Things to do on the Big Island

Visitors can participate in a great deal of activities on the Big Island. This tropical haven offers up plenty of adventures for travelers, from a simple camping trip to an exploration of the lava tubes surrounding the Big Island. Some of the most popular Big Island activities are surfing, scuba diving, whale watching, and swimming with the dolphins, so if you are looking for interesting things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii, you won't want for anything.


There are plenty of places for camping across the island of Hawaii, and when planning your trip, be sure to check around for camper-friendly locations in the area. One spot that's not to missed is Hawaii Volcano Park, and camping is free once inside the park. Permits are needed, though, so be sure to have one in hand before setting up camp in any location. These can be obtained at several locations surrounding the island, including the county office in Hilo.


One of the unique Big Island activities is cave exploration. Unlike many of the caves in the continental US, these caves are all lava tubes. Inside Kilauea, the youngest and perhaps the most active volcano in the world, lies Kazumura Cave, the longest and deepest lava tube in the entire world. Visitors to Hilo also can take a day trip to Kaumana Cave near Rainbow Falls. This cave is full of lush vegetation, and entrance is free. In some instances, tourists can opt for a guide or choose to explore the cave solo in several of the lava tubes throughout the Big Island.


Among the many activities on the Big Island, one of the most popular is scuba diving. Kona Coast is a premier location for diving. Here lies a diverse environment with lava tubes and crevices to be explored. But beware of sleeping sharks! On the other side of the island, though visibility isn't as good, Hilo is still just as incredible, teeming with life. Divers will walk away from an experience of a lifetime after seeing the magical dance of the green sea turtles, and be sure to check out the manta ray night dives.


Snorkeling is another one of the popular Big Island activities. For less-experienced divers, snorkeling could be a more appealing way of visiting Hawaii's sea creatures. Again, the two most popular places for snorkeling are Hilo and Kona Coast, where shallow waters and flourishing reefs can be found. There are guided snorkeling tours available as well.

Dolphin Swims

Swimming with dolphins is one of the unique and exciting things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii. Encounters with dolphins are a very special experience, and dolphin excursions are available from Kona, Hilo, and several other locations as well. Manta ray swims are another experience worth considering—joining the giant birds of the sea is mesmerizing and awe-inspiring.

Big Island Cruises

Although it is already a widely popular destination for major cruise lines, Hawaii offers its own unique cruise experiences. Check out the glass-bottom boat excursions for whale and dolphin watching, complete with a guide's informative narration. Charters are also available for private parties.

Whale Watching

While on a Big Island cruise or other tour, enjoy a stupendous experience of whale watching. From the deck of a boat, these gentle giants can be seen surfacing for air, or passengers can watch them float beneath the surface of the water through glass-bottom boats. The humpback whales journey through these waters on each year during their migration, so be sure to check on the seasonal activities on the Big Island.


One of the things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii that should not be missed is surfing. Once a sport only for royalty, surfing is for everyone, from the people with years of experience to the beginner who's never been on a board. Surfboard rentals are available on the beaches. There are several locations popular for surfing on both the Hilo and Kona shores of the Big Island, and each location is suited for different levels of experience.

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