STORY AND PHOTOS BY
Kelsey Daugherty traveled to the Island of Hawai’i and returned with her list of the top 15 things to do while you’re there.
- WAIPIO BAY BLACK SAND BEACH
The hike down to this beach is not for the faint of heart, it takes a little over an hour to climb up and down the trail. However, the view and breathtaking scenery combined with sparkling black sand of the beach make it well worth the climb.
- ANAEHOOMALU BAY
Although this beach is located close to several resorts, it is open to the public. Great for snorkeling and swimming, this beach is calm and reserved.
- KEALAKEKUA BAY
This beach can be too rough for wading, although it is perfect for boating or snorkeling away from shore. Visitors must go out with a guide to protect the coral reefs here. Captain Cook’s memorial can be viewed on the north side of the bay.
SHOPPING AND ATTRACTIONS
- BIG ISLAND BEES
His free tour teaches more facts about bees then I ever thought I would know, shows visitors the inner workings of bee boxes and also includes a honey tasting at the end.
- HILO TOWN
Historic Hilo is a perfect blend of old and new, and also is home to one of Hawaii’s best farmers markets. If you find yourself in Hilo around dinnertime, I highly recommend reserving a table at Pineapples Island Fresh Cuisine. Order the lemon macadamia chicken or coconut-crusted fresh fish and you’ll want to return every night.
- KAUMANA CAVES
Located about 15 minutes from Hilo, these caves are not to miss. Explore at your own risk and don’t forget a flashlight!
- LOCAL FRUIT STANDS
Papayas, coconuts, pineapples, bananas and more can be found in fruit stands throughout the island. I highly recommend buying a coconut drink!
- GREENWELL FARMS KONA COFFEE PLANTATION
This is one of many kona coffee plantations on the island. We chose this tour because it was closest to Big Island Bees and also free!
- SHAVE ICE
Shave ice is extremely popular on the Big Island, and with flavors like lilikoi, coconut, banana nut and macadamia nut it is also extremely hard to resist. Try Scandinavian Shave Ice in Kona with coconut cream drizzle for a sweet island treat.
- PLACE OF REFUGE (PU’UHONUA O HONAUNAU)
This sacred place is where Hawaiians would escape to if they broke the kabu (religious law) and wished to be forgiven. Today it is a pristine beach and must-see national historical park.
11. Queen Lili’uokalani Gardens
Spend the day exploring historic Hilo, and stop by Queen Lili’uokalani
- ’AKAKA FALLS STATE PARK
This state park features a short .4 mile loop path with views of both 442-foot ‘Akaka Falls and also overlooks the slightly smaller Kahuna Falls. Both are gorgeous photo opportunities.
- RAINBOW FALLS & BOILING POTS IN WAILUKU STATE PARK
This is known by locals as “boiling pots” because as water passes through the Wailuku River lava caves, it appears to be boiling. Both the falls and boiling pots are beautiful.
- WAIPI’O VALLEY
At first glance, it is easy to see why Waipi’o Valley is known as “The Valley of the Kings”. You can view the valley from a lookout or hike 2.5 miles round trip to a black sand beach. Bonus: Take a picture with King Kamehameha’s statue on the way to the valley.
- KILAUEA CALDERA
After nightfall, lava boiling in the Halema’uma’u crater can be viewed from a lookout at the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, 3 miles west of the Kilauea Visitor Center.