Home to Hawaiian cowboys, Ironmen and a volcano goddess, Hawaii Island offers experiences found in no other place on earth. A variety of climatic zones, from seasonal snowcapped mountains to black sand beaches, stretch across its vast topography creating rich pockets of adventure for first-time visitors to explore.
Most visitors will arrive at Kona International Airport (KOA) in Kona to the west, but Hilo International Airport (ITO) in Hilo to the east is closer to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. There is also the option of flying into Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on Oahu first and then taking a short, 35-40 minute flight to Hawaii Island. We recommend a rental car and we strongly suggest booking before you arrive.
Hawaii Island Big Island Attractions
One of the most popular attractions in all of the islands is found on Hawaii Island’s southeastern regions of Kau and Puna at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This is where you can see majestic Halemaumau Crater, hike through a lava tube and witness Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. But you’ll find there’s even more to discover on Hawaii Island.
From amazing historic places like Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site and Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park to living museums like the Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo, the itineraries are endless on Hawaii Island. With so much to see and do, start planning your next visit to Hawaii Island.
Hawaii Island is home to some of the most historic places in all of Hawaii. From the birthplace of King Kamehameha and the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) to restored heiau and the site of Captain Cook’s death, Hawaii Island offers visitors a chance to walk in the shadows of Hawaiian history.
Hawaii Island has a reputation for inspiring visitors and nowhere is this attribute more visible than at a Hawaii Island festival.
Visitors can experience a wide range of music and art events, including the Big Island Film Festival (May), The Big Island Hawaiiana Music Festival (July) – which focuses on ukulele, slack key, steel guitar, and traditional falsetto singing – and the Merrie Monarch Festival (follows Easter Sunday in March – April) – Hawaii’s premier hula competition held annually in Hilo.
If you’re a foodie, you can satisfy your appetite at Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range (October), a deliciously diverse festival that features over 30 of Hawaii’s best chefs and tastings of everything from grass-fed beef to fresh island vegetables. And if you want a quick jolt of energy, don’t miss the annual Kau Coffee Festival held every May or the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival held in November in venues throughout Kona.
Cultural celebrations and sports events also abound, from the Kamehameha Festival (June) – which features everything from a Hawaiian chant competition to food, arts and crafts – to the Kona Portuguese Festival, the Hilo Wayfinding & Navigation Festival, and the internationally-renowned Ironman World Championship (October).
Places To Visit In Hawaii Big Island
Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
This 180-acre National Park in south Kona was once a place of refuge for lawbreakers in early Hawaii. It features royal grounds, heiau (temples), Hawaiian fishponds and the Great Wall, 10-feet high and 17-feet thick. This is a fantastic place to learn about early Hawaiian culture.
Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site
Part of the National Park System, this historic site is home to one of the largest and last heiau (temple) built in Hawaii. Located on the Kohala Coast, King Kamehameha ordered the building of this massive structure to gain favor with Ku, the war god, in his quest to unite the Hawaiian Islands.
Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona)
This lively spot in the center of the Kona Coast is also a place of great historical significance. Visit Hulihee Palace, summer home for Hawaiian royalty; Mokuaikaua Church, Hawaii’s earliest Christian Church built in 1820; and Ahuena Heiau, built by King Kamehameha I, all within view of each other on Alii Drive.