Moving to the state of Hawaii is like getting six mini-states in one. Each one of the islands is different, and you’ll have the opportunity to choose which Hawaiian Island is just right for you: Oahu, Maui, the Big Island, Kauai, Molokai, or Lanai.
If you’re considering a move to the Big Island, expect to take advantage of all of the wonders that its diverse, unique, and gorgeous outdoor landscape has to offer. In other words, the Big Island can feel like a giant outdoor playground, and we’re going to show you how to enjoy it to its fullest. Come along with us on a quick tour of eight fun things to do, activities, and attractions that the Orchid Isle has to offer.
Stop #1: Take a Hike Around Volcanoes National Park
Although Kilauea stopped erupting in August 2018 after 35 years of continuous activity (!), there’s still plenty to see and do in Volcanoes National Park, located closer to the Hilo side of the Big Island. Hike the Kilauea Iki Trail, a trek that takes you through both a verdant rainforest and a desolate solidified lava lake. Depending on where you start, the hike can range anywhere from four to more than seven miles, although the National Park Service recommends starting at Devastation Trailhead for the most scenic experience.
While you’re in the park, stop by Volcano House, a historic hotel built in 1846 that once hosted Mark Twain and boasts views of Halemaumau Crater. Grab a bite to eat or a signature cocktail in Uncle George’s Lounge for a little refreshment before heading on to your next adventure.
Stop #2: Take in the Wilder Side of the Big Island on an ATV Tour
If you simply travel the Big Island by car, you’ll miss a lot, since much of the island isn’t accessible by road. Open up a whole new side of the island by hopping an all-terrain vehicle and taking a tour through the farmland, rolling hills, forests, and jungles. Tours usually last a couple of hours, and you don’t need any previous experience to drive an ATV. Your guide will show you everything you need to know. However, drivers do need to be at least 16 years old.
You’ll find tours on both the Kona and Hilo sides of the island, as well as up in the Waipio Valley. If you want to take a spin on the Kona side, check out Aloha Adventure Farms, where you’ll also get a lesson in Polynesian history and heritage as you cruise around. On the Hilo side, Paani Ranch’s ATV tour offers the opportunity to explore a working 220-acre ranch and get an inside look at one of the Big Island’s important industries: farming and agriculture.
Stop #3: Read the Green in the Golf Capital of Hawaii
Although Oahu boasts the highest number of golf courses (40!), the Big Island still holds the title of “Golf Capital of Hawaii.” If playing 18 holes is your thing, you won’t want to miss the memorable courses you’ll find on the island, designed by golf legends such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ed Seay, and both Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Sr. Many are clustered on the sunny Kona side of the Big Island, although you’ll find a few in Hilo and on the Kohala Coast.
If you’re just starting out, the Big Island also has several public resorts and municipal courses that allow you to hone your game for less. Some are private to resort guests, such as Hualalai, so you’d have to splurge on a room at the Four Seasons Resort to play the course. That said, a weekend escape complete with a few rounds of golf could make a great birthday present for the avid golfer in your family.
Stop #4: Ride Through the Lush Waipio Valley on Horseback
As we suggested earlier, some of the Big Island’s most memorable moments happen off-road. If you’d like to explore the landscape of the Waipio Valley, the historical home of Hawaii’s alii, what better way to enjoy it than by horseback? These tours of the Valley of the Kings usually last a little over two hours and take you through the jungle, past stunning waterfalls, and around the magnificent vistas, this verdant valley has to offer. You’ll also likely be treated to a brief history of the valley, where Kamehameha the Great, the first king to unite the Hawaiian Islands under one ruler, was born and raised.
Riding the Big Island landscape on horseback offers a peaceful, relaxing way to spend a morning. You’ll find opportunities to ride in a number of other spots on the island. This is especially true around paniolo country in Waimea, where a leisurely ride is the best way to take in the wide-open landscape and gently rolling hills.
