Adventure Bucketlist: Big Island, Hawaii

Hawaii is just one of those places that we all have on our bucketlists. The gorgeous year-round weather, breathtaking locations and ocean views have made Hawaii a Hollywood favorite. Most of us are familiar with the scenic spots because of movies like Jurassic Park, 50 First Dates and scores of other movies filmed there. But it wasn’t until I watched the animated short film by Pixar Lava that I became really interested in the islands of Hawaii.

Photo by AlaskaDave

It’s never too early to start planning a trip. I’ve been researching where to stay in Big Island and some of the extreme adventures to do there to get inspired.

An island unlike any other, the Big Island of Hawaii is the largest and the southeastern-most of the Hawaiian Islands. It’s called the “Big Island” (or “Big I”) to help distinguish it from the 1,500-mile-long archipelago with which it shares its name – Hawaii – which can be confusing to many guests.

Sitting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, The Big Island of Hawaii is home to two of the world’s greatest mountains, one of the world’s most active volcanoes and 11 of the world’s 13 climate zones. Interestingly, the island grows every day because of its #1 tourist attraction: the Kilauea volcano on the eastern coast of the island.

There are many activities you can do in The Big Island of Hawaii depending on your interests. Whether you’re into nature hikes, extreme adventures, ecotourism, culture, culinary tours or just want to enjoy a luxury vacation in a Big Island Villa or Vacation Rental, you’re sure to find a reason to visit. Here are a few that are on my bucketlist of things to do there.

Visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The Big Island’s top attraction is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a massive park that is home to one of the world’s most active volcanoes. The area contains over 150 miles of hiking trails through volcanic craters, scalded deserts and rainforests, as well as a museum, petroglyphs, a walk-in lava tube and two active volcanoes: Maunaloa, which last erupted in 1984 and Kilauea which has been erupting since January 3, 1983. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has been designated a World Heritage Site and is one of the top reasons I want to visit the Big Island. There’s something really fascinating about the idea of the island just growing as the lava constantly flows and pours into the sea.

Kilauea Volcano Bike Tour

Whenever we travel to another country, we try to rent mountain bikes to explore on our own because it gives a different perspective to the usual van or bus tours. I’d love to try the Kilauea Volcano Bike Tour where you can explore Hawaii’s active volcano on two wheels. Guests get to ride through multiple microclimates and past rugged volcanic terrain. Tour operator Bike Volcano offers guided tours of the Hawaii Volcano National Park by bike. The Hawaii bike tour is said to be one of the best ways to explore the terrain differently by cycling to get unique views of the volcanic wonders, see rainforests, huge craters and lava fields.

Akaka Falls State Park

As a volcanic island, Hawaii is home to many beautiful waterfalls including two you can visit in the Akaka Falls State Park.

Akaka Falls is a 442 feet (135 m) tall waterfall located on the Kolekole stream. Kahuna Falls is 100 feet high. You can access these two waterfalls on a leisurely 0.4-mile uphill hike through a lush rainforest filled with wild orchids, bamboo groves and ferns. Guests who have been lucky enough to visit say the hike is easy and paved, but the views are spectacular.

Photo by Richard J Kruse

Pololu Valley Lookout

Scenic overlooking spots are always popular, so Pololu Valley sounds like a worthwhile stop. The activity has been rated most excellent on TripAdvisor, with most guests saying it involves a moderate hike and a view of the fine, black sand beach with a stunning view of the valley.

Mauna Kea Summit Adventures

I’m not much for nightlife and parties, but I really enjoy sunsets and stargazing in naturally beautiful destinations. The Mauna Kea Summit Adventures is the original sunset and stargazing tour, which has been operating since 1983. Along with expert guiding, they provide customized 4×4 turbo-diesel vans, arctic parkas and powerful telescopes as well as hot drinks and light supper for guests to fully enjoy the experience. This would be an excellent tour for those into star trail photography.

Umauma Falls Zipline Tour

Ziplines are very popular in places with beautiful scenery, so Big Island’s Umauma Falls zipline interests me. It has nine long lines with 2 MILES of spectacular zipping, over 14 waterfalls, suspension bridges and great ocean views. The first four lines are exciting long dual lines.

Umauma Waterfall Rappell and River Experience

I’ve been enjoying waterfalls rapelling and canyoning adventures here in the country, so the idea of trying it in Hawaii holds a high appeal. Tour operator Umauma Experience offers extreme river adventures where guests can explore the beautiful scenery of the Big Island’s Umauma River as they swim, float, rappel and hike through the valley and enjoy the natural beauty and unique features the Umauma River has to offer.

Hawaii Beer Tour

There are a number of craft breweries in Big Island, Hawaii including a few in Big Island that I’d love to visit. The breweries and beer variants are all inspired by the volcanic nature of the island. Kona Brewing Company on the Kona side of the Island has beers like “Big Wave Golden Ale”, Longboard Island Lager” and “Fire Rock Pale Ale.”

The Mehana Brewing Company on the Hilo side has interesting named beers including two award-winning ones: Hawai’i Nui Brewing Hapa Brown Ale and Mehana Mauna Kea Pale Ale.

There’s also Big Island Brewhaus in Waimea with beers like Aloha lager and Overboard IPA.

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