More To Do

Other Notable Adventures

As local residents, we get asked a lot about the best things to do when visiting the Big Island. Here are some of our favorites. If you need help planning, contact our Travel Consultants who can help you book incredible adventures and unforgettable experiences.

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Hiking

Location: South and Hilo Hikes

Volcanoes Park

Think of this entire national park as your hiking oasis. If you’re feeling something relatively easy with a high pay-off, saunter by steam vents or to the coast to the Holei sea arch. Or if you’re in the mood to feel-the-burn, traverse barren lava fields for miles to far off craters. This park really does have it all!

Green Sands

A gorgeous and unique beach (which we talk about under “Life’s a Beach) sits about two miles down a rough 4WD path. Yes, you can drive if you have the clearance and the confidence; but even if you don’t, you can still visit this famous locale.

Location: North and Kona Hikes

Kiholo Bay

This hike can be as short or long as you like. Besides being a lovely beach to walk along (and easily one of our favorite spots on the island), wandering along the shoreline here are a plethora of hidden gems including the Queen’s Bath.

Kealakekua Bay

This spot is a landmark for a plethora of reasons. One of the best snorkeling spots on the island, this is also where the legendary Captain Cook died. The giant spire on shore is a monument to him. You can reach this spot by kayak, booking a boat tour (check out our *Adventures Page*) or hiking down. Round trip the hike is a little under four miles but we have to admit that it does feel longer carrying your snorkel gear.

Kaloko Hike

Up the mountain from North Kona, not too far from the airport is a jungle and community called Kaloko. Drive to the top of this mountain and you’ll feel like you’re wandering through a cloud forest. Various trails through the jungle mean your hike can be as short or long as you desire. No views on this hike, but you’ll be up close with the gorgeous greenery and Hawaii’s natural beauty.

Waipio Valley Lookout

Located North along the Hamakua Coast, Waipio Valley Lookout also known as “The Valley of the Kings” is located at the end of the Hamakua Heritage Corridor drive. It’s an important site for Hawaiian history and culture while showcasing breathtaking views of the historic valley. Please note, the Waipio Lookout is open but the hike down to the valley is closed indefinitely. We kindly suggest Visitors respect the land and road closure to the beach access. 

Pololu Valley

Easily one of the most breathtaking overlooks on the island, Pololu is the most northern of the incredible valleys on the Big Island. Only about a 15 minute walk down into the valley, Pololu is also one of the most accessible valleys on the island, and definitely worth the trip to the end of the road.

Round trip: 0.5 mile

Elevation Gain: 300′

Directions:

Take Hwy. 270 to the northern Kohala Coast, past the towns of Hawi and Kapa’au. Park at the end of the highway at the Pololū Valley overlook. There is limited parking so we recommend getting there early, especially on Weekends. They have a parking guide that will direct you where to park. If you must park along the road, ensure that you respect the private homes and heed “No Parking” signs. If there is no room, wait or come back another day. Note: there is no cell service or restrooms. We recommend wearing closed toed shoes and bring lots of water and sunscreen as it can get very hot. The water and shore break here can be very dangerous and should only be attempted by highly experienced swimmers and surfers as there is no lifeguard on duty. There is no longer access to the mounds and rope swings behind the beach. Make sure anything you bring down with you comes back with you! 


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Beaches

Location: Kona

Manini’ Owali Beach (Kua Bay)

One of our absolute favorite beaches for sunset. It’s a family-friendly spot with lifeguards, white sand and (usually) friendly waters. The appeal of this spot means it can sometimes get crowded. We suggest spending a full day lounging on this breathtaking shore, just make sure to bring a cooler and plenty of sunscreen!

Makalawena Beach

To get to this gem you’ll either need 4WD (with a ton of clearance) or some dedication and enough water to keep you hydrated for a few hours. The not-quite 3 mile hike to this beach is definitely worth it, and it means it isn’t as crowded as some other easier-to-reach beaches. The water here feels even more crystal and clean and the soft sand makes this an easy recommendation.

Magic Sands

An incredibly popular beach with locals and visitors alike. The waves here are phenomenal for body surfing and boogie boarding, just be aware that the break and currents can be rougher and stronger than they look.

Kahaluu Beach

This is one of the best and most popular beaches for snorkeling, surfing and more! It’s a family-friendly conveniently-located spot with showers, restrooms and a pavilion for shade. The reef close to the pavilion provides plenty of rich underwater life to enjoy if you brought your snorkel gear, and the outer waves are often full of surfers.

