The 7 Best Big Island Volcano Tours [2024 Reviews]

Each island of Hawaii is made up of one or more volcanoes, so it makes sense that one of the top Hawaiian tourist destinations are the volcanoes.

This unique natural feature isn’t accessible to most people, so you can count on these being unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

By signing up to any of the tours on our guide, you can rest easy knowing you’re in safe hands and will be guided by experts. Without further ado, we bring you the top volcano tours on the Big Island of Hawaii available!

Be sure to see our reviews of Big Island Helicopter Tours, Big Island Snorkeling Tours and Big Island Manta Ray tours.

Best Volcano Tours on the Big Island

From Kona and Waikoloa: Intimate Volcano Discovery TourVolcano National Park Tour w/ Lunch & TransferTriple Crater Hawaii Volcano Hiking Adventure

Best Guided Tour

Best Full Day Tour

Best Adventure Tour

From Kona and Waikoloa: Intimate Volcano Discovery Tour Big Island: Volcano National Park Tour with Lunch and Transfer Triple Crater Hawaii Volcano Hiking Adventure
Departure:Central pickup locationsHotel pickup includedHotel pickup included
Start:10:10 AM 7:00 AM 8:30 or 9:00 AM
Duration:12 hours11 hours11 hours
Includes:National park certified guide, park access fees, exclusive lava tube access on private property, walking sticks, daypacks, rain gear, day and evening mealsExplore Kealakekua Bay, Rainbow Falls, Waipio Valley, Volcanoes National Park day trip, access to all locations, tour guide, transport, lunch, water, soft drink, ponchoVisit 3 volcanic craters: hike to Mauna Ulu crater, hike to summit of Kilauea, view of Halema'uma'u Crater, picnic lunch, dinner at a local restaurant, local guide

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking

Quick Answer: The 7 Best Rated Big Island Volcano Tours For 2024

  1. Best Guided Tour: From Kona and Waikoloa: Intimate Volcano Discovery Tour
  2. Best Full Day Tour: Big Island Volcano National Park Tour with Lunch and Transfer
  3. Best Adventure Tour: Triple Crater Hawaii Volcano Hiking Adventure
  4. Best Hiking Tour: Big Island Kilauea Volcano Hiking Tour
  5. Best Sightseeing Tour: Elite Volcano Hike From Hilo
  6. Best Small Group Tour: Big Island BIG Volcano Adventure from Kona: Small Group
  7. Best Night Tour: Small Group Big Island Twilight Volcano and Stargazing Tour

Be sure to see our other reviews of Big Island helicopter tours, Big Island snorkel tours and Big Island whale watching tours.

Big Island Volcano Tour Reviews

1. Best Guided Tour: Intimate Volcano Discovery Tour From Kona and Waikoloa

From Kona and Waikoloa: Intimate Volcano Discovery Tour

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 12 hours
  • Departure: Central pickup locations
  • Departure Time: 10:10 AM
  • Includes: Select central pickup and drop-off locations for Kona and Waikoloa, national park certified interpretive guide, park access fees, exclusive lava tube access on private property, walking sticks, daypacks, rain gear, sunscreen and bug repellent, local taxes, filtered water, sparkling water, and juices, day and evening meals

Let’s start things off with a bang (or not)! The From Kona and Waikoloa: Intimate Volcano Discovery Tour offers an in-depth volcano adventure that few others can.

The certified guide knows just about everything you could ever want to know about the area, leaving you practically an expert yourself! This 12-hour tour is comprehensive, yet you’ll never feel bored, hungry, or thirsty.

Start off with a great way to start the morning: with a scenic, relaxing drive in a comfy ride over Saddle Road. Along the way, stop at the famous Rainbow Falls or stay in the park after dusk to see the firey glow of the volcano if you select the “Twilight” tour.

Your first official stop will occur at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which spans from sea level to a whopping 13,677 feet!

Holding 2 of the world’s most active volcanoes (Kilauea and Mauna Loa), you’ll learn all about the history and culture of the area and of course get to see some insane sights.

At this point, your stomach will surely be growling, so enjoy a picnic lunch. Afterward, head over to Hawaii Forest and Trail’s private lava tube: Kauhi Cavern. Reaching up to almost 40 feet, the ceilings are impressively high, with rooms that are easy to walk around in and explore the roots and golden sides of the tube.

