Hawaii Island – The Biggest One in the Hawaiian Archipelago

The island of Hawaii or the Big Island (as it is called to avoid confusion with the state’s name) is the biggest and the most recent one in the Hawaiian archipelago. Hamakua Coast, Hilo, Kau, Kona, Kohala Coast, North Kohala and Puna are the 7 important regions of this island.



Given below are some of the major attractions of Hawaii Island:

1. Hilo Town

The Palace Theatre and the Hilo Farmers Market are worth a visit. Several art galleries, museums, the East Hawaii Cultural Center, the Pacific Tsunami Museum, Lyman Mission House & Museum and the Mokupapapa Discovery Center are some of the other noteworthy places to visit.

2. Liliuokalani Gardens & Coconut Island

Liliuokalani Gardens is a formal artistic Japanese style garden with a footbridge to Mokuola or Coconut Island.

3. Onekahakaha Beach

Onekahakaha Beach is a beach park found along Hilo Bay. There is a big, sandy bottomed pool with a break water, ideal for swimming.

4. Hilo Arboretum

Several trees native to Hawaii and imported trees are found in Hilo Arboretum.

5. Panaewa Rainforest Zoo

Located in Hilo, Panaewa Rainforest Zoo has many native endangered and exotic animals. There are also various botanical specimens found here.

6. Kaumana Caves County Park

Located on Saddle Road, Kaumana Caves is a lava tube with a skylight opening and concrete steps to take one down into the cave’s floor. Exploring these cool caves is a real fun.

7. Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls is on the Wailuku River and creates beautiful rainbows on misty mornings, hence the name. Below the falls, lies a turquoise colored pool surrounded by wild ginger.

8. Boiling Pots

Boiling Pots is the name given to holes in the river bed which look like bubbling Jacuzzis. It is situated near Peepee Falls.

9. Honolii Beach Park

Honolii Beach Park is situated on the east coast of Big Island, north of Hilo. It is ideal for exciting surfing and boogie boarding. Honolii Beach Park also attracts many picnickers.

10. Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens, situated 8-1/2 miles north of Hilo on the Onomea Scenic Drive, feature a beautiful and stunning tropical rain forest. It has a collection of palms, heliconias, gingers, bromeliads and several other exotic tropical plants of more than 2000 species.

11. Onomea Scenic Drive

Onomea Scenic Drive is a 4 mile drive off the Hawaii Belt Road, north of Hilo. One encounters the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, cascading waterfalls, moss laden bridges and stunning views of Onomea Bay on the way.

12. Honomu

Shops, art galleries and a temple are found in pretty Honomu village.

13. Akaka Falls State Park

On the northeastern coast of Hamakua is situated scenic Akaka Falls State Park which houses Kahuna Falls and Akaka Falls. On the way up to the park, is a luxuriant rainforest with ferns, bamboo groves and orchids. Kahuna Falls which plunges down a 100 ft is the first of the falls to be seen. The next is the awe inspiring Akaka Falls dropping from a height of 442 ft into a gorge.

14. Kolekole Beach Park

Situated about 13 miles from Hilo, on the Hamakua Coast on Highway 19, Kolekole Beach Park is perfect for surfing, boogie boarding and picnicking. There is a swimming hole close by.

15. Laupahoehoe Train Museum

Situated on Highway 19, Laupahoehoe Train Museum showcases a station agent’s house and train landing giving a historical perspective of the rail road. Other attractions include pretty photos of old railroad families and artifacts from railroads and plantations.

16. Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge

Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge helps protect endangered forest birds. Bogs, ferns, pasturelands and scrubby forests make up the vegetation here. At higher altitudes, trees like Acacia Koa and red-blossomed Ohia lehua or Metrosideros polymorpha are found.

17. Kalopa State Recreation Area

Kalopa State Recreation Area is located about 40 miles northwest of Hilo and near Honokaa village. Hiking on nature trails is popular here. Kalopa State Recreation Area has an arboretum of native trees such as loulu palms and native hibiscus.

