Just an hour northeast of Kailua-Kona, the sleepy mountain town of Waimea on Hawaii’s Big Island is a remarkable alternative to the bustling tourist energy present in the larger cities.
Learn about Destinations on the Big Island to start planning your Hawaii Vacation.
At over 4,000 square miles, the Big Island is Hawaii’s largest island, with all the other islands fitting inside of it twice over. To help you find nearby activities and restaurants more easily, we divided our destinations section up into eight major regions. It’s not uncommon that first-time visitors will only explore a couple of the areas fully and just see the highlights of the other regions. But that’s okay, it just gives you plenty of reasons to make a return trip to Hawaii! And with the help of Big Island Guide you can plan a custom Hawaii vacation that will fit your travel style perfectly.
Vast, varied, and each with its own climate and flair, the separate districts throughout the Big Island offer a new adventure for your Hawaii vacation, around every turn. Several areas serve as a perfect headquarters for a Big Island adventure. Kona is a friendly coastal village, filled with local charm. Kohala boasts world-class accommodations, beaches and restaurants. Hilo is a vision of old-Hawaii that isn’t often seen today.
The Big Island is a sightseer’s paradise with numerous areas to explore. Puna & Kau make up most of the southern side of the Big Island and offer a rugged beauty that hikers, adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy. Hamakua is home to famous waterfalls and stunning coastal vistas. Mauna Kea provides visitors a once-in-a-lifetime view. Volcanoes National Park boasts two of the oldest and largest active volcanoes in the world.
If your ideal Hawaii vacation includes world-class accommodations, ocean side golf courses and some of the islands best restaurants, the Kohala Coast is the right destination for you. Known as the Gold Coast, this is where you will find some of the most beautiful, sun soaked, tropical beaches and luxury resorts on the island. As an added bonus, the area is full of unique historical sites you won’t find elsewhere on planet Earth. From mysterious pictograph fields to historic royal hiking trails, the Kohala coast won’t disappoint.
If relaxing, sightseeing and shopping are central to your Hawaii vacation plan, opportunities abound in the laid back coastal village of Kona Hawaii. As the island’s main tourist hub, the area is friendly and filled with charm – the perfect headquarters for your Big Island adventure. Kona also serves as a cultural and historic centerpiece for the Big Island and much of Hawaii. State parks and historic sites highlight early Hawaiian settlements, places of worship and fishing areas.
Home to world-renowned coffee, colorful beaches, lava caves and easy access to outdoor activities, Kau Hawaii makes up most of the southern tip of the Big Island. Geographically dominated by agricultural areas to the west and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to the east, Kau is sleepy, peaceful and filled with many wonderful sites to see.
Referring to the region around Hawaii Volcanoes National park, Volcanoes Hawaii is a singular location on the planet, boasting two of its oldest and largest active volcanoes. If witnessing the power of the volcanoes is a must do on your Hawaii vacation, then you must won’t want to miss this region. Sightseeing and scenic hiking are the primary attractions to Volcanoes, but the surrounding community of artists, painters and artisans guarantee a memorable experience.
Positioned on the tropical eastern side of the Big Island, a visit to Hilo Hawaii is the perfect opportunity to travel back in time and witness a laid-back, serene version of Hawaii that isn’t often replicated today. The city is the largest on the Big Island, but Hilo remains a true Hawaiian community through and through with gorgeous city parks and fun local events.
Nestled comfortably between the Pacific ocean and a pair of stunning active volcanoes, Puna Hawaii has long held a position of great importance for both Hawaiian history and its economy. Mountain trails and great tracts of rainforest give way to lava fields and stunning beach parks for hikers, adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts. Sightseers who stick to the winding Red Road will glimpse the natural beauty of Hawaii with ease.
The home of Hawaii’s most famous waterfalls, a day spent exploring the Hamakua Coast would just begin to scratch the surface of all this area has to offer. Stunning vistas, winding mountain hiking trails, jungle covered canyons and rolling green hills as far as the eye can see. If it feels like you’re on another planet, you’re in the right place.
Home to the world’s largest sea mountain from which the area derives its name, Mauna Kea Mountain is an awe inspiring site. Often snowcapped and crowned with multinational research facilities and observatories, Mauna Kea provides visitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the island and the night sky from an unreal vantage point.
