Hosted by the Kauai Music Festival, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2002, the Hawai’i Songwriting Festival is scheduled for September 7-9, 2017 on the Big Island. While the renowned songwriting festival was originally hosted on the island of Kauai, the organization moved to the Big Island in 2015 and renamed the festival to accommodate its growing popularity.

About the Organization

The Kauai Music Festival (KMF) embodies the Aloha spirit through music. The organization accomplishes this feat by promoting and sharing music education and collaboration among music professionals locally, on the mainland, and internationally.

Each year, the organization hosts numerous events including educational, networking, and showcase opportunities. This series of events leads up to the main event, the Hawai’i Songwriting Festival held each year.

Hawai'i Songwriting Festival

Musicians of all styles and genres can join the Hawai’i Songwriting Festival.

The 2017 Hawai’i Songwriting Festival

Musicians of all genres, styles, and cultures are invited to join in the annual music event. Musicians of all skill levels are welcome to come, learn, meet other musicians, and grow their love of the art. The annual conference hosts workshops, seminars, concerts, networking opportunities, and more with the goal of connecting one another through the Aloha spirit and love of music.

The festival also hosts a songwriting competition where musicians can submit and perform their pieces with the hopes of placing in the top three spots. Songwriters attending the festival and on the staff have written hits for top musicians and bands such as:

  • Train
  • Colbie Caillat
  • Ringo Starr
  • George Strait
  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Ricky Martin
  • And so many more


Guests also have the opportunity to meet with top brands and organizations in the music industry including Fender, Bose, Yamaha, BMI, Roland, and more. You never know who you’ll meet or create music with at the festival!

For more information on the 2017 Hawai’i Songwriting Festival, visit their website.


No matter where I travel, I think exploring is part of the adventure. Luckily, Hawaii is the perfect setting to put such a philosophy to work. Hiking in Hawaii is a popular activity and the Big Island has no shortage of beautiful places to visit. In fact, Big Island scenic hikes run the gamut of waterfalls to green sand beaches to lava landscapes. The surroundings are immersive, natural wonders only a Hawaiian Island can offer.  There are plenty of places to hike on the Big Island but there are a few can’t miss favorites.

Big Island Scenic Hikes You Don’t Want to Miss 

Big Island Scenic Hikes

The sights on the Kilauea Iki trail are impressive.

1) Kilauea Iki Trail
This four-mile loop is located inside the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  During the hike, you’ll navigate through the Kilauea Iki Crater, the remains of a massive 1959 eruption.  As you descend the 400-feet of the crater, a variety of scenery welcomes you.  From lush rainforests to active steam and sulfur vents and a solidified lava lake, hiking this trail gives you access to incredible, unique sights only the Big Island can provide.
Big Island Scenic Hikes

Lush and green, the Waipio Valley is a stark contrast to the volcanic landscapes that dominate the Big Island. Paul Bica, via flickr

2) Waipio Valley

On the northern Hamakua Coast, you’ll find the lush Waipio Valley. Surrounded by cliffs up to 2,000-feet high, the deep valley is about a mile wide.  Hiilawe Falls, the Big Island’s tallest waterfall, is a highlight as is a black sand beach and Kuluhine Falls.  Park at the Waipio Valley Lookout and hike to the beach while enjoying all of the scenic sights that surround you.

Akaka Falls on Big Island Hawaii in tropical rain fores

This short hike is seriously stunning.

3) Akaka Falls Loop

Head to Akaka Falls State Park to see the 442-foot Akaka Falls.  Situated on the northeastern Hamakua Coast, you can access the park about 3.5 miles from Honomu, a former sugar plantation town.  You can see both beautiful falls by trekking a short .4 mile paved path laden with wild orchids, bamboo groves and draping ferns. As far as Big Island scenic hikes go, this is one has one of the most rewarding sights. Plus, it’s one of the shortest! 
Thurston Lava Tube At Hawaii Volcano National Park

Inside the Thurston Lava Tube.

4) Thurston Lava Tube

When you think of Big Island scenic hikes, a lava tube might not come to mind. However, when you’re on the Big Island a volcanic world surrounds you. Accordingly, exploring this unique sight just makes sense.
Of the 150 miles of hiking trails inside the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, this one is the easiest. As a result, it’s also pretty popular! On the 20-minute walk, you’ll navigate through a thick, fern-filled forest to the Thurston Lava Tube. Once there, you’ll enter a 500-foot cave-like tunnel (tube) that was carved by fast-moving molten lava.  Walking through a lava tube is definitely a highlight of any visit to the Big Island. It’s also one of the most interesting hikes you can experience.

