Things to Do

Things To Do On The Big Island Of Hawaii Top 10 To 1

Beautiful orange glow of molten lava at  Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
Source : instagram

The top 10 things to do on the big island include a night manta ray snorkel. You can expect to snorkel with the giant mantas from US$70 to US$140 per person.

Hawaii is a wonderland with an abundance of wildlife, water activities with amazing landscapes and natural wonders. It boasts some exquisite places perfect for a relaxing gateway for kids and adventurous tours for parents.

Explore new places, try traditional Hawaiian Cuisines & indulge in adventurous activities on the big island for a thrilling experience.

There are uncountable things to do that you didn't know were fun. Hence, we have prepared a list of unique things to do on the island of Hawaii at night or any other time of the day.

10. Experience The Gecko Girls Shave Ice

Famous as the main island of Hawaii, big island is the third largest island in Polynesia. The island has vast transparent blue waters, spectacular beaches, hidden natural reserves and an abundance of other things like shave ice stalls.

Yes, you heard me right. Not only feeding manta rays and hiking but eating shaved ice on the beach is also among the pleasant things to do on the main island.

Hence, tasting Hawaii shaved ice at the Gecko Gils in Kona is comforting and highly recommended. As their price starts from $2, you can taste the richness of the dessert without breaking your wallet. 

Side Note: Epic Places To Get Shaved Ice on Each Island in Hawaii

9. Ziplining Adventure Parks In Island Of Hawaii

There are several zipline adventure parks on the island of Hawaii which includes the Akaka Falls State Park. This park feature ziplines designed to suit all comfort levels which you can enjoy for $209. 

One of the many agencies on the Big Island, Hawaii Zipline Tours over Kolekole Falls near Akaka Falls State Park has 7-Line zip lines.

The Umauma Experience- A Ziplining Adventure Parks In Island Of Hawaii
Source : facebook

Likewise, you can choose to participate in this adventure through Umauma Falls 4-Line Experience an adventurous high-flying zipline over the Hawaiian rainforest. Here, the cost is around $182 per person.

Or, you can choose Kohala Canopy Zipline Adventure which takes you on a ride over the rainforest canopy of the main island of Hawaii for $225.13 per person. (prices listed in this article are subject to change due to several circumstances).

8. Drive To Hilo

Once you gather all your belongings and leave in your car for Hilo, you will come across several scenic beauty. Although the trip will be over in about 1.5 hours, the journey is yet worthwhile.

Plus there are several things to consider before jumping over the decision. Such as carrying enough water to drink, some snacks and the most important part is your phone and its charger.

Big Island Hawaii - Hilo Kona Drive Times Mileage Chart
Source : hiloagent

So, to make your journey easier and smooth, we have listed every possible way to reach Hilo from Kona for you to consider to make the road trip a little more interesting.

But if you are travelling to Kona from Hilo, this itinerary can be reversed and the timings might not match up with the provided schedule.

Southern Route

If you and your partner drive nonstop down the south route down Highway 11, your destination is just 3 hours away. However, it would be wise to take a break in between to watch the natural beauty the area has to offer.

And also, you can click as many pictures as you want for your socials.

Hilo is known for Wailuku River State Park, featuring Waianuenue, or Rainbow Falls,
Source : travelawaits

Northern Route

This is an alternative route to get to Hilo via Highway 19. It doesn't matter which route you take, you still need to drive for 3 hours to reach Hilo.

Central Route- Saddle Road

Do you want to reach Hilo via the fastest route?? If yes, this route is for you. The central route via saddle road is the fastest possible road from Kona to Hilo. This straightforward drive only takes about 1.5 hours.

You can for sure take this route but there's a catch. The journey via “saddles” Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea can reach an altitude of 6,700ft. So if your body is not altitude friendly, you might consider changing the route.

7. Midnight Snacking At Ken’s House of Pancakes

Ken’s House of Pancakes is a 24-hour diner in Hilo famous spot for some ono grindz.  Opened in 1971, this place is exactly what one would expect a typical eatery would be.

Rusty-coloured upholstered booths, a wall full of pictures of the diner’s history, friendly staff, and oversized plates of food.

Look at the size of this pancake!!
Source : instagram

It is amazing that one of the adventurous things to do on this island is to taste Hawaiian cuisine at midnight. From a long list of Ken's menu local's favourite is pancakes and loco moco.

People also love Ken's corned beef hash & Portuguese sausages. As you order the famous pancake, you will be stunned to receive a stack of 3 large pancakes, each one the size of a dinner plate, drizzled with homemade syrups, coconut, guava and lilikoi (passionfruit).

Do you know what loco moco is?

If not, click on the link to learn more about loco moco and several other classic Hawaiian cuisines.

6. Watch Lava Flow at Keanakako’i Lookout

Bring flashlights or headlamps for this nighttime 1-mile hike (one way). The paved path is highlighted with bright stars and moonlight which will definitely make your hike easier.

But once you reach the rockier bit at the end, you might want to hold on to your lights for easy access.

Overall, the hike is peaceful and you will be walking under the shed of trees, knowing there are no predators like bears or mountain lions. But there might be pigs around which will not be an issue.

Early morning view of lava surface at Keanakako’i Lookout
Source : facebook

As you get closer to the lava, you will be welcomed by the orange glow which keeps on getting brighter as near as you get. Once you reach the top, you'll have a clear view of the lave lake about 3/4-mile in the distance.

The view is mesmerizing as it is but if you were smarter enough to bring a set of binoculars, it will for sure enhance the experience.

When you get closer, you will realize the uncertainty and unpredictability of the lava flow. It could be resting as it is a trickling creek on days and the next thing you know, it could be a gushing fountain from the cinder cone.