18. Honokaa

Located in the Hamakua District of Hawaii County, Honokaa gives access to the Waipio Valley with its rich history and natural beauty. Honokaa is notable for a big sized mural of the ancient culture of Hawaii in Waipio Valley.

19. Waipio Valley

Situated on the northeast shore of the Big Island, along the Hamakua Coast is the Waipio Valley featuring a beautiful black sand beach surrounded by steep cliffs and cascading waterfalls.

20. Mauna Kea

Accessible from Saddle Road, Mauna Kea or the ‘White Mountain’ is 13796 ft high with an observatory complex at the top. On the way to the top is Lake Waiau.

21. Mountain View

This place is noted for its anthuriums and orchids.

22. Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center & Hawaii State Bonsai Repository

Situated on Olaa Road, Kurtistown, Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center & Hawaii State Bonsai Repository showcases a vast collection of artistic pot plants.

23. Pahoa Town

Pahoa Town is a western style village with wooden boardwalks. It has the distinction of having the oldest operating theater, the Akebono Theater in Hawaii.

24. Pahoa to Pohoiki Bay

The way from Pahoa to Pohoiki Bay boasts of 3 roads with awe inspiring scenery – Pohoiki or Mango Road, Coast or Red Road and Opihikao Road.

25. Lava Tree State Monument

A forest of lava trees with lava molds of the tree trunks constitutes the Lava Tree State Monument.

26. Star of the Sea ‘Painted’ Church

On the way to Kalapana is found Father Damien’s Church also called Star of The Sea ‘Painted’ Church. It is part of the Kalapana Hawaiian Cultural Center.

27. Kalapana

Kalapana is a lava-inundated village and is off limits.

28. Kehena Beach or Dolphin Beach

Leading from the Kaimu-Kapoho Road or Red Road is a trail leading to Kehena Beach on the Puna Coastline. Kehena is a pretty black sandy beach with shady coconut and ironwood trees.

29. Mackenzie State Recreation Area

Situated south of Isaac Hale Park, on the Kalapana-Kapono Beach Road, Mackenzie State Recreation Park features steep cliffs, volcanoes, cultural sites and stunning visual perspectives. There is an ironwood grove for picnicking and tent camping.

30. Isaac Hale Beach Park

Isaac Hale Beach Park is situated on the eastern edge of Pohoiki Bay and is perfect for scuba diving. There is a small geothermal spring in the park.

31. Ahalanui County Park or Pualaa County Park

Ahalanui County Park is on Highway 137, at a distance of about 1 mile northeast of Isaac Hale Beach County Park. It has a coconut grove and warm water swimming pond. Snorkelers use this swimming pond.

32. Kapoho Bay

Kapoho Bay is located on the east coast in the Puna District. Geothermally heated tide pools and wonderful coral gardens are the attractions at Kapoho Bay.

33. Cape Kumukahi

Cape Kumukahi is the easternmost point of Hawaii, about 25 miles southeast of Hilo. There is a light house standing at 125 ft.

34. Keaau Area

Keaau Area is located in the Puna District and is a major center for growing flowers in Hawaii. There is Hiiaka’s Healing Herb Garden which has a collection of endangered native and foreign medicinal and tropical plants.

35. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is located about 30 miles southwest of Hilo. It boasts of hot deserts, walking and hiking trails, dense and luxuriant rainforests, a museum, petroglyphs, a walk-in lava tube and 2 active volcanoes. The active volcanoes are Maunaloa and Kilauea. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a World Biosphere and a World Heritage site.