By jonny-mt, via Wikimedia Commons

5) Papakolea Beach
Green sand, created by the mineral olivine, creates a one-of-a-kind environment to discover at Papakolea Beach.  It is one of only two green sand beaches in the world.  The hike to the beach, which is located near Ka Lea or the “South Point”, which is 2.5 miles one way.  During the hike, you’ll gain access to one of the most remote beaches on the Big Island. In addition, you’ll experience one of the most unique settings in the world.

Discover More of the Big Island

The beauty of the Big Island doesn’t end with these hikes. There are truly amazing sights at every turn, creating a marvelous oasis of discovery. Plan your trip with Reserve Hawaii to see just how breathtaking a Hawaii vacation can be.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

The Big Island of Hawaii features a vast landscape for visitors to explore. The youngest in the Hawaiian Island chain, a combination of scenery lets you explore everything from black sand beaches, volcanoes, lush valleys and waterfalls, and snow-capped mountaintops. Ready to discover the most popular things to do on Big Island? Read on.

Things to Do on Big Island

Some of the attractions in Hawaii you’ll want to experience when you visit the Big Island include Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park, Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site and Waipio Valley.

Lava from Kilauea volcano entering ocean, Big Island, HI

Lava from Kilauea volcano entering ocean, Big Island, HI

1) Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Established in 1916, this national park displays the results of hundreds of thousands of years of volcanism. Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, and Mauna Loa, the most massive volcano at this national park, offer insights on the origins of the Hawaiian Islands as well as provides visitors with dramatic views of volcanic landscapes. Furthermore, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is designated as an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site. There is a visitor center located a the park with displays and information, as well as a Volcano Arts Center and the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, located a few miles west of the visitor center, features even more volcanic art.

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau 15907188853_7ee7526e5f_z CC

The Royal Canoe Landing Zone/Prayitno, flickr

2) Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park
This Park is located on the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. It preserves the site where, up until the early 19th century, Hawaiians who broke kapu, or ancient laws, could a avoid death by fleeing to this place of refuge or pu’uhonua. The grounds just outside the Great Wall of the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau were also home to several generations of powerful chiefs. In addition, the park contains a reconstruction of the Hale O Keawe heiau.

Akaka Falls on Big Island Hawaii in tropical rain fores

Akaka Falls on Big Island Hawaii in tropical rain forest.

3) Akaka Falls
If you’re in the Hilo area, you can conveniently access Akaka Falls State Park as it’s just a short 13 miles away. Located along the Hamakua Coast, you can view two spectacular waterfalls on one short hike. An easy-to-hike paved footpath loops through a lush rainforest, leading your to the 100-foot Kahuna Falls and then the 442-feet Akaka Falls. There is a small fee of $1 for walk-ins and $5 for cars.


Ewen Roberts, flickr

4) Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site
Located on the northern coasted of the Big Island, this historic site preserves the ruins of the last major ancient Hawaiian temple, among other historic sites. A visitor center and interpretive trail can be explored, as well as the ruins of an earlier Mailekini Heiau, an underwater structure dedicated to sharks called the Hale o Kapuni and across the bay is Kawaihae harbor.

Waipio Valley 5499821986_b644c83d96_z CC

paul bica, flickr

5) Waipio Valley
Waipio means “curved water” in the Hawaiian language, which accurately describes this beautiful site. Located in the Hamakua district of the Big Island, the Waipio Valley was the capital and permanent residence of many early Hawaiian kings. The shore line in the valley is a black sand beach, popular with surfers. Several large waterfalls and taro farms are also located here. Likewise, hiking the Waipio Valley and stopping at the Waipio Valley lookout are popular things to do in this area.

Big Island Snorkeling 4261502396_37529a3d8b_z CC

Makuahine Pa’i Ki’i, flickr

6) Kona Adventures
The Kona region is known for its fabulous coffee. But, it is also home to a variety of ways to get your adrenaline pumping.  Venture to the depths of the sea via a submarine tour with companies like Atlantis Adventures. During these underwater tours you’ll want to bring your camera so you can snap photos of eels, dolphins and even sharks! Of course, snorkeling and scuba diving will get you even closer to the exotic species that inhabit the ocean. Accordingly, a deluxe morning snorkel on the Body Glove is always a good idea. It will put you face-to-face with beautiful sea creatures. Horseback riding on Hawaii is also popular, especially with outfitters like Cowboys of Hawaii. Enjoy two hour horseback rides that take you through historic Parker Ranch.

