Big Island of Hawaii

Say ‘aloha’ to the Big Island of Hawaii – the largest and most diverse island in the Hawaiian archipelago.

The Big Island (also called Hawai'i Island) is home to a wide selection of gorgeous white- and golden-sand beaches as well as tropical rainforests, fiery volcanoes, black lava deserts and snow-capped mountain peaks.

What to do and see

The volcanic peaks of Mauna Kea, the world's tallest sea mountain, and the 9144m-high Mauna Loa, the earth’s largest volcano, create a natural barrier to block the north-easterly trade winds, giving the western coast a dry climate with the best beaches and water conditions in Hawaii.

Here you can swim, snorkel and dive year round to discover an underwater paradise teeming with colourful marine life; kayak caves, secluded coves and gorgeous beaches only accessible by sea; or hook up a charter to fish for blue marlin.

The eastern coast is rugged, with pounding surf, tropical rainforests and majestic waterfalls.

On land, the Big Island offers a tremendous choice of hiking, biking and horseback riding opportunities just a 45-minute flight away from Honolulu.

Hawaii’s Big Island offers a range of outdoor pursuits for active honeymoon couples, including hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, snorkeling, scuba diving and kayaking as well as watching whales, dolphins and endangered sea turtles.

Things to do on the Big Island, include…

Snorkelling – For some of the best snorkelling head to the protected bays off the west coast at Honaunau Bay, the big beach at Hapuna Beach State Park and Kahaluu Beach Park to see a huge variety of colourful reef fish and sea turtles.

Don’t miss a snorkel boat tour to the underwater marine sanctuary at Kealakekua Bay (the location of the Captain Cook Monument) to swim with dolphins, sea turtles and other colourful marine life.

Scuba diving – The best locations for diving are found off the Kona coastline along the south-west part of the island, an area particularly rich in marine life and steep drop-offs. Protected from winds and with mostly clear skies, visibility is seldom less than 30m.

Expect walls, archways, lava tubes and abundant marine life that includes spinner, spotted and bottlenose dolphins, manta rays and, during the winter months, humpback and pilot whales.

Dive Honounou or the City of Refuge, which has more than 150 different species of fish: see turtles, colourful picasso trigger fish and frog fish as well as dolphins and manta rays.

Game fishing – Hawai’i game fishing is best on the Big Island. Hook up a charter at the picturesque Honokohau Marina just outside the seaside town of Kailua on the west coast of the Big Island and go after blue marlin, or billfish as they are called here.

Conditions here are excellent with deep yet calm waters protected from the trade winds by the towering Mauna Lea Mountain.

Hiking – Choose from hundreds of easy or strenuous hiking trails that crisscross the Big Island, from the remote and forbidding lava fields in Volcanoes National Park to the rocky coastal trail along the stunning South Kohala coastline that passes numerous secluded sandy beaches.

Don’t miss the famous Parker Ranch with its beautiful verdant green pastures and lush valleys or the trails through the Waipio Valley, passing traditional farming plantations, breathtaking waterfalls and through lush tropical rainforest with abundant flowers.

Here you will find small native towns on the coastal roads. Explore the Mauna Loa Forest Reserve or hike to the summit of the 4000m Mauna Kea.

Horseback riding – Saddle up and discover spectacular waterfalls, lush jungle trails and panoramic views of the coastline. Ride through stream and waterfall trails in the tropical Waipio Valley, the open green spaces of Parker Ranch at sunset, the upcountry pastures of Kahua Ranch or the southern reaches of an historic trail to Kealakekua Bay – complete with swimming and snorkelling.

Don’t miss the Pololu Valley Lookout, with the scenic end-of-the-road view of the vertical jade-green cliffs of the Big Island’s Hamakua Coast and offshore islets.

Golf – The Big Island offers 14 magnificent courses, some of which are crafted by the biggest names in golf course design. Discover courses along the golden Kohala coastline and play among the striking contrasts of lush green fairways, pure white bunkers, jet-black lava flows and turquoise Pacific waters.

Don’t miss the Kona Country Club, a challenging mountain course overlooking the ocean. Or you may wish to try the Robert Trent Jones designed Mauna Kea Golf Course, offering beautiful panoramic views from nearly every hole and regarded as one of Hawaii’s most unique golf challenges.

The Big Island of Hawaii offers a choice of must-see attractions on an island famous for its natural beauty – just perfect for active couples celebrating a honeymoon or romantic getaway.

