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Discover the Wonders of the Big Island: Your Ultimate Summer Guide

Gather Vacations
| Big Island, Destinations, Hawaii

The Big Island of Hawaii is a captivating destination with abundant natural beauty, cultural richness, and thrilling adventures. From pristine beaches and lush rainforests to active volcanoes and ancient Hawaiian traditions, this island has something to offer every type of traveler. 

So if you’re planning a summer getaway to the Big Island, get ready for an unforgettable experience. This comprehensive travel guide will highlight the best things to do and see, ensuring you make the most of your time in this tropical paradise.

Explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

No trip to the Big Island is complete without a visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Witness the power and beauty of Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Take a scenic drive along Crater Rim Drive, stopping at various lookout points to witness the volcanic landscapes and steam vents. Take advantage of the Thurston Lava Tube, a unique geological formation that offers a fascinating glimpse into the island’s volcanic history.

Immerse Yourself in History at Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

Step back in time and experience the rich history of the Hawaiian people at Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. This sacred site served as a place of refuge in ancient times, where lawbreakers could seek forgiveness and redemption. Explore the beautifully restored temples, fishponds, and sacred grounds while learning about Hawaiian customs and traditions.

Snorkel in Kealakekua Bay

Dive into the crystal-clear waters of Kealakekua Bay, a marine sanctuary known for its vibrant coral reefs and abundant marine life. Snorkel alongside colorful fish, sea turtles, and even dolphins. For a unique experience, take a guided kayak tour to Captain Cook’s Monument, a historical site marking the spot where the famous explorer met his fate. Don’t forget your underwater camera to capture the stunning underwater world.

Marvel at the Mauna Kea Summit

Embark on a thrilling journey to the summit of Mauna Kea, the tallest volcano on the island. As you ascend to an elevation of over 13,000 feet, you’ll witness breathtaking panoramic views of the island and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. At the summit, experience the magic of stargazing at one of the world’s premier astronomical observatories. Be sure to dress warmly, as temperatures can be significantly cooler at higher elevations.

Relax on Stunning Beaches

The Big Island boasts some of Hawaii’s most beautiful beaches. First, head to Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area, consistently ranked among the world’s best beaches with crystal-clear turquoise waters and powdery white sand. Then, for a more secluded experience, visit Makalawena Beach, accessible via a short hike. This hidden gem offers tranquil waters and a pristine shoreline surrounded by lava rock formations.

Explore the Lush Waipio Valley

Venture into the lush Waipio Valley, a verdant paradise of tropical rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and taro fields. Take a guided horseback or ATV tour to fully immerse yourself in the valley’s natural beauty. Hike down to the black sand beach, or simply soak in the breathtaking views from the lookout point above. Be prepared for steep roads and a sense of awe as you connect with the island’s raw and untouched landscapes.

Indulge in Local Cuisine and Culture

No visit to the Big Island is complete without savoring the island’s unique culinary offerings. Taste fresh poke, a traditional Hawaiian dish of marinated raw fish, and sample the diverse flavors of Hawaiian cuisine at local restaurants and food trucks. Don’t miss the chance to experience an authentic Hawaiian luau, where you can feast on kalua pig, poi, and other traditional dishes while enjoying captivating hula performances and live music.

Take a Scenic Drive along the Hamakua Coast

 Embark on a picturesque road trip along the Hamakua Coast, a stretch of scenic beauty characterized by dramatic cliffs, lush valleys, and cascading waterfalls. Drive through the charming towns of Honomu and Honokaa, stopping at scenic viewpoints such as Akaka Falls State Park, where you can marvel at the 442-foot Akaka Falls and stroll through the lush rainforest.

Visit the Historic Town of Kailua-Kona

Explore the vibrant town of Kailua-Kona, known for its historical significance and lively atmosphere. Stroll along Ali’i Drive, lined with shops, restaurants, and historic landmarks. Visit Hulihee Palace, once a vacation home for Hawaiian royalty, and the Mokuaikaua Church, the oldest Christian church in Hawaii. Remember to sample the famous Kona coffee at local cafes and browse the charming art galleries.

Discover the Beauty of Waimea

Journey to the upcountry town of Waimea, nestled in the heart of the island’s ranching region. Explore the rolling green hills and pastoral landscapes that resemble the Scottish Highlands. Immerse yourself in the rich cowboy culture at the Parker Ranch, one of the largest privately-owned cattle ranches in the United States. Enjoy a horseback ride or attend a rodeo event to experience the spirit of the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy).

Delve into Underwater Wonders

Dive or snorkel in the vibrant underwater world surrounding the Big Island. Explore the pristine coral reefs of the Kohala Coast, where you can encounter diverse marine life, including colorful tropical fish, graceful manta rays, and even majestic humpback whales (during the winter months). Book a guided snorkeling or scuba diving excursion to ensure a safe and memorable underwater adventure.

Experience the Spirit of Aloha

As you plan your summer getaway to the Big Island of Hawaii, be sure to pack your sense of adventure and an open heart. This tropical paradise awaits with its mesmerizing landscapes, rich cultural experiences, and warm aloha spirit. 

And when it comes to finding the perfect home away from home, Gather has you covered. Explore our wide selection of vacation rentals on the Big Island and book your accommodations today. Secure your activities, immerse yourself in the local culture, and get ready for an unforgettable journey that will create memories to last a lifetime. 

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