Major attractions of the park include:

  • Kilauea Visitor Center: introductory film to the park is shown here.
  • Crater Rim Drive: 10.6-mile drive circling Kilauea Caldera.
  • Thomas A. Jagger Museum: Contains geologic displays, maps and videos related to the study of volcanoes.
  • Halemaumau Crater: An enormous pit crater with pluming steam vents, situated within the summit caldera of Mount Kilauea.
  • Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku): An old lava cave formed by an underground channel of liquid lava draining from its cooled walls.
  • Chain of Craters Road: The 3799 ft. long road, south of Crater Rim Drive and ending at a lava flow on the road.
  • Volcano House Hotel: Where Mark Twain once stayed. It has a lava rock fireplace which has been burning since 1877.
  • Mauna Loa Volcano: Largest volcano in the world with a volume of 10,000 cubic miles of solid lava and a height of 13,677 ft.
  • Kilauea Volcano: Another active volcano in the park with steam vents, moon walks, sulfur banks and lava tubes. Also referred to as ‘the world’s only drive-in volcano.’
  • Puu Oo Vent: Part of Kilauea Volcano; Spews lava into underground tubes which eventually goes into the sea; Spectacular sight to see.
  • Devastation Trail: Relive the 1959 Kilauea Iki eruption by walking through the cinder outfall of Devastation Trail.
  • Ohia Lehua Rain Forest: Luxuriant and lush rain forest on the windward side of Kilauea.
  • Nene (Hawaiian State Bird): The Hawaiian State Bird, the Nene is a protected species in the park.
  • Red Lehua Blossoms: The beautiful Red Lehua Blossoms of the Ohia tree are the official flowers of Hawaiian Islands.
  • Volcano Winery: Situated beside the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, close to the golf course.

36. Kahuwai Bay

Kahuwai Bay is a scenic place with a lot of palm trees in Kaupulehu on the North Kona resorts.

37. Kekaha Kai State Park

Kekaha Kai State Park or Kona Coast State Park is situated 1 mile north of Keahole-Kona International Airport, off Highway 19. Three beautiful sandy beaches – Mahaiula, Makalawena and Kua, are part of Kekaha Kai State Park.

38. Kaloko Beach

Kaloko Beach in Honolulu County is famous for snorkeling. Green sea turtles are found here. Boating, golfing, hiking, fishing and swimming are some of the other sporting activities.

39. Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park is situated on the western coastline and features a very old Hawaiian settlement with fishponds, house site platforms, petroglyphs and stone slides. The common birds found here are grebes, egrets, ducks, geese, grouse, coots, shorebirds, gulls and finches. Mammals include Hawaiian Monk Seals, Humpback Whales and Hawaiian Hoary Bats.

40. Pawai Bay

Pawai Bay is situated about a 1/2 mile north of Old Kona Airport Park and is a marine preserve with several species of tropical reef fish and colorful coral reef gardens.

41. Kailua-Kona Town

Kailua-Kona Town is situated on the Kona Coastline, at the bottom of the Hualalai Volcano and near Kona International Airport. The yearly Queen Liliuokalani Outrigger Canoe Races are held here. Hulihee Palace and Mokuaikaua Church situated on Alii Drive are great attractions. One can see a spectacular sunset from King Kailua Pier. The Ironman World Championship starts and finishes at this pier.

42. Alii Drive Seawall

Alii Drive Seawall is a pleasant waterfront drive southwards from Kailua-Kona town. Rows of souvenir and curio shops, sidewalk cafes and a long lava rock sea wall constitute this drive. There are several beautiful beaches along this drive.

43. White Sands Beach Park

White Sands Beach Park is also known as Magic Sands or Disappearing Sands or Laaloa Bay Beach. Migrating humpback whales can be seen from this park. Snorkeling, scuba diving and exploring underwater caves are the other attractions here. When the surf is calm, swimming and boogie boarding are allowed.

44. Holualoa

The village of Holualoa is located on the slopes of Mount Hualalai above Kailua-Kona and has many art galleries. It also grows the famous Kona coffee.

