Hamakua Coast on The Big Island of Hawaii

Hawaii’s Big Island: 10 Hidden Gems You Need to Visit

With its stunning natural landscapes and vibrant culture, Hawaii’s Big Island is a must-visit destination for any traveler. While many of its attractions are well-known, there are still plenty of hidden gems waiting to be discovered by adventurous visitors. In this guide, we’ll take you off the beaten path and reveal 10 of the island’s best-kept secrets.

Compare All the Biggest Sites for Your Best The Big Island Hotel or Accommodation

In addition to the above general search link for you to compare 100’s of booking sites for best pricing on Hotels, Condo’s and Accommodations on the Hawaiian Islands, I will put direct links throughout the article to Hawaii Magazine’s 2023 Readers’ Choice Winners. Check it out for the best deals on your next Seattle to Hawaii’s Big Island Vacation…..

6 Best Big Island Value Hotels or Resorts 2023, Readers’ Choice Awards Hawaii Magazine

1. Royal Kona Resort
2. Hilton Waikoloa Village
3. SCP Hilo Hotel
4. Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel
5. Volcano House
6. Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa

So, let’s get to the best part, exploring Hawaii’s Big Island will take your breath away….

Pololū Valley

Most people travel to Hawaii for the beaches, but there’s much more to the Island than just sand and saltwater. On the northern tip of the Big Island is the Pololū Valley. These incredible sea cliffs were made by volcanic activity over 200,000 years ago. Over time, the sloping shorelines eroded away to form the jagged, beautiful coastline that remains today.

Pololū Valley Black Sand Beach
Pololū Valley Black Sand Beach

If you want even more breathtaking views, take the short hike down to the black sand beach on the valley floor. The hike is a bit strenuous, but it’s typically not crowded. Plus, if you head to the Pololū Valley in the winter between December and March, you have a good chance of seeing humpback whales playing just off the shore.

Hawaii Island Official Travel Site: Find Vacation & Travel Information | Go Hawaii

Beach 69

This wonderful beach is officially called Waialea Bay, but the locals call it Beach 69 because to get to it, you have to turn between telephone poles 69 and 70. Beach 69 is tucked away on the northwest coast of the Island right off Hwy 19. It’s in a secluded bay, which makes it great for swimming, snorkeling and relaxing under the shade of the many trees.

Beach 69, Waialea Bay
Beach 69, Waialea Bay

Close to the shore, the ocean floor is soft and sandy, perfect for wading in the calm waters. A little further out, the bay gradually reaches depths of up to 30 feet and is filled with outcroppings, coral and tons of ocean life, ready to be viewed by snorkelers. This beach is a favorite for locals and can become crowded on weekends, but it’s still quiet compared to the more popular tourist spots like Hapuna Beach.

Golden Pools of Keawaiki

Just to the south of Waikoloa Village are immense lava fields that cover the land on both sides of the road. It doesn’t look like anything is there, which is what makes the Golden Pools of Keawaiki a perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of tourists. Get off the main road and park in the Keawaiki Bay parking area. From there, you’ll have to take a somewhat strenuous hike over fields of lava to reach the shoreline, but I promise, it’ll be worth it. Follow the trail markers and you’ll be at the beach in no time.

Keawaiki Bay
Keawaiki Bay

Keawaiki Bay has nothing but beautiful black sand beaches that are devoid of all tourists. You’re welcome to set up your towel and enjoy the quiet landscape, or you can keep hiking along the shore to the Golden Pools. The Golden Pools are freshwater ponds in a small oasis amongst the black lava rocks. A unique, gold-colored algae grow on the rocks in the ponds, which gives the water its coloring. Yes, the pools are actually gold!

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Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park

Hawaii isn’t just a place of tropical beauty and sunshine, it also has a long, rich and unique history filled with fascinating stories, myths and legends. The Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park is located on the West Coast of the Big Island, just to the south of Kailua-Kona.

rock game at Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park
rock game at Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park

This park preserves an ancient Hawaiian site that was once a place of refuge for those who broke sacred laws or were defeated in war. Here, they could seek forgiveness from priests and start a new life. The park features reconstructed temples, wooden statues, carvings and a massive stone wall that surrounded the sanctuary. You can also learn about the traditional Hawaiian culture and way of life through guided tours, demonstrations and exhibits.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

There are two active volcanoes in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Mauna Loa and Kilauea, but Kilauea is the real “must-see.” A 4,000-foot-tall mountain, Kilauea has been active since Jan. 3, 1983. In 2018, it erupted into the Puna District residential area, destroying more than 700 homes. It has erupted as recently as Jan. 5, 2023. Check in at the Kilauea Visitor Center for up-to-date information on trails, safety precautions and whether or not there is active lava flow.

