Top 10 Locations to Visit on the Big Island of Hawai’i

Imagine the view from the window seat of your flight. It’s been blue and more blue for five straight hours—when suddenly mountains appear, covered in rainforest. Distant shorelines, white with foam surround lava-rock cliffs. Then you see it—those little pockets of paradise. Sandy beaches, white and black. Hawai’i isn’t an idea anymore. It’s reality.

So, here are 10 of our favorite spots on the Big Island of Hawai’i.

1. Hāpuna Beach

Hāpuna is the largest white-sand beach on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Known for its crystal-clear waves and stunning mountain views, it’s a prime location for a beach day.

2. Waimea

Waimea town is located roughly 45min drive from Kona. With its high elevation, its cooler temperatures and country scenes are a welcome relief from the average tropical heat.

3. Lava Fields

Okay, okay—this isn’t one location. The Big Island is known for miles on miles of lava rock fields from volcanic eruptions over the last 200 years. There are multiple hikes available, just make sure you wear sturdy shoes!

4. Pololū Valley

Just past Waimea is the stunning Pololū Valley. Hike down through lush rainforest to the black-sand beach for your daily dose of adventure.

5. Hilo

The city of Hilo and its surrounding coastline is known for rainforests and waterfalls. It’s located on the east coast, and a great under two-hour road trip.

6. ‘Akaka Falls

‘Akaka Falls is one of the Hilo region’s most well-known waterfalls. Walk through winding forest paths to get a great shot of this beautiful place.

7. Waiānuenue (Rainbow Falls)

This other hideaway waterfall is commonly known as Rainbow Falls, which is a direct translation of its Hawaiian name, Waiānuenue.

8. Volcanoes National Park

Yes—it’s real lava. Kīlauea is the most active volcano in the world, and the surrounding rainforest, lava rock fields, and various hikes are all part of the National Parks. This awestriking area is a must-see for anyone on the Big Island.

9. Manini’owali Beach at Kua Bay

Here’s a little slice of paradise. Commonly known as Kua Bay, this spot isn’t large, so arrive early and as everywhere, please be respectful of those sharing their gorgeous island with you. It’s a gift to be in Hawai’i!

10. Downtown Kona

Finally, our favorite spot on the Big Island: Kailua-Kona (but of course we’re pretty biased). Downtown Kona is about 5-10 minutes walk from our campus and we are so privileged to call this place home.