Best Outdoor Adventures on the Big Island of Hawaii

Getting out for active adventure is one of the top reasons 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. Here are a few of our favorites.

Bike Kulani Trails

Stands of 80-foot eucalyptus. Giant hapuu 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 rain forest near Hilo? 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 the Big Island. Visibility reaches depths of 80 feet, and you’ll spot colorful creatures swimming among jagged pinnacles and pristine coral habitats. But, to be real, the draw here is the Hawaiian spinner dolphins that come to rest in the bay during the daytime.

While it's enticing to swim with wild dolphins, getting too close can disrupt their sleep cycles. Observe from a distance and respect their space while still enjoying a fantastic experience communing with nature.

Search for Lava at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

It's not too often that you can witness the creation of molten earth in action. That's just what happens at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The most dramatic examples occur where lava flows enter the sea. While Madame Pele rarely gives away her itinerary in advance, if you're lucky a hike or boat ride may pay off with spectacular sights. Just before dawn and nighttime make for the best viewing opportunities.

Go Horseback Riding in Waipio Valley

The Valley of the Kings owes its relative isolation and off-the-grid status to the 2,000-foot-high cliffs bookending 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 rain forest to a series of waterfalls and pools—the setting for a perfect romantic getaway.

Witness Waterfalls on the Hilo Side

The east side of the Big Island—also called the Hilo side (as opposed to the western Kona side)—is essentially a rain forest, 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 include Peepee Falls (Boiling Pots) and Rainbow Falls, both easy to access from main roads just above downtown Hilo.

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