Places to visit on the Big Island, include…

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Watch lava flow into the sea from Kilauea, Hawaii’s still-active volcano, which has been continuously erupting since 1983. Hawaii's other active volcanos are Mauna Loa, which last erupted in 1984 and at 4000m is snow-capped in winter, and Loihi, located underwater off the southern coast.

Located on the south-east coast, the 97,000ha park is Hawaii's best place for hiking, with about 225km of trails winding through a landscape of black lava deserts, rainforests, grassy coastal plains and snowy summits.

Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park
Discover an important Hawaiian cultural and historical site on the Kona Coast, built as a refuge for ancient Hawaiians who had violated kapu (social taboo) or as a sanctuary for defeated warriors.

The park boasts archaeological sites including temple platforms, royal fishponds and the ruins of ancient villages. The Hale o Keawe temple contains the mortal remains of 23 Hawaiian chiefs.

Kealakekua Bay
Situated about 20km south of Kailua-Kona, Kealakekua Bay is a Marine Life Conservation District, perfect for snorkelling, scuba diving and kayaking.

It’s also an historical site: a large white obelisk on the shore of Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park marks the spot where Captain James Cook met his death in a skirmish with native Hawaiians in 1779.

In 1778, Cook made his mark as the first British explorer to establish contact with the Hawaiian Islands.

Parker Ranch
The history of the Hawaiian paniolo (cowboy) culture goes back 200 years and is best showcased in the Parker Ranch Museum and Visitor Centre in Waimea.

Here you can experience paniolo herding, cutting, roping, branding and cattle sorting on a wagon-ride, while also seeing ancient Hawaiian artifacts in the hill country.

The museum contains antique ranching tools, historic photographs and furnishings and is complemented by two historic homes on the site, one of which houses an art gallery containing original works by Renoir, Degas and Pissarro.

Kona Coffee Museum and Farm
For a taste of the coffee industry that flourished in the early 20th century on the Big Island, tour the Uchida Coffee Farm, south of Kealakekua town on the Kona Coast.

Dressed in period costumes, guides show off the original farmhouse, bathhouse, coffee mill and drying platforms.

Best beaches in the Big Island

The Big Island of Hawaii offers a rugged coastline indented with an amazing collection of beaches that feature sands of many hues – perfect for active couples celebrating a honeymoon or romantic getaway.

Walk on ancient black- and green-sand beaches formed by volcanic action, as well as ivory, white and golden beaches, mainly natural but occasionally man-made.

The best beaches in the Big Island, include…

Hapuna Beach

(Kohala Coast) – Hawaiian beach cognoscenti flock to the Big Island’s best beach for swimming, snorkelling and boogie boarding when the waves pick up.

Often voted as the most beautiful beach in Hawaii, Hapuna’s 800m-long crescent of fine, soft, ivory-coloured sand gently dips into crystal clear waters. Framed by rocky headlands, the 60m-wide beach offers room for everybody and flows into a shallow sand bar that extends for 20m into the bay.

Discover the best snorkelling at the rocky southern edge of the beach or snorkel along the coast to Wailea Bay amid abundant coral and tropical fish. In winter, thundering waves turn the beach into a favourite for surfers, but not for swimmers as strong rips threaten safe swimming.

Fringed by the shady trees of Hapuna Beach State Park, facilities include toilets, showers, picnic tables, barbecues, pavilions and lifeguards in summer. Hapuna Beach is located on the Kohala Coast.

Mauna Kea Beach

(Kohala Coast) – Protected from rough surf by a rocky reef, this crescent of golden sand lies to the north of Hapuna Beach and is also known as Kauna’oa Beach. Fringed by the manicured gardens of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and palm groves, the beach flows into a calm sheltered bay of clear turquoise water framed by two black lava points.

Walk down the gently shelving beach into the warm waters and look out for colourful tropical fish, sea turtles and perhaps even manta rays while snorkelling beneath the rocky headlands. Beach facilities include showers, toilets and hotel restaurants. There are no lifeguards here as the sea is typically calm.

Waikoloa Beach

(Kohala Coast) – This narrow strip of golden sand shelves into the calm turquoise waters of Anaehoomalu Bay (A-Bay), which offers year-round safe swimming. Fringed by a grove of palm trees and backed by the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Waikoloa Beach features a scenic walking path that meanders alongside manicured tropical gardens and ancient royal fish ponds packed with mullet.

Go kayaking, snorkelling, diving or windsurfing – the Marriott offers windsurfing and diving lessons. Other facilities include showers, toilets, picnic tables and watersports equipment hire at the northern end of the beach.

Makaiwa Bay Beach

(Kohala Coast) – Discover this charming little beach that is backed by the manicured lawns and palm trees of the Mauna Lani resort. The white-sand beach flows into turquoise waters framed by rocky breakwaters that are perfect for snorkelling and learning how to scuba dive.

