Updated: Jun 7, 2019
Out of all the Hawaiian Islands, I feel the most connected to the Big Island. If you missed my post from a few months ago about the summer I went to UH Hilo, check out the post here.
I have so many amazing memories here. I have gone back with family and will be going again early next year for a wedding! I wanted to share 12 things to do on the Big Island. If it is your first time and you are looking to cover the whole island, these stops will help you to do that!
Travel Tip: In order to see all of these places, you will need to rent a car. There is no other way to do it!
This is one of the more popular beaches on the Kona side of the island. The beach is huge and the epitome of a perfect beach. Though this is a popular tourist beach, the beach is so large that you won't feel too crowded.
There are so many cute animals at this zoo. It's great because the Hilo side of the island gets more rain so the zoo is a pretty lush environment. My favorite was getting up close and personal to the monkeys!
Go to the top of Mauna Kea
There are two points you can go to on Mauna Kea. You can go as high as the visitor center (which due to the higher altitude, it is recommended you stay here for at least 30 minutes to get used to the altitude before going higher) or go all the way to the top where several countries have their huge telescopes. If you go during the winter, you will be in snow which is crazy to see in Hawaii! If you just go to the visitor center level, be sure to get there for either sunset or sunrise. The views are amazing.
Travel Tip: Wear warm clothes. The temperature can be 20+ degrees colder sometimes!
Volcanoes National Park
I have been here twice. Once on a tour and the other time we got more time to explore, including walking through the lava tubes. You learn a lot either way you see it. If it is your first time, I recommend doing a tour group!
Boiling Point Park
This is a hidden gem on the Hilo side where a lot of the locals go to swim. It can be found on Google Maps. If you rented a car, this is a good place to spend half a day. You can swim / climb all the way to a small waterfall.
Snorkel at Richardson's Beach
I love this beach on the Hilo side. It was where I spent many days when I was going to school there. If you missed my post on that experience, CLICK HERE. This is a good snorkeling spot. More than likely you will be swimming right alongside turtles.
South Point Hawaii
Take the drive to this southernmost point on the Big Island. The landscape is beautiful and you can stumble upon many beaches that aren't packed with tourists.
Eat Loco Moco at Kens House of Pancakes
You have to have moco loco when in Hawaii. If you don't know what that is, it is a burger patty, mashed potatoes (or rice), gravy and a fried egg on top. It is delish! I loved frequenting Kens House of Pancakes on the Hilo side when I was going to school there.
Go on a Zodiac Tour
Do you like high speed, wind in your hair boat rides? Take this tour on the Kona side to a tourist free (mostly) spot to snorkel! You will see a lot of amazing things!
Have malasadas at Punalu'u Bakery
Malasadas are a sweet yeast bread that is this bakery does well. When you are visiting South Point, this is a great place to stop by! Check online for their hours
Mauna Loa Factory
You know those macadamia nuts in the blue bags that you see in all the Hawaiian gift shops? Yeah, the factory is located on the Big Island. You can get a tour and walk the grounds!
This is a fun, super easy hike to a cool waterfall! Do it early to avoid crowds.
BONUS: Horseback Riding
I have been to the same place two times and have loved it each time! The views are breathtaking! I highly recommend doing this while in Hawaii.