The Big Island

The Big Island of Hawai'i is a truly magical place. With it's tropical landscapes, black sand beaches, active volcanoes and historical charm, it offers an unlimited amount of adventures. This Big Island Travel Guide is filled with 80+ of my favorite beaches, snorkel spots, experiences, restaurants, shops and stays on the island.

Aloha! Let's dive in!

Travel Guide


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When To Visit

Spring + Fall

At A Glance

The Island of Hawai'i

The Island of Hawai'i  - also commonly referred to as the Big Island - is the youngest and largest of the Hawaiian islands spanning more than 4,000 square miles (and still growing). Here you'll find everything from active volcanoes, ancient fishing villages and black sand beaches to beautiful waterfalls, historical sites, and cowboy country.

Best Of The Big Island

Whether it's a morning cruise or a nighttime manta ray snorkel, getting out on the water and exploring the sea life is always a good idea.

What makes Hawai'i truly magical is the history and culture. Be sure to explore the national and historical parks on the island to learn more.

The Big Island offers some of the best snorkeling in the world. My favorite spot is Ho'okena beach! Tip: enter from the left-most side of the beach to avoid the sharp rocks.

If you prefer to relax by the pool instead of the ocean, the Kohala coast offers some of the best resorts in the whole state.

White, black, green, and all the shades in between. The Big Island has nearly every kind of sandy beach imaginable. 

Hawai'i is home to some of the most unique fruit in the world. Be sure to visit the local markets and fruit stands on the side of the road to try them for yourself!

Best Of The Big Island

Places To Stay

This resort on Hawaii's Kona Coast offers easy access to attractions like the Kona Coffee farm and Kailua-Kona's manta ray feeding grounds.

Experience all the luxury Hawaii has to offer at the Four Seasons. Each room and suite is true to the Hawaiian heritage and mimics the timeless culture of the Islands.

Just on the edge of downtown, the Royal Kona Resort is perfect for guests wanting to be within walking distance of some of the best restaurants in Kona.

For those wanting to experience the rainforest side of the island, the Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo offers the perfect escape.

This 5 star hotel is located on the white sands of Kauna‘oa Bay and offers luxury style suites, a golf course, a luau, and moonlight snorkeling sessions.

Located along 32 oceanfront acres on the Kohala Coast, guests can experience unique amenities such as an open-air spa and private beach club.

This unique beachfront resort offers fascinating tours to see humpback whales, historical Hawaiian petroglyphs and turtle nesting sites.




Where To Eat




One of the most famous spots on the island for fresh poke, visiting this local joint is a must when you're in Kona. Tip: get there early before they sell out.

The perfect spot to enjoy fresh Kona coffee and breakfast while overlooking Kealakekua Bay before heading to Volcano or exploring Captain Cook.

The perfect treat - these Açaí bowls that are as Insta-worthy as they are delicious! Find them above Snorkel Bob's near the Royal Kona Resort.

The home of liquid aloha! Kona Brewing Co is focused on making some of the best craft beers in the world, and doing so in an environmentally friendly way.

For authentic Hawaiian meal, try Kaaloa's Super J's. This family-owned restaurant is famous for their lau lau, Kalua pig, and mac salad. 

Featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, this family-owned restaurant serves some of the best Thai food on the island.

Shaka Tacoz serves some of the island's best tacos, with free guac and their unique shaka sauce. Enjoy ocean views from their back lanai.

Located downtown, this oceanfront breakfast spot serves amazing cinnamon rolls, pancakes, and fresh juices. Tip: make a reservation to avoid the line.

Where To Eat

The birthplace of Hawaii's loco moco, Cafe 100 is a favorite spot amongst locals and tourists alike. My personal favorite is their teriyaki loco moco dish. 

This small shop in downtown Hilo is famous for their delicious mochi treats. Flavors range from strawberry and chocolate to butter and sweet potato.

Located in Hilo Bay, this local favorite spot is always bustling when it opens. Don't miss their popular poke bowls made with the freshest catch of the day!




Hilo Farmer's Market

The farmer's market is open 7 days a week, but Wednesdays and Saturdays are the best days to discover local fruit and delicious street food.

Famous for their shortbread cookies, this is the perfect stop by for a sweet treat or to pick up as a souvenir for friends and family back home.

