We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The Tripadvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Island of Hawaii Off the Beaten Path

Exclusively commissioned by Tripadvisor

97%
Found this guide helpful

Discover the lesser-known gems off the beaten path on the Island of Hawaii, also know as the "Big Island."

Good for
  • Nature Lover
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Beach Goer
  • Like a Local

10 Places

3 City Tips

Print
Map

10 Places

Mauna Kea Summit

Mountains

Lava Tree State Park

State Parks

Kapoho Tide Pools

Geologic Formations

Makalawena/Pu'u Ali'i

Beaches

Imiloa Astronomy Center

Science Museums, Observatories & Planetariums

Papakolea Green Sand Beach

Beaches

Kiholo Bay

Bodies of Water

Punalu'u Black Sand beach

Beaches, Parks, State Parks

Ka'u Coffee Mill

Farms

Ahalanui Park

Hot Springs & Geysers, Parks

ClareceT1's City Tips

  • Try a spam musubi, a favorite snack among Hawaiian locals.
  • Bring sturdy shoes and water shoes, as the Big Island is often rocky, and some places require scrambling or hiking.
  • Rent a 4WD if you plan to visit Waipi'o and/or Mauna Kea.
  • Mauna Kea Summit
    Mountains
    See more photos
    ClareceT1 Says:

    A three-hour drive takes visitors from sea level up to the summit of Mauna Kea, one of Big Island's five volcanoes. Watch the forestation change, pop-up through cloud covers, and find yourself surrounded by foreign-looking geological features and ash cones. A perfect place for sunrise, sunset, and star-gazing.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Rent a 4WD for this drive.
    • Bring warm clothes as the temperature drops with increase in elevation and loss of sunlight.
    • You can even snowboard here when there is enough snowfall in the middle of winter.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 102 things to do in Kailua-Kona
    • Wonderful tour 09/06/2021
    • Awesome 30/05/2021
    • Mauna Kea Summit
    Phone:
    +1 808-464-0840
    Other:
  • Lava Tree State Park
    State Parks
    See more photos
    ClareceT1 Says:

    This quiet park in Pahoa offers access to the rarely seen 'lava trees,' formed when lava flowed in the area, made a path around Lehua trees, and in doing so left molds of the trees in its wake.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Admission is complimentary.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #7 of 20 things to do in Pahoa
    • Such a different place 05/05/2021
    • Hawaii’s version of the petrified forest. 06/02/2021
    • Lava Tree State Park
    Address:
    Pahoa-Kapoho Road
    Puna district
    Pahoa, Island of Hawaii, HI
    Phone:
    +1 808-974-6200
    Other:
  • Kapoho Tide Pools
    Geologic Formations
    See more photos
    ClareceT1 Says:

    Visitors can find abundant marine life, coral, and even sea turtles in these tide pools with turquoise waters. Great location for snorkeling!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Hidden Gems
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Bring sturdy water shoes as the area is very rocky.
    • During high tide, it's easier to go from one pool to another.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 20 things to do in Pahoa
    • Our old swimming hole - GONE due to lava 15/12/2020
    • Long Drive For Naught 26/02/2020
    • Kapoho Tide Pools
    Address:
    Waiopae Road
    Pahoa, Island of Hawaii, HI 96778
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    07:00 - 19:00
    Other:
  • Makalawena/Pu'u Ali'i
    Beaches
    See more photos
    ClareceT1 Says:

    Escape the hustle and bustle of Kailua-Kona on this beautiful, quiet, white-sand beach. It's a bit more difficult to access than other beaches — a 4WD followed by a 30-minute hike from the parking lot — but the serenity of the area is well worth it.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Hidden Gems
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Wear tennis shoes or hiking shoes as you'll be hiking on a lava road.
    • There is minimal shade on the beach so slather on lots of sunscreen.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 102 things to do in Kailua-Kona
    • What are rental cars for? 18/03/2021
    • Great beach, 4WD road is no joke 22/02/2021
    • Makalawena/Pu'u Ali'i
    Address:
    Off Highway 19 between mile marker 90 and 91
    Hiking trail near Kona Coast State Park
    Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawaii, HI 96740
  • Imiloa Astronomy Center
    Science Museums, Observatories & Planetariums
    See more photos
    ClareceT1 Says:

    Learn about astronomy, science, and Hawaiian culture and history at this interactive center and planetarium.

