Top 7 things to do on the Big Island
Being from the Big Island of Hawaii and now living in Canada, I always get the question, “What should I do in Hawaii?!” and trust me, you have come to the right place. I have had so many friends visit over the years and am pretty much a professional tour guide now. So I thought I would make a blog about it to answer the question for everyone.
Some people might be thinking ‘the Big Island? Which one is that?’. Well it is technically the island of Hawaii but it goes by the name, Big Island and it is literally in the name… You know the BIG island at the end of the chain? Thats it.
This island is very unique as it has many different landscapes, from tropical rainforests to sandy beaches and even to snow. The Big Island has it all!
A lot of people come and stay in the resorts which are fantastic, but there is so much more to see! So here are some tips… my favorite things to do, favorite places to eat, yada yada yada.
Before I get into my top 7 things to do/tips, my biggest tip would have to be to rent a car. This island is big, as you already know from the name; and we don’t have very good public transportation. So please, for the sake of your enjoyment, rent a car. You will see so much more and be so grateful that you did.
1. Bask at the beach.
This is the main reason people come to Hawaii, right? Get a good tan, swim in the crystal clear blue water and feel the soft silky sand between your toes. My favorite beaches on the island are…
-Mahiaulas (and hike over to Makalawena)
-49’s Black Sand Beach
2. Eat the local food.
Hawaii is known for its amazing fresh healthy food, and also it’s not so healthy food and I recommend both.You can get the best Acai Bowls from Basik Acai and the best Poke Bowls from Umeke’s for healthier options. You should try a Spam musubi and also get a plate lunch from Pine Tree Cafe; my favorite thing to order is chicken katsu or kalua pork and cabbage. There is also tons of farmers markets around where you can get tons of fresh fruit like pineapples, mangos and avocados and there is nothing better then having it fresh.
Before you snorkel, there are a few things to know about the coral reefs. They take thousands of years to grow and they can be killed very easily. Never touch the reef and never leave anything there that wasn’t there to begin with. The reefs are dying slowly so it’s important to know a bit about it before experiencing it’s beauty. Here are my favorite places to snorkel…
- Kealakekua bay: rent some kayaks and paddle across the bay.
- Honaunau/Two Step
- Honokahau Harbor dog beach
4. Pololu Valley
This is in Hawi at the end of the road, literally. You can hike down into the valley to a black sand beach and a beautiful forest and river behind. If you walk along the paths in the forest you will find some rope swings that can be a lot of fun. You can also hike up the other side of the valley to see an incredible view on the other side. It’s good to have a little workout while on vacation, right?
5. Drive around the Island.
This is a very full day and there are so many stops to make along the way. It takes about 5.5 hours to drive all the way around the island and it is such an amazing drive, you see the landscapes change like crazy. My favorite stops are…
-Tex’s Drive-In in Honokaa for a Malasada
-Waipio Valley lookout (Its a little out of the way but very worth it)
-Cafe Pesto in Hilo for lunch
-Two Ladies Kitchen for Mochi (SO GOOD)
-Volcano National Park
-Punalu’u Bakery (ALSO SO GOOD)
-South Point (Southern most point of the USA)
-Green Sands (its a rough drive in but if you can manage it’s one of the only green sand beaches in the world)
6. Ali’i Drive
I always love taking my friends and family for an afternoon in town. We have such a sweet little town with so many cool little shops and great places to eat so it’s great to spend some time down there. Shave ice from Scandinavian Shave Ice is a great refreshing treat since it does get really hot down there. The Kona Inn is a great place to grab a Mai Tai and it has an amazing view of the ocean where you can see people paddling in canoes and sometimes dolphins jumping in the bay.
7. Boat tours
There are tons of companies that do boat tours on the island and you can see things that you wouldn’t see from staying on land. Seeing the island from a different perspective is amazing in itself. You get to go to snorkeling spots that not everyone gets to go to and maybe see some sea life that not everyone gets to see. Sea Quest is my favorite company; since it is a little smaller it’s a little more personal.
I could keep going on and on with stuff to do but I think this is a great start. Hawaii is a very beautiful island and holds a special place in my heart. Have an amazing trip and please remember to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen (reef safe sunscreen)!