The towns you will find on the big island of Hawaii are some of the most unique and diverse centers of Hawaiian culture. From the historic sites in Hilo and the bustling nightlife in Kailua-Kona to the small, quiet towns of Kapaau and Waimea, there is something for everyone to explore. But for those trying to narrow down their destinations during their trip, this post can help! In it, you will find a guide to some of the towns you must visit on the big island. So before you pack your bags read on!
Why Each Town Is So Different On The Island
The Big Island of Hawaii is a wonderland with a vibrant, diverse range of landmarks and natural features. Each town on the Big Island offers something unique, from Hilo’s tropical rain forests and thundering waterfalls, to Waimea’s cowboy culture and rolling hills. Kailua-Kona, in contrast, is the bustling resort center of the island, with white sand beaches and clear blue waters that make for an unforgettable Hawaiian vacation experience.
Every community has its distinct personality and charm:
- Waikoloa is known for its sunny south-side resorts.
- Pahoa has a laid-back atmosphere.
- Honoka’a, to the north, is a hub for arts and culture.
- Volcano has black sand beaches due to volcanic activity that was prevalent in early times.
Ultimately, this unique patchwork of character, landscape, culture, style, and spirit makes each visit to the Big Island an exceptionally special experience.
Towns You Have To Visit On The Big Island
With each town offering a different flavor, picking the top destinations for your Big Island visit can be hard. However, if you have to limit yourself, here are some of the essential places you have to check out:
Hilo is the largest town on the east coast of the Big Island and is known for its rich history and beautiful natural scenery. This charming town is located on Hilo Bay and has lush rainforests, waterfalls, and black-sand beaches. Hilo is a great place to start your exploration of the Big Island, and there are plenty of things to do and see. Take a walk along Banyan Drive and admire the towering banyan trees, or visit the Pacific Tsunami Museum to learn about the devastating tsunamis that have struck Hilo in the past.
Another popular attraction in Hilo is the Imiloa Astronomy Center, which offers interactive exhibits, planetarium shows, and cultural programs highlighting the connection between Hawaiian culture and astronomy. The center is also a great place to learn about Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in the world when measured from its base on the ocean floor, which is located just a short drive from Hilo and is an important site for astronomical observation.
Waimea, also known as Kamuela, is a small town in the heart of the Big Island’s Paniolo (cowboy) Country. With its rolling green hills, pristine beaches, and historic sites, Waimea is a popular destination for visitors who want to experience the true spirit of the Big Island. One of the most notable attractions in Waimea is Parker Ranch, the largest privately owned cattle ranch in the United States, which offers tours, horseback riding, and cultural programs.
Waimea is also known for its incredible natural beauty and several picturesque spots to explore. Visit Waipi’o Valley, the “Valley of Kings,” which is home to several ancient Hawaiian temples, or head to Pololu Valley Lookout for sweeping views of Hawaii’s unique landscape. No matter where you go in Waimea, you will surely have an unforgettable experience!
Kailua-Kona is a bustling resort town located on the west coast of the Big Island and is known for its beautiful beaches, excellent dining, and thriving nightlife. With its warm, sunny weather and easy access to some of the most stunning natural attractions on the island, Kailua-Kona is a popular destination for tourists worldwide. One of the most popular attractions in Kailua-Kona is the historic Hulihee Palace, a beautiful 19th-century palace that was once the summer residence of Hawaiian royalty.
If you’re interested in shopping, dining, and nightlife, Kailua-Kona has plenty to offer, with a lively downtown area filled with shops, restaurants, and bars. Another must-visit attraction in Kailua-Kona is the Mokuaikaua Church, the first Christian church in Hawaii, which offers tours and cultural programs that highlight the history and traditions of the Hawaiian people. Kailua-Kona is also a great place to explore the Big Island’s natural beauty. Several nearby state parks, such as Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, offer incredible hiking, snorkeling, and bird-watching opportunities.
Kapaau is a small, rural town in North Kohala, on the northern tip of the Big Island. With its rolling green hills, picturesque churches, and historic sites, Kapaau is a great place to experience the traditional Hawaiian way of life. One of the most notable attractions in Kapaau is the King Kamehameha Statue, a large bronze statue of the famous Hawaiian king in the center of town.
Another popular attraction near Kapaau is the Lapakahi State Historical Park, a partially restored Hawaiian fishing village that provides a glimpse into ancient Hawaiian life. The park features traditional Hawaiian homes, fishing shrines, and petroglyphs and is a great place to learn about the culture and history of the Hawaiian people. Kapaau is also a great place to explore the rugged beauty of North Kohala, with plenty of opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, and other outdoor activities.
Waikoloa is a modern, upscale resort town located on the west coast of the Big Island and is known for its beautiful beaches, golf courses, and luxurious shopping and dining. With its pristine white-sand beaches and turquoise waters, Waikoloa is a popular destination for sun-seekers and beach lovers. One of the most popular attractions in Waikoloa is the Waikoloa Beach Resort, which features several top-rated golf courses, a beautiful beach, and a variety of dining and shopping options.
Waikoloa is the perfect destination for a luxurious shopping experience, with Kings’ Shops offering an array of upscale stores and eateries. You can also explore this amazing island’s natural beauty by visiting nearby attractions like Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site or Puakō Petroglyph Park– ideal spots to take in mother nature. And if you’re seeking some leisurely time, simply soak up the sun on one of its beaches! Waikoloa has something for every traveler looking for an unforgettable adventure.
Kealakekua is a small and rural village on the stunning Kona Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, boasting an old-world and captivating aesthetic. A must for any adventurous traveler; it hosts some of the island’s most compelling views and historical sites. One site that stands out amongst all other attractions in this area is its own Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park! Apart from being steeped in history and culture, this park also offers unparalleled crystal clear turquoise waters perfect for snorkeling, diving, or kayaking – along with abundant marine life, making it one of the best places to experience authentic Hawaiian beauty.
Situated in the center of Kealakekua Bay is a scenic monument honoring renowned British explorer Captain James Cook, who was tragically killed at this location in 1779. The white obelisk stands tall as a reminder and a must-visit attraction for all travelers visiting the area. Another site to see near Kealakekua is the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, a sacred site used as a place of refuge for ancient Hawaiian law-breakers. The park features historic temples, petroglyphs, and a beautiful beach, making it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Hawaiian history and culture.
All These Towns Are Worth A Visit On The Big Island!
The Big Island of Hawaii is filled with amazing towns full of attractions and experiences that will make your trip unforgettable. Whether you’re looking for a beach getaway, an outdoor adventure, or simply want to explore the history and culture of this beautiful island – all these towns are a must-visit on the big island! From the picturesque churches and historical sites of Kapaau, the luxurious shopping and dining experiences of Waikoloa, to the captivating views and monuments of Kealakekua – all are sure to give you a truly unique Hawaiian experience that you won’t soon forget!