Location: North

Hapuna Beach

Continually listed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Hapuna is the quintessential crescent of white sand meeting crystalline waters. The water is often calm which makes it not only perfect for lounging, but a popular choice with families and people not necessarily wanting to get tossed around by waves.

Pololu Beach

Not only an incredible lookout (one of our favorites across all the islands), but a lovely black sand beach. Although we can’t suggest actually getting in the water here (every time we’ve been the current has been deceptively strong), it is nearly unbeatable for the scenery.

Keokea

We won’t say that this beach is worth going out of your way for, but there’s a little cove protected by a man-made wall that is at least a safe spot to splash around in if you’re in the neighborhood.

Kapaa Beach Park

Admittedly, not a great beach for lounging, but wonderfully clear water if you’re interested in snorkeling or diving despite the lack of coral. The picnic tables and view of Maui from here also make it a great beach to watch the sunset from.

Mahukona

Okay, not exactly a beach. It’s a (now unused) harbor which means calm calm waters and easy access. The reef makes for interesting viewing. But with good fish usually comes a catch (no pun intended). The ocean bottom here is usually sharp, make sure to keep hands and feet away.

Spencer

This beach is very north, just south of Kawaihae Harbor and one of our favorites for kids and families. It’s a nice stretch with usually friendly swimming and even basketball and volleyball courts. You can also grab a camping permit if a full day on the beach just isn’t enough

Mauumae

The main pro of this beach is that it’s usually pretty empty, especially during the week. Enter through the Mauna Kea Resort or walk from Spencer Beach.

Mauna Kea Beach

Ab.So.Lute.Ly. BEAUTIFUL beach. One of the most “quintessential” beaches on the island. Stunning for pictures, strolling, lounging, and general frollicing. This probably explains why Mauna Kea Resort snagged it as their hotel location. Parking can get full so we suggest getting there early.

ABay

This is a long stretch of white sand in the Waikoloa area. It’s kept clean by the surrounding resorts and is popular not only because of the hotels it fronts, but because of the boat trips that leave from the area.

Location: South and East
You won’t find as many sprawling beaches down south as you will up north (the best ones are fronted by resorts capitalizing on the most important rule in real estate: location, location, location) but what you will find are black sand beaches, more solitude, popular turtle resting spots, pebbles instead of sand (we love the way they sound under the waves), and even a green sand beach.

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach (see the Honu!)

This beach is not only known for its pristine black sand, but for its popularity with honus (Hawaiian for “turtles”). Every time we’ve been here turtles abound. If they park on the sand lifeguards will usually set up boundaries around them, but if you happen to see one on its own, make sure not to touch or harass it. Turtles are protected here and are incredible to witness on their own.

Ke’ei

Something you may notice about south beaches is that they aren’t exactly a piece of cake to get to. Ke’ei is a perfect example of this; heading south of Kona you’ll have to take a long winding road that turns into a thin bumpy drive down a narrow path (“road” isn’t quite the right word). Honestly, we love this beach but you’ll probably feel a little intimidated if you decide to make your way down there.

Pu’u o Honaunau (Two Step)

A must do in every sense of the word. Turtles, great snorkeling. Just trust us.

Hookena

This beach is fully embraced by the local community. You can rent all kinds of gear including kayaks, snorkels, and boogie boards. They have a snack bar and you can camp for $21.

Pebble Beach

Another difficult (or at least inconvenient) drive down a very steep road. If you want to go swimming please find another stop, the current is very strong and the “sand” is actually large pebbles that make a lovely sound but can hurt…

Milolii

Down a lonnnnnnng and winding road (we hope you sang that in your head), this beach is frequented by the surrounding community. If you visit this beach and get the feeling you’re not welcome, you should probably trust that.

Road to the Sea

We love love love this spot, especially for camping. But you WILL need 4WD with clearance and confidence (we have one but not the other). Because of the tough drive and remote location, the black sand beaches at the end of the road to the sea are usually sparsely populated.

Whittington

This is a pit stop if you want to stretch your legs unless you’re staying in the area.

Green Sand Beach/ Papakolea

Rare and absolutely stunning, this is more of an experience than just a beach. You’ll need 4WD if you want to drive; you can also do the 2ish mile hike (be aware, it seems much longer), just make sure to bring plenty of water. Once you get to the beach, there’s a steep descent to the dark green sands below. The break here can be rough and the spectacularly colored sand is temporary. Fight the desire to bring a handful back with you, so more people are able to visit in the future!