Hapuna Beach 26782845504_782590239f_z CC

Sunset at Hapuna Beach/Eric Tessmer, flickr

7) Big Island Beaches
It’s no surprise that the beaches on the Big Island are a top tourist attraction as well. As a result, one of the top things to do on Big Island are play on the sunny beaches. Some of the most beautiful beaches include Kua Bay Beach Park, Mauna Kea Beach and Hapuna State Beach Park.

Consider a Big Island Hawaii vacation for your next unforgettable getaway!

The absolute best way to see the beauty of the Big Island is with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. Board one of their Eco-Star or A-Star helicopters for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Take to the sky to see magnificent sheer cliffs, waterfalls and even a volcano. With this in mind, the vast variety of sights make a tour with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Big Island captivating year-round.

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Big Island offers two tours–the Kohala Coast Adventure and the Big Island Spectacular. For a once-in-a-lifetime experience you can’t beat the Big Island Spectacular tour. Rated the “World’s Best Helicopter Thrill” by the Travel Channel, the tour boasts sights such as the Hawaii Volcanoes National park, including the famous Kilauea volcano, the Hamakua and Kohala Coast, breathtaking waterfalls and towering sea cliffs. It’s kind of the best thing ever to add to a Big Island vacation. Don’t beleive me? Follow along as I detail my Big Island Spectacular tour for further convincing.

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Big Island Spectacular

I recommend arriving at the Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Big Island Waikoloa office about 45 minutes prior to your departure. This gives the office adequate time to check passengers in and present a quick safety briefing.

Hawaii 2012 Round 2 1311 RSZ

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters does the utmost to ensure your safety. Therefore, operators arrange seats assignments for equal weight distribution. Two passengers are placed up front, along with the pilot, while four others are seated behind them. However, there’s no need to worry about getting a window seat.

My seat is on the inside of the four passengers. Even though I don’t have a true window seat, fairly quickly I realize it doesn’t matter. Because the views are amazing. Like, couldn’t put my camera down amazing.

Unbelievable Scenery

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Big Island gets you closer to the sights than ever possible by land. As a result, the unparalleled access leads to some of the most breathtaking scenery anywhere. Some of the unbelieveable sights include:

  • Kilauea volcano steaming and spewing red, vibrant lava
  • Valleys featuring numerous waterfalls cascading from lush mountains
  • Emerald green splendor of the Hamakua Coast with waterfalls descending into the bright blue ocean waters
  • Waipio Valley, home to the breathtaking Hi’ilawe Waterfall, which drops an amazing 1,600 feet
  • Mountains and valleys of the Kohala Coast
  • Lush, tropical rainforest and cliffs of the Big Island’s northern most point

Hawaii 2012 Round 2 1351_RSZ Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Big Island

A quick note about photos: be sure to wear shirts that are neutral in color. If not, the camera picks those colors up in the reflection of the window. Unfortunately, this can really mar some of your gorgeous shots.

Flight Details

During the flight, which is so smooth, everyone has a headset and microphone. Therefore, feel free to ask questions and interact with the pilot. My pilot is knowledgeable and engaging, even joking about how he was going to have to charge us extra for all of the extraordinary rainbows we were witnessing. Truly, every 10 minutes we were flying through or over another rainbow, which added a magical touch to the experience. The banter made the trip even more memorable.

Hawaii 2012 Round 2 1212_RSZ Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Big Island

Accordingly, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Big Island records the entire flight, both visually and aurally. In fact, you can purchase the DVD after the flight for $25. In my opinion, the charge is totally worth it. I mean, how many times are you going to go on a coast-to-coast helicopter tour of the Big Island? The DVD includes footage from an exterior camera, while interspersing interior cabin shots and audio from the tour. It’s a souvenir with a totally “we were there” vibe.

