Hawaii, more popularly known as the Big Island, is well-known for its breathtaking natural attractions. With the crystal clear blue waters and the volcanoes that continue shaping the landscape, Hawaii is a gorgeous island that you’ll never want to leave.
Originally formed due to five volcanoes, the island continues to expand as the active Kilauea discharges lava into the ocean. Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea are the two biggest volcanoes on the island that makeup nearly three-quarters of the island’s surface.
Here are the top 10 tourist attractions on the Big Island that you need to explore.
1. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes is one of the most popular national parks in the USA with rather interesting geology. It houses two active volcanoes where visitors can see nature in action. However, it’s important to note that parts of the park and surrounding areas may get closed during volcanic activity. Located on the southeast side of the island, this park covers 21 squares miles in total but continues to expand as active lava continuously flows into the ocean and hardens into rock. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park also hosts the Kilauea volcano.
2. Mauna Kea
Hawaii’s highest mountain, Mauna Kea is home to the Mauna Kea Observatory that is an active research facility. The temperatures at this mountain are extremely cold compared to the tropical paradise below. However, this doesn’t stop visitors from gathering at the visitor center at night for unparalleled majestic views of the stars above. The best way to enjoy this mountain is by booking a tour as it eliminates the hassle of finding a suitable vehicle or parking.
3. Waipio Valley
Located on the northeastern coast, this amazingly beautiful valley is about fifty miles north of Hilo. With almost no contact from the outside world, this valley is often described as Shangri La. The Waipio valley divides the Kohala Mountains and is relatively difficult to access due to the steep cliffs on the landward sides. Moreover, the strong waves make it even more difficult to access the sea. You will find delicious fruits, such as mangoes, papayas, bananas, grapefruits, and avocados on the fertile valley floor. Also, orchids, hibiscus, and ginger trees are common sight in the valley’s landscape. The place where the valley comes across the ocean is the long black-sand beach.
4. Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
The Pu’uhonua o Honaunau Park is a fantastic place to learn about the island’s traditions. Restored by the national park authorities, this temple side is a replica of the original that dates back to the end of the 18th century. By gathering information through pictures, the park authorities managed to replicate the koa wood carvings of temple gods and place them in their original positions. There are many attractions in this park such as the stones on which the royal family would play games, the landing place of the canoes, and the Ka’ahumanu Stone.
5. Kona Coffee Living History Farm
This is the only living history museum of the Big Island that is dedicated purely to the legacy of traditional coffee farming. Run by the Kona Historical Society, this farm showcases the life of coffee growers back in the 1920s and 30s. Visitors are free to discover the grounds freely to learn the old ways of grinding and roasting, and they may even spend their time observing the Kona Nightingale.
6. Hapuna Beach State Park
Hapuna is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Big Island. Known for its soft white sand and great facilities, this beach is well-staffed with lifeguards, given the conditions can become quite dangerous. Both tourists and locals visit this area to swim, snorkel, sunbathe, and of course – surf. You can also find multiple picnic shelters and concessions along with screened shelters for overnight stays. Moreover, the Hapuna Beach State Park also has many miles of hiking trails that offer great views.
7. Akaka Falls State Park and Kahuna Falls
Located near Hilo, this park is home to both the Kahuna Falls and the Akaka Falls. While the Akaka Falls free fall from 442 feet, making it the tallest on the island, the Kahuna falls are much lower. The landscape of this area is undeniably stunning due to the lush tropical ferns, orchids, and bamboos. The trail to the falls is paved, but is quite steep, and includes a few steps. The trail takes you past the Kahuna Falls to the top of Akaka Falls, which leads to a fantastic viewing spot.
8. Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
Located between the Waipio Valley Lookout and Hilo, right off the Hamakua Coast Scenic Drive is the wonderful Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. With over 2,000 species of tropical plants, this garden is a truly mesmerizing sight. The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden has a total surface area of 40-acres and is filled with wandering trails that help you explore this isolated valley. Moreover, this park also has a 500-foot observation walkway that overlooks plants.
9. Waikoloa Beach Resort and Petroglyph Park
Waikoloa Beach is located on the Kona Coast and is a beautiful area with many petroglyphs. A majority of visitors come here to see the Hilton Waikoloa Village as it is renowned for its beauty, and is regarded as one of the best resorts in the world. Since the resort is massive, guests are provided with a sleek transit system and wood-paneled boats to cruise the canals. This resort also hosts multiple art galleries that contain paintings worth millions of dollars.
10. Ahu’ena Heiau
The Ahu’enaHeiau is a fully-restored temple that is located right behind the Kamehameha Hotel in Kailua Kona. Built on Kamakahonu Beach, this temple is dedicated to the god Lona. With a rich history and a super-beautiful appearance, this temple is surely worthy of attention.
Hawaii is a top tourist destination – all thanks to its exotic tropical climate, lush green forests, gorgeous beaches, and stunning waterfalls. People from all over the world visit this island to surf, snorkel, and dive in the Pacific Ocean, and that’s not all. This island hosts multiple tourist attractions that will take your breath away!