Kaimu Black Sand Beach in Kalapana

Another stunning stretch of black sand, Kaimu is a new beach, caused by the volcanic eruption in the ‘80s. We won’t say it’s the best locale for lounging in the sun (this area tends to be cloudy) but it’s stark feel makes it a worthwhile stop if you’re in the area, especially for any visitor that’s interested in volcanoes.

Honolii

Hilo doesn’t have as many beach options as Kona and the northern side of the island, but Honolii is one of the more popular spots on the east side. It’s mostly known for its surf, but even non-surfers will enjoy relaxing on this long stretch of beach and watching the waves. It’s near Hilo town, so an easy detour for anyone in the area.

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Farmers Markets

Location: Kona

Keauhou Farmers Market

Everything at this market is 100% locally grown and produced in Hawaii. Choose from an enticing selection of produce, honey, flowers, Kona coffee, macadamia nuts, meat and eggs, handmade breads, jams, and so much more.

The Pure Kona Green Market

Enjoy live-music while you browse the various stalls here and enjoy samples of coffee, honey and more! This is a friendly market with tons of options for you to enjoy during your stay or for you to take home as gifts for all your friends and family.

Location: Waimea

Waimea Town Market

This market boasts a plethora of over 40 vendors selling everything from delicious fresh-baked pastries to artisan local crafts. This is our go-to for gifts, treats and if we want to treat ourselves to a unique piece of art.

Mid-Week Farmer’s Market

We love this midweek market for fresh produce, locally made groceries and floral arrangements that make us happy every time we look at them. We also can’t help but love the coffee options (Kona coffee is world-famous for a reason, after all!)

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Dining

Dining in Hawaii

A vacation isn’t complete until you’ve thoroughly investigated and enjoyed the cuisine, at least that’s what we always say. Hawaii is known for its traditional dishes and the Big Island is known for fresh local ingredients; combine the two and you have an almost limitless opportunity to dazzle your taste buds.
Beach Tree at Four Seasons Hualalai

Beach Tree at Four Seasons Hualalai


Casual Dining
KAILUA- KONA
Every restaurant at the Four Seasons should be on this list, but we’re mentioning Beach Tree specifically because we can’t get enough of the location. You will want dinner to last all night here. Just steps from the water, this Oceanfront beach bar & restaurant combines fresh ocean breeze with good drinks and a fabulous food menu, what else could you ask for? We recommend making reservations well in advance. Note: the lounge area and bar are first come first serve. Hours of Operation: 11:00am-10:00pm

Ulu Beach Grill at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

Ulu Beach Grill at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai


Casual Elegant
KAILUA- KONA
By the surf and under the stars, this incredible restaurant uses primarily local ingredients to highlight the fresh, local culinary flavors of the island for breakfast and dinner. We don’t want to oversell it, but this place is pretty much guaranteed to be your new favorite island spot. Don’t be afraid to go back and try everything on the menu. Note: Reservations must be made in advance. Bar is first come first serve. Hours of Operation: A La Carte Breakfast Every Day 6:30am-11:00am Dinner: Every Day 5:30pm-9:00pm

Papa Kona

Papa Kona


Casual Dining
KAILUA- KONA
Not many places in the popular Kona area can offer good food and good ambiance, but Papa Kona is one of the few that pull it off. Unquestionably one of the best locations on the island, ask for a table outside so you can not only hear but see the waves crashing right beneath you. Order a specialty cocktail to set the tone and may we suggest the avocado fries as an appetizer? Hours: Every Day 7:00am-10:00pm

The Fish and The Hog

The Fish and The Hog


Casual Dining
WAIMEA
The Fish and The Hog, AKA Huli Sue’s BBQ and Grill, serves simple well-executed dishes, homemade desserts, and fresh tropical fruit muddled cocktails. This might not necessarily be the most “upscale” option on this list but trust us, the food and friendly vibes make up for any lack of chandeliers or ocean views. Nestled in the country town of Waimea, this positively delicious restaurant offers the best of land and sea. It is one of our absolute favorite restaurants on island and we hope you’ll make it a point to visit if you’re in the area. Be sure to try their Cheddar & Green Chile Cornbread with honey candy butter for a starter and their popular banana cream pie for dessert that often sells out! Hours: Thursday-Monday 11:30am-8:30pm Closed: Tuesday & Wednesday

Merriman’s

Merriman’s


Casual Dining
WAIMEA
Located in the heart of Waimea is Peter Merriman’s original restaurant. One of the most romantic restaurants on the island, you may have heard of or even visited Merriman’s on a different island. The attention to detail here always impresses us, from impeccable farm to table ingredients, attentive service and a stunning interior that feels far away from the laid back beach vibes of Hawaii, Merriman’s is perfect when you’re in the mood for luxury and comfort.