The full two hour tour gives you an in-depth look at the contrasting landscapes of the Big Island. From the sheer sea bluffs to the lush valleys and rainforests to the dry, stark lava fields and volcanic craters, the Big Island Spectacular tour takes you on a journey to the island’s most impressive sights.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Ah, Kona. The magnificent beaches. The exceptionally kind locals. The food. The adventures. With so many things to do in Kona, what’s not to love?

If you’re planning a vacation to the Big Island (officially named, Hawaii), you have to visit Kona. The Kailua-Kona area is home to extraordinary stores, restaurants, activities, beaches, and more. Plus, there’s so much to do here. From outdoor adventures to exceptional shopping, the Kona area has it all.

During your first visit to Hawaii, don’t pass up some of the best things to do in Kona!


Tour a Kona Coffee Farm

As a lover of all things coffee, it’s no surprise that touring a coffee farm is one of my favorite things to do in Kona. I highly recommend that all first time Kona visitors take a coffee farm tour. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed by the coffee produced in Kona. In fact, you’ll probably end up taking multiple bags home!

From Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation to Greenwell Farms, these tours will teach you about the coffee farming industry, process, and history in Hawaii. Not only will you be intrigued by all that you see and learn, you’ll be perfectly caffeinated for the rest of your Kona adventures.


Go to a Luau

When you’re in Hawaii for the first time, you have to get tickets for a luau. It’s not a Hawaiian vacation without a luau! Kailua-Kona boasts several luaus for you to enjoy, including:


No matter which Kona luau you choose to attend, you’ll have a great time watching the performances, chowing down on the buffet, and learning about Hawaiian culture and history. While it’s one of the more traditional things to do in Kona, this is a “do not miss” activity for all first time visitors.

Browse the Kona Farmers Market

Filled with crafts, locally-grown produce, and so much more, first time visitors should stroll through the Kona Farmers Market. If you’re looking to purchase authentic Hawaiian gifts, you’ll find them here. The market is open Wednesday through Saturday from 7:00am to 4:00pm, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore and find the perfect gifts to bring back to your family and friends. Be sure to try some of the local produce and food while you’re here as well!

Hawaii beach sand ocean 453887589

Go to the Beach

You’re vacationing in Hawaii, right? If you don’t go to the beach, what are you doing with your vacation? Spending a day at the beach is one of the greatest things to do in Kona – let alone any place in Hawaii!

Grab your swimsuit, beach towel, and sunscreen, and head to one of Kona’s great beaches, including:

  • Kailua Park
  • White Sands
  • Kahaluu
  • Kua Bay


Plus, that’s only a handful of the beaches available for first time Kona visitors to explore!

Play a Round of Golf

Imagine hitting the links on a picturesque golf course in Hawaii. Pretty incredible, right? In Kailua-Kona, this is the case for all of the gorgeous golf courses. Take in the beautiful views while working on your swing right in Kona!

Make a reservation at these breathtakingly beautiful Kona golf courses:


Helicopter Big Island

Experience the Natural Beauty of Kona and the Big Island

It’s no secret that the Hawaiian Islands are absolutely stunning. Between the crystal clear beaches and the volcanoes, there’s so much to experience. One question many first time Kona visitors have is how to see as much of the island as possible within a short amount of time.

The answer is simple: a helicopter tour.

As one of the most exhilarating things to do in Kona, you’ll be able to see the Big Island from high in the sky. Get ready to be awestruck by all that you will see right from the seat of a helicopter. Hint: it involves stunning ocean views, jaw-dropping landscapes, and perhaps a volcano.

Another way to see as much of the Big Island and Kona as possible is a ziplining excursion. Have you ever imagined zipping through the trees, next to the piercing blue ocean, high above the ground? It’s an extraordinary way to see the natural beauty of the Big Island and Kona.


Take a Tour of the Big Island

I know what you’re thinking. “Oh great, a boring tour on an air-conditioned coach bus. Lovely.”

Wrong! Depending on what tour you choose, you could find yourself hiking through a forest, looking for tropical birds, or climbing to the top of a volcano.

Say goodbye to self-led audio tours, and hello to adventure when you reserve your spot for one of these tours:


snorkel kona-min

Go Snorkeling

What’s a vacation to Hawaii without going snorkeling? Considered to be one of the most popular things to do in Kona, snorkeling provides memorable vacation experiences unlike any other. You’ll discover vibrant fish, fascinating coral, and so much more! On the Dolphin & Snorkeling Cruise on the Body Glove, you’ll have the opportunity to spot dolphins and explore a coral reef in a single experience.

