My brother graduated in May and my parents wanted our family to go on a big trip. As soon as they saw a volcano had erupted in Hawaii, we all packed our bags to see the famous islands. They wanted to see the lava and the ocean, like most tourists, but I was blown away by just how many things we could do in the The Aloha State.
Explore these 10 things to do on the Big Island in Hawaii.
1. Sunshine Helicopter Tours
Fly over the island to see all the wonders Hawaii’s 11 microclimates, out of the 13 in the world, have to offer. In a helicopter that carries six passengers, your pilot flies you over rainforests, through clouds, up waterfalls and as close to lava flows as he can take you. You’ll looks like a badass in a headset and all black to cut down on reflections, so the selfies you snap will rival the amazing photos you take on the tour.
2. Swim with Wild Dolphins
Have you ever wanted to swim with wild dolphins or over coral reefs? Don’t lie, of course you have. Make your reservation for a dolphin snorkel tour. Leaving early in the morning, this boat drops you right in the middle of a pod of Hawaiian Spinning Dolphins as they return from their nightly swims. Swimming close enough to touch, the pod engulfs you as the dolphins dive, swim and leap from the water with acrobatic twirls. The tour takes you to a coral reef sanctuary where the water appears bluer than the sky. The company provides comfortable snorkeling gear along with breakfast and lunch on the boat. Kids get kick boards with little windows since they’re too small for snorkeling on their own and if snorkeling causes your claustrophobia to kick in, you can probably persuade them to let you use one too.
3. Go to a Luau
Embrace the local culture while in its midst by attending a luau. The Marriott hotel in Waikoloa has one of the best on the island with traditional roasted pig and the history of the island woven into dances. Be awed by grass skirts, fire breathing and beautiful songs sung in Hawaiian as the sun sets over the ocean. The dancers change outfits between each song so you see traditional grass skirts along with flashier tinsel versions, all of which perfectly accompany the specific dance.
4. Submarine Tour
Unless you’ve somehow scored a ride through the Navy, you’ve probably never been on a submarine. Now, you can sign up to go down. Get right in the middle of Hawaii’s under sea life by diving below the surface. You have the opportunity to see whales, tropical fish and even the sunset as you’ve never seen them before. Take the plunge and book your tour as you head to the Big Island.
5. Green Sand Beach
Located down a road technically banned by rental car services, the waves crash on olive green sand. As one of the few places on Earth where you can naturally see sand this color, don’t let the opportunity slip away. Hire an Uber or risk parking in the lot. There, you pay a lady to watch your car and her husband will drive you straight to the beach. Otherwise, you’d have to hike all the way there. Those who trek out won’t be disappointed. You’ll be green with envy if you let anyone go without you.
6. Tour the Vanillerie
As the only state that grows vanilla, seeing where vanilla bean ice cream comes will make your sweet tooth ache. Since no natural pollinators live on the Big Island, the owner of the Vanillerie pollinates each flower by hand, using only a toothpick, in the two-hour window a year that the flowers open. At only $15 a tour (with free ice cream included!) you definitely need to add it to your vacation plans. The store sells beans and kits for DIY vanilla extract, along with a variety of sweet smelling beauty products.
Experience the azure waters of the Hawaiian coasts by skimming over the sea. With a pair of companions, as a couple or just on your own, fly behind the boat like a tropical sea bird. As you wait for your turn to ride the sky you can relax on the boat and watch the fish that you’ve only seen in Finding Nemo swim beneath the clear surface.
8. Manta Ray Swimming
Have you ever been swimming with the gentle giant we formally call the Manta Ray? Not like the murderers that took out Steve Irwin, these creatures float like gentle clouds under the sky-blue water. On this tour, you dive into the water and hold onto a light-up float board. The float board attracts algae to the surface and the manta rays follow after them. The water fills with the majestic beasts and you’re right in the middle of the experience.
9. Sky Diving
Make unique Hawaii memories by viewing the whole island and diving through misty clouds to the prettiest drop zone in the states. Get a once in a lifetime view of the Big Island’s mountains, shores and rolling green plains as you fall from 12,000 feet through fresh tropical air and fulfill your dreams of skydiving. You know you’ve always wanted to prove your daredevil status, so why not make it a reality by skydiving in gorgeous Hawaii?
10. Zip lining
If you’d rather get stuck in the Conjuring than fall free through the sky but still want a high speed adventure, try zip lining instead. Whiz through the canopies of Hawaii’s tropical rain forests. Get close enough to private waterfalls to feel the rainbow mist hit your face. Swim in the pools they create. Look over the Polulu Valley and the Hawaiian Coast. Kohala Zipline offers Go Pro rentals so your entire experience can be captured and revisited any time you want.