This spot is always busy with its daily changing menu and focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Be sure to make a reservation before they fill up.

Known to have some of the best - if not the best - malasadas on the island! As everything is made to order, the line can appear long, but it moves fairly quickly.

Driving through or staying along the Kohala coast? Lava Lava Beach Club is a must-visit! Come for dinner and enjoy one of the best sunsets around.

Where To Eat


Kohala Coast




While this shop does sell malasadas, they're most famous for their sweet bread which comes in a variety of flavors. Try the original and apple cinnamon!


If you're not looking for it, you just might miss it. Located on the side of Puako Beach Dr., this food truck serves up fresh malasadas and Kona coffee.

This island-themed restaurant on the main road in Hawi embodies "old Hawaii". Inside, you'll also find a gift shop selling locally made items.


Things To Do

Formerly a royal vacation home, this museum shows artifacts and belongings of Hawaiian royalty. Visit to learn more about Hawaiian history and culture.

Once home to Kamehameha the Great, this landmark can now only be viewed from outside. However, it's still worth a quick visit as it's part of Hawaiian history.

Explore the 18-acre park at Honaunau Bay, a refuge for ancient lawbreakers. Take a self-guided tour to discover the Great Wall and sacred temples.

This trail leads to one of the best snorkeling spots on the island and is only accessible by boat, kayak, or this hike. Tip: go early to avoid a hot hike back.

This seaside park offers beautiful coastal views, sacred temples, and petroglyphs. Keep an eye out for monk seals and green turtles!

Established in 1997, the factory guides visitors through the process of harvesting, fermenting, processing, and molding their famous chocolate.

Take a beekeeping tour at Hawaii's largest honey producer. Learn about honey harvesting and explore their line of honey body care products and gift sets.




Things To Do

Rainbow Falls

This easily accessible waterfall on the Wailuku River creates mini rainbows in the morning sun. Located in Hilo, it's a must-see attraction.

Kahūnā Falls

Located in Akaka Falls State Park just north of downtown, Kahūnā Falls is easily reached by a short drive. The looped path to the falls is just .4 miles long. 

Peepee Falls

A lesser-known waterfall, perfect for avoiding crowds. Take your time to enjoy a plunge pool and the gorgeous views on the hike to find it.

Kaumana Caves

Explore this lava tube created by the 1881 eruption of Mauna Loa. The trail itself is short, just .1 miles long, but gives you a glimpse of these unique formations

Just 20 minutes north of downtown Hilo, Akaka Falls State Park offers a lush rainforest hike leading to the famous 442-foot waterfall.

Established in 1984, this educational nonprofit spans 4 miles with wildflowers, plants, and a biodome connecting visitors to nature. Located near Hilo.

Discover the process of harvesting Hawaii’s famous macadamia nuts. Enjoy free samples and visit the gift shop for a souvenir to bring back!




Things To Do

Home to active volcanoes Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Experience the dynamic landscapes and diverse ecosystems of this remarkable park.

Kalae or South Point

The southernmost part of the US, renowned for fishing and cliff jumping. Strong currents make for stunning views off the cliffs.

Kula Kai Caverns

Embark on an underground adventure through these ancient lava tube caves with a guide. Learn about their history, evolution, and the unique ecosystem.

Explore the ruins of an ancient Hawaiian fishing village. Take a self-guided tour to learn about Hawaiian life and the cultural significance of this site.

Mauna Kea

Experience stunning views from this dormant volcano, the highest point on the island of Hawaii. It's the perfect spot for sunset viewing and stargazing.

One of the last temples built in Hawaii. Explore exhibits highlighting ancient Hawaiian culture and learn about its historical significance.

Explore unique lava tree formations in this state monument. Bring a picnic to enjoy while exploring the captivating lava landscapes.

Waipio Valley

Explore this culturally significant valley with magnificent waterfalls and towering cliffs. No cars are allowed down, so be prepared for a steep walk.

Preserving native Hawaiian culture and natural resources, this trail offers exploration of lava flows, steam vents, and coastal cliffs.




Pololu Valley

Enjoy breathtaking views from this valley located east of Waipio. A short trail leads to a beach with vegetation-covered sand dunes, perfect for camping.

