Wailuku River State Park, home to Rainbow Falls, is one of the best state parks on the Big Island of Hawaii

14 Beautiful State Parks on the Big Island of Hawaii You Must Visit (+ Map!)

The Big Island of Hawaii is known for its abundance of natural beauty and its rich history, and the many state parks on the Big Island protect some of these stunning natural and historical sites.

From breathtaking waterfalls like Akaka Falls and Rainbow Falls to beautiful beaches like Hapuna Beach and Manini’owali Beach and historical sites like Mo’okini Heiau and the Captain Cook Monument, there are many must-visit state parks on the Big Island.

Sunset at Hapuna Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii
Sunset at Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area

The state parks of Hawaii Island are also scattered about the island, making it easy to add a couple to your itinerary no matter where on the island your explorations take you.

Want to hike a coastal trail to enjoy sublime views? Love chasing waterfalls? Looking to photograph lava trees? The Big Island’s state parks allow you to experience some of the island’s best features up close.

What’s more, many of these Big Island state parks are free to visit.

In this article, we’ve rounded up all the state parks on the Big Island, also known as Hawaii Island. We’ve also offered information on when and how to visit each park.

And if you enjoy visiting parks, you have to also put the national parks on the Big Island of Hawaii on your itinerary!

Planning a visit to the Big Island? Snorkeling Captain Cook at Kealakekua Bay should definitely be on your itinerary: check out our guide to the best Captain Cook snorkel tours!

And now, let’s get started discovering the Big Island’s state parks!

Hawaiian green sea turtle at  Mahai'ula Bay in Kekaha Kai State Park, Big Island, Hawaii
A Hawaiian sea turtle at Kekaha Kai State Park

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State Parks on the Big Island

1. Akaka Falls State Park

Among the best state parks on the Big Island of Hawaii, Akaka Falls State Park is home to the breathtaking Akaka Falls as well as Kahuna Falls.

Located on the scenic Hamakua Coast, Akaka Falls State Park is an easy and very scenic drive from Hilo. En route, you can also visit the lush Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden.

Akaka Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls on the Big Island and one of its most popular attractions.

Akaka Falls in Akaka Falls State Park, one of the most popular state parks on the Big Island of Hawaii
Akaka Falls thunders 442 feet down into a stream-eroded gorge

In the park, a paved loop trail winds its way through lush rainforest and features viewpoints of the two waterfalls. It’s a moderately easy trail, with series of steps in places.

While you can only see the 100-foot Kahuna Falls in profile, the views of the 442-foot Akaka Falls are jaw-dropping.

Along the way, observe the many different varieties of flora and look for birds. The big and bright flowers of the torch ginger are striking, and you will likely see different varieties of orchids.

Tropical vegetation in Akaka Falls State Park on the Big Island, Hawaii
Tropical vegetation along the Akaka Falls Trail

Plan to visit Akaka Falls in the morning if you can, when the waterfall is lit by sunlight. You may even see a rainbow in the mist!

Akaka Falls State Park is open daily from 8.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Visitors that are not residents of Hawaii have to pay an entrance fee of $5.00 per person and a per car fee of $10.00 to park in the parking lot.

Based in Kona and don’t want to rent a car? This Big Island in a Day tour or this waterfalls tour include Akaka Falls in the itinerary!

If you are planning a visit to this must-visit spot, be sure to read our detailed guide to Akaka Falls State Park!

>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Big Island tour now!

2. Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park

Kealakekua Bay is one of the most popular state parks on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Kealakekua means “pathway of the gods.” Kealakekua Bay was settled more than 1,000 years ago, and is a place of great cultural and historical importance.

A place where chiefs resided and the site of the Hikiau Heiau, a sacred temple, Kealakekua Bay was the place where Captain Cook landed in January 1779.

Cook and his crew left after a few weeks, but had to return to repair a damaged ship mast. Misunderstandings developed between the Hawaiians and the Europeans, and Captain Cook was killed in a skirmish between the two sides.

The obelisk Captain Cook Monument was later erected near the spot where he died.

Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii
The Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Bay

You can visit a part of the park by road, but getting to Ka’awaloa Flats, where the Captain Cook Monument is located, requires hiking a moderately steep trail, and many people instead visit via a kayak tour or view it on a boat tour.

By road, you can visit Nāpō’opo’o Beach Park and Hikiau Heiau. Nāpō’opo’o Beach is a picturesque boulder-strewn beach, and Hikiau Heiau is a relatively well preserved ancient temple.

Nāpō'opo'o Beach Park in Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii
Boulder-strewn Nāpō’opo’o Beach at Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park

Aside from the historical and cultural significance, Kealakekua Bay also offers some of the best snorkeling on the Big Island of Hawaii. A boat tour or a guided kayak tour is the best way to visit for snorkeling.

This highly-rated tour has a morning or afternoon option and transports you from Kona Harbor to the snorkeling spot in Kealakekua Bay. Snorkel gear is included.

>> Check price and availability for this Kealakekua Bay snorkeling tour now!

Or, if you just want to visit this historic spot, you can opt for this popular dinner cruise to focus more on the history of this scenic section of coast!

Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park is open daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is free to visit.

>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Big Island tour now!

3. Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area

The 61.8-acre Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area offers beach activities and coastal hiking along the scenic Kohala Coast north of Kona.

Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area on the Big Island of Hawaii
Beautiful Hapuna Beach!

Among the more popular state parks on the Big Island, Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area is known for pounding shore breaks in the winter and calmer conditions in the summer.

Hapuna Beach is a picture-postcard tropical beach, with stunning white sands that stretch over almost half a mile and clear waters. It’s a fabulous place to sunbathe and soak in the views!

When conditions are calm, lifeguarded Hapuna Beach offers swimming and snorkeling.

When the surf is up, Hapuna Beach is a great location for boogie boarding and body surfing if you are experienced.

Boogie boarders and bodysurfers enjoying the waves at Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area on the Big Island of Hawaii
Sunset at Hapuna Beach

The Ala Kahakai Trail starts at the Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area. It is a 15.4-mile loop trail, but you can start and stop at any of the public access points along the route.

This scenic trail follows the beautiful coastline and passes several beaches. It’s worthwhile hiking at least a part of it!

The Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.

Visitors that are not residents of Hawaii have to pay an entrance fee of $5.00 per person and a per car fee of $10.00 to park in the parking lot.

Check out our in-depth guide to Hapuna Beach!

>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Big Island tour now!

4. Wailuku River State Park

Visiting Wailuku River State Park is one of the best things to do in Hilo on the windward side of the Big Island.

The Wailuku River is the longest river in the State of Hawaii. It starts on the eastern side of Mauna Kea, at an elevation of about 10,800 feet, and flows into the Pacific Ocean at Hilo.

Wailuku River State Park is located along the lower stretch of the river, and has two parts, Rainbow Falls, and Boiling Pots.

Both parts of the park are accessed via Waiānuenue