5. Late Night Drive To Kailua Bay

After your dinner date has ended and your cocktails have worn off, change into your swimming gear and rush towards Kailua Bay for a late-night swim with manta rays and other cute colourful sea creatures.

A late night drive is an adventurous thing to do in Hawaii
Source : pexels

Most people continue their quest to the nearest Outrigger Kona resort to begin their night adventure which makes perfect sense as there isn't much parking around the Keauhou Harbor.

Or you might have to find a street parking on Ehukai St or go all the way around to the opposite side of the bay to park your car in the official parking lot.

Grab your swimsuit or wet suit and headlight to attract the manta rays. Enjoy a long swim with your partner and live the thrill of swimming with giant mantas together.

Have you heard of underwater scooters? If not, click on the link to find out more about the scooter and several other underwater activities you can engage in Hawaii,

4. Midnight Visit To Kaumana Cave

Kaumana Cave is located on the way towards Saddle Road while travelling from Hilo. Make a stop at the location to explore the lava tube to witness the glow during a pitch-black night.

And yes, do not forget to carry a flashlight to experience the whole scenario. When you arrive at the destination, park your car on the left side of Kaumana Road and cross the street to take the steep stairs that lead to the cave entrance.

Midnight Visit To Kaumana Cave
Source : bigislandhikes

Kaumana Cave is a 2-mile-long lava tube that was created by the 1881 Mauna Loa eruption. The cave has two entrances, out of which, the left one requires more crawling and ducking.

Whereas the right one is the main tunnel and has a broad entryway.

The one to the right is the main tunnel and is more open. Explore one or the other or both, there’s no wrong answer. This place is a haven for people seeking an adrenaline rush because once you reach inside, you get to see the awesomeness created by mother nature.

There, you can witness minerals make sections of the walls glitters as diamonds and rock textures change from soft to sharp. After soaking up the astonishing sight of the area, get back on the road up the mountain.

3. A Self-Guided Driving Tour Of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Driving in Hawaii at night gives you the ultimate thrill you have been looking for. For adrenaline junkies, it eliminates the itch you didn't know you had.

Night view of lava from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Source : instagram

The streets are dry and dark with hardly any street lights, so if the see road is extra dark you can light up your flashlights or trust your headlights.

Not only pitch black, but the road also gets curvy for a quarter of the way. Therefore, you have to be careful and go slower.

Also, keep an eye out for wild pigs, running across the road. Keep on driving with a minimum speed unless you start noticing the orange glow in the not-so-far distance.

A map to help out on self-guided driving tour of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Source : nps

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is open 24/7. As you arrived at midnight, the entrance is closed so you can continue driving or pay the $30 fee at the cash box at the visitor centre, which is highly recommended.

Now, you have reached the national park, go down a chain of craters road until the devastated parking lot.

Then pursue the Old Crater Rim Drive trail right by the outhouses to reach Keanakako’i Lookout to see lava. You can use the given map to lead the way.

2. Stargazing & Sunrise Experience With Free Photos At Mauna Kea

Arguably, Mauna Kea is one of the finest spots in the world to stargaze. Due to its dry atmosphere and lack of air disturbance a stargazing escapade from the top of the 14,000-foot summit of Maunakea reveals the wonders of the night sky.

With 13 government-funded telescopes, this tour takes you for a private star show letting out the mesmerizing view of the sunset, sunrise and stars of the night.

Stargazing experience from the top of Mauna Kea
Source : viator

Though the summit is 14000 feet tall, the Mauna Kea visitor centre sits at 9,200 feet. Most of the cars cannot make it to the top so you can hike to the summit which is a 6-mile trek one-way hike. 

From the visitor centre, one can clearly see the milky way up there. So, pull out a warm jacket from your bag or wrap yourselves in a blanket and enjoy the celestial orbs above.

1. Night Manta Ray Snorkel Experience

Are you wondering what's on the big island of Hawaii that is not on other islands??

The one thing only the big island offers is to snorkel with the manta rays which is hands down one of the most extraordinary experiences of your life.

Firstly, you need to book a boat ride and collect snorkelling gear. Then, hop on the boat for a 5 minutes ride to the mouth of the bay. Then, light up your boogie board and hang on as you await the glorious giant.

The mighty Manta Rays
Source : pexels

So what attracts the manta rays to you?

There is an actual science behind the attraction which starts from the blue lights.

When you turn on your headlight, it shines on the blue water attracting plankton which attracts manta rays. Hence, this amazing marine animal will come right across you and might even bump into you.

As manta rays can't hurt you, it doesn't matter if it swims right beside you, on you or by you.

They are gigantic sea creatures that are adorable and harmless.

Though you know it won't hurt you, the adrenaline rush is really high when the manta ray swims inches away from your face.

The snorkelling lasts about 20 minutes which is enough to gain the holy experience. Now you can hop back on your boat and return back to your hotel.

Some FAQs

Can You Fly From Kona to Hilo?

There are no direct flights from Kona to Hilo or vice versa, but you can take a commercial flight that halts in Honolulu before coming back to the island.

You can hop on a private plane for the 20 min flight for $6000 plus or hire a helicopter for a quick ariel tour.

What should you not miss on the big island?

You should not miss the following things in big island of Hawaii

  1. watching the volcanoes
  2. A long drive from Hilo to Kona
  3. Feeding Manta Rays & more

What to do in big island when it rains?

There are a plethora of things you can do when it rains on the Big Island, such as

  1. working out in the hotel gym
  2. ordering room service and watching Netflix all-day
  3. using the indoor pools to play games & more