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Guide to the Island of Hawaii Outdoors

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“Da Big Island” of Hawaii is one of the most incredible – and incredibly beautiful – places I have ever been. For outdoor lovers it truly is a tropical island paradise. But with two ginormous mountains, a vast range of climatic zones and topography, the tropical wonders here are just the beginning!

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Thrill Seeker
  • Nature Lover
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Beach Goer
  • Thrifty Traveller
  • Like a Local

8 Places

3 City Tips

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Map

8 Places

Ahalanui Park

Hot Springs & Geysers, Parks

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes

Kapoho Tide Pools

Geologic Formations

Manini'owali Beach (Kua Bay)

Beaches

Maunakea Visitor Information Station

Visitor Centres

Punalu'u Black Sand beach

Beaches, Parks, State Parks

Papakolea Green Sand Beach

Beaches

Waipi'o Valley

Valleys, Historic Walking Areas

Chris O's City Tips

  • A little "aloha spirit" goes a long way anywhere – especially in Hawaii. Adjust to "island time" and relax.
  • Swim with caution and learn as much about local conditions as possible before hitting the beach.
  • They don’t call it the “Big Island” for nothing. Don’t underestimate distances and do your homework to ensure the most important activities will fit into your schedule.
  • Ahalanui Park
    Hot Springs & Geysers, Parks
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    The neatest thing about this park, popular with locals, is the geothermically-heated swimming pool, naturally filled with ocean water. It's about as relaxing a place to soak yourself silly in as any you’re likely come across. Ah...

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Beach Goer
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • There’s a lifeguard on duty when the park is open, as well as grills for BBQing.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 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:
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
    Volcanoes
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Wow. 70,000 years in the making and just as active today as ever, the area comprising this national park is one of the world’s most surreal landscapes. Where else might you have the opportunity to actually see lava oozing down the side of a mountain, and hitting the ocean with a big plume of smoke? To discover the wonders of how land is formed – and indeed to actually see land being formed (if you're lucky!) – Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is a must-see destination.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • If you only have a few hours, head to the Crater Rim Drive for an 11-mile loop round the summit caldera and across a range of landscapes, with marked scenic stops along the way.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 25 things to do in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
    • Great… but… 11/06/2021
    • It's like another (amazing) world 04/06/2021
    • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
    Address:
    Volcano National Park
    Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Island of Hawaii, HI
    Phone:
    +1 808-964-1000
    Other:
  • Kapoho Tide Pools
    Geologic Formations
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    This series of interconnected tide pools just off the island’s easternmost point, offers hours of fun for anybody interested in looking for all sorts of marine life, or simply making a splash in a beautiful and safe setting. Plus, some of the pools are volcanically heated for an especially warm and inviting dip!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Beach Goer
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Bring your own snorkel gear and reef shoes to make the most of your visit.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 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:
  • Manini'owali Beach (Kua Bay)
    Beaches
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Turquoise water, white sand, and a gently sloping landscape all add up to a dreamy beach setting in this dry and sunny section of the Big Island.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Beach Goer
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • With no shade and little in the way of amenities here, be sure to bring everything you expect to need for an ideal day at the beach.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #7 of 102 things to do in Kailua-Kona
    • Best beach ever 10/04/2021
    • Very Nice, Relaxing Beach 28/03/2021
    • Manini'owali Beach (Kua Bay)
    Address:
    Hwy. 19, Paved Road With Sign
    Near Marker 88, opposite the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery
    Kailua-Kona, Island of Hawaii, HI
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    08:00 - 19:00
  • Maunakea Visitor Information Station
    Visitor Centres
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    For a big-picture take on the great outdoors, consider a visit to the Mauna Kea Observatory. Set atop the 4,200-meter high summit of massive Mauna Kea – big skies, a multitude of stars, and some of the cleanest air on the planet are the rewards for making it to the top.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • It gets nippy up here. Go prepared for winter conditions and cold weather.
    • Be sure to check road conditions before setting out and to stop by the Visitor Information Station on your way.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #9 of 74 things to do in Hilo
    • Nothing to do at this time 14/03/2021
    • Not open in Covid times 08/11/2020
    • Maunakea Visitor Information Station
    Address:
    177 Makaala St
    Hilo, Island of Hawaii, HI 96720
    Phone:
    +1 808-934-4550
    Other:
  • Punalu'u Black Sand beach
    Beaches, Parks, State Parks
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    The chance of seeing giant sea turtles is exceptionally good at this beautiful and unusual black sand beach. And even without the turtles, it’s a fun place to play!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • It should go without saying, but if you do see any turtles let them be!
    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
  • Papakolea Green Sand Beach
    Beaches
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Ka Lae, aka South Point, is not just the southernmost point of island or of all the Hawaiian Islands, but of the entire 50 United States. There’s not a whole lot to do here actually, except to take in the view and ponder the vastness of world. But oh what a view, and oh how vast the world!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The current is swift and the next stop is Antarctica. Diving in the water is only for the most competent, experienced and strongest swimmers.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 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
  • Waipi'o Valley
    Valleys, Historic Walking Areas
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    In a word: stunning. From the eastern cliffs looking over this dramatic valley, your eyes will do a double-take trying to take in so much movie-worthy scenery before them. Down below in the valley, you’ll discover 'Old Hawaii' with a small off-the-grid community (best leave ‘em be!), a herd of wild horses, perfect crescent beach, crashing waves, a craggy coastline, and verdant forest.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The roads down to the valley are super steep, winding and tight. If driving, be sure your rental car contract actually allows you to go there.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #29 of 464 things to do in Island of Hawaii
    • Can’t Recommend Enough If You Are In Good Shape 18/05/2021
    • Drove everywhere 22/04/2021
    • Waipi'o Valley
    Phone:
    +1 800-770-0326
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    00:00 - 23:59
    Other:
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