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The Big Island of Hawaii’sBest Attractions

See Beautiful Beaches, Lava Flows, & the Hilo Zoo

Hawaii is a magical, beautiful place full of amazing beaches, breathtaking landscapes, exotic marine life, and ancient history. No matter how many times you visit, this unique place never fails to hypnotize and inspire. The area surrounding Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel is full of attractions that are sure to appeal to everyone. Some of these Big Island attractions are even free, allowing you to make the most of your Hawaiian vacation. Browse a few of our favorites below or contact our Activity Desk for advice on the best attractions in Kona.

The Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens

One of the few completely free zoos in existence, the 12-acre Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens  offers is the only tropical rainforest zoo in the U.S. Here, you’ll see more than 80 animal species, including Bengal tigers and Hawaii’s state bird, the endangered Nene, as well as indigenous species of flora and fauna. There’s even a petting zoo for the kids, which is open on Saturdays from 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.

Relax at one of the Scenic Beaches in Kona

Relax and soak up some sun at Kamakahonu Bay, the beach right in front of the Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel. It's one of the few white sand beaches in the area and offers plenty of watersport activities. Kahalu'u Beach is best for snorkeling and turtle spotting, and Honaunau Bay is known for snorkeling at the famous "two step", which is a lava rock landing where you jump in to snorkel and near the famous Place of Refuge. Both Kahalu'u Beach Park and Honaunau Bay are great places to see sea turtles hatching. 

Visit King Kamehameha's Birthplace

West of Hawaii near the ruins of Mo'okini Heiau, King Kamehameha's birthplace is breathtaking to behold. Considered one of Hawaii's most significant historic sites, this enormous sacrificial temple dating from about 480 A.D. spans the length of a football field. The king's birthplace is marked by a plaque and located a few hundred yards away from the heiau. On the third Saturday of each month, you can be a witness to Hawaiian history as Leimomo Mookini Lum, whose ancestors built the temple, clean the site, and share family lore about the temple and its beginnings.

See Lava Flows & the Lava Tree State Monument

No visit to Hawaii would be complete without a glimpse of molten lava as it pours into the sea at Kalapana. Take photos of this magnificent sight from a perfectly safe vantage point located at the end of Highway 130 in the Puna district. The site is open from 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Another interesting site is the Lava Tree State Monument. This monument features unique and amazing lava trees, which were formed when a lava flow found its way through this forested area and created lava molds of tree trunks.

Explore Akaka Falls & Honomu

Akaka Falls is a breathtaking waterfall measuring close to 500 feet high. As you make your way to this gorgeous treasure, be sure to take a stroll through the charming, tiny village of Honomu. Once a bustling community catering to the sugar industry, Honomu now welcomes travelers with a delightful row of eateries, antique stores, and craft shops.

Additional Big Island Attractions:

  • Kaloko-Honokohau National Park
  • Kona Historical Society
  • Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park
  • Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve
  • Lapakahi State Historical Park
  • Kohala Historical Sites State Monument
  • Waipio Valley with Scenic Gorges
  • Mauna Kea Summit & Observatory
  • Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
  • Rainbow Falls
  • Boiling Pots of Wailuku River 
  • Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden 
  • Volcanoes National Park
  • Mokupāpapa Discovery Center (for Hawaii's Remote Coral Reefs)
  • Kalōpā Native Forest State Park & Recreation Area
  • Mauna Kea Observatory
  • South Kona (Including the Place of Refuge & the Painted Church)
  • Ironman Triathlon Start/Finish
  • Honokōhau Marina
  • Ahu’ena Heiau
  • Hulihe’e Palace
  • Atlantis Adventures Kona

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