4 Big Island Tours That Won’t Break the Bank

Big Island Guide Travel Guide

The Big Island of Hawaii is known for being an ideal destination for families, but there’s no doubt about it: a trip to Hawaii can be an expensive endeavor. The experiences and memories you’ll return home with will be invaluable, but it’s important to take into consideration the cost of your trip and look for opportunities to save a bit of money. Thankfully, the breadth of available activities on the Big Island means your options to splurge or stay thrifty are almost infinite. If you’re looking to see the best of Hawaii’s Big Island on a budget, these guided tours will be a perfect compromise for your wallet.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is known for its expansive scenic views of volcanic craters and up-close looks at active lava flows, but it’s also one of the more affordable attractions on the island. While getting there can be an adventure on its own and you’ll need to stock up on a few key supplies before you leave, the memories (and photos) you’ll come back with will be well worth the effort.

Admission:

Private vehicle + passengers = $25.00 (valid for 7 days)
Motorcycle = $20.00 (valid for 7 days)
Bicycle = $12.00 (valid for 7 days)
Individual (walk-in) = $12.00 (valid for 7 days)

Hours: Open 24 hours

Stargazing on Mauna Kea
A renowned point on the globe for astronomy, Mauna Kea is home to 13 observation facilities funded by 11 different countries. While access to these telescopes is limited to scientists and astronomers, the altitude (which reaches beyond the cloud layer) makes the summit ideal for stargazing. A free volunteer-led tour takes place from the Visitor Information Station every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Combining an informational documentary feature on the volcano with telescope viewing and a guided stargazing session, a trip to Mauna Kea in the evening is a wonderful way to explore the heavens from a uniquely Hawaiian perspective.

Mauna Kea is the highest point in all of Hawaii and one of the few places where you can travel from sea level to 13,000 feet within a couple of hours, so if you plan to venture up the mountain, be prepared to stop at the visitor’s center and acclimate yourself if you plan to hike or progress further up the mountain.

Admission: Free

Hours:

Visitors Information Station – Noon to 10:00 P.M.

Stargazing Programs – 6:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M.

Holualoa Kona Coffee Company Tour and Tasting
One of the finest coffee plantations on the Big Island is the Kona Lea plantation as part of the Holualoa Kona Coffee Company. Because Hawaii contains the only suitable climate for coffee growth in all of the U.S., a tour of the estate, mill, and roasting facility provides incredible insight into the coffee growth and production from one of the most well-respected coffee farms on the Big Island.

Admission: Free
Hours: Monday through Friday – 8 AM to 4 P.M.

Waterfall and Waipio Valley Tours
The most expensive tour on this list is the waterfall tour, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great value. Exploring the many waterfalls found on the Big Island is well worth a trip to Hilo and points north, but if you’re planning to cap your vacation off with a balance between adventure and relaxation, hiring a tour company to take care of travel arrangements, food, and navigation, a Wasabi Tour of the Waipio Valley and Waterfalls is the right move.

Admission: $175 per person
Hours: Vary by tour

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