After you’ve seen your share of volcanic phenomena, enjoy a light snack with the rest of your group and guide while chatting about everything you just experienced!

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

2. Best Full Day Tour: Big Island Volcano National Park Tour with Lunch

Big Island: Volcano National Park Tour with Lunch and Transfer

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 11 hours
  • Departure: Hotel pickup included
  • Departure Time: 7:00 AM
  • Includes: Explore Kealakekua Bay, Rainbow Falls, Waipio Valley, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park day trip, access to all locations, tour guide, transport for activity duration, lunch, water, soft drink, poncho

If you’re looking to see some of the most beautiful bays, falls, valleys, and volcanoes, you’ve come to the right place.

The Big Island: Volcano National Park Tour with Lunch and Transfer is the most seamless, comfortable way to check out the area. The tour guides are incredible knowledgeable about native culture, traditions, and much more.

Start things off with visits to magnificent waterfalls located on the Big Island. Make sure to stop and take a break at the Waipio Valley lookout. This picturesque spot features smooth, green hills contrasting against blue skies and sparkling waves below.

Get back into the tour vehicle, where you’ll travel along the Hamakua coast, enjoying unreal views from your window of the air-conditioned van.

When you arrive at a rainforest where you’ll get to see Akaka Falls and Rainbow Falls up close! After, check out the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Here, you’ll see steam vents, the Jaggar Museum, the legendary Kilauea and Mauna Loa active volcanoes, and the Halema’uma’u and Kilauea Iki crater lookouts.

After all this walking and hiking, it’s time to relax and enjoy the black sand Punalu’u Beach! Lunch, water, and soft drinks are all included so you’ll be feeling great the entire time.

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

Other Experiences You May Enjoy

3. Best Adventure Tour: Triple Crater Hawaii Volcano Hiking Adventure

Triple Crater Hawaii Volcano Hiking Adventure

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 11 hours
  • Departure: Hotel pickup included
  • Departure Time: 8:30 or 9:00 AM
  • Includes: Lunch, dinner, bottled water, local guide

Get picked up from your hotel and hop in a luxurious Mercedes van while your guide takes you and the rest of your group all around various volcanic craters and more.

With a deli-style picnic lunch and local restaurant dinner, you’ll be well-hydrated and fueled up for exploring. If you want a safe way to get up close to the island’s most massive volcanoes, the Triple Crater Hawaii Volcano Hiking Adventure Tour is a great tour!

Eat your lunch while traveling along the famous Saddle Road on your way to hike at Mauna Ulu. Here, you’ll check out the first crater mouth, which is sure to impress.

The experienced guide places safety at the forefront, and may even be able to take you to see the constant eruption at Pu’u O’o.

Continue hiking on your way to the crater of Kilauea Iki. These trails are incredible; filled with interesting flowers and critters native to the area.

Once you get down to the crater floor, you’ll be able to check out the glowing lava and steam being emitted from it. Before you head to dinner, take a little hike through a lava tube before trekking up to the 4,000-foot Kilauea summit.

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

4. Best Hiking Tour: Big Island Kilauea Volcano Hiking Tour

Big Island: Kilauea Volcano Hiking Tour

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 12 hours
  • Departure: Pickup included
  • Departure Time: 10:20 AM
  • Includes: Snacks, beverages, deli-style lunch, dinner, national Park entrance fees, hotel pickup and drop-off

Next, we bring you the Big Island: Kilauea Volcano Hiking Tour. This is yet another 12-hour tour where you’ll get to hike and see beautiful active volcanoes.

This one involves nighttime trekking, where you’ll even get to see the eruption inside the Halemaumau Crater with its glowing lava! Thanks to the efficient route and experienced guides, this is a great tour for the whole family.

Due to the guides’ skills at captivating an audience, you won’t be bored for even a second. They’ll educate your group on the geology and history of the area, along with interesting personal anecdotes. With the small group tours, they are also excellent at answering all questions.

Including 2-3 miles of hiking through the lush foliage and varied flora and fauna, it’s like traveling through another world.

