The new guide to the Island of Hawaii – Island of Inspiration
From its fiery volcanoes and snow-capped peaks to its lush valleys and jet-black sands, the island of Hawaii is an unrivalled expression of the power of nature.
Best things to do on the Island of Hawaii
Volcanoes on the Island of Hawaii: home to Pele, the volcano goddess.
Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to see Kilauea Volcano, the world’s most active volcano, and Aunaloa, a massive shield volcano. You can hike the Devastation Trail and the challenging Crater Rim Rail encircling the Kilauea Caldera or walk through the Nahuku Lava Tube. Also visit the sometimes snow-covered Maunakea, the island’s highest volcano and highest point in Hawaii, which is an excellent spot or stargazing, best done as part of an organised tour.
Water adventures on the Island of Hawaii
You’re spoiled for choice with beaches on the island of Hawaii. For white sands, head to the north-west for Hāpuna Beach, the largest white-sand beach on the island. Great snorkeling can be found at Kahaluu in Kona. The most famous black-sand beach is Punaluu in the south-east, which is also a great place to see honu (green sea turtles).
For golden sands, visit palm-tree-lined Waialea, home to lots of tropical fish. Anaehoomalu Bay, along the Kohala Coast beach, is an excellent spot to snorkel and scuba dive, and rent kayaks and body boards. A historic Hawaiian fishpond also hugs the beach. Many beaches do not have lifeguards. Only swim when the waters are calm, generally during the warmer months.
See the manta rays at night in Keauhou Bay, south of Kona, with Anelakai Adventures, on a double-hulled outrigger canoe. As you help paddle the canoe, owner Iko shares cultural stories that keep the Hawaiian waterman spirit alive before you snorkel with the majestic manta rays on this eco-friendly sustainable adventure.
Rainforest adventures on the Island of Hawaii:
In North Hilo, go ziplining above streams and waterfalls, or visit Akaka Falls State Park where you can see two towering waterfalls on one short hike. Visit any of the tropical botanical gardens. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park , an International Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a variety of hiking options, several through lush rainforests atop Kīlauea
Experience Hawaiian culture on the Island of Hawaii
There are several historic sites on the island of Hawaii that take you back to the days of ancient Hawaii with heiau (temples), house sites, petroglyphs, and fishponds. These are located at: Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park; Lapakahi State Historical Park; Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park; and Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site. King Kamehameha dedicated the last temple to the war god Kukailimoku as part of a prophecy that was fulfilled when he successfully united the Hawaiian islands.
The Island of Hawaii’s best to food tours and experiences
Coffee on the Island of Hawaii
One of the oldest cash crops on the island of Hawaii is Kona coffee, which was first brought here in the early 1800s from Brazilian cuttings. There are about 600 small family-run coffee farms dotted along a pretty 50-kilometre stretch of the Mamalahoa Highway with panoramic views over the coast below. Kona coffee can only be grown on the lush mountain slopes of the active Hualalai and Maunakea volcanoes, which provide near-perfect growing conditions: Rich volcanic soil on cool mist-shrouded hillsides, a year-round warm climate and plenty of rain. Take a tour at Buddha’s Cup, Greenwell Farms, and Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation and enjoy a roastmaster tour at Ueshima Coffee.
Learn how cacao pods grown on site are transformed into chocolate at the tiny Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory.
Discover the intense flavours of white ohia lehua blossom, red Christmas berry, and Macadamia nut blossom in single-flower raw and organic honeys at Big Island Bees.
Regenerate the Island of Hawaii: A Mālama activity
Plant a koa or iliahi (sandalwood) tree from Hawaiian legacy seedlings to help restore the endemic vegetation on the slopes of Maunakea, once the personal forest of King Kamehameha the Great, the first king of Hawaii. Hawaiian Legacy Tours offers the only tree planting eco-excursion of this kind in the world. Receive a certificate with its radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip technology so you can follow its growth on Google Earth via the ‘TreeTracker’ program.