Shop Local

Located 15 minutes south from downtown Kona, this small gift shop has been serving the community with unique and locally made gifts since 1914.

This 'ohana owned boutique located in downtown Kona offers unique and handcrafted items. They've also got a great selection of Coco Shade hats.

Filled with island treasures and zero waste products, this locally owned shop is my favorite on the island. Also, if you're in the market for a Hawaiian pāpale hat, this is the shop for you!

As you explore downtown Hilo, be sure to pop into this boutique filled with locally crafted items and unique souvenirs. 


Kahalu’u Beach Park

Located 15 minutes from downtown Kona, this protected park is a top snorkeling spot. Here you'll find turtles, octopus, eels, and tropical fish.

Pebbles Beach

As its name suggests, this beach is covered in pebble rocks. The road down is steep, but the view is worth it! Great for spearfishing.

Ho‘okena Beach Park

My favorite snorkeling spot on the island! Arrive early as parking fills up fast. Enter the water from the left to avoid rocks and coral.

Kealakekau Bay State Historical Park

Largest sheltered bay on the island, excellent for snorkeling. Accessible only by tour boat or Captain Cook Monument Trail hike.




Makalawena Beach

A 20-30 minute hike through lava rock and sand leads to this island paradise. Backed by white sand dunes, crystal-clear water awaits.


Wai'olena Beach Park

Wai'olena Beach park located in Hilo spans several beaches and is the perfect location for watching a sunrise or having a picnic.

Richardson Ocean Park

Richardson Ocean Park is the closest black sand beach to downtown. The locals frequent this beach and it’s the best for snorkeling spot in Hilo!





Hapuna Beach

North of Kona along the Kohala Coast, Hapuna Beach is one of the most expansive white sand beaches on the island.

Kauna’oa Beach

Located on the Kohala Coast, this crescent beach offers calm waters for swimming and opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and snorkeling.

Papakōlea Green Sand Beach 

One of only four green sand beaches in the world! This bay is a little challenging to get to, but the hike is beautiful and the water is worth the trip.

ʻAnaehoʻomalu Beach

Palm trees line this beach, offering shade and a tropical atmosphere. Visit the hut for renting gear and explore walking trails for turtle sightings and tide pools.

Punaluʻu Beach

Famous for its black sand and endangered Hawksbill turtles. Visit freshwater springs, trails, and camping sites for an unforgettable experience.




Farmers Markets

Kona Farmers Market

Wednesdays - Sundays
7 a.m. - 4 p.m.
A great selection of local produce and is one of the best markets on the island.

Pure Kona Green Market

9 a.m. - 2 p.m
Only vendors that offer 100% grown or made in Kona are allowed to participate.

Hooulu Farmers Market

9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Located on the grounds of the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa.

Hilo Farmers Market

6 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Wednesdays and Saturdays are the largest market days.

Keauhou Farmer's Market

7:45 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Only locally grown Hawaii Island products are sold.

Waimea Town Market

7:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Over 40 vendors who offer a wide variety of produce, food and other unique items.

Big Island Map

View a customized google map of all the places listed in this guide.
Tip: Save it on your google maps app to reference while out exploring!

google map
view playlist





Utu Bang Bang

Good Morning Hawaii

Write Me A Letter

Wade In Your Water

Take Me Home Country Road




spotify playlist:



Thankfully don't need much when you come to Hawai'i. Keep it simple and just pack a swimsuit, shorts and shirts, light jacket and a raincoat/umbrella.

What should I pack?

Only buy reef safe sunscreen! Also if possible opt for a non-spray version. We need to work together to protect the reefs.


To see all that the island has to offer you'll need a car. For the lowest price check out Discount Hawaii Car Rental

Do I need a rental car?

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Weather-wise, Kona is often dry and sunny and Hilo is usually rainy. The towns themselves differ quite a bit as well, where Hilo feels like old Hawai'i and Kona has all of the big resorts.

Kona vs. Hilo?

It's more affordable than you may think! Check out this post to learn how I moved to Hawai'i for two months.

Is it expensive to move to there?

Hawaii follows Hawaii Standard Time, which is 5 hours behind EST. Hawaii does not observe Daylight Savings, so add 1 extra hour to the time difference from March through November.

What's the time difference?

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