Mahaiula Bay

(Kona Coast) – This 8km-long coastline offers several stunning secluded beaches for those wanting to escape the more crowded resort beaches further south on the Kona Coast. Access is buy hiking or four-wheel driving along the dirt road that roughly parallels the coast.

Kekaha Kai Beach

(Kona Coast) – Follow the dirt road off Queen Kaahumanu Highway to discover this gorgeous tree-fringed curve of white sand a short walk north of the main Kekaha Kai Beach (by comparison, relatively unimpressive).

Off the beaten track along the shoreline of Kona Coast State Park and fronting Mahaiula Bay, this beach is framed between rocky headlands and offers great swimming, snorkelling and diving in summer and good surfing in winter. Facilities on the nearby main beach include toilets, picnic tables and barbecue pits.

Makalawena Beach

(Kona Coast) – A 15-minute walk north of Kekaha Kai Beach lies this picturesque and generally uncrowded white-sand beach, with excellent boogie boarding, snorkelling and swimming.

Maniniowali Beach

(Kona Coast) – Further along the coast sits one of Hawaii’s prettiest beaches, a stunning small crescent of pristine white sand that shelves gently into Kua Bay. Framed and protected from rough seas by rocky headlands, Maniniowali offers great swimming and snorkelling in calm and sheltered waters.

Kikaua Beach

(Kona Coast) – This beautiful man-made beach is one of the few white-sand beaches on the Big Island. It shelves gently into crystal clear water perfect for swimming and snorkelling in sheltered Kikaua Bay. With limited parking opportunities, this palm-fringed beach is typically uncrowded.

Papakolea Beach

(South Shore) – Hike or four-wheel drive 5km to the unique Papakolea Beach, also know as Green Sand Beach due its deep green crystal sand.

The unique green sand is formed almost entirely of crushed olivine, a green semi-precious crystal usually found in eruptive rocks – in this case from the nearby volcano cone of Puu o Mahana.

The beach is tiny and accessible by a steep trail that drops down over and around huge volcanic boulders. Stroll along the water’s edge or swim at high tide if the sea is calm. Otherwise, view this unique beach from the edge of the ancient cinder cone that overlooks the beach.

Papakolea is one of only two green-sand beaches in the world; the other is in Guam.

Punaluu Beach

(South Shore) – Admire Hawaii's most famous black-sand beach, derived from crushed lava rock.

Also known as Punaluu Black Sand Beach, this is a good place to watch endangered Hawksbill turtles and green sea turtles, often seen sun bathing on the black sand. Swimming is not advised at this beach due to strong rips and waves.

Where to stay

The Big Island of Hawaii offers newlyweds an excellent choice of accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets, including the following hotels…

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
Location: 72-100 Ka`upulehu Drive, Kaupulehu
Rating: 5-star
Ave nightly price: AUD1,191 per room
Description: Seven swimming areas and ocean views are included at this Hawaii resort. An 18-hole Jack Nicklaus signature Hualalai Golf Course is on site. Rooms offer a flat-screen TV. The modern rooms at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upelehu offer Hawaiian-inspired décor with views of the resort grounds or the Pacific Ocean. Free toiletries and a work desk are also included. Guests can enjoy a saltwater pool and an adult only area, as well as a full spa, and 15,000 square feet of fitness facilities. Private, white sand beaches are available at the Four Seasons Resort Haulalai with calm waters for easy swimming. Three restaurants and 2 lounges are available on site. Beach Tree offers beachside Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. Guests can enjoy the food and ambience of a steakhouse with Hualalai Grille, located above the 18 hole golf course. Hapuna Beach is 30 minutes’ drive from the resort. Akaka Falls State Park is 2 hours’ drive away. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is 2 hours’ drive from the property.

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection
Location: 62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Drive, Hapuna Beach
Rating: 4-star
Ave nightly price: AUD483 per room
Description: Featuring an unrivaled beachfront location, and boasting a top-rated golf course, this elegant hotel offers personalised services, first-class amenities, and a variety of activities that the entire family can enjoy. The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection provides everything needed for an unforgettable stay. Enjoy supervised children's activities, Hawaiian culture experiences, yoga classes and a number of spa services. Relax in guestrooms featuring all the latest technologies, including iPod compatible radios. In addition to the hotel's exceptional location on Kauna'oa Beach, guests can also enjoy 13 on-site tennis courts, L'Occitane bath amenities and luxurious Frette bed linens. The on-site tour desk at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection can also help arrange area tours and excursions.

