etched into stone centuries ago by Native Hawaiians. Carvings include human forms, canoes, turtles and other figures. Although their exact meaning is unknown, it is generally thought that the carvings are records of births and other significant events in the lives of the people who lived here long ago. Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve features hundreds of petroglyphs and is a short walk from the Fairmont Orchid Hawai’i and Holoholokai Beach. Examples can also be found in nearby Waikoloa Resort at Anaeho’omalu Petroglyph Field or along the Ala Kahakai Trail (King’s Trail).