If you like adventure, then you’ve come to the right place! Not everything in Hawaii needs to be about the ocean! The Big Island offers a variety of adventures for you to enjoy while on the Island, including hikes, horseback riding, and ATVing. We have compiled a list of some of the amazing adventures you can do during your stay on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Top 7 Big Island Land Adventures
1. Mauna Kea
Mauna Kea is amazing! When you are on top of Mauna Kea, it can feel like you are on another planet. It is cold at the summit, and in the winter the summit may be covered in snow, so be sure to pack something warm to wear. As you are summiting Mauna Kea, take time to stop at the Mauna Kea Observatory, where you can learn all about the massive telescopes that are set at the top of the dormant volcano and fun facts about space and its celestial bodies. You will need a 4 wheel drive car to drive to the summit, or you can schedule a tour to the summit through a local tour company.
One of the best times to go is just before sunset, be sure to arrive at least 30 minutes before sunset, or you will be turned away. Watching the sun go down from the summit is an amazing experience, from its great height you can make out the curvature of the earth as the sun sets. Mauna Kea is also known for its amazing views of the night sky, and draws stargazers to its summit from around the world! On a clear night, you can see the Milkyway with your bare eyes.
Fun Fact: Manu Kea is actually taller than Mount Everest (29,032ft) if you count its actual base to peak at 33,500ft. How crazy is that?
2. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is located in the southeast part of Hawaii Island. It is closest to the Hilo (east) side of the Island. If you are staying on the Kona (west) side of the Island, it is about a 2-hour drive to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is home to one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Kilauea. Kilauea has more than two dozen craters. Most recently, the Kilauea Volcano began erupting on September 29, 2021, from a single vent in the western wall of Halema`uma`u crater.
At night, the lava creates an amazing glow that lights up the caldera and it is worth checking out if you are there after dark. During the day, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park offers a variety of fun sights and hikes for you to explore and enjoy. One of our favorite little hikes is the Thurston Lava Tube. It’s just a couple of minutes drive down the road once you enter the park, and is a short paved hike down into a tube of lava.
Be sure to check out some of the other easy and fun hikes while you are there.
There are several amazing waterfalls on the Big Island of Hawaii. A few of our favorites that are easy to get to on the east side of the Island are Akaka, Kahuna, Rainbow, and Boiling Pots. You can plan a fun day trip and easily see all of them.
‘Akaka Falls State Park is about 11 miles north of Hil. The park has a paved walking path that is .4 miles long. The path is a loop that takes you through a lush garden forest and offers visitors a beautiful view of both Kahuna and Akaka Falls. Akaka Falls is 442 ft tall and is spectacular to see. There is a fee of $5 per person, children 3 and under are free.
Rainbow Falls is located in Hilo. This waterfall is 80ft tall and almost 100 ft in diameter. The Falls are just a short little walk of about 100 ft from the parking lot to the scenic overlook. From the overlook, you can see this amazing waterfall flowing over the entrance of a lava cave. According to legend, the cave is home to the ancient Hawaiian goddess Hina, who is known as the goddess of the moon. While at Rainbow Falls, you have a good chance of seeing rainbows. If you are up to it, you can follow a path up Wailuku River where you can view the waterfall from the top. Rainbow Falls can either be a roaring fall of water or just a little trickle depending on the amount of rainfall upstream. A mere mile-and-a-half up the road from Rainbow Falls is the Boiling Pots of Wailuku or Pe`epe`e Falls. Lava flow from Mauna Loa created vertical columns of lava that when covered in water from a storm the terraced pools of lava pots become turbulent and appear to be boiling.
After a day of viewing waterfalls, you can head back down the road to Downtown Hilo and explore. Hilo offers a variety of local cuisine from bentos to pizza and more.
4. Aloha Adventure Farms
Aloha Adventure Farms offers adventure for everyone. At Aloha Adventure Farms, you are able to experience some of the different cultures of Polynesia while enjoying the beauty of Hawaii. Aloha Adventure Farms is located in an untouched Hawaiian jungle where ancient Hawaiians once lived.
The Big Island ATV Tour consists of different stops at Polynesian Island Villages where you will learn about and experience each of their cultures. This is by far one of the most fun activities to enjoy on the Big Island. Want to make your own souvenir to bring home? Consider booking the Wood Carving Tour where you will learn how to make your own Polynesian wood carving.
The guides are friendly and make the tours fun for everyone. While you are at Aloha Adventure Farms be sure to visit the awesome soda shop, where you can find a variety of mixed soda flavors that are refreshing after your tour. Be sure to snag a fun souvenir in the shop before you leave! Children 5 and older are welcome, and you must be 16 or older to drive your own ATV. Anyone under the age of 16 will be driven in a UTV operated by staff.
5. Kaumana Cave State Park
Another fun stop while in Hilo is Kaumana Caves State Park. Kaumana Caves are lava tubes that were created from the 1881 Mauna Loa lava flow. Some say that the lava flow stopped just 1 ½ miles outside of Hilo because Princess Ruth camped in front of the flow of lava and pleaded with Madame Pele to spare her beloved city. The lava caves are dark, damp, and cool, so bring a flashlight and jacket with you. You can explore a little way in either direction. There are no admission fees. The parking lot is across the street, so be careful when crossing the highway.
6. Waipio Valley
Waipio Valley is one of our favorite places on the Big Island. Waipio Valley is located on the Hamakua Coast, just North of Honoka`a. From the Waipio Valley Overlook you can see down into the Sacred Valley. The Valley was the childhood home of King Kamehameha I and is known as the Valley of the Kings.
The view from the overlook of the Valley is worth checking out, but if you have a 4-wheel drive car or feel like taking the long trek down into the Valley, you won’t regret it. The road down is extremely steep and narrow and is about ¾ mile down until the road levels out and then it is an additional ½ mile until you reach the beautiful black sand beach. (If you choose to hike down, remember that you will eventually have to hike back up, so bring plenty of water and wear good shoes.)
The island’s tallest waterfall, Hi`iawe Falls cascades 1,300 feet and is located at the back of the Valley. Unfortunately, you cannot access the waterfall because it is surrounded by private property. There are approximately 100 residents who live full-time in the Valley, so be careful not to trespass when exploring the Valley. While you are down there, you might even come across a herd of wild horses who are also local residents of the Valley. There are guided van or horseback riding tours that are offered to explore the valley, too.
7. Horseback Riding
There are several horseback riding tour options on the Big Island, including the aforementioned option, Waipio Valley. But, If you are seeking a little romantic adventure, you will want to check out Horseback 2 the Sea. Horseback 2 the Sea is located on the southern end of the Island in Captain Cook. As their name implies, you actually are able to take a horseback ride to the beach, how cool is that! Horseback 2 the Sea offers 4 different tour options for you to choose from, including riding to a secluded remote beach, a private waterfall, or famous Greensands Beach. Their 5-hour tour includes lunch, or they offer hourly trail rides in the southernmost region in the U.S. Horseback 2 the Sea is ready to help make your dreams come true.
Want more information about the best tours in Big Island, Hawaii?
We hope that this list of adventures inspired you to get out, have some fun and explore the Big Island of Hawaii! We look forward to seeing you here at Aloha Adventure Farms soon.
These are just some of the amazing land adventures you can take while here on the Big Island of Hawaii. Hopefully, this guide was able to help you decide on some fun adventures to do on your trip. We hope to see you soon, here at Aloha Adventure Farms.