The Fairmont Orchid
Location: 1 North Kaniku Drive, Waikoloa
Rating: 4-star
Ave nightly price: AUD425 per room
Description: Situated amongst 32 oceanfront acres on the Kohala Coast, the Fairmont Orchid is a spectacular resort offering luxurious accommodation and extensive resort facilities to the discerning traveler. The guest rooms feature air conditioning, a TV with cable channels, a refrigerator, a coffee machine, an in-room safe, and a writing desk with a chair. The en suite bathroom includes a bathrobe, free toiletries, a hair dryer, and ironing facilities. The Fairmont Orchid’s stunning beachfront location of white sandy beach and aquamarine waters even attracts a family of sea turtles. The resort scenery includes landscaped gardens and gorgeous waterfalls and a 10,000 square foot free form pool. Resort facilities include a wide range of restaurants and bars, 10 tennis courts, 36 holes of golf, and a unique outdoor Hawaiian ‘Spa Without Walls’, which features waterfall massage huts and massage cabanas. A casual dining experience can be found at the Hale Kai Restaurant. The sushi at Norio’s Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar is also available, while the three-day rotating breakfast buffet at Orchid Court is also offered. ‘Anaeho'omalu Beach, or A-Bay, is 9 km away, while Waialea Bay is 10 km away.

Kings' Land by Hilton Grand Vacations Club
Location: 69-699 Waikoloa Beach Drive, Waikoloa
Rating: 4-star
Ave nightly price: AUD523 per room
Description:Located on the Kohala Coast, this resort offers a free transfer service to Waikoloa Village, an on-site restaurant, 4 outdoor swimming pools and a hot tub. All suites offer a full kitchen and balcony. A flat-screen TV is included in each guest suite at Kings' Land by Hilton Grand Vacations Club. An en suite bathroom is provided. The Kings’ Bistro & Lounge, open for breakfast and lunch daily, serves breakfast pastries, salads, sandwiches and pizza. The Kings’ Land Pool Bar is open daily from 11:00 to 18:00 hrs and offers 60 plasma TVs. A fitness centre and activity centre with game tables, video game systems and movies are available for guest use. Golf opportunities are located nearby at championship golf courses. Macademia Nut Farm is 20 km away. Hilo Airport is located 89 km away. Holualoa Kona Coffee Plantation is 45 minutes’ drive away.

Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows
Location: 68-1400 Mauna Lani Drive, Waikoloa
Rating: 4-star
Ave nightly price: AUD477 per room
Description: Located along a white sandy beach on the Kohala Coast, this oceanfront hotel includes a spa, 2 restaurants and 2 golf courses. Kailua-Kona is 40 minutes’ drive away. A flat-screen TV and spacious private terrace are offered in each guest room at Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows. Tea and coffee-making facilities featuring Kona coffee are provided in each room. The CanoeHouse offers a farm-to-table menu highlighting Hawaiian cuisine. The Bay Terrace is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and features salad, sandwiches, sushi and tropical drinks. Two championship golf courses are located on site. A junior 18-hole golf course designed for children and a children’s golf academy are also available. The Mauna Lani Spa and Salon offers 2 saunas, a meditation pavilion and a watsu pool. Hawaiian-influenced massage therapy, aquatic therapy and body treatments are provided. A lap pool and beach cabanas are available. A fitness centre, tennis courts and bicycles are provided for guest recreation. Cultural activities, including hula dancing and lei making classes are offered. Kona International Airport is 30 minutes’ drive away. Hulihee' Palace is 45.1 km away.

Best time to honeymoon in Hawai'i Island

The best time to visit the Big Island of Hawaii for a beach holiday is from mid-May to early-October.

However, the Big Island is a year-round destination, with comfortable temperatures even in winter, although you can expect more rainfall.

The hottest months are July, August and September, when temperatures may reach a high of 33°C (91°F).

For more climate info: Hawai'i Island Weather Guide

Getting there

The Big Island is the largest and the southeastern-most of the Hawaiian islands, a chain of volcanic islands in the North Pacific Ocean, around 3860km from mainland USA. The Big Island lies to the southwest of Maui.

From Honolulu International Airport, the Big Island is just a 25-minute flight away.

Read more about how to get to Hawai'i Island

Latest update: Big Island, Hawaii: 14 January, 2023

Disclaimer: The information on this site is provided as is, without any assurances as to its accuracy or suitability for any purpose. Weather data and conditions at any given location and time are unpredictable and variable. We assume no responsibility and can not be held legally responsible for any decisions made on the basis of the information presented on this site.