    Good for
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • The planetarium show is designed for children, so be sure to stop by if you have science-minded kids.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #15 of 74 things to do in Hilo
    • Great Planetarium Show 20/02/2020
    • Love in the Cosmos Valentine's Day special show. 17/02/2020
    • Imiloa Astronomy Center
    Address:
    600 Imiloa Pl
    Hilo, Island of Hawaii, HI 96720-4072
    Phone:
    +1 808-969-9700
    Hours:
    Tue - Sun
    09:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Papakolea Green Sand Beach
    Beaches
    See more photos
    ClareceT1 Says:

    Visit this beautiful beach filled with green olivine crystals, one of five green-sand beaches in the world. You'll need a 4WD to navigate to this off-road gem, or be prepared to take a three-mile hike from the main road, followed by a scramble down the steep hill.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Hidden Gems
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • There's no shade or facilities at this beach so plan accordingly.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 15 things to do in Naalehu
    • Take the shuttle!! 06/06/2021
    • Be prepared to hike! 05/06/2021
    • Papakolea Green Sand Beach
    Address:
    Near Ka Lae South Point
    Naalehu, Island of Hawaii, HI 96772
  • Kiholo Bay
    Bodies of Water
    See more photos
    ClareceT1 Says:

    Kiholo Bay is your best bet to see sea turtles on the Island of Hawaii. You can also snorkel in the bay, though keep an eye out for sharks. If you are coming in from the parking lot, you can take a quick detour and enjoy a dip in Queen's Bath too.

    Good for
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes for this gravel hike.
    • Turtles are wild animals so keep a respectable distance away from them.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #11 of 102 things to do in Kailua-Kona
    • lovely bay 05/06/2021
    • Pretty to walk, not to snorkel 24/05/2021
    • Kiholo Bay
    Address:
    Mile Marker 81 on Hwy. 19
    Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawaii, HI 96740
    Other:
  • Punalu'u Black Sand beach
    Beaches, Parks, State Parks
    See more photos
    ClareceT1 Says:

    Punalu'u Black Sand Beach presents visitors with an easily accessible opportunity to explore tide pools, a black sand beach, and get close to a turtle resting area.

    Good for
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Beach Goer
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • This beach does not require 4WD to access it, and is a good alternative to Kiholo Bay for turtle watching.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 5 things to do in Pahala
    • Interesting enough 04/06/2021
    • Super cool experience 01/06/2021
    • Punalu'u Black Sand beach
    Address:
    Highway 11
    Pahala, Island of Hawaii, HI 96777
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    06:00 - 23:00
  • Ka'u Coffee Mill
    Farms
    See more photos
    ClareceT1 Says:

    Coffee enthusiasts will enjoy exploring this authentic Hawaiian coffee plantation. They offer tours along with samples of Ka'u coffee and macadamia nuts.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Hidden Gems
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Staff are very friendly, so feel free to ask questions and sample different coffees until you find your favorite.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 5 things to do in Pahala
    • Great Staff! 16/03/2020
    • Hawaii trip with Alex 05/03/2020
    • Ka'u Coffee Mill
    Address:
    96-2694 Wood Valley Rd
    Pahala, Island of Hawaii, HI 96777
    Phone:
    +1 808-928-0550
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:00 - 15:00
    Other:
  • Ahalanui Park
    Hot Springs & Geysers, Parks
    See more photos
    ClareceT1 Says:

    This warm, fresh-water pool lets visitors enjoy a thermal hot spring experience under the supervision of lifeguards. You can also snorkel here to look for fishes.

    Good for
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The park is easily accessible, and has its own parking lot.
    • The lifeguard on duty makes it a safe spot for families to enjoy a thermal pool experience.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 20 things to do in Pahoa
    • Another wasted trip 26/02/2020
    • This park no longer exists 21/01/2020
    • Ahalanui Park
    Address:
    Hwy 137
    Pahoa, Island of Hawaii, HI
    Other:
top
×
Was this guide helpful?
YesNo
© 2021 TripAdvisor LLC All rights reserved.

This is the version of our website addressed to speakers of English in Ireland. If you are a resident of another country or region, please select the appropriate version of Tripadvisor for your country or region in the drop-down menu.