Hawaii Island Two Ways

What to see and do on the Big Island 


On Hawaii’s Big Island, there’s lots to do under picture-perfect sunny skies. But you can also explore the natural beauty of the island after the sun goes down.  

Daytime Fun 

Wake up to tropical flowers, bird song and world-famous Kona Coffee, then head out to the west coast of Hawaii Island for a perfect day. 

Greet the dawn with floating yoga on a stand-up paddleboard while the sun creeps up and warms the sand at The Fairmont Orchid, north of Kona. “Flo-yo” classes fill up quickly, so register early at the Beach Shack. 

The rock art at Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve is just a half-hour walk away. Take the Malama Trail from Holoholokai Public Beach Park through a sleeping-beauty tangle of kiawe trees. Then cross ancient lava fields to see hundreds of these mysterious carvings. 

Spinner dolphins love to hang around the North Kona coast, and now’s your chance to hang with them. A responsible small-group operator like Coral Reef Snorkel Adventures can get you up close and personal within “look, but don’t touch” limits. Take an underwater camera and watch from below as hundreds of dolphins form ranks, rush to the surface and leap through the air.  

For little keiki (kids), the tidal pools at Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park are a perfect place to paddle. Reconstructed Hawaiian thatched-roof houses and a temple line the shore. On the way back, stop for a bite at The Coffee Shack between mile markers 108 and 109 on Highway 11 for a panoramic view and colossal sandwiches.

After Dark 

There’s a dark side to the Big Island that many visitors never get to see. Stay up late for sensational skies and unexpected underwater adventures.

Let the little ones go “glamping” overnight at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. Children from five to 12 will love the supervised after-dark camping fun designed just for them. There’s a special buffet with a s’mores station, a private movie showing and island-style “talk story” under the stars. When the kids finally fall asleep, they’ll be tucked up in comfy tents on the resort’s lush lawn. 

After nightfall in Keauhou Bay, giant manta rays put on an underwater ballet. Their pale underbellies are white magic carpets in the dark as they swoop and curl just inches from snorkellers. Tip: Go with a tour company like My Kona Adventures that will rebook if rays don’t appear.  

For a private moment in the dark with Pele (the volcano goddess), visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. After a day spent exploring hissing steam vents and hiking ancient calderas, head to the Jaggar Museum observation deck to see the Halema’uma’u Crater at Kilauea after dark. A lake of churning molten lava throws a crimson glow into the clouds of steam above the active volcano.

Getting ThereWestJet flies to Kona once a week from Vancouver.