Trust me, snorkeling is one of the best experiences for first time Kona visitors.


Go On a Whale Watching Tour

Between December and April, you can see majestic Humpback Whales right off the Kona coast. On a whale watching tour, you’ll have the opportunity to cruise around Kona, explore the open ocean, and spot these magnificent creatures. When in season, a whale watching tour is touted as one of the best things to do in Kona for first time visitors. After all, who doesn’t want to catch a glimpse of a humongous Humpback Whale?

Visit the Petroglyph Fields

Just north of Kona, you’ll find two intriguing petroglyph fields — Waikoloa Petroglyph Field and Pukao Petroglyph Field. As defined by the National Park Service, petroglyphs are rock carvings made by pecking directly on the rock surface using a stone chisel and a hammerstone. Not to be confused with pictographs, which are rock paintings.

You can see these ancient petroglyphs in person when you visit one or both of the fields near Kona. This is by far one of the most interesting things to do in Kona. As you walk along the trails in the field, you’ll be surrounded by historic petroglyphs. Get a good look – it’s quite an intriguing sight!

Visit Historic Kailua Village

No visit to Kona is complete without a trip to the Historic Kailua Village. Take a walk down Alii Drive and you’ll find exceptional shopping, dining, historical places, and more. The village is bursting at the seams with culture, art, music, and ultimately, fun. From the pier to the nightlife, this is something you don’t want to miss in Kona.


Book Your Tickets for the Greatest Things to Do in Kona

Planning your first trip to Kona? Use Reserve Hawaii to book your hotel, reserve your tour and luau tickets, and get insider tips on all the things to do in Kona.


Searching for ways to save on your Big Island vacation? Of course you are! Luckily, there are plenty of free things to do on Big Island that will make activities and sightseeing a breeze. There are a variety of affordable (or almost free) activities too, so you can rest assured you won’t have to break the bank once your Hawaii adventure begins.

Check out these free things to do on Big Island:


Akaka Falls on Big Island Hawaii in tropical rain forest

Akaka Falls on Big Island Hawaii

1) Akaka Falls State Park

If you’re in the Hilo area, you can conveniently access Akaka Falls State Park as it’s just a short 13 miles away. Located along the Hamakua Coast, you can view two spectacular waterfalls on one short hike. An easy-to-hike paved footpath loops through a lush rainforest, leading your to the 100-foot Kahuna Falls and then the 442-feet Akaka Falls. There is a small fee of $1 for walk-ins and $5 for cars.

2) Kalapana Lava Viewing Area

The Big Island is famous for its active volcano. If you want to see molten lava, the Kalapana Lava Viewing Area offers an excellent vantage point. Best of all, you can witness the hot lave gushing into the ocean, one of the must-see sights for any vacationer on the Big Island. Conditions change daily, so be sure to call the viewing hotline (808-961-8093) for up-to-date conditions during your trip.


Lava Tree State Park/Wikimedia

3) Lava Tree State Park

It’s a fairly safe bet you’ve never seen a lava tree before. Don’t miss your chance to do so while on the Big Island. As one of the most unique free things to do on Big Island, the Lava Tree State Park, located off Pahoa-Pohoiki Road (less than three miles southeast of Pahoa), is a forest of lave trees to behold. What exactly are lava trees? Formed by a lava flow that swept through the area, the trees that are left are coated in thick lava. It’s a unique sight to behold.

Mokupapapa Discovery Center Yelp

Yelp/Em P.

4) Mokupapapa Discovery Center

Dive into discovery at the Mokupapapa Discovery Center, which offers free admission Tuesday through Saturday. The center highlights the diverse marine life of Papahanaumokuakea Marine Nation Monument, a pristine ocean environment that is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The best part of the center is the 2,500-gallon saltwater aquarium.

Mauna Kea_CC

Flickr/ Matt Rafferty

5) Mauna Kea

Rise to an elevation of 9,000 feet at Mauna Kea, the Big Island’s dormant volcano. At the Visitor Information Station you can learn about the famous astronomical observatories. Plus, once evening begins volunteers bring out telescopes. You can gaze at the stars from this amazing vantage point for absolutely free.