Catch views of lava tubes, boulders, and lava from a safe distance. Seeing the bright gold microbial mats on the walls of these chambers is unlike anything else!

Make sure to dress appropriately, as it’s often raining in this tropical environment. Not only that, but you’ll be outdoors for the vast majority of the day and also after dusk, so a jacket is important.

Also take advantage of the included snacks, beverages, and deli-style lunch prepared at a local deli. Not only that, you get dinner at the end before you’re dropped off at your hotel.

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

5. Best Sightseeing Tour: Elite Volcano Hike From Hilo

Elite Volcano Hike From Hilo

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 9 hours
  • Departure: Pickup included
  • Departure Time: 9:30 AM
  • Includes: Lunch, bottled water, dinner

Perhaps you’re on the hunt for a tour that’s a bit shorter than the others we’ve covered so far. If so, then we have just the tour for you: the Elite Volcano Hike from Hilo. This 9-hour tour offers hotel pickup and drop-off, and will let you explore volcanic scenery all day long!

First, you’ll head to Kaumana Caves which is a portion of the enormous lava tube system. These caves have incredibly high ceilings, offering a kind of cathedral-like environment that’s unexpectedly breathtaking.

Next, head to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which we’ve covered a couple of times already. You’ll see an insane view of the Kilauea Caldera along with the massive Halema’uma’u Crater. The trails to get to them are also fascinating and filled with unique plants and wildlife.

In fact, some tree ferns are over 1,000 years old! The stop at the Star of the Sea Painted Church in Kalapana, which is almost 100 years old and has a very interesting history, itself. The colorful walls and folk art is certainly one-of-a-kind!

At this point, there’s no doubt you’ll have worked up an appetite! Head back in your luxury van with the rest of your crew to enjoy a delicious dinner with complimentary drinks at Volcano House with some equally as impressive views of the lush scenery and rolling hills.

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

6. Best Small Group Tour: Big Island BIG Volcano Adventure from Kona Small Group

Big Island BIG Volcano Adventure from Kona: Small Group

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 9-11 hours
  • Departure: Pickup included
  • Departure Time: 9:00 AM
  • Includes: Hotel/airport pickup and drop-off, bottled water, snacks, picnic lunch, transport by private vehicle

Get out in the fresh air with the Big Island BIG Volcano Adventure from Kona Small Group tour. If you’d like, you can even opt for a private tour just for your party! No matter who you’re traveling with though, you can rest assured you’re in for a real treat and a ton of entertainment!

Get picked up at your hotel, so you don’t have to worry about wasting any time or meeting at the right spot. The guides are so knowledgeable about the island, its history, and specifically, the volcanoes.

You’ll get to traverse through Mauna Kea’s Hamakua Coast’s tropical rainforest with thick, lush plants. You’ll even get to pass by sky-high waterfalls, which is quite the way to start off the tour.

Head through the town of Waimea, where you’ll get to see legendary cattle ranches, and experience all kinds of deep valleys and dramatic cliffsides. Stop at Laupahoehoe for sights of interesting rock formations and enjoy panoramic views of the turquoise waters below.

Next up, you’ll travel through the jungle to Akaka Falls, which measures an impressive 442 feet tall! Afterward, you’ll grab some food at Hila Sharks in Honomu.

Their fresh, locally-sourced wraps are equally refreshing as they are delicious. After regaining some energy, you’ll go to the backroads of the island, along the coast and jungle gorges.

Before heading to rest at your hotel, your group will go to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, summit the Kilauea, and check out the Chain of Craters road.

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

7. Best Night Tour: Small Group Big Island Twilight Volcano and Stargazing Tour

Small Group Big Island Twilight Volcano and Stargazing Tour

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 12 hours
  • Departure: 10:00 to 11:00 AM
  • Departure Time:
  • Includes: Beverages, snacks, picnic lunch, restaurant dinner, rain/warm jacket use, hotel pickup/drop-off, professional guide, luxury Mercedes Sprinter van transport, all fees and taxes

No volcano island tour guide would be complete without the Small Group Big Island Twilight Volcano and Stargazing Tour. This tour is also 12 hours, yet packs in as many activities as possible to ensure you’re not missing out on anything!

