With more and more of our clients coming to us for a repeat visit to Hawaii, My Vacation Lady is seeing a surge in the interest in the Big Island. The Big Island is really just “Hawaii” but since so many people got confused, it’s commonly known as the Big Island. And big it is. As the largest of the Hawaiian islands, there is so much to see and do that you literally can spend your entire vacation just on the island of Hawaii- which some of my clients have done.
Between Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, star gazing at Mauna Kea, snorkeling off most of the beaches, walking along paths to see petroglyphs, checking out green and black sand beaches, seeing huge sea turtles lounging on the sand and checking out some coffee plantations, you can do something different every day and still not run out of things to do.
Everything I mentioned is very inexpensive and you can do on your own. You don’t need to to take tour unless you prefer not to drive yourself.
Here is a list of 10 FREE and almost free things to see and do in the Big Island:
- Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. There are 17 days a year to get in for free otherwise, it’s $10 for a 7 day per car pass). Ranger led hikes may be offered daily. Check the park’s calendar for announcements.
- Visit Mauna Kea’s Visitor’s Center- The Visitor Information Station is open 7 days a week from 9:00am to 6:00pm, with Interpretive Guides and Mauna Kea Rangers to answer questions. During the day, a solar telescope is available for viewing the sun.
- Visit Wailuku River State Park (just outside of Hilo) to see Rainbow Falls. It’s just a short walk from the parking lot and if you’re lucky, you’ll see the rainbows formed in the surrounding mist.
- Visit Akaka Falls State Park (less than 15 miles north of Hilo)- great stop on your way from your hotel in or near Volcanoes National Park to your hotel on the Kona side. ($5 per vehicle for tourists and $1 per walk in). The pleasant footpath loop leads to views of two beautiful waterfalls surrounded by glistening jungle. Thirteen miles north of Hilo above Honomu.
- Ka Lae– also known as South Point, is actually the southern most part of Hawaii AND the southern most part of the USA. The remote, windswept and stunning part of the island is believed to be where Polynesian voyagers first arrived in Hawaii.
- Hilo’s free Zoo -Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens is open 9am to 4pm daily . The beloved Namasté, a rare white Bengal tiger, gets fed daily at 3:30 p.m. Kids also love the Saturday petting zoo. The botanical gardens have more than 100 varieties of palm trees and other plants. Situated on 12 acres in the Pana‘ewa Forest, the zoo receives approximately 125 inches of rain a year and currently houses almost 200 animals. If survives on donations so while there is no fee to get in, please consider leaving a donation.
- Onomea Four-Mile Scenic Drive: Free! One of Hawaii’s most beautiful drives, this coastal road takes you past coconut palms, jungle, and streams, with amazing vistas of dramatic Onomea Bay. Off Hwy. 19 just north of mile marker 7, at the pull-out and trail just before Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens, you can hike through lush rain forest to the bay.
- Waipio Valley Overlook: Free! Going North on Hwy. 19, visit the old sugar cane town of Honokaa on your way to the historic “Valley of the Kings.” You can park at the overlook and see a jaw-dropping vista of one of Hawaii’s most treasured and scenic valleys. Entrance into the valley is only by 4WD vehicle, or by tours by van, horseback or wagon.
- Puukohola National Historic Site: Free! Hawaii’s largest heiau (temple) was built under the order of Kamehameha I to appease the war god Ku. The imposing lava-rock structure is a fearsome testament to the power of the young king who built it, and sacrificed a rival chief here. This is also a prime viewing spot for the Hawaii Islands Humpback Whale Sanctuary during winter months. Located between the Kohala Coast resorts and Kawaihae off Highway 270. Daily 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding federal holidays.
- Puako Petroglyph Preserve: Free! A short walk beside the grounds of the Fairmont Orchid in the Mauna Lani Resort leads to more than 3,000 prehistoric petroglyphs – carvings into the black lava rock that depict families, turtles, sailing canoes, symbols of birth and much more. The hotel provides a free map and brochure and hosts walks for their guests on a regular basis.
My Vacation Lady is a Hawaii Destination Specialist and we LOVE the Hawaiian Islands.
It may be pricey go get to Hawaii but once you’re there, we have tons of info on what you can see, do and experiences for free or almost free. Contact us to help plan your honeymoon to Hawaii or vacation to Hawaii!