Top 5 Reasons to Visit the Big Island
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The Top 5 Reasons to Visit the Big Island

Wait. Do you really need me to convince you to visit the Big Island of Hawaii? It’s Hawaii! Between the outdoor adventures, culinary masterpieces, and endless things to do, I shouldn’t have to persuade you to jet off to a tropical paradise.

But, if you insist… my top 5 reasons to visit the Big Island are sure to have you searching for the next flight to Hawaii.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

1. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii boasts several awe-inspiring national parks. However, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island takes the cake.

Here you’ll find Kilauea Volcano, which is among the most active volcanoes on Earth. Along the way, you’ll also come across rainforests, a lava tube, steam vents, and volcanic formations. If you visit on a good day, you may even see Kilauea’s lava flows heading out to sea.

While at the park, visitors are invited to go on a guided hike, speak with park rangers, and visit the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center. One of the most popular activities, however, is the After Dark Near the Park event held on Tuesdays after the sun goes down.

To get an up-close look at these volcanoes and volcanic activity, you’ll need to reserve a spot on a Hawaii Volcano Tour.

Hapuna Beach at sunset

2. Pick a Beach, Any Beach

Of course, beaches are among the top 5 reasons to visit the Big Island. Who doesn’t love being in a tropical paradise surrounded by sand, surf, and sun? On the Big Island, you’ll have so many beaches to choose from, you won’t even know where to begin.

Grab your reef-safe sunscreen, bathing suit, and towel, and head out to these popular Big Island beaches:

  • Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
  • Mauna Kea Beach
  • Hāpuna Beach
  • Makalawena Beach
  • Waialea Bay

While at the beach, take advantage of the ample snorkeling opportunities, too. Who knows? You might get the chance to swim alongside a sea turtle! You can also book a snorkeling cruise such as the Kealakekua Bay Snorkel & Coastal Adventure for more underwater fun.

Kona coffee plant with city and ocean in the background

3. Kona Coffee

While Kona coffee is high on my personal top 5 reasons to visit the Big Island, I firmly believe everyone should experience a coffee farm tour at least once.

Even if you’re not a fan of coffee, these farm tours are enlightening and offer a glimpse into the production and history of the world’s favorite beverage. Plus, for coffee enthusiasts, several tours also offer cuppings and samples along the way. You’ll leave each tour with a newfound appreciation for coffee, a slight caffeine buzz, and an armful of bags of Kona coffee!

Learn more about Kona’s thriving coffee industry on a tour at farms such as Kona Coffee Living History Farm, Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation, and Sunshower Coffee Farms.

Waipio Valley view

4. Waipio Valley

If hiking ranks high on your list of vacation activities, a trip to the Big Island is for you. At Waipio Valley, you’ll find 2,000+ feet high cliffs, a plunging valley, and the Big Island’s tallest waterfall—Hiilawe Falls. To access this outdoor adventure, park at the Waipio Valley Lookout and hike in. Once you’ve completed the trail, you’ll find a black sand beach, Kuluhine Falls, and other mesmerizing scenic sights.

Most visitors are interested in going down into the valley. Do know that this is quite the hike or drive. To enter the valley, you’ll need to drive down one of the steepest roads on the island, with a 25-40% grade throughout. You can either drive a 4WD car, embark on a tour, or hike down.

If you choose to drive, review your rental car contract thoroughly. Several companies explicitly prohibit their cars from driving into the valley.

Mauna Kea stargazing

5. Stargazing at Mauna Kea

On the Big Island of Hawaii lies a dormant volcano known as Mauna Kea. As the world’s tallest volcano, Mauna Kea is known for epic sunrises, sunsets, and stargazing opportunities. However, you’ll have to work to get there! The volcano is among the only places in the world where can drive from sea level to 14,000 feet in 2 or so hours, meaning altitude sickness is a possibility. Since the majority of rental companies do not allow their cars to summit the volcano, your best bet is to reserve a spot on a tour such as the Mauna Kea Sunrise Adventure.

However, one of the top 5 reasons to visit the Big Island is the stargazing opportunities at Mauna Kea. With such a crystal clear view of the sky and constellations, you’ll be speechless as you gaze up at the night sky. Once sunsets and the sky clears, typically around 7:00 or 8:00 pm, volunteers bring out telescopes for visitors to use.

But arrive early! The stargazing program only caters to a limited number of guests, and once full, others will be turned away.

What are Your Top 5 Reasons to Visit the Big Island?

Are you convinced now? Start packing and book your Hawaiian dream vacation now.

Have you visited Hawaii before? Share your reasons for visiting the Big Island with our travel community by commenting below!

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