45. Keauhou

Keauhou town is situated in Hawaii County. The scenic Kahaluu Bay which is on the Kona Coast is ideal for surfing. Keauhou is also the place of the Keauhou Holua Slide or the toboggan slide.

46. Kealakekua Bay

Kealakekua Bay situated on the coast of Kona, is a popular destination for snorkelers and divers. It is also the place where Captain Cook was killed. Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins can be seen in the bay.

47. Napoopoo Beach Park

Napoopoo Beach Park is found at the end of Napoopoo road off Highway 11. It is another exciting place for scuba, snorkeling & kayaking enthusiasts. The Kealakekua Bay Underwater Marine Reserve has a variety of colorful and attractive marine life such as reef fish and corals.

48. Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park

Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park is found in south Kona on the coast of Honaunau Bay. It offers snorkeling and diving. This park was a sacred “Place of Refuge” for ancient Hawaiians. There is a black lava rock shoreline. Thatched work house, fishponds and a sacred temple are some of the things to see.

49. Amy B. H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden

Amy B. H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden is situated 22 miles south of Keahole Airport and has several plants native to Hawaii and those introduced by the Polynesians. The plants found here include taro and kukui.

50. Kamoa Wind Farm or Pakini Nui Wind Farm

Kamoa Wind Farm has several windmills for power generation and is situated near South Point.

51. South Point or Ka Lae Ka’u

South Point is famous for being the southernmost tip of both the state of Hawaii and the United States and is a National Historic Landmark. It has many archaeological sites. There is a blinking beacon lighthouse type warning device here.

52. Papakolea Beach or Green Sand Beach

Green Sand Beach gets its green color from the Olivine crystals in the lava and is located 2-1/2 miles northeast of South Point.

53. Naalehu

Naalehu has the distinction of being the southernmost town in the United States. It boasts of green and luxuriant vegetation. Several ground communication stations for communication with space modules operate here.

54. Punaluu Beach Park

Situated off Highway 11, Punaluu Beach Park has a black sandy beach. You will find freshwater springs and giant sea turtles here.

55. Pahala

Pahala is situated in Hawaii County and is 210 miles southeast of Honolulu. It is famous for its Kau Coffee, macadamia nut orchards, horticulture and sugar plantations.

56. Wood Valley Temple

Wood Valley Temple is a colorfully painted Tibetan Buddhist temple and meditation center.

57. Anaehoomalu Bay

Anaehoomalu Bay is a beautiful shallow water bay situated on the south Kohala Coast. It has a blue lagoon, coconut trees, white sandy beach and freshwater springs. Anaehoomalu Bay is famous for snorkeling and the royal fishponds.

58. Puako Petroglyph Fields

Situated in Holoholokai Beach Park, Puako Petroglyph Fields are one of the biggest and oldest fields in the Hawaiian State.

59. Puako Bay

Puako Bay has several coves and tidal pools which attract snorkelers. Another attraction is sunbathing and beach combing on a white sandy beach.

60. Hapuna Beach

Located off Highway 19, Hapuna Beach has a dazzling white sand beach and is a great place for swimmers, snorkelers and picnickers.

61. Kaunaoa Beach Or Mauna kea Beach

Kaunaoa Beach or Mauna kea Beach is situated off Highway 19 and is a large area crescent shaped beach. The bottom of the bay is sandy and is perfect for swimming, snorkeling and boogie boarding.

62. Spencer Beach Park

Situated south of Kawaihae Harbor off Highway 270, Spencer Beach Park is great for snorkeling and swimming.

63. Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site

Situated at 62-3601 Kawaihae Road, Kawaihae, Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site is the place where Puukohola Heiau or the “Temple on the Hill of the Whale” ruins are found. Humpback Whales can be seen from this place. Walking tours and ranger talks are available.

64. Kawaihae Bay

Located in the County of Hawaii, Kawaihae Bay is the breeding and birthplace of the Migrating Humpback Whales. Sports fishing and scuba diving are popular here.