Pu'ukohola_Heiau_temple2 Wikimedia_RSZ


6) Puukohola National Historic Site

Experience Hawaii history first-hand at Puukohola. Hawaii’s largest heiau (temple) is located here and was built under the direction of King Kamahameha I. The founding of the Hawaiian Kingdom can be directly linked to this site, making it a true Kohala coast history lesson.


Flickr/Makuahine Pa’i Ki’i

7) Panaewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens

Bring your family to explore this 12-acre rainforest zoo free of charge. Located just south of Hilo, lush botanical gardens with over 100 varieties of flora and fauna, a petting zoo and a White Bengal Tiger are available to enjoy at Panaewa Rainforest Zoo.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

See Hawaii’s famous volcanoes as you’ve never seen them before with Hawaii volcano tours. Choose from Big Island volcano tours or tours of Maui or Oahu. See lava flows and enormous craters as you walk around these marvels of nature. Reserve Hawaii offers visitors several popular Hawaii volcano tours to choose from.  Read on to learn more about engaging volcano tours in Hawaii available during your Hawaii vacation.

Molten lava exploding in Kilauea , Hawaii

Kilauea Volcano

Big Island Full Day Volcano Eco-Tour:   Visit Rainbow Falls, a Richardson’s black sand beach, Queen Liliuokalani Gardens, historic Hilo town and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, among other stops, on this engaging eco-tour.  Walk beside the gaping Halemaumau Crater, visit the fascinating Jagger Museum, learn the geology of the volcano, walk inside the Thurston Lava Tube and see the Kilauea Iki Steam Vents.  When the sun goes down, watch as the molten lava from Kilauea glows burnt orange and red in the darkness of the night. 

Evening Volcano Special Tour:   Although ‘evening’ is included in this tour name, there’s actually a full day of exploration ahead of you.  A visit to Rainbow Falls, Richardson’s Black Sand Beach, the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory, Akatsua Orchid Nurseries and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is included on the tour.  Visit the park’s Jaggar Museum and Kilauea Visitors Center, and then explore the Steam Vents and Kilauea Iki Overlook before walking inside the Thurston Lava tube.  As night falls you’ll be able to see active lava flowing from the Kilauea Volcano – a special sight indeed!  


Thurston Lava Tube

Grand Circle Island Tour:  Numerous Big Island spots are included in this island tour.  This daylong adventure is the perfect showcase for the Big Island’s most unique sights and locations.  Visit Royal Kona Coffee, Kealakekua Bay, Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Rainbow Falls, Hamakua Coast, and Fern Tree Jungle, among other sites.  Then, tour Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where you’ll see lava fields, lava tubes such as the Thurston Lava Tube, steam vents and even view molten lava when conditions are right. 

Deluxe Volcano AdventureLooking for a full day tour spent exclusively at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park?  Then this adventure tour is perfect for you.  Through detailed geologic and natural history interpretation, short walks and auto-tours, you’ll explore and learn about the world’s most active volcano.   See a splendid rainforest, walk through the Thurston Lava Tube, and explore volcanic formations and the diverse geography and climates of the park.  Other points of interest include Rainbow Falls, Hilo’s King Kamehameha Statue, Big Island Candies, Jaggar Museum, Kilauea Caldera, Steam Vents, Halemaumau Crater, Thurston Lava Tube, Mauna Kea State Park,and more. A lunch and dinner is included in this tour, making it a great value for visitors. 

Steam Vents

Kona Coffee and Craters:  Don’t have time to tour the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park but still want to see volcanic landscapes?  Then this is the tour for you.    You’ll journey through a dense rainforest to a world of volcanic activity in Kaupulehu and explore native dryland forest, lava flows, a lava tube and three distinct craters.  Afterwards, tour a Kona coffee estate where you can see all aspects up the coffee process and try some of the home-brewed blends.  

Twilight Volcano Adventure:   Despite the name, this adventure is actually a full day tour – which includes viewing Kilauea at twilight.   The tour starts with viewings of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa before stopping at Mauna Kea State Park.  Enjoy a deli-style lunch before visiting the Kaumana Cave.  Then, you’ll head to the summit of Kilauea inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  The summit caldera, steam vents, cinder fields, and native rainforests are all on our “must see” list.  Dine on a picnic dinner before witnessing the awesome power of active lava.  Viewing options include Kalapana, where lava flows into the sea, and the Halemaumau Crater.


