Attractions in Hawaii
As the youngest of the Hawaiian Islands, the Big Island of Hawaii is an amazingly active place – literally. Home to the world’s longest continually erupting volcano (Kilauea caldera) and such scenic tours as the Chain of Craters Drive and Thurston Lava Tube, the desolate beauty of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a must-see for anyone visiting the island.
But the volcano area isn’t the Big Island’s only natural wonder. In fact, since the island is larger than all of the other islands combined, the toughest problem is narrowing the options. For truly stunning vistas, take a drive on Highway 11, which skirts the undulating lava fields of the Ka’u Desert between Volcanoes National Park and the tiny southern town of Na’alehu.
On the opposite side of the island, the island’s lush Hamakua Coast between Hilo and Waimea towns (Highway 19) hosts a myriad of scenic attractions, including botanical gardens, ‘Akaka Falls and tiny Honomu Village, whose block-long main street is a window-shoppers’ delight.
Atlantis Adventures – Save $20 per couple: Take an unforgettable journey aboard Atlantis’ 48-passenger submarine. A completely new world awaits at depths of up to 100 feet!
HawaiiActive.com – Kayak and snorkel with dolphins, turtles and beautiful reef fish. Explore sea caves and maybe even cliff dive.
Fair-wind.com – Kids of all ages enjoy the fun of discovery aboard Fair Wind cruises, including snorkeling instruction and equipment, a waterslide, a diving platform, underwater view boxes and much more.
HawaiiActivities.com – Navigate through the spectacular but rugged terrain of a rainforest. It’s an ecotourism adventure!
AlohaTopTen.com – Choose from over 300 tours & activities with our ONE-STOP site with our Hawaii State Certified Guides available to assist you.
Luauparadise.com – Hawaii’s Best Luaus: Authorized reservation site for the island’s top luaus. Find TONS of information & secure online reservations. Great rates and outstanding customer service!
Hawaii Activity World – Save $20 per couple: Book your luau with us and get front-row seats at Royal Kona Luau, a popular oceanfront luau and Polynesian review.
HawaiiActivities.com – The Island Breeze Luau is a truly royal Hawaiian experience.and has been rated the best luau on the Big Island by visitors, locals and travel writers!
Sightseeing on the Big Island
Visiting Kilauea, Hawaii’s active volcano
A popular Big Island odyssey is a drive to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where you can visit Kilauea (it’s a must-see for good reason; how often do you get to visit an erupting volcano?). Most don’t realize, however, that this is not just a short side trip. No matter your starting point – with the exception of Volcano Village itself – prepare for a full day of driving, walking or hiking, and some superb sightseeing.
This impressive park, with two active volcanoes (Mauna Loa and Kilauea), requires about half a day to see. Of the two volcanoes, Kilauea is much more accessible and is the most active (it has been erupting continuously since 1983). Mauna Loa is for the committed outdoors enthusiast.
Visit Akaka Falls and Charming Honomu Town
The little town of Honomu, nestled amongst the lush jungle of the Hamakua coastline 10 miles north of Hilo, was once a bustling center of the sugar industry, with saloons, a hotel/bordello, stores, and several churches for good measure. Now the historic town of Honomu is passed through daily by visitors on their way to view the spectacular Akaka Falls. According to the Hawaii Visitor’s Bureau, more than one million people visit Akaka Falls annually, and Honomu has a little something to offer those passing through.
Anthony Mathis, owner of the Akaka Falls Inn and chairman of the Honomu Business Association and Friends, points out that the town has restrooms, places to eat, and places to shop, but be warned, no gas stations. Most of the businesses in Honomu are located in a string of charming false-front buildings reminiscent of the turn of the century. Local crafts and collections are promoted, including lauhala baskets, tapa cloth, native wood items, photography, and local artworks. In addition, the Akaka Falls Inn sells ‘value added food products’, which are locally grown, processed, and sold on the island. ‘There are also various island-made ice cream brands available in town,’ said Mathis. Ishigo’s Grocery and Bakery, operating in Honomu since 1910, serves an enticing array of bakery goods from recipes passed down for generations.
After a stroll through quaint Honomu town, follow Hwy. 220 for 3.5 miles, up through abandoned sugarcane fields until you reach the parking lot of Akaka Falls Park, one of the most photogenic sights on the Big Island. The paved, and sometimes slippery ‘circle route’ takes you into a world of dense tropical jungle, with giant plants fanning as big as trees, dripping ferns and dense bamboo groves, gingers that sweeten the air and brightly colored heliconia that rival the tropical birds in their finery. As one visitor put it, ‘I just want to reach out and touch all these velvety leaves and petals.’