Hawaii is a tropical paradise smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, full of sun, fun, and sandy beaches. In 2019, more than 10.4 million people visited Hawaii and spent more than $17 billion, so if you've been thinking about vacationing there, you're in good company. There is a multitude of things to do on this island archipelago, but here we will look at fun things to do in the state's namesake, the Big Island of Hawaii.

Water Sports

Hawaii is surrounded by the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, so it's no surprise that some of the most popular activities involve frolicking in the water. The islands are a mecca for surfers, paddleboarders, snorkelers, divers, waterskiers, and more, but even if you're a total novice, you can still join in the fun. Lessons and equipment rentals for surfing, paddleboarding, and snorkeling are available. Learn more at learntosurfkona.com and you can even sign up online.


The Big Island is home to Volcanoes National Park, a World Heritage Site and location of the two active volcanoes Kilauea and Mauna Loa, where fresh lava can be seen when the volcanoes are actively erupting. The island is also the site of the dormant volcano Mauna Kea, the highest point in the state of Hawaii at 13,803 feet above sea level. The massive Mauna Kea stands more than 33,000 feet tall from its base on the ocean floor, taller than Mount Everest.


If you're a fan of hiking, there are plenty of options on the Big Island. Numerous trails wind around Volcanoes National Park, but that's not all. Other popular and scenic locations include:

  • The summit of Mauna Kea, the highest point on the island and astronomical observation site

  • Pololu Valley, an erosional valley with black sand beaches

  • Akaka Falls State Park, home to the 442 foot Akaka Falls and the 300 foot Kahuna Falls

  • Waipio Valley, with a black sand beach and 1,450-foot Hiilawe Waterfall

  • Kealakekua Bay, the site where Captain James Cook, the first documented European to reach Hawaii, landed and was later killed by natives

  • Papakolea Green Sand Beach

  • Kaumana Caves State Park, a lava tube cave

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls (also known as Waianuenue Falls) is a popular destination on the Big Island. It is an 80-foot waterfall that flows over a natural lava cave and falls into a large pool below. Rainbow Falls is almost 100 feet wide and is surrounded by tropical rainforest. It is famous for the vivid rainbows that can be seen in the mist on sunny days.

More Places to Go

The Big Island is full of fun activities and interesting destinations for history buffs and nature lovers. You can visit working coffee farms, orchid gardens, botanical gardens, tide pools, ranches, Japanese tea houses and gardens, or native Hawaiian landmarks and historical sites, some with ancient petroglyphs or the burial sites of Hawaiian royalty. If you're more of an adventurer, you can try zip lining or swimming with dolphins.

Of course, the island boasts countless beaches, many with unique black or green sand and ideal spots for snorkeling, surfing, or just good old sunbathing. You may even run into some sea turtles or spot a whale.

No matter where your interests lie, the Big Island of Hawaii has something for nearly everyone. As the largest and youngest Hawaiian island, there's plenty of space to explore and a plethora of incredible and awe-inspiring scenery to discover.