Stop #5: Zipline Past 14 Waterfalls
The landscape on the Hilo side of the Big Island is dotted with waterfalls, and the Umauma Experience offers you the opportunity to zipline past 14 of them. During your adventure, you’ll speed across nine lines that take you on a two-mile journey which includes views of a river gorge, a lava tube, and a fern grotto, in addition to all those waterfalls.
If the Umauma Experience gives you a taste for ziplining, you’ll find a number of additional options on the Hilo and Kona side, as well as on the Kohala Coast. You’ll even find one that takes you past scenery used in Jurassic Park and other movies. (Check out Hawaii’s Ziplines’ Jurassic Zipline Adventure!)
Stop #6: Learn More About the Worker Bees that Power Big Island Agriculture
In addition to being its golf capital, the Big Island is the clear leader in the state of Hawaii in terms of agriculture. One million of the state’s 1.8 million acres of agricultural lands are located on the Orchid Isle. As it continues to turn out staple crops such as coffee, macadamia nuts, and tropical fruits, the Big Island also offers plenty of opportunities for farm tours. You’ll find coffee plantation tours, petting zoos, wine tastings, and much more.
If you want to pay homage to the insects who help make it all possible, head on over to Big Island Bees to discover the fascinating world of beekeeping. One of their beekeepers will show you how bee colonies operate and give you a glimpse of a live hive, which you can safely observe from behind a screen. After the tour, you can head to the museum, where you can discover how honey bees first came to Hawaii in the mid-1800s. And don’t miss their tasting room, where you can sample all the varieties of Big Island Bees’ single-floral raw, organic honey (and take some home with you)!
Stop #7: Take a Breather in the Liliuokalani Park and Garden
Just southeast of downtown Hilo, you’ll find this little gem that offers a little history, a little culture, and a lot of opportunities for relaxation. In 1907, Queen Liliuokalani donated the five acres that gave this park its start. Today, the park consists of 30 acres, which has become, by some estimations, the largest authentic ornamental Japanese garden outside of Japan.
In the mornings, you may see joggers enjoying the garden’s lovely setting, which includes mountain vistas, ocean views, and pathways that wind through the park. You can also stroll across a footbridge to Moku Ola Island, also known as Coconut Island, which many families use as a picnic spot. The park is free for all visitors, so you can enjoy its gardens, paths, and picturesque views whenever you need a moment of tranquility.
Stop #8: Finish It All with a Local Brew
All that outdoor activity can leave you thirsty! Why not cap off a day of outdoor adventure with a stop at one of the Big Island’s homegrown breweries?
On the Hilo side, pop into Hilo Brewing Company’s tasting room, and enjoy a flight from this hometown craft brewery. Try their Tsunami IPA, an all-malt, Hawaiian-style India Pale Ale.
On the Kona side, head over to Ola Brew, whose taproom offers beer, liquor, and a full menu. Ola Brew has invested heavily in the hard seltzer craze, so you’ll find a number of varieties on tap that could include flavors like lemongrass, dragonfruit white pineapple, and hibiscus lavender. Ola also brews cider in flavors like tangelo and dragonfruit lychee, so they’ve got a little something for everyone.
Finding Your Fun on the Big Island
With thousands of square miles to explore, the Big Island can be an outdoor paradise for those who love a little adventure. From farmland to white sand beaches to verdant rainforests to stark volcanic terrain, the Big Island feels like it has it all. If you decide to make the move to the Orchid Isle, this list will give you a good idea of the activities, attractions, and things to do that can become a part of your everyday life. That said, given the island’s size and the variety within its landscape, there’s plenty more for you to discover on your own.
Considering a move to Hawaii? We’ve helped tens of thousands of individuals and families relocate to the Aloha State, and we’d love to help you, too! Just reach out to us for a free quote to get started. Our experts will help you make a safe, easy, and affordable move to the Big Island—or whichever island you choose to call home.