You’ll taste some local eats and drinks, as well as enjoy some of the most exclusive sights on the island and world. First, you’ll take a tour of a Kona coffee farm, where you’ll learn all about how they harvest and mill while trying their coffees and teas!

Next, head over to the Punalu’u Bake Shop where you’ll get to try their famous Hawaiian sweet bread and malasadas! After that, you’ll surely have a lot of energy for adventuring!

Your first outdoor stop is at the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, which is obviously quite the view. Here, you’ll take things slow and take it all in. It’s also a prime spot for catching sights of marine life from the shore!

Next, you’ll take a certified guided tour at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where you’ll actually get to see incredible volcanic eruptions and lava flows from a safe distance and location. Your guide will teach you all about these volcanoes and the history of the area.

Check out the Nahuku Thurston Lava Tube next, walking across a bridge that offers looks unmatched by just about any other. T

he tube features caves formed hundreds of years ago, while looking like something from an extraterrestrial film! The Chain of Craters Road is up next, which offers an interestingly contrasting appearance: black rock against deep blue waters!

Once it’s dark enough, the guide will take your group to a secret spot for stargazing. If it’s clear enough, you may even get the chance to see various planets and galaxies!

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

Big Island Travel Guide

Best Volcano Tours on the Big Island

The Big Island is the best Hawaiian island to visit by far. Why? Because it boasts active volcanoes, the world’s tallest mountain, 5 Marine Life Conservation Districts, and more wilderness and variety than any other island in the Hawaiian Archipelago.

Given its name, you won’t be surprised to learn that the Big Island is the largest island in the State of Hawaii. But this isn’t its official name. The Big Island is really the Island of Hawaii. However, calling it the Big Island helps to distinguish it from the state and avoid confusion.

It really is a big island. In fact, it’s the 3rd largest island in Polynesia. Only the two main islands of New Zealand are larger. You may think the island gained its name from the name of the state. In fact, the state was named after this island.

Although the Big Island now has the lowest population density of the four main islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, historically it was the most powerful. In 1795, Kamehameha the Great from Hawaii united most of the islands under his rule and named his extended kingdom after his home island.

Today the low population density and many fascinating natural attractions on and around the Island of Hawaii make it the premiere Hawaiian destination for anyone who wishes to experience the full scope of Mother Nature’s variety, beauty, and majesty.

Airports & Entry

Most visitors come to the Island of Hawaii by air. You can fly directly from the mainland US and Canada to Hilo International Airport (ITO) in the east or Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport (KOA) in the west.

Alternatively, you can fly to Daniel K. Inouye Honolulu International Airport (HNL) in Oahu and then take a short half-hour connecting flight to the Big Island. Most direct flights are from large cities on the western seaboard. However, there are also direct flights to KOA from Tokyo.

Although only 185,000 people live on the island, KOA saw 4 million and ITO 1.4 million passengers in the immediate each year pre-COVID. The vast majority of these are tourists.

If you intend to explore the whole island, it’s a good idea to arrange to arrive at one airport and depart at the other. This enables you to tour the whole island with no need to backtrack. However, many visitors stick to one of the main resorts, such as Kailua-Kona.

Before choosing your arrival airport, consider where you are going to stay. This will depend upon what you most want to see on the Big Island. It makes sense to arrive at the airport closest to your hotel.

KOA is a modern airport with 3 terminals, only 2 used for international travellers. ITO is much smaller with a single large terminal. Both airports offer a limited range of shops and restaurants focused on tourism. For example, there are gift shops, lei stands, and newsstands. Opening hours are arranged around flight arrival and departure times.

Eight major car rental companies operate out of both airports: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty. All the rental agencies have rental bases that are reached by a shuttle bus from the airports.
It is advisable to book vehicle rental in advance to save time and ensure you get the vehicle you want. If you plan to pick up at one airport and drop at the other, you must tell them in advance to avoid extra charges.

If you don’t want to hire a vehicle, you can take a taxi into Kailua for around $25. There is a much cheaper option — The Hele-On Bus operated by the Hawaii County Mass Transit Agency. However, they only operate a limited service.

Traveling in the time of Covid

Like many other destinations worldwide, tours and visitor attractions in the Island of Hawaii have adopted special procedures.

