Hawaii's Big Island beach vacation guide
The Big Island of Hawaii is the state’s youngest and largest island and a haven for outdoor adventurers. One of the world’s most ecologically diverse places, eight of the world’s 13 ecosystems can be found here. You’ll discover active volcanos, snowy mountaintops and beaches of every colour on this island alone.
Exploring Big Island’s incredibly diverse eco systems is our top recommendation for travellers. Visit the Halema’uma’u Crater at night and watch the whole crater glow in red light. Take a dip at Akaka Falls , Hawaii’s largest waterfall. Plan a visit to Puuhonua O Honaunau or Kaloko Honokohau National Historic Park to learn about ancient traditions.
Travelzoo tip: Plan an evening to go stargazing at Maunakea, the highest peak in Hawaii. The visitor center and the summit are two designated areas for stargazing, which you can plan yourself or join a guided tour. It has some of the most famous observatories in the world.
Hilo is known for its waterfalls and rainforests. Swim with manta rays or go hiking near Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanos. Or sample the famous namesake coffee in Kona. Some of the best snorkeling can be experienced on the Kona and Kohala coasts.
Travelzoo tip: Consider booking a nighttime snorkeling trip and watch giant manta ray swim and soar as they feed on tiny plankton.
Big Island beach recommendations
Travelzoo tip: We’ve gushed about the diverse ecosystems of Big Island, but did you know Big Island is one of the only places where you can explore white, black and green sand beaches?
Hapuna beach is a beautiful white sand beach located on the Kona-Kohala coast. The wide stretch of sand is perfect for swimming and snorkeling, and consistently ranks as one of the top ten beach ins Hawaii. Visit Punaluu Beach for stunning back sand beaches. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to catch sea turtles coming to shore. Visit Papakolea Beach for unique green sand – caused by accumulation of silicate crystals known as olivine.
Other iconic beaches are Maniniowali beach, located in Kua Bay, it is a picture-perfect spot of white sand, black lava rock and turquoise water. Sunsets here are said to be spectacular, plan a visit in the fall or winter when the parking area is open past sunset. Kaunaoa Beach is a picture-perfect beach also known as Big Island beach. Visit in the summer to enjoy gentle waters, or winter if you’re looking to surf the waves.
For beaches slightly off the beaten path, Makalawena Beach is located past lava fields and requires a four-wheel drive to get to. But you’ll be rewarded with sugar sand and shady palm trees.