The Big Island

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It’s true. You really can snowboard and surf on the same day on the Big Island. Visitors can mix and match their preferred activities from a long list of choices: snorkeling, golf, bird-watching, fishing, hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, helicopter tours, and waterfall viewing.

Things to do in The Big Island

Big Island Candies

Many people make the trek to this highly addictive, out-of-the-way treats factory and buy boatloads. Its to-die-for chocolates and cookies, made fresh on location, are only available from the factory or direct from the website.

585 Hinano St., HI, 800-935-5510, www.bigislandcandies.com
Tags: shopping | moderate | smart splurge | things to do

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters

Of all the remarkable experiences in Hawaii, why opt for a helicopter tour? Because soaring over cliffs, volcanoes, and emerald mountains aboard one of Blue Hawaiian Helicopters' quiet, state-of-the-art Eco-Stars is the quintessential way to take in the islands' singular topography. 2009 Smart Luxury Award winner

HI, 800-786-2583, www.bluehawaiian.com
Tags: editor pick | smart splurge | smart luxury winner | things to do | culture | tour

Explore the Hamakua Coast

From Hilo, drive north along the Hamakua Coast. First, visit the fern-filled gorges and cascades of Akaka Falls State Park. End the journey by hiking through taro fields into the isolated, emerald-green Waipio Valley, bound by jutting cliffs and saturated with towering waterfalls.

Hamakua Coast, HI,
Tags: hiking | things to do | adventure

Gathering of The Kings

This musical dinner show is like a Broadway-produced luau. Enjoy dramatic tales about Hawaiian legends and the ancient Polynesians who settled the Pacific, while you feast on cuisine from Tahiti, New Zealand, and Hawaii.

74-5599 Luhia St., HI, 808-329-8111, www.gatheringofthekings.com
Tags: things to do | culture | culinary

Hike Volcanoes

Volcanoes National Park spans 377 square miles and contains the still-active Kilauea. Hawaii Forest and Trail naturalists lead trips to see the park's rain forest, lava tubes, and, if the timing is right, flowing lava. The outfitter also runs tours up Mauna Kea, the other must-see, for an unforgettable sunset hike followed by stargazing through giant Celestron telescopes.

HI, 800-464-1993, www.hawaii-forest.com
Tags: hiking | things to do | adventure

Imiloa Center

This impressive astronomy center connects the dots between the ancient Hawaiian art of navigating by the stars and the dozen world-class telescopes that reside on the summit of Mauna Kea. The café and gift shop are worth a peek too.

600 Imiloa Pl., HI, 808-969-9700, www.imiloahawaii.org
Tags: family | editor pick | things to do | culture | culinary | planetarium

Kona International Market

More than 70 independent stalls make this open air a fun place to cruise for everything from Aloha shirts for dogs and carved bone pendants to fresh fruit pies and surf lessons. Open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9am to 5pm.

74-5533 Luhia St., HI, 808-329-6262
Tags: shopping | things to do | outdoors | crafts | market

Longs Drugs

This local drugstore chain has outposts all over Hawaii, and there’s no better (or cheaper) place to get your Kona coffee, macadamia nuts, guava jelly, Maui Brown Babe after-sun lotion, Kimo’s Hawaiian rum, or Hello Kitty gift items for the kids.

111 E Puainako St., HI, 808-959-4508, www.longs.com
Tags: family | budget | shopping | great value | things to do | souvenirs

Mauna Lani Spa

Big Island has some of the best spas in the state and Mauna Lani is one of its finest. Unwind in the black lava rock sauna, meditation garden and watsu pool.

68-1365 Pauoa Rd., HI, 808-881-7922, www.maunalani.com
Tags: editor pick | things to do

Mountain Thunder Coffee Estates

The island is famous for its world renowned Kona Coffee, but this certified organic grower is raising the bar with award-winning beans. Tour the estate, now open to the public.

Mile Marker 113, off Hwy. 180, HI, 888-414-5662, www.mountainthunder.com
Tags: shopping | things to do | tour

Night Dive

In front of the Sheraton Keauhou, Fair Wind offers thrilling night snorkeling or scuba diving with giant manta rays. The mantas, their huge mouths agape, do loop-de-loops right under divers. Nearby, in Kealakekua Bay, snorkelers can explore a marine reserve filled with sea turtles, spinner dolphins, and eels. Go with an outfitter such as Fair Wind, or rent a kayak.

78-7130 Kaleiopapa St., HI, 800-677-9461, www.fair-wind.com
Tags: kayaking | things to do | outdoors | wildlife

Parker Ranch Historic Home Tour

Hear the colorful history of the largest privately owned ranch in the U.S., beginning with the first Parker from Massachusetts who married a granddaughter of King Kemehameha, to the last heir – a Broadway actor who collected French Impressionist paintings.

Parker Ranch, 67-1435 Mamalahoa Hwy., HI, 808-885-5433, www.parkerranch.com
Tags: things to do | culture | tour

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

Walking past the heiau, or ancient temples, and ki'i (carved wooden idols) at Honaunau, it's impossible not to feel the powerful energy of this sacred place. A pu'uhonua was known as a place of refuge, where criminals would be absolved of their sins if they were able to arrive there safely. The park, adjacent to the sea, features a visitor's center, a Hawaiian village, and royal grounds once reserved for the chiefs. Self-guided tours are available.

Hwy 11, between mile markets 103 & 104, HI, 808-328-2288, www.nps.gov/puho
Tags: family | things to do | culture | history | national park

The Hapuna Golf Course

Big Island is also known for having some of the top greens in the state, including the Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay-designed Hapuna Golf Course, with its sweeping panoramic views 700 feet above sea level.

62-100 Kaunaoa Dr., HI, 808-880-3000, www.princeresortshawaii.com/hapuna-golf.php
Tags: golf | editor pick | smart splurge | things to do | sports

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