Lava entering water at dusk, Hawaii Island
Lava entering water at dusk, Hawaii Island

Kilauea is at the top of the list for many Hawai’i visitors, with some commenting that it was impressive with or without lava flowing. You can explore this volcanic wonderland by driving along the Crater Rim Drive or hiking on one of the many trails that lead you through petrified lava fields, steaming vents,
craters and more. Don’t miss Nahuku (Thurston Lava Tube), a natural tunnel formed by flowing lava that you can walk through.

Papakōlea Green Sand Beach

One of only four green sand beaches in the world, Papakōlea Green Sand Beach is a rare sight that you won’t want to miss. The beach gets its distinctive color from olivine crystals that erode from a nearby cinder cone volcano. The contrast between the green sand and
the blue ocean is stunning, but getting there is not easy.

Papakōlea Beach (Green Sand Beach) on the Big Island of Hawai'i
Papakōlea Beach (Green Sand Beach) on the Big Island of Hawai’i

You’ll have to drive to the southernmost point of the island and then hike about 3 miles along the rugged coastline. The hike can be hot, windy and dusty, so make sure you bring plenty of water, sunscreen and sturdy shoes. Once you reach the beach, you’ll have to climb down a steep cliff to access it. Swimming is not recommended due to strong currents and waves, but you can enjoy the view and take some photos.

Kaumana Caves State Park

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can explore some underground lava tubes at Kaumana Caves State Park. These caves were formed by an eruption of Mauna Loa in 1881. The lava flow reached Hilo town and threatened to destroy it, but it was stopped by a rainstorm.
The lava tubes remained as a reminder of nature’s power.

Kaumana Caves, Hilo (504348)
Kaumana Caves, Hilo (504348)

You can access them by descending a staircase into a skylight opening. The caves are dark, damp and uneven, so bring a flashlight, wear appropriate clothing and shoes, and watch your step. You can go as far as you feel comfortable, but be aware that there are no signs or guides inside.

Rainbow Falls State Park

Rainbow Falls State Park is home to one of Hawai’i’s most iconic waterfalls. Rainbow Falls is an 80-foot cascade that plunges into a large pool surrounded by lush tropical vegetation. The falls get their name from the rainbows that often appear in the mist created by
the falling water.

Rainbow Falls at Wailuku River State Park, Hilo
Rainbow Falls at Wailuku River State Park, Hilo

The best time to see them is early in the morning when the sun is shining from behind you. You can view Rainbow Falls from an overlook platform or hike down to the base of the falls for a closer look.

Manta Ray Night Dive/Snorkel

One of Hawai’i’s most thrilling experiences is diving or snorkeling with manta rays at night. Manta rays are gentle giants that can grow up to 20 feet across. They feed on plankton that are attracted by lights placed underwater by tour operators.

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Swooping Manta Rays
Swooping Manta Rays

You can join one of these tours and witness these majestic creatures gliding gracefully through the water below you. They often come very close to divers and snorkelers, but they won’t harm you as they have no teeth or stingers.

Compare All the Biggest Sites for Your Best The Big Island Hotel or Accommodation

Mauna Kea Summit & Visitor Information Station

Mauna Kea is Hawai’i’s highest peak at 13,796 feet above sea level. It’s also one of the best places in the world for stargazing dueto its high altitude, clear skies and lack of light pollution. You can drive up to Mauna Kea Summit & Visitor Information Station and enjoy panoramic views of Hawai’i Island and beyond during the day or night.

Mauna Kea Summit Observatories
Mauna Kea Summit Observatories

At night, you can join free stargazing programs offered by the visitor center staff and volunteers who will provide telescopes and binoculars for you to use. You can also learn about the astronomical observatories located on the summit that conduct cutting-edge research on the cosmos.

From breathtaking waterfalls to secluded beaches, Hawaii’s Big Island has something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature lover, adventure seeker, or foodie, the island’s hidden gems offer a unique and unforgettable experience.

So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to discover the true beauty of Hawaii’s Big Island.

A Quick Guide to The Islands of Hawaii – Fergy’s Travel

Hidden Gems for Your Hawaii Vacation – Fergy’s Travel

 

Activities and Tours, Adventures, Destinations, Features, Hawaii, Travel, Travel Tips and Advice, USA Travel

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