Magics Beach Grill

Magics Beach Grill


Casual Dining
KAILUA- KONA
Magics is dynamic, vibrant, and community-oriented. Walking into the restaurant is like being transported into the ocean itself, beautiful and invigorating, with a priceless view. More than just a restaurant, Magics Beach Grill has passion for the island, fresh flavorful food, and craft drinks, coupled with strong community ties and their relationships with farmers, fishermen, and producers all combine at Magics.

Fosters Kitchen

Fosters Kitchen


Casual Dining
KAILUA- KONA
Located in the heart of downtown Kona, this indoor/outdoor restaurant & bar is the perfect place to enjoy a sunset dinner while sipping on one of their deliciously handcrafted cocktails.

Kaya’s Coffee- Organic Bakery + Cafe

Kaya’s Coffee- Organic Bakery + Cafe


Coffee
KEALAKEKUA
A perfect stop if you’re leaving Kona heading south, Kaya’s is a quaint coffee and bakery popular with locals because of the incredible coffee drinks and always-fresh breakfast, pastries and gluten free options. It’s a good place to soak in the laid back and nature-loving vibes of the island, as well as look through some locally made art while you wait on your order.

The Coffee Shack

The Coffee Shack


Coffee
CAPTAIN COOK
Don’t stop here just for coffee. Stop here to eat while you caffeinate and sit above the Hawaiian jungle. The open-air restaurant is small but comfortable, and with a dinner menu that morphs with the chefs’ inspiration, you can stop here and sometimes be surprised by specials that will truly have you ordering seconds.

Waimea Coffee Company

Waimea Coffee Company


Coffee
WAIMEA
Even if we’ve had a pot of coffee in the morning, we make it a point to stop here if we drive by (and sometimes we make the trip to Waimea just for this spot). There is just something about this coffee shop, it has that x-factor. Delicious coffee, friendly staff, just the right amount of snack options and pastries that are obscenely delicious. You will not regret anything you order here.

Willie’s Hot Chicken

Willie’s Hot Chicken


Casual, On-the-Go Dining
KAILUA- KONA
Newer on the dining scene, this location has quickly become a favorite for anyone on island who knows their chicken. Delicious Nashville-style plates and a bar with all the drink options you’ll want makes this place a great sports-bar-style hangout. No judgment if you order a second plate of chicken, we’ve all done it.

Umekes

Umekes


Casual Dining
KAILUA- KONA
You simply can not come to Hawaii without trying the incredibly fresh fish. Drive by the harbor and you can see the day’s catch being unloaded. Umeke’s is well-known as some of the best fish on the island. Poke bowls may be popular on the mainland now, but we can guarantee you’ve never had poke like this.

Tin Shack Bakery

Tin Shack Bakery


Casual Dining
PAHOA (HILO SIDE)
You probably won’t pass by this spot unless you specifically aim to visit the little town of Pahoa, but if you are in the area then Tin Shack is the perfect place for eating and experiencing. Very aptly named, this eatery is truly one-of-a-kind. It is frequented by very loyal customers who love the changing menu (based on the freshest ingredients they have) and the atmosphere that encourages interaction, not just consummation.

Da Poke Shack

Da Poke Shack


Casual Dining
KAILUA-KONA
Da Poke Shack is a local hidden gem located on All’i Drive. A great casual lunch stop if you’re in Kona and find yourself craving fresh poke and other local specialities.

Ola Brew Co

Ola Brew Co


Casual Dining, Brewery
KAILUA-KONA
“Ola is Life, Enjoy It”! This popular community and employee owned Brewery brings you world class brews made from island-grown ingredients. With a tasty selection of brews, ciders, hard seltzers, and organic hard teas, you are bound to find your favorite Ola creation(s)!


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Sea Turtles

Kiholo Bay

Kīholo Bay is a protected series of calm, turquoise tidepools inside a picturesque bay. As you walk along the trailhead, keep an eye for honu (green sea turtles) who love to visit this bay to eat in the shallow tidepools. Even without a sea turtle spotting, the news are spectacular.

Punaluʻu beach

The famous black sand beach of Hawaii is a great spot to see endangered Hawksbill turtles and green turtles basking in the sun on the beach. Lined with coconut trees, it’s also a great spot to stay for a picnic and relax on island time.
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