Why do more visitors who are returning to the islands come back to the Island of Hawaii again and again? The reasons read like a fantasy checklist of adventure, fun, romance and history.
What is your island dream? Riding horseback along a lush valley trail? Whale watching? Swimming with manta rays? Listening to the glassy clinking of cooling lava? Testing your swing at a cliff-side championship golf course? Hiking up the side of a volcano? Or perhaps you're already feeling the calming influence of the island atmosphere and you're in the mood for stargazing, waterfall watching, or sunbathing on a quiet beach. With its fantastically diverse landscape and seascape, the Island of Hawaii is made for outdoor enjoyment. Whatever your idea of adventure, you'll find it, and much more, on the Island of Hawaii.
KONA SIDE: The Kona (West) side of the island is known for its sparkling resorts, world-class golf courses, white sand beaches and homegrown Kona coffee! These coastal waters offer thrilling big-game sport fishing and jewel box snorkeling, while the landscape, carved into an ancient lava flow, records the past in its sacred heiau (temples) and historic sites. Historic Kailua Village is no longer the sleepy fishing village it was for Hawaiian royalty. Leave from here on sport fishing charters or stroll down the main road of Alii Drive to find a variety of attractions beyond the shops and restaurants. Kailua Pier, the starting and finishing point of the world-famous Ironman World Championship, is a great place to watch the sunset.
KAU AND PUNA: A dramatic black sand beach, orchid gardens, coffee groves, quaint towns, historic sites and, above it all, the magnificent 500 square-mile Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The diversity, contrasts and beauty of South Hawaii Island continues to inspire scientists and visitors from all over the world.
HILO SIDE: With historic small town flavor and attractive shops, restaurants and museums, Hilo is a flourishing capital city, a cultural hub - and so much more. With its volcano backdrop, tumbling waterfalls, colorful gardens and towering banyan trees, the Hilo (East) Side of the Island of Hawaii is also the gateway to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the 40-mile long, fantastically scenic Hamakua Coast.
KOHALA SIDE: Revered as the birthplace of King Kamehameha I, North Hawaii Island is also paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) country. Here, history resides comfortably alongside wide-open ranch lands. Artists and art galleries thrive amidst the limitless beauty and sacred heiau (temples) remain as treasures of the island's heritage.
It's hard to imagine a landscape more unique than the Island of Hawaii. For sheer variety, it is unmatched. The roads are excellent, the pace is easy and the people are mellow; so stretch out and explore some of the island's 266 miles of coastline, five marine life conservation districts and 11 of the world's 13 climate zones. Where else will you find five volcanoes (Hualalai, Kilauea, Kohala, Mauna Kea, and Mauna Loa), historic towns, multi-colored beaches, the world's foremost site for astronomy (Mauna Kea), coffee plantations and the southernmost point of land in the United States (Ka Lae)? A living laboratory of natural science, the Island of Hawaii is also home to rich history, unrivaled beauty and sophisticated luxury. Take your time along the way; stop to browse in an art gallery, dig your toes into the black sand, and enjoy the Island of Hawaii.
The Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area features one of the best beaches in the world. The breath-taking natural landscape with its white sands extends to 200′ during the summer months when the waves recede and the sea is calm. Often, the beach divides into two, exposing lava rocks that remain hidden in the cliffs. Hapuna Beach is known for its water sports, especially surfing and snorkeling. The beach has a paved parking area, as well as picnic tables, showers, barbeque stations and spacious restrooms. Non-residents are required to pay an entrance fee, as well as a parking fee. Credit cards only.
At ʻAkaka Falls State Park, you can see two gorgeous waterfalls on one short hike. The pleasant 0.4-mile uphill hike will take you through a lush rainforest filled with wild orchids, bamboo groves and draping ferns. As you follow the paved footpath, you'll see 100-foot Kahuna Falls. Continue to follow the loop, and you'll discover towering ʻAkaka Falls, which plummets 442-feet into a stream-eroded gorge. Non-residents are required to pay an entrance fee, as well as a parking fee. Credit cards only.
Located just outside Hilo, the Panaʻewa Rainforest Zoo is the only rainforest zoo in the United States. In the zoo, you can find a variety of rainforest and endangered Hawaiian animals, such as spider monkeys, nene, a white bengal tiger, hyacinth macaws, ring-tailed lemurs, giant anteaters and numerous other species. The many labeled plants and trees showcased on the grounds make the Panaʻewa Zoo feel like a botanical garden. During your visit, you will see orchids, bamboos, varieties of palms and a water garden. Admissiion is free, but donations are greatly appreciated
Greenwell Farms is a Kona coffee farm that was established in 1850. You can do a complimentary 45-minute tour of the farm to learn about the history, farming and processing of coffee, followed by some sample tastings. On the third Thursday of the month, the public is invited to observe the Kona Historical Society’s Programs Team practice the traditional art of baking Portugese bread in a large wood-fired oven located in the pasture below the farm. Observers will be treated to a "talk story" by the Programs Team. The bread is baked between 10 AM and 12 PM and sold hot out of the oven around 1:00 PM.
He pilina wehena ʻole ke aloha honua.
One’s love for the planet is an inseverable relationship.
I pledge to be pono (righteous) on the island of Hawai‘i.
I will mindfully seek wonder, but not wander where I do not belong.
I will not defy death for breathtaking photos, or venture beyond safety.
I will malama (care for) land and sea, and admire wildlife only from afar.
Molten lava will mesmerize me, but I will not disrupt its flow.
I will not take what is not mine, leaving lava rocks and sand as originally found.
I will heed ocean conditions, never turning my back to the Pacific.
When rain falls ma uka (inland), I will remain high above ground, out of rivers and streams.
I will embrace the island’s aloha spirit, as it embraces me.
Lawe i ka maalea i kuonoono
“Take wisdom and make it deep.”