Big Island Activities and Tours

There are many different Big Island activities, Big Island tours, and Big Island attractions such as Kona luaus to choose from. Here are just some of the activities and tours offered on Choose what type of activity you want to research or reserve to the right of this page. Read about Hawaii’s history, landmarks, towns, and things to do..

The Big Island of Hawaii lives up to its name: at 95 miles long and 80 miles wide, with a total land area of 4,038 square miles, Hawaii is much larger than the other three major islands combined; indeed, it comprises over 63% of all the land area of all the Hawaiian Islands. It's also the youngest island, at a mere 450,000-800,000 years old, and is still forming today. (Only Lo'ihi, a seamount to the east that hasn't yet broken the surface, is younger than Hawaii). The grandeur of the Big Island includes some of the world's tallest mountains, deep valleys, plunging waterfalls, 266 miles of coastline, dozens of miles of the best beaches in the world, astounding agricultural plantations, picture-perfect tropical waters, and many other breathtaking scenes of natural and man-made beauty. It's also home to the world's most active volcano, Kilauea, whose name means "The Spewing" in native Hawaiian.

In the northeast, Mauna Kea (the "White Mountain") rears its head some 13,800 feet above sea level, serving as an excellent platform for a cluster of modern astronomical observatories. Mauna Loa ("Long Mountain"), which lies near the geographic center of the island, isn't much shorter at 13,680 feet. This mountain alone is 60 miles long and 30 wide, and consists of lava described as "iron-hard," making it the densest and most massive mountain on Earth. Both Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are among the tallest mountains in the world; indeed, they would likely be considered the tallest, if the submarine portions of their height were taken into account.

Perhaps the most famous section of the Big Island is the Kona (western) coast, where world-famous Kona coffee is grown.  It's also where the island's luaus are usually held.  (If you can do only one thing while in Hawaii, go to a luau; it's the quintessential Polynesian experience).  But Kona is more than just coffee plantations and roast pig: you'll find a whole host of things to do there on both land and sea, including scuba diving, snorkeling, snuba (a delightful combination of snorkeling and scuba), and sportfishing.  Honokonau and Keauhau Bays are prime locations for all of the above.  Water sports can also be had at Kealakekua Bay, a magnificent marine sanctuary overflowing with marine life.  This spot also bears the distinction of being the place where Captain James Cook made his first appearance in Hawaii, and later died -- so it's overflowing with history as well.

The great sperm whale of Moby Dick fame, as well as the smaller Hawaiian pilot whale, false killer whale, beaked whales, and melon-headed whales all live full-time in the seas surrounding the Big Island, while Pacific Humpbacks winter in these waters.  And then there are the dolphins -- the wildly acrobatic spinners, and the familiar bottlenoses we all know and love. Tours that can bring you into contact with these majestic marine mammals head out daily from Kona harbors.

Speaking of tours, Hawaii Island offers a wide variety of land-based excursions.  The Big Island has a number of unique features, not the least of which are Mauna Kea, one of the tallest mountains in the world and a perfect location for astronomy, and Volcanoes National Park, the most active volcanic region on the planet.  Specialized tours take you right into the middle of the action in both these places. Or you can opt for any of a wide variety of sightseeing tours that will provide you with a day-long overview of all the best sights and scenes on the island.  Then again, you might choose to restrict yourself to the wild beauty of the island's many waterfalls.  One provider, Hawaii Forest and Trail, offers a variety of ecotours that will give you a chance to do some birdwatching, wander through rain forests, or even ride a mule into the countryside.  If you prefer the unique experience of horseback riding (and don't want to try HFT's mule ride), providers in both Kona and North Kohala await your call.   Of course, you can also break the surly chains of Earth and take off in a helicopter to see everything the island has to offer from a bird's-eye view.  Or if diving deep beneath the sea is more to your liking, Atlantis Submarines operates a 48-passenger submarine out of Kona-Kailua Harbor, taking passengers down to the sandy bottom at 100 feet.

You can get a taste of the kinds of activities and sights the Big Island has to offer in the links on this page. Adventures, luaus, dinner cruises, tours, snorkeling, transportation, classic lei greetings, cultural events, entertainment—they're all here.