Best Hikes: Big Island of Hawai'i

Best Big Island Hikes:

'Akaka FallsThis list of best hikes is geared toward a first-time visitor to the Big Island.

  • Pololū Valley - Kohala - A short hike to a picturesque valley on the dramatic Kohala Coast. (Pololū Valley is the header photo for this website).
  • Kīholo Bay - Kohala - Calm, beautiful turquoise tidepools and lots of wildlife.
  • Makalawena Beach - Kona - This is probably the best beach hike on the Big Island.
  • Kealakekua Bay - Kona - This hike travels to gorgeous Kealakekua Bay, the site where Captain Cook landed on Hawai'i. Kealakekua Bay has excellent snorkeling.
  •  'Akaka Falls State Park - Hāmākua - This short stroll overlooks one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Hawai'i.
  • Waimanu Valley - Hāmākua - One of the most remote and most beautiful places in Hawai'i. This extreme dayhike or backpack requires substantial effort.
  • Kalōpā State Park - Hāmākua - The best rainforest hike on the island.
  • Mauna Kea - Saddle Road - Climb above the clouds to the highest point in Hawai'i, 13,796 feet above sea level.
  • Hike to Flowing Lava - Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park - Seeing flowing lava is an amazing experience, but involves a lot of danger.
  • Kīlauea Iki - Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park - This is a great short hike that travels through a pit crater near erupting Kīlauea Caldera.
  • Papakōlea Green Sand Beach - Kaʻū - Green sand beaches are extremely rare in the world. Hike to this unique geological feature along the southern coast.
  • Kaumana Caves State Park - Hilo - A short, easy walk to a lava tube cave.
  • The Puna Trail - Puna - Travel through a lush rainforest to Hā'ena Beach, a protected sandy expanse on the otherwise cliffy Puna Coast.

Best Big Island Backpacking Destinations:

The Big Island doesn't have very many options for backpacking, but it makes up in quality what it lacks in quantity. The three options below are excellent and very unique.

  • Waimanu Valley - This 16 mile round trip with generous elevation gain travels to magical Waimanu Valley. There are 9 permitted campsites in the valley. Reserve your campsite from the State DLNR.
  • Mauna Loa - The hike featured on this website is a dayhike to the summit of Mauna Loa, but there is longer route that requres 3-5 days. See the National Park's Mauna Loa page for information and permits.
  • Nāpau Trail - This 12 mile round trip in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park travels to the edge of Nāpau Crater where there is a primitive campsite. Nāpau Crater is the closest vantage point on Puʻu ʻŌʻō, the current volcanic eruption site. Permits for camping are available from the National Parks Service.