15 Things to Do Under $15 on Hawaii’s Big Island

Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Hawaii can get pretty pricey, between airfare, hotel rooms, food, and activities once you’re on the islands. Luckily, if you know where to look you can fill your days with excursions that won’t break your budget. All beaches in the state are public, so you can enjoy free swimming, walking, and sunbathing on any sandy strip. But for a unique Big Island experience, here are our favorite activities for under $15.


You’ll need a car for most of these (rentals start at $22 a day)—the Big Island has its name for a reason. This list starts on the Hilo side and travels north and west to the Kona side. For a full experience, we recommend visiting both sides of the island.


Other suggestions? Add your budget Big Island ideas in the comments. By Jess Moss

Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Watch volcanoes in action at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Location: Puna and Kau

Cost: $10 per vehicle, $5 per individual on foot/bicycle

Learn more: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Review

Jess Moss

Soak or swim in a thermally heated natural pool in Puna

Location: Puna

Cost: Free

Learn more: Ahalanui Park Review and Kapoho Tide Pools Review

Jess Moss

Shop for local crafts, produce, and food at the Hilo Farmers’ Market

Location: Hilo

Cost: Free entry

Learn more: Hilo Farmers' Market Review

Tony Cataldo / iStockPhoto

Take in the views on a scenic drive along the Hamakua Coast

Location: Hamakua Coast

Cost: Free

Learn more: Hamakua Coast Travel Guide

Sunny Takeishi/BIVB

Gaze at the sunrise, sunset, or stars from the summit of Mauna Kea

Location: Mauna Kea

Cost: Free

Learn more: Mauna Kea Review

Jess Moss

Learn the paniolo (cowboy) way at Anna Ranch in Waimea

Location: Waimea

Cost: $10

Learn more: Anna Ranch Website

Kirk Lee Aeder/Courtesy Hawaii Tourism Authority

Go snorkeling from the shore to see colorful coral and sea life

Location: Whole island

Cost: Free plus around $7 for daily gear rental

Learn more: Big Island Snorkeling

Courtesy National Park Service

Learn about King Kamehameha at Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site

Location: Kohala Coast

Cost: Free

Learn more: Puukohola Heiau Review

James L. Wing

Join a nightly manta ray talk and viewing at Sheraton Keauhou

Location: Kailua-Kona

Cost: Free (and open to non-hotel guests)

Learn more: Sheraton Keauhou Review

Jess Moss

Sip a local brew and listen to live music at Kona Brewing Co.

Location: Kailua-Kona

Cost: $4.25-$5.25 per glass, $9 for a sampler of 4 beers

Learn more: Kona Brewing Co. Review

Jess Moss

Spot birds and sea turtles on a coastal walk at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

Location: Kailua-Kona

Cost: Free

Learn more: Kaloko-Honokohau Review

Tor Johnson/Courtesy Hawaii Tourism Authority

Tour a Kona coffee farm and see how coffee is harvested and produced

Location: Kona Coast

Cost: Free for most tours

Learn more: Kona Coffee

Jess Moss

Explore a safe haven for ancient law-breakers at Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

Location: Kona Coast

Cost: $5 per vehicle, $3 per individual on foot/bicycle

Learn more: Puuhonua o Honaunau Review

Tor Johnson/Courtesy Hawaii Tourism Authority

Fuel up like a local by ordering an ono (delicious) plate lunch

Location: Whole island

Cost: Around $7 to $10

Learn more: Plate Lunch in Hawaii

Hawaii Tourism Japan (HTJ)

Have a picnic lunch on a black (or green) sand beach

Location: Kau

Cost: Free

Learn more: Punaluu Beach Park (Black Sand Beach) Review and Papakolea Beach (Green Sand Beach) Review