8 Must See Places Around the Big Island
Tips for Picking Where to Stay on the Big Island
A Guide to Staying in Waimea
5 Reasons to Explore Both Sides of the Big Island
Since most visitors to the Big Island stay on the western side of the island, here are the reasons to split up the trip and spend at least a day or two on the eastern side.
7 Must Visit Big Island Galleries
If you’re looking for Hawaiian art for your home or just want to experience the local art scene, check out these Big Island galleries.
Big Island Resorts with Top Rated Restaurants
With a plethora of highly-rated restaurants from which to choose, the luxury resorts on Big Island offer some very attractive dining options.
Big Island Lava Flow Video
From the red glow of molten lava, to ocean entry plumes and exciting crater activity, watch the Big Island’s lava flow and volcanic activity of Kilauea.
Kailua Kona Parasailing Video
Fly high on a parasail and enjoy an awe inspiring bird’s eye view hundreds of feet above the Big Island’s Kona Coast.
Hawaii Dolphin Video
Explore the underwater world of the dolphin in this exciting dolphin video from Kona Hawaii.
Kona Hawaii Luau Video
Enjoy one of the best sunset dinner shows on the Big Island, presenting the legends and lore of Polynesia, with oceanfront dining and dancing.
6 Stunning Hawaii Resorts for a Luxury Vacation
The very best in luxury accommodations, these beachside resorts offer a memorable, relaxing stay during your Big Island Adventure.
4 Affordable Big Island Tours That Won’t Break the Bank
There’s no end to things you can do in Hawaii, so keeping within your budget can be challenging. If you are looking for some budget friendly activities, look no further.
A Sightseer’s Itinerary for the Big Island of Hawaii
Famous for its natural wonders and stunning scenic beauty, the Big Island of Hawaii offers endless opportunities for sightseeing.
Local, engaged, and ready to help, Kona Boys combines the joyful excitement of water adventures with more than 20 years of experience – perfect for a memorable Hawaiian vacation.
Fair Wind Cruises – Big Island Ocean Guides
Offering unique and memorable ocean cruises and snorkel tours that are sure to be the highlight of your vacation.
UFO Parasail of Kona
Action-packed and iconic, UFO Parasail makes for the perfect adventure tour above the tropical waters of Kona.
Throughout the Big Island, you’ll find amazing natural beauty, but nowhere else but Kohala offers the adventure and sightseeing opportunities – and Kohala Zipline is the perfect provider.
Spanning throughout the Big Island’s most notable natural attractions, Paradise Helicopters offers luxury aerial tour experiences the whole family can enjoy.
Take the Kona Brewery Tour
Tour one of the most successful and best-known craft breweries in the United States, Kona Brewing Company on the Big Island.
Sea Paradise Boat Tours
One of the Big Island’s most experienced ocean tour companies, Sea Paradise offers an unmatched sailing and snorkeling experience.
Jack’s Diving Locker
A friendly and homegrown diving company on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jack’s Diving Locker helps make your underwater diving experience memorable and exciting.
Na’alapa Stables Horseback Riding Adventure
Na’alapa Stables and their unique take on Big Island horseback riding provides an incredible opportunity for adventurous visitors to enjoy the beauty and grace of Hawaii.
Umauma Falls Zipline Experience Tours
One of the most exhilarating and memorable adventure experiences on the Big Island, Umauma Falls and Zipline Experience Tours is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the whole family.
Hawaii Forest and Trail
With knowledgeable guides and access to some of the Big Island’s most prized lands, Hawaii Forest and Trail brings you closer to the true beauty of the island.
With over 650 coffee farms in the Kona region of the Big Island, a few really stand out and Buddha’s Cup is among the very best.
Mauna Kea Summit Adventures
Offering a well-rounded tour experience that takes you to the top of the Big Island’s greatest geologic feature, Mauna Kea Summit Adventures makes reaching the summit easy.
Paradise Sailing Hawaii
Equipped with a luxury catamaran vessel that cruises the high seas with ease, Paradise Sailing Hawaii is an incredible, high-end tour experience that you’ll never forget.
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