Top 5 Attractions (You Might Miss)

Kikaua Point Beach, Kohala

Kikaua Point Beach, Kohala

The climate, terrain, and plant life are as diverse on the Big Island as its attractions. You will likely not be able to see all that this island offers, especially if you are only visiting for a few days.

You can browse our comprehensive list of attractions on our Big Island Things to Do page with interactive map that shows you geographically where all the attractions are located.

Even if you read all the tourist magazine and guide books, you will still probably miss several very important an interesting attractions on the Big Island. These attractions are off the beaten track and not very easy to get to.

Our list is a mix of sightseeing, hiking, and in our opinion - the prettiest beach on the island. They are definitely worth your time and should not be missed on your next Big Island vacation.

1. Route 250 Scenic Drive in North Kohala

View on Route 250 - scenic driveMost people take the more direct and quickest route from Waimea town to the Kohala Coast.  Route 250 connects the town of Waimea to the town of Hawi in North Kohala - although this route is a more circuitous path for those trying to reach the Kona beaches, it is well worth the detour.  Route 250 is probably the most scenic drive on the Big Island. It is a winding mountain road that offers spectacular views of the Kohala Coast below and to the west and sweeping views of the Kohala mountain and Mauna Kea volcano above and to the east.  Read more about the Route 250 Scenic Drive.

2. Hike to Kiholo Bay

Kiholo Bay, KonaVisitors to the sunny Kohala Coast will often see the sparkling waters of this bay off in the distance from highway 19 as they drive up and down the coast.  As you drive down the highway, this bay seems so close, yet there is no apparent way to reach it.  Most people don’t know where to park their car in order to approach Kiholo Bay - and you won’t find any signs here either!  Even if you can park nearby, most people are unable to find the trail head itself because there are no signs or markings to tell you where that is either.

The hike itself not long, maybe 20 minutes, but at the end, the view of this magnificent bay is spectacular. And if you are the dress enough, you will take a dip and swim with the turtles.  Check out our Kiholo Bay page for directions, maps, and more photos.  If you rent a 4-wheel drive SUV on the Big Island, you can also drive to Kiholo Bay.

3. Makalawena Beach

Makalawena Beach, KonaThis hidden beach is situated on the northern-most part of the Kekaha Kai State Park.  Makalawena is an austere beach with no signs telling you how to get there, no paved road leading to it, no buildings or hotels nearby, and only a few people most of the time. To get to this gem, you need to drive over a rough dirt road to reach the parking lot at Kekaha Kai.  Next, you will need to hike for about 20 minutes across dried lava beds to finally make it to the three crescent sandy beaches of Makalawena.

Your journey will be rewarded - while the crowds are swarming popular beaches like Kahaluu and Hapuna, you can enjoy the solitude and soak up the pure natural beauty of Makalawena.  Check out our Makalawena Beach page with more details, maps, and photos.

4. Petroglyphs

Petroglyph at Volcanoes National ParkOnce you arrive in Hawaii you will quickly notice the infusion of ancient Hawaiian culture into everyday life.  One such assimilation is the stick-figure-like drawings that have become today’s logos, signs, and everyday Hawaiian fare.  The genesis of these symbols, known as Petroglyphs, came from the ancient Hawaiians carving their art into lava rocks.  Their art work as enduring over the years.

There are several places you can view these rare creations on the Big Island.  Check out our Hawaii Petroglyphs page to find out more details or you will miss these ancient treasures!

5. Kapoho Tide Pools

Kapoho Tide Pools, HawaiiAs lava flowed from the active lava flows on the Big Island, it  finally reached the sea forming new land and expanded the coastline.  The natural way in which lava dried and was eroded by ocean waves over the years carved out natural pools - where the lava rocks formed natural barriers and blocks outgoing tides.  These “tide pools” became rich ecosystems where coral now flourishes and fish fight their way through the tides and surf to reach these calmer waters.

Kapoho (just south of Hilo) offers a wonderful opportunity to swim and snorkel in the calm, vibrant tide pools.  Check out our Kapoho Tide Pools page for more details, maps, and photos.

Check out the rest of our Big Island articles below.


Sample Travel Itineraries
Suggested itineraries, 1-2 day, 1 week
Regions of the Big Island
Geography and climate descriptions
Planning your Trip
When to come, how long to stay, books
Big Island Transportation
How to get there, plan your driving
Vacations for Families
Best family attractions
Packing for your Trip
Big Island scenery & weather is diverse
Hawaiian Cruise Passengers
Information about port calls in Hawaii
Rent a 4-Wheel Drive SUV
Off-roading on the Big Island
Big Island Activities
Guide to the activities & tours
Top 5 Attractions (You Might Miss)
You’ll never hear about these…
Tips for Traveling with Kids
Packing and flying with kids
Big Island Wedding Planner
How to plan your wedding in Hawaii
Island Hopping
Visit more than one Hawaiian island
Where to Stay
Three different parts of the island to stay
Big Island Snorkeling Guide
Vacation Rentals
Big Island Vacation rentals are a deal
Best places to hike on the Big Island
Bargain or 5 Star Hotel
Mega-resort or save on a bargain hotel
Big Island Kayak Guide
Discount Big Island Hotels
Check out the latest rates
SCUBA Diving
Big Island SCUBA Guide


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