Halemaumau Crater

Volcanoes National Park & Waterfalls Explorer: Want to see two of the Big Island’s iconic attractions in one day? If so, this is one of the Hawaii Volcano Tours ideal for you! It covers everything that makes Hawai`i Island unique. See Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, the two largest volcanoes of Hawai`i Island, on the way to famous Rainbow Falls and quaint Hilo-town, the site of two devastating tsunamis. Includes a brief stop at the KapohoKine Adventures store to top off on provisions before heading to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where your Park Ranger-trained guide will walk you through Thurston Lava Tube, past active steam vents, and into the Jaggar Museum. The return to Kona includes a stop at the beautiful Punalu`u black sand beach where endangered sea turtles feed and rest. A picnic-style lunch is included. This is an all-day excursion lasting 10 hours.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

The Big Island of Hawaii is home to natural wonders and stunning settings. This Hawaiian island is also home to some of the most diverse landscapes you’ll find, with a combination of volcanic rock and lush rainforests creating an environment visitors love to explore. Want to learn more about the variety of places you can visit? Read on.

Polulu Valley_iStock_000032154578XSmall

Polulu Valley

Six main sections create the Big Island. Here’s what you need to know about each one:

The Kona Coast: Coffee and big fish are synonymous with the Kona Coast, a 70-mile stretch of black lava covered coast. Kona translates to “leeward side” in Hawaiian, meaning full-on sun all the time. This also makes it a bit more affordable place to vacation in Hawaii. Tiny towns and quaint fishing villages dot the Kona Coast, but the resort area of Keauhou provides nice accommodations.

The Kohala Coast: World-class beachfront hotels and golf courses, golden beaches and numerous historic sites can be found along the Kohala Coast. Hapuna Beach State Park, one of Hawaii’s largest white sand beaches, is a highlight of the area. The North Kohala Coast is a stark contrast to its southern side with its lush greenery and undeveloped pastoral land. The amazing Pololu Valley Overlook and historical sites like Puukohola Heiau and King Kamehameha’s birthplace are located in this region.

Waterfall in a tropical rain forest

Akaka Falls

The Hamakua Coast: This area of the Big Island is a scenic wonder, with the emerald Hamakua Coast stretching for 52 miles. You won’t find many beaches or resorts here, but go for a road trip around the coast, or better yet a helicopter tour, to see lush tropical rainforests, deep gulches and valleys, waterfalls and beautiful seaside views. Waipio Valley, with black sand beaches and blooming wild plants, is a picture-perfect place to visit. Make a trek to Akaka Falls, too, a 442 foot waterfall.

Hilo: Hilo is the gateway to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. However, it also has some attractions of its own. It rains a lot in Hilo, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the gorgeous tropical setting. Hilo’s landscape is the exact opposite of the Kona-Kohala region, with dramatic waterfalls, fertile rainforests and blooming gardens creating an experience completely different from other regions in the Big Island. Natural wonders like Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots in Wailuku River State Park and botanical gardens are highlights.

Hot magma

Lava flowing into the ocean. Photo credit: Hawaii Chamber & Visitors Bureau

Kau: Largely known as the home of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kau is vast and remote. Visitors flock to the area to visit the national park and see Kilauea Volcano, a live volcano that erupts daily. You could easily spend three days here exploring the trails, watching the volcano, visiting the rainforest and simply enjoying the spectacular sights available. Even if you only have one day to explore, be sure you do. You’ll find 150 miles of hiking trails through volcanic craters, scalded deserts and rainforests as well as a museum, petroglyphs and a walk-in lave tube. A second active volcano – Maunaloa – is located here too. It hasn’t erupted since 1984, though, so Kilauea is the main attraction.

Puna: Located on the eastern tip of Hawaii, a visit to Puna includes scenic hiking, black sand beaches, rainforests and rugged landscapes. A must-see of the region is Kalapana, a community that is partially covered by lava. Here you can watch as lava from the volcano hits the sea, a truly stunning sight. The 17-acrea Lava Tree State park features a path winding through the lava rock molds of trees from the 1700’s.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.
Kohala Coast, Big Island

Kohala Coast, Big Island

The Big Island’s Kohala Coast is a lush, green landscape that is a stark contrast to the lave fields you’ll find in many areas of the island.  Home to some of the Big Island’s finest resorts and golf course, the Kohala Coast, specifically the North Kohala Coast, is a beautiful section of the Big Island rich with history and points of interests.

Kohala Coast island highlights include:

Mookini Heiau State Monument:  Built around 480 A.D. this sacred temple is located near Kamehameha’s

Pololu Valley Lookout

Pololu Valley Lookout
Photo Credit: Bill Ward/flickr

Pololu Valley Lookout: Offers a breathtaking view overlooking Pololu Valley, a black sand beach and the northeastern coastline.

Kamehameha Statue:  The original King Kamehameha Statue can be found in Kapaau, near his birthplace in North Kohala.

Lapakahi State Historical Park: This partially restored fishing settlement is over 600 years old.

Waimea: Travel to the cool, green pastures of Waimea to discover paniolo (cowboy) country, as well as fine dining, shopping and culture.

Kamehameha Statue

Kamehameha Statue
Photo Credit: LuxTonnere/flickr

Hawi:  Hawi is a charming town home to unique boutiques, galleries and restaurants.

Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve: The Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve is one of the most extensive petroglyph fields in Hawaii.

Hapuna Beach State Park:  Hapuna Beach on the Kohala Coast is one of the largest white sand beaches on Hawaii Island.

Hapuna Beach Flickr

Hapuna Beach
Photo Credit: Phil Price

Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site:  Part of the National Park System, this historic site is home to one of the largest and last heiau (temple) built in Hawaii.

Other adventures like horseback riding and ziplining are available in the Kohala Coast area of the Big Island too.  Stop by the Kohala Rainbow Café, located on Hwy. 270, Kapaau, in front of the King Kamehameha Statue, for lunch while you’re sightseeing.  Famous for their local flavor infused wraps, the café also serves juicy hamburgers, homemade sandwiches and giant salads all for a reasonable price.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Planning a vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii? Find out all you need to know about some of the top Big Island Resorts:

Hilo Hawaiian Hotel


Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

Hilo’s best full-service hotel offers outstanding views of the ocean or quaint Hilo Town framed by the backdrop of Mauna Kea. Located on Hilo Bay, Hilo Hawaiian Hotel is the perfect headquarters for exploring the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Enjoy incredible views of Mauna Kea, Hilo Town, and beautiful and historic Coconut Island during your stay.

Halii Kai at Waikoloa

Located at the world-famous Waikoloa Resort, Halii Kai offers you the opportunity to relax and stretch out in a well appointed two- or three-bedroom luxury villa and revel in the spacious comfort, inviting privacy, and stunning ocean views that surround you. Their villas are beautifully situated on more than 30 acres, with breathtaking ocean, mountain, golf course and green views. All villas are luxuriously well appointed, living up to its 4 star rating.

Royal Kona Resort


Royal Kona Resort

The Oceanfront Royal Kona Resort is an architectural marvel set on twelve oceanfront acres overlooking Kailua Bay in the heart of historic Kailua-Kona town on the Big Island of Hawaii. Each of the Resort’s spacious guestrooms features a large lanai with beautiful mountain vistas or magnificent ocean views. The Royal Kona Resort features a unique oceanfront, split-level swimming pool, a private beach and saltwater swimming lagoon.

Kona Bali Kai

Situated at the ocean’s edge, just off the beach, this resort offers a unique lodging experience in the sunniest spot on Hawaii’s Big Island. Kona Bali Kai has 154 units split between the ocean side (makai) and mountain side (mauka) of Alii Drive. Kona Bali Kai offers spacious studios, and one, two, and three-bedroom suites that feature affordable comfort.

The Islands at Mauna Lani

Mauna Lani Point

Mauna Lani Point

If you’re a golf enthusiast, this resort is the place for you. In a setting that rivals the finest country club, The Islands at Mauna Lani are situated along the famed fairways of Mauna Lani Golf Course. These handsome townhomes are set within gardens of flowering plumeria, hibiscus and ginger and tranquil ponds. The Islands at Mauna Lani offer the luxurious comforts of vacation living along with the amenities of a fine resort hotel including concierge and daily housekeeping services.

Mauna Lani Point: Situated on the Kohala Coast’s most dramatic tropical oceanfront location, Mauna Lani Point is the only oceanfront luxury villa resort in the area. Ideal for family and friends on vacation, Mauna Lani Point offers spacious condominiums surrounded by tropical luxury along with resort hotel services including daily maid, concierge and bell services. A private recreation center, with heated waterfall pool, whirlpool spa, sauna and gas grills, is available for guests.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.