Big Island The Orchid Isle


Hawai‘i Island, the Hawaiian Islands’ largest, youngest island, is one of Earth’s greatest wonders. Nicknamed “Big Island,” America’s biggest isle is home to 10 diverse climate zones, the world’s largest mountain (Mauna Loa), tallest sea mountain (Mauna Kea) and southernmost point in the United States. It also is ranked No. 3 in Travelers’ Choice Awards for top U.S. destination. Here, you’ll discover wonders that will excite and amaze you. Towering at 33,000 feet, Mauna Kea, for example, has a soft layer of snow blanketing its peak nearly year-round, and thanks to Kilauea’s steady lava flow, the Big Island is only getting bigger. As an island prone to fiery eruptions, thanks to Pele (Hawai‘i’s legendary volcano goddess), visiting the Big Island allows you to meet the famed, blazing deity—and cross one activity off your to-do list!

Tackling an island as vast as Hawai‘i is no small feat. To avoid feeling overwhelmed in your travel planning, relax knowing that we’ve done the work for you! We, the editors at 101 Things To Do, scoured the Big Island, and then compiled the island’s top activities into this handy guidebook!

Whether you’re venturing into the water for SEA ADVENTURES, in search of A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY or EMBARKING BEYOND THE CITY, it’s all inside!

Be it a breathtaking HIKE WITH A GUIDE to a hidden waterfall, driving to GET IN THE HOT SEAT, SCOUT OUT AN 18TH CENTURY WAR TEMPLE or WALK THROUGH TIMEWORN PETROGLYPH FIELDS, you won’t miss the island’s finest activities!

While some may prefer escaping to FIND BEACHFRONT OM at a yoga retreat, here, big escapes are as vast and varied as the island itself. SADDLE UP mountain cliffs to a rainbow framing a secluded jungle stream; TAKE A ROAD TRIP TO HIP HAWI and see the island’s newest art gallery; DIVE HAWAI‘I’S WATERS with mysterious manta rays through sea caves, canyons and colorful reefs; GO SNORKELING with sea turtles and other underwater creatures; or BIKE VOLCANO COUNTRY through smoky terrain.

All the action you’ll experience will have you craving a little relaxation. After all, this is one BIG island to explore. So save time for a few slower-paced pursuits. BOOK A SUNSET DINNER CRUISE with your loved one, or grab your travel buddy, and GO WINE TASTING IN PARADISE . Waltz through town to SHOP BIG ISLAND STYLE. Afterwards, SURROUND YOURSELF WITH BLOOMS at Akatsuka Orchid Gardens’ orchid maze, and then GO TO A LU‘AU to refuel. FARMERS MARKETS, award-winning FINE DINING, MUSEUMS, FESTIVALS and SCENIC ROUTES are all here to satisfy.

Don’t fret if you run out of time to experience everything Hawai‘i Island has to offer. We’ll be eagerly awaiting your next visit to Big Island with 101 THINGS TO DO.

View our top picks below or see all 101 Things To Do on the Big Island!

Get in the Hot Seat

Get in the Hot Seat

Madame Pele, the legendary HAWAIIAN VOLCANO GODDESS, continues to stay active from her home inside her favorite volcano, KILAUEA. Things may have changed by the time you read this, but the eruption continues at the summit and at the East Rift zone. Thankfully, the flow is not a threat to neighboring communities. When fiery-hot lava,… Continue »

Relive Mission History

Nearly 180 years ago, a New England missionary couple in their early 20’s arrived in Hilo. It was here that they spent the next 50 years of their lives. Today, the LYMAN MISSION HOUSE is the oldest wood-frame building on Hawai‘i Island. Built in 1839 by David and Sarah Lyman, the house is constructed partly… Continue »

Dive Hawai‘i’s Waters

MAUNA LOA is the world’s largest active volcano and one of two volcanic peaks that dominate Hawai‘i Island; in fact, Mauna Loa, which means “LONG MOUNTAIN” in Hawaiian, spreads over half of the island! From sea level, Mauna Loa reaches 13,680 feet in height, but when measured from its base at the ocean floor, this… Continue »

Let Yourself Go on a Zipline

Somewhere in the gap between helicopter tours and hiking has emerged a rainforest adventure called ZIPLINING. Strapped safely in a harness, the zipliner races over a series of cables like Tom Cruise in a “Mission Impossible” flick. Once you’re buckled up, you’ll dip through leafy-topped old-growth trees, fly over unique volcanic terrain and soar past… Continue »

Ride an ATV from Mountain to Sea

North Kohala is a sparsely populated, wildly beautiful region, making it an ideal place for OFF-ROAD EXPLORATION. Behind the wheel of an all-terrain vehicle (with a guide who knows the area’s terrain, history and culture), be prepared for a ride into parts unknown. An ATV ride is more than just a rough-and-tumble ride through a… Continue »

Roast Your Own Custom Label

Roast Your Own Custom Label

Stop for a cup of coffee and a chat at UESHIMA COFFEE (UCC HAWAII), a picturesque coffee estate just north of Holualoa Village. The 26- acre hillside property is crowned with a grand view of Kailua-Kona and the sparkling Pacific Ocean. Experience the centuries-old art of coffee roasting with the company’s signature ROASTMASTER TOUR, where… Continue »

Saddle Up

Saddle Up

HORSEBACK RIDING is unquestionably one of Hawai‘i Island’s premier attractions. The island’s diverse terrain, eye-popping vistas and wealth of working cattle ranches make it an exciting location for horseback adventures. Situated on Kohala Mountain within Ponoholo Ranch, PANIOLO ADVENTURES specializes in OPEN-RANGE RIDES on its 11,000-acre working cattle ranch. The panoramic views, particularly at sunset,… Continue »