Wearing a mask in mandatory in many locations. You will be expected to supply your own mask and wear it when you enter public buildings.

Keep your distance from other visitors who are not in your family group or bubble. You will be expected to keep your distance inside minibuses and other vehicles and when seated in restaurants.

At the time of writing, the State of Hawaii welcomes visitors but requires pre-travel testing for Covid-19. You can obtain the most up-to-date information directly from the State of Hawaii Portal.

Eco-Tourism and Sustainability in the Big Island

The Hawaiian Archipelago offers many areas of outstanding natural beauty and protected wildlife areas you can explore. In order to maintain this wonderful place for future generations, many of the local tour companies operate eco-friendly tours.

When considering the tours we review on the World Travel Guides website, note that there are often eco-friendly options that empower you to become a more sustainable traveler. This is especially true around the islands of Hawaii. Take care of our world and it will take care of our children.

Planning Tips

It’s always best to be prepared. Here are 5 tips to help you make the most of your stay on the Big Island.

Tip #1: If you want to see whales, go in winter

During the summer, humpback whales feed and congregate around Alaska. In winter, they migrate south to mate and calve. From mid-December to mid-April, there are an abundance of whale sightings around the Big Island. For the best chance of seeing whales, take a whale watching tour. The boat captains know where to find the whales!

Between 10 and 12 thousand whales congregate in these tropical waters. Whales are often visible at a distance from the beaches and will circle any small boats that approach their pods. Winter is the best time to whale watch in Hawaii.

Tip #2: Take your time to appreciate all that the Island of Hawaii has to offer

Perhaps you only want to see the whales or surf in the sunshine, but there’s a lot more to see and do on the Big Island.

Don’t miss the opportunity to take a tour of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, experience a traditional luau, and visit Hulihe’e Royal Palace in historic Kailua-Kona. See the information on Nightlife and Attractions below.

Tip #3: Book Big Island tours in advance, especially during winter

The Big Island is a popular destination for tourists, so tours quickly sell out. Book in advance to avoid disappointment. You wouldn’t be able to forgive yourself if you went all that way only to miss your opportunity to whale watch because the tours were full. Especially popular on the Big Island is fishing. If you want to charter a fishing tour out of Kona, be sure to book a few months in advance.

Since many tours offer free refunds up to 24 hours before the activity begins, you’re not taking a risk if you book before you go. Just check the refund policy of each tour before you book.

Tip #4: Take summer clothes and raincoats

Because the Big Island is tropical, you need to pack summer clothes. However, don’t forget it also rains a lot on the island.

Light raincoats are an excellent idea. If you intend to visit the observatories on Mauna Kea, you will definitely need a jacket.

And if you plan to visit a plush Martini lounge or attend a luau, you should bring something a bit smarter for those special occasions.

Tip #5: Buy traditional local craft souvenirs

If you want to take home something unique, check out the Volcano Art Center inside Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

Over 200 local Hawaiian artists contribute to this store, so you can find and original arts and crafts that will make a unique souvenir of your visit to the Island of Hawai’i.

Restaurants & Eating Out

The Big Island not only has a unique ecosystem with plants not found in the other 49 States, but it also boasts an uninterrupted cultural history.

That means during your stay you have the unique opportunity to taste genuine Polynesian food untainted by European colonial influences.

Because the Big Island is surrounded by abundant marine life, it’s no surprise many restaurants feature seafood on their menus. A popular dish is Opakapaka, which is crimson snapper either steamed, baked or grilled.

Monchong is a deep-water fish marinaded and grilled. Raw tuna is a favorite with the locals and is found in traditional foods like Poke.

Poke is like Japanese Sashimi but with the raw fish served in hearty chunks rather than thin slices.

Something unique to the Hawaiian Islands is luau food cooked in an earth oven called an imu. A tasty example of luau food is Laulau, made with pork, chicken, or fish.

The selected meat is wrapped in taro leaves and then cooked inside the imu for hours until it grows soft with a smoky taste. Delicious!

While many North Americans might consider either bread or potato to be their staple food during meals, on Maui taro is the staple root crop.

Taro is most often consumed as Poi, a thick paste that is either baked or steamed. Poi is slightly sour due to fermentation during its preparation.

