The biggest island yet the youngest in the archipelago, Big Island is teeming with landmarks and points of interests that you’ll be surprised to discover. You’ve overcome the myth that Big Island is just a big pile of black volcanic rocks, so now we’re going to wow you with some of the island’s most spectacular and worthwhile spots, not to mention some great dining places and a lively nightlife to top it off. Our first Big Island Journey, this one takes you some of the most renowned destinations here, and you’ll want to be sure you check each one off your list!
Big Island Ohana Café
Don’t be fooled by the semi shabby looks of this breakfast joint on the outside, because the inside is bright, cheerful, and serving up some of the best American and local plates in Hilo. Well known for their fried rice, this inexpensive restaurant hits the spot and gears you up for a day traversing the big island. Clean, cozy, and with fabulous service, the Ohana Café is the perfect place to find whatever you’re craving for breakfast.
Akaka Falls State Park
What trip to Hawaii is complete without a few breathtaking views of waterfalls? An easy, short hike to the 422-foot Akaka Falls, this view will surely satisfy your waterfall craving while in the tropics. Choose to walk directly to Akaka Falls or take the 15-minute walking loop and check out other scenery, such as the nearby Kahuna Falls and the abundant flora and fauna. We like this place because it offers instant gratification and entertains everyone.
Panaewa Rainforest Zoo
Because the last stop was short and sweet, we’re taking you to a Big Island gem that will surely impress. Free to the public, this rainforest zoo has animals such as spider monkeys, axis deer, a giant anteater, sloths, and a Bengal tiger. Easy to cover in an hour or two, but still with plenty to explore, this zoo is ideal for the whole family. The kids will certainly be intrigued by the petting zoo (every Saturday from 1:30-2:30pm) and the tiger feeding (daily at 3:30pm). The only tropical rainforest zoo in the U.S., it’s a great place to visit and uniquely Big Island.
Hana Hou Bakery
The southern most restaurant in the US, this is a great spot to stop and grab lunch on your way to the next destination. Known for their coconut cream and macadamia nut pies, you might just want to pass on the lunch sandwich and go for dessert first. Either way, Hana Hou has an array of items on the menu, from burgers to burritos to pork sandwiches, plate lunches and chicken katsu; try some flavors of the island at this popular little bakery restaurant.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Quite possibly the biggest attraction on Big Island, this national park is a must-explore while in Hawaii. There is an array of things to do once you’re here; hiking through the rainforest to volcanic craters, checking out Jaggar museum, and explore the Thurston lava tube, plus visit the sulfur vents, petroglyphs, the natural sea arch and all the lava fields. It really is an iconic landmark of Big Island, and well worth your time.
We’re winding this journey down in Kailua-Kona, which offers a quaint town full of boutiques, eateries, and Hawaii’s historic culture. Located right along the coastline, you can stroll down the main road and visit a handful of landmarks and points of interest. Plus, this little town comes alive at night too! Offering some of Big Island’s only nightlife, Kailua-Kona appeals to everyone.
Verandah Lounge at Keauhou Beach Resort
There are a few reasons why we recommend this restaurant in Kailua-Kona. First, it’s an amazing place to wait the sunset. Second, it overlooks the ocean and smaller fish ponds, offering entertainment for the kids. And third, they serve up great cocktails and have live music on the weekends. We can’t think of any more reasons that make a restaurant ideal, especially in Hawaii. Oh, and did we mention they’re food is tasty and prices are reasonable? You’ll be hard pressed to find good prices on food when you’re at an ocean front restaurant… so check this spot out!
Huggo’s on the Rocks
With tables and chairs literally set up in the sand along the water and rocks, what’s not to love about this lively hot spot? A popular place to get the nightlife started, Huggo’s has live music every weekend, a full bar, and stays open till midnight. We can’t think of anything better for your Hawaii vacation than a bar on the beach. Need we say more?