65. Waimea or Kamuela

Popularly called as paniolo or Hawaiian cowboy country, Waimea or Kamuela boasts of verdant pastures and ranches. The Parker Ranch and the Kahua Ranch are 2 ranches where the beautiful landscapes of Waimea can be explored on horses or driving an ATV.

66. Kohala Mountain Road

Moving northwards from Waimea to the town of Hawi, is the Kohala Mountain Road (Highway 250). This is a drive with stunning scenery on the way. A picturesque view of the Hamakua Coast can be had from Pololu Valley Lookout.

67. Hamakua Heritage Corridor

Located on the Hamakua Coast from Hilo to the Waipio Lookout is the Hamakua Heritage Corridor. It is another beautiful drive with steep sea cliffs, lush gardens, tropical rain forests, cascading waterfalls and small plantation towns on the way.

68. World Botanical Gardens

Situated 16 miles north of Hilo, World Botanical Gardens has more than 5000 species of Hawaiian and tropical plants. It also boasts of a stunning view of Maunakea and a view point where one can see the triple decker Umauma Falls.

69. Laupahoehoe Point

One can see rocky shorelines, tide pools and steep sea cliffs from Laupahoehoe Point.

70. Parker Ranch

Parker Ranch is one of the biggest and oldest ranches in the United States.

71. Kahua ranch

Kahua Ranch boasts of stunning wide angle views of the surrounding scenery and a lush native rainforest.

72. Imiola Church

With wall and ceilings of koa wood, this New England style church is situated in Waimea.

73. Kamuela Museum

Situated on Kawaihae-Kohala Junction, Route 19 and 250, Kamuela, this largest privately owned museum of Hawaii showcases Hawaiian artifacts.

74. Lapakahi State Historical Park

Lapakahi State Historical Park on Highway 270, North Kohala, is a restored, ancient Hawaiian fishing village showcasing a salt-making area, canoe sheds, Hawaiian games, a fish shrine and home sites.

75. Mahukona Beach Park

Mahukona Beach Park is situated on Highway 270, North Kohala and offers exciting energetic activities like snorkeling and swimming.

76. Kapaa Beach Park

A beautiful view of far off Maui can be had from this park situated on the north western shore of Big Island. Snorkeling and diving are allowed in calm conditions.

77. Mookini Heiau State Monument

Mookini Heiau State Monument is a large sacrificial temple situated in North Kohala on the Big Island. It is a National Historic Landmark.

78. Hawi

Situated in the North Kohala District, Hawi is a pretty little town with false-front buildings. There are several art galleries and boutiques. Hawi also has an operating wind farm.

79. Kapaau

Kapaau is situated in the District of North Kohala. The King Kamehameha Statue is found here. There are many thriving art galleries and boutiques in Kapaau.

80. The Bond Estate

The Bond Estate is in North Kohala on Highway 270. Built in 1841, this is a New England style missionary estate and is the only one in existence in Hawaii.

81. Keokea Beach Park

Located on Highway 270 in North Kohala, Keokea Beach Park is a verdant and lush park going down to the sea. It has a rocky coastline and is perfect for picnickers.

82. Pololu Valley Overlook

Situated on the Hamakua Coast in Kohala, Pololu Valley Overlook has stunning views of cascading waterfalls, green cliffs and a black sandy beach. A breathtaking view of Big Island can be had from here.

Quick Facts

Location: Hawaii state, USA

Altitude: 13,796 ft

Temperature: 21?C to 29?C

Best time to travel: April to November. It’s better to avoid December to March, as rainfall is heaviest during this time. The rain falls mostly at night.

Accommodation: Historic hotels, luxury resorts, bed and breakfast and condos are available.

Getting There

Hawaii or the Big Island can be reached by flying into Kona International Airport (KOA) in Kona in the west or Hilo International Airport (ITO) in Hilo in the east. Additionally one can fly into Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on Oahu and then take a short hop to Big Island.

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