And for dessert, why not try some Banana-Apple Fruit, Breadfruit, or Kulolo. Banana-Apple is a common fruit eaten cold or hot. Breadfruit is melon-sized and is served boiled, deep-fried, baked, or steamed.

Kulolo is steamed taro pudding. Yes! Taro is a versatile root.

Nightlife & Entertainment

This Big Island can’t offer the same nightlife and entertainments as Honolulu, but the large quantity of tourists passing through ensure that there are plenty of night spots where you can let your hair down.

Much like the resorts and hotels, the nightlife tends to be clustered along short sections of the east coast and the west coast. On the eastern side, most of the nightlife is found in Hilo. There you will find low key establishments frequented by locals and visitors alike. This is the best area for a quiet night and meeting friends.

On the west coast, the nightlife focuses on Kailua-Kona. There you will find a much larger range of options, from relaxed bars to elegant cocktail bars and lively nightclubs. The beach bars on this side of the island are the best place to witness an amazing sunset while you’re sipping a delicious cocktail.

But while you are in Hawaii, you really should attend at least one traditional luau. That’s a special Hawaiian evening party where you can hear local songs, watch amazing traditional performances, and eat luau foods.

If you go to an organised luau, you can expect a lei greeting, watch the Imu Ceremony (cooking a pig in an earth oven), join in a Hula Dance, and maybe play some traditional games. The highlight is a show by Polynesian performers who re-enact traditional sagas to educate and entertain you about the mythical origins of the Hawaiian Islands.

One of the most popular luaus is the Island Breeze Luau held in an historically significant location — the grounds of King Kamehameha’s Palace in Kailua-Kona. This king was responsible for unifying most of the State of Hawaii into a single kingdom. This luau pulls out all the stops, with an outrigger boat landing, a royal procession, and a fire knife dance.

Getting Around

The easiest and simplest way to get around the Big Island is to rent a car. There are vehicle rental facilities at both international airports. With your own car, you can go where you want to go when you want to go there.

The Hele-On Bus operated by the Hawaii County Mass Transit Agency is an option. However, because of the Island of Hawaii’s relatively low population density and large area, the public bus services are relatively infrequent and don’t go everywhere.

When driving around the island, bear in mind that the speed limits are lower than in the mainland US. Typical speed limits between settlements are 45 mph or 55 mph. When planning your journey, take the lower speed limit and the winding roads into account.

Note there are some locations you cannot reach with a rental car. Your rental contract will most likely forbid you from taking your car to the Green Sand Beach or to the top of Mauna Kea.

If you choose not to hire a car, your best option is to take guided tours to visit the attractions you are interested in seeing. Many guided tours have the option of a hotel pick up, and some tours take you to those locations forbidden to rented vehicles.

Of course, you could also take taxis to visit attractions around the Big Island. This is the most expensive option and not a great choice. The relatively large size of the island and slow journey times means that you’ll pay much more than if you hired a car.


Most visitors to the Big Island stay in one of the resorts. Many of these are clustered on the east coast and the west coast near the international airports.

The accommodation on the east side is centered on Hilo. This is the best place to stay if you’re interested in the beautiful scenery around the Big Island. It is near River State Park, where you will find the famous Rainbow Falls, and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, with active volcanoes and rainforests. It is also the best base camp for visiting the summit of Mauna Kea via Saddle Road.

On the west coast, most of the accommodation is found in Kailua-Kona. This is the best location for cultural attractions and beaches. Most of the boat tours, snorkeling tours, and whale-watching tours sail from Kailua-Kona.

If you plan to see everything interesting on the Island of Hawaii, it’s a good idea to split your time between Hilo and Kailua-Kona. I would recommend that you visit Hilo first, since visiting the waterfalls and the volcanoes involves a lot of walking. Then, when you go to the west coast, you can relax on the beaches and boat cruises.


Although the Big Island is small compared to a continent, you will still find several distinctly different climate zones due to the island’s unique geography. The two important factors are the side of the island and the elevation above sea level.

The island can be divided into two sides. The north and east coasts are relatively wet with higher levels of rainfall. The west and south are dry, with very little rainfall. This is because the prevailing wind hits the eastern coast, which is the windward side. As the air hits the island, it is forced up into the tall mountains. This upward movement causes the air to lose its moisture as precipitation.

At the top of the mountains, it’s much cooler than down below. On average, it is around 300F cooler at the top of the mountains than on the coast. You might need to wear shorts and a T-shirt on the beach but a heavy coat and sweater at the top of Mauna Kea.

There are two seasons called winter and summer. In reality, in winter the temperature doesn’t often fall below 650F, and in summer the temperature doesn’t usually rise above 900F. The water on the beaches has an even narrower temperature range between 770F and 830F. The real difference between the two seasons is the level of rainfall.

The dry season is between April and October. The wet season is between November and March, which is winter on the Big Island. However, the west coast sees little rain even during the rainy season. So, if you want to sunbathe, the west coast is best for you.


The Big Island boasts both natural beauty and a rich cultural history. There are many fascinating attractions and activities to enjoy.

As mentioned above, the island is easily divided into an east and a west side. The major natural attractions are to the east. The major cultural attractions, boat tours, and best beaches to the west.

If you are into an adrenaline rush, be sure to take an ATV tour of the Big Island. You can explore areas that are not seen by most tourists. If you want to get a rush from the trees, try a Big Island ziplining adventure! Zooming between the trees is a rush!

The East

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The Island of Hawaii is volcanic in origin. It was created by lava flows from five separate shield volcanoes, two of which are still active. And you can visit these active volcanoes inside the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The park covers an area of 21 square miles and growing. It’s growing because the volcanoes are spilling lava into the see and expanding the size of the island. The Halema’uma’u Crater is said to be home to Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire. Steam constantly rises from this crater, making it a popular attraction for visitors. One fascinating exhibit is the Thurston Lava Tube which is 20 feet high and 500 feet long.

Waipio Valley

There are many beautiful valleys on the east coast of the Big Island. Waipio Valley is a popular hiking spot. It is the site of Hiilawe Falls, which boasts a drop of 1,200 feet.

The valley is difficult to access because of steep cliffs inland and the proximity of the sea to the east. It can be reached by road, but this road is one of those the car hire companies do not allow rental vehicles to use. Most visitors get there on foot.

Mauna Kea

This dormant volcano is not only Hawaii’s tallest mountain, but it is also the world’s tallest. While Everest boasts a higher elevation at the summit, the height from the base of Everest to the top is less than the same distance at Mauna Kea.

This mountain is also where you will find the Mauna Kea Observatory. This is probably the best place in the world to go stargazing. The visitor’s Information Station sits at an altitude of 9,200 feet above sea level. If you reach the summit, that’s 13,800 feet above sea level.

Just like Waipio Valley, car hire companies often do not let their vehicles use the road that leads up Mauna Kea. Therefore, to visit this mountain it is easiest to take a stargazing tour.

The West

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

This is a fantastic place to learn about ancient Hawaiian traditions. It features a palace complex and a restored temple complete with replica idols carved to replace those destroyed when the islands were converted to Christianity.

There are many things to see in this park, including the royal fishpond, the Keoua Stone, rock carvings, and the landing place of the royal canoes.

Ahu’ena Heiau

This is the best example of a traditional temple on the island. It was built by Kamehameha I in honor of the god Lona. The temple has been fully restored to its former glory so that visitors can appreciate the complexity and unique nature of the indigenous religion.

Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park

If you’re interested in Hawaii’s modern history, this is an essential spot to visit. It’s the location of Captain Cook’s landing and death in 1779. There you will find the Captain James Cook Monument.

This park also encloses Kealakekua Bay, which is one of the Island of Hawaii’s 5 Marine Life Conservation Districts. With its thriving coral and bright tropical fishes, this is a wonderful location for snorkeling and scuba diving.

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Robert Baker

Robert is a content writer and editor at World Guides to Travel where he shares his love for the great outdoors. He also writes in-depth travel blogs for other websites around the world. Robert is passionate about the environment and uses his writing to educate people about the advantages and importance of sustainable living. Robert enjoys creative writing. In 2009, his children’s novel Sally Hemings & the Good Associates won the Children’s Fiction section of the You Write On Book of the Year Award.
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