Big Island Feature
- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Best Outdoor Adventures on the Big Island
Getting out for active adventure is one of the top reason people come to the Big Island.
There are endless options here for spending time outside enjoying the land, the ocean, or the highest points of mountains and volcanoes, but here are a few of our favorites.
Bike Kulani Trails
Stands of 80-foot eucalyptus. Giant tree ferns. The sweet song of honeycreepers overhead. Add single-track of rock and root—no dirt here—and we're talking technical. Did we mention this is a rainforest? That explains the perennial slick coat of slime on every possible surface. Advanced cyclists only.
Snorkel at Kealakekua Bay
Yes, the snorkeling here is tops for Big Island but, to be real, the draw here are the Hawaiian spinner dolphins that rest in the bay during the daytime.
While it's enticing to swim with wild dolphins, doing so can disrupt their sleep patterns and make them susceptible to prey—a.k.a. sharks—so stick to an early morning or late afternoon schedule and give the dolphins their space between 9 and 3.
Search for Lava at Volcanoes National Park
It's not too often that you can witness the creation of rock in action. That's just what happens at Volcanoes National Park. The most dramatic example occurs where lava enters the sea.
Mother Nature rarely gives her itinerary in advance, but if you're lucky, a hike or boat ride may pay off with spectacular views of nature's wonder. Sunrise and sunset makes for the best viewing opportunities.
Word of Mouth: "If you are talking about seeing lava flow into the ocean at Kalapana, then the best time to go is around sunset. If you are talking about seeing Volcanoes National Park and Halemaumau in Kilauea anytime is as good as the next." -wbpiii
Go Horseback Riding in Waipi'o Valley
The Valley of the Kings owes its relative isolation and off-the-grid status to the two-thousand-foot cliffs book-ending the valley. Really, the only way to explore this sacred place is on two legs—or four.
We're partial to the horseback rides that wend deep into the rainforest to a series of waterfalls and pools—the setting for a perfect romantic getaway.
Word of Mouth: "One can spend a few days just in Waipio Valley and not get bored." -fdecarlo
Wade Through Waterfalls on the Hilo Side
The east side of Big Island—also called the Hilo Side (as opposed to the western Kona Side)—is essentially a rainforest, with an average rainfall of 130 inches a year. It's no wonder Hilo is called the "City of Rainbows," and all that rain means tons of waterfalls. Some of our favorites to explore include Pe'epe'e Falls (Boiling Pots) and Rainbow Falls, both easy to access from main roads.
Word of Mouth: "We drove Banyan Drive and went to Coconut Island where you get a lovely view of Hilo. We also went to Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots. It hadn't been raining very much so Boiling Pots wasn't very boiling, but Rainbow Falls was pretty still." -green33
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