Tuesday, October 21, 2014

100 Free Places to Visit on Hawaii Island

We made a list of 100 free places that are beautiful, fun, historic, or delicious on Hawaii Island.  You don’t need a big budget to have an awesome vacation on Hawaii Island. 

When we started on our Hawaii Island guide we thought we had seen everything on the island  since we had been living here for so long.  But as we looked deeper, we became fascinated with the history of the island and discovered lots of places we had not visited or seen in other travel books.  It took us 18 months to research and visit  over 200 amazing coastlines, beaches, forests, mountains, parks, and other places included in the island guide.  You can find detailed directions, maps and historic background in Your Ideal Hawaii Island Vacation. If you are already on the Big Island, the guide is  available at Kona Stories (book store in the Keauhou Shopping Center.

(Some places have limited public parking and a few charge parking for non-residents.)

  1. Liliuokalani Gardens  Walk through the gorgeous Japanese garden on Hilo Bay.
  2. Big Island Candies  Watch candies being made and try delicious samples in Hilo.
  3. Wawaloli Beach Park  Play in sand filled tide pools next to Kona’s Energy laboratory.
  4. Kailua Bay  Swim the Ironman route marked with buoys (1.25 miles round trip to the Queens Buoy).
  5. Mokuaikaua Church Admire the beautiful woodwork in Hawaii’s first church in Kona with a replica of the ship Thaddeus in the back.
  6. Kipuka Bird park  Hike through an old growth forest with colorful birds in Volcano.
  7. Lava Tree Molds  Walk through a collection unusual lava molds from a Mauna Loa lava flow in Volcano.
  8. Ahalanui Park  Soak in volcanic warmed water with fantastic ocean views in Puna.
  9. Akatsuka Orchid Garden  See 100’s of varieties of orchids on display in Volcano.
  10. Sheraton Resort history tour  Take a guided tour of historic Keauhou Bay.
  11. Lava Tree State Monument  Walk through a collection of lava trees from a lava flow in a Puna forest.
  12. Keauhou Heritage Center   View historic displays of Hawaii Island in the Keauhou Shopping Center.
  13. MacKenzie State Recreation Area  Enjoy amazing ocean views from Puna cliffs covered with ironwood trees.
  14. Lekeleke Burial Site  Walk the trail to ocean cliffs along an ancient Hawaiian battle ground in Keauhou.
  15. Kahuku Ranch  Hike in the new addition to Volcanoes National Park in Ka’u.
  16. South Point  Enjoy spectacular views from a tall cliff above the crashing ocean at the southernmost point in the US.
  17. Laupahoehoe Point  Drive down to a park and landing with crashing surf below the Hamakua coast. 
  18. Rainbow Falls  Visit the picturesque waterfall on the Wailuku River above Hilo.
  19. Wailuku River State Park   Watch the Boiling Pots, created from connected lava tubes in the river, from an overlook.
  20. Kaumana Cave  See a lava tube cave created by the most recent Mauna Loa flow to Hilo.
  21. Star gazing  Look at the heavens through telescopes during the Mauna Kea Visitors Center evening program.
  22. Waipio Look Out  Marvel at the panoramic view of Waipio Valley from above.
  23. Caravan to Mauna Kea summit   Join a group of 4-wheel drive vehicles to the summit of  Mauna Kea every weekend from the Visitors Center.
  24. Mauna Loa Mac nut farm  Watch candies being made in the factory near Hilo and try samples.
  25. Subaru telescope tour  Sign up for a 40 minute guided tour of the Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea.
  26. Hamakua Mac nut factory  Watch candies being made in a factory near Kawaihae and try samples.
  27. Parker Ranch Historic Homes  Visit the homes of Parker Ranch owners in Waimea.
  28. Sadie Seymour Botanical Garden  Stroll through a beautiful garden at Kona Outdoor Circle.
  29. Kahalu’u Beach  Snorkel within a protected wall and see the turtles.
  30. Kona Honokohau Boat Harbor  Watch the boat traffic and fishermen weighing their fish.
  31. Kaloko fish pond  Drive to the massive dry-stack stone wall at the ancient fish pond.
  32. Puako trail to petroglyphs  Hike through a mesquite forest to ancient lava carvings.
  33. Honokohau Beach  Relax on a beautiful white sand beach in North Kona next to an ancient stone fish trap.
  34. Anaehoomalu Bay fish ponds   Walk the trail around the fish ponds in front of the Marriott Hotel with a recreated Hawaiian village.
  35. Kalahuipua’a Trail  Walk the trail to ancient fish ponds and gorgeous beaches in Mauna Lani resort.
  36. Puako Beach 69 (Waialea Beach)  Drive to a hidden bay with sand and shade.
  37. Mauna Kea beach (Kauna’oa Beach)  Swim at a picture perfect white sand beach (limited public parking).
  38. Waikoloa Beach Kings trail  Walk to ancient lava carvings and stone wind breakers on the King’s trail.
  39. Lapakahi State Historical Site  Take a self-guided tour on a rocky trail through a reenactment of an ancient Hawaiian village.
  40. Ka’upulehu Beach  Share the paved path along the long white sand beach with movie stars (limited public parking).
  41. Kikaua Point  Swim at a private man-made beach in Kukio (limited public parking).
  42. Kua Bay  Enjoy a turquoise bay and white sand beach
  43. Pololu Valley Overlook  See the fantastic view of Pololu Valley from above.
  44. Old Kona Airport beach  Hike the coastal trail north of the runway or lie on the white sand beach.
  45. Kawamoto Swim Stadium  Swim laps in Hilo’s olympic size indoor pool.
  46. Makao Trail  Walk the path through volunteer tended gardens next to the old Kona airport.
  47. Hilo Zoo  Walk the paths through tropical foliage and see the animals and birds.
  48. Rakuen garden  Take in the view at the Happiness garden on Hilo Bay.
  49. Hilo Bayfront beach  Take a stroll along the black sand beach in front of Hilo.
  50. Waimea Nature Park  Enjoy a picnic or hike at the Waimea Outdoor Circle garden with free wi-fi.
  51. Coconut island  Have a picnic, swim in a cove, or jump from the WWII tower into Hilo Bay.
  52. New Kaimu Beach  Walk over the 1990 lava field to a new beach on a trail from old Kalapana.
  53. St Benedict’s Painted church  See the colorful paintings in a Catholic Church with great views of Honaunau Bay.
  54. Mauka Meadows Gardens  Walk through a botanical garden and coffee farm with great views of Kailua Bay.
  55. Star of the Sea Painted church  See the paintings of St. Damien in a Puna church saved from a lava flow.
  56. Greenwells Farm  Tour a coffee plantation and taste the famous Greenwell Kona coffee.
  57. Kamakahonu Cove  Swim or snorkel in the protected bay in front of the King Kamehameha Hotel.
  58. Hulihee Palace garden  Take in the great views of Kailua Bay from the sea wall and find mementos hidden in the garden.
  59. Magic Sands Beach (La’aloa Beach)  Enjoy the sand and surf at the best surfing beach in Kona.
  60. Manuka State Wayside  Stop for a rest and hike on the trail up Mauna Loa to old ruins.
  61. Akaka Falls State Park  See the dramatic Akaka Falls and walk the trail through a rain forest (parking fee).
  62. Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area  Enjoy one of the most pristine white sand beaches on the island (parking fee).
  63. Spencer’s Beach  Have a picnic in the shade at the white sand beach next to Kawaihae harbor.
  64. Kona Brewing tour  Watch beer being made at a Kona brewery.
  65. Dolphins at Hilton  See the dolphins in their tanks at Dolphin Encounters  (parking fee).
  66. Kona Village walk   Walk from Kailua pier along the sea wall for great views of the bay.
  67. ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center Garden  Walk around a canoe plant garden outside the center (sometimes free displays are inside).
  68. Road to Mauna Loa Observatory  Drive past Pu’u Huluhulu through a lava field with Ohelo berrie bushes on the road to the MLO, opposite of the Mauna Kea Access road.
  69. Buddhist temple  Visit a Tibetan temple hidden in Wood Valley.
  70. Whittington Beach Park  See the remains of a sugar plantation wharf in the surf.
  71. Green Sand Beach (Papakolea Beach)  Hike to a crater with green sand.
  72. Ka’u Coffee Mill  View coffee processing equipment and sample Ka’u coffee.
  73. Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park  Enjoy the view of Kealakekua  Bay, the Captain Cook monument, and Hikiau Heiau.
  74. Punalu’u Black sand beach  Visit the Honu turtles on the black sand in a beautiful bay.
  75. Hokuloa Church  Climb above Punalu’u beach to a historic old church with a panoramic view of the bay.
  76. Footprint Trail  Hike across the Ka’u desert to footprints fossilized in the ash (trailhead on the south side of Highway 11 between mile markers 38 and 39).
  77. Wailoa River State Recreation Area   Walk in the grassy expanse within Hilo town and across the Wailoa River on hump bridges.
  78. University of Hawii Hilo  Tour the pretty UH campus and the visit the University’s library.
  79. Issac Hale Beach   Watch the surfers at Puna’s favorite surf spot and boat launch
  80. East Hawaii Cultural Center  Drop into the old Hilo Police station for an art exhibit.
  81. Kona Blue Sky coffee plantation  Take a tour and taste the coffee.
  82. Kalakaua Park and War Memorial  Visit Hilo’s town center park with the King’s statue, a time capsule, war memorial, Koi pond, and sun dial.
  83. Kona Library  Stay cool in Kona’s library and join the monthly book club meeting.
  84. Mountain Thunder coffee plantation  Take a tour and taste the coffee.
  85. Puukohala Heiau  Walk through the last major temple built in Hawaii and walk to the shark cove.
  86. Hilo Library  Enjoy the quiet  public library and check out the famous stones in front.
  87. Mookini Heiau  Hike on a deserted dirt road to the oldest temple in Hawaii in Kohala Historical Sites State Monument.
  88. Kona Lea Plantation  Take a tour and taste the coffee.
  89. Banyan tree walk   Look for the signs of famous people under each tree along the Banyan Drive next to Hilo Bay.
  90. Kona Joe Coffee Take a tour and taste the coffee.
  91. Reeds Bay and ice pond  Enjoy the view of ships docked at Hilo harbor and jump in for a cool swim.
  92. Kalanianaole Ave and Richardson Ocean Park  Drive along Hilo’s black lava beaches to Leleiwi Park at the end of the road.
  93. KoleKole Beach Park   Relax in a park under a span bridge with a stream under Akaka Falls.
  94. University of the Nations  Take a guided tour of the Kona campus and see the Plaza of the Nations Fountain
  95. NOAA’s Mokupapapa Discovery Center   Enjoy the displays and aquariums in downtown Hilo that describe the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.
  96. Kalopa State Recreation Area   Hike on a nature trail in a Hamakua nature reserve.
  97. Anna Ranch  Walk the Discovery Trail around the Waimea Ranch of a famous Pau rider.
  98. Mauna Kea State Recreation Area   See the views and enjoy a picnic at an elevation of 6500 feet on Saddle road.
  99. Beach 49 (Honokaope Bay)  Enjoy a secluded black sand beach in Kohala
  100. Lava tube in North Kona  Peer into a huge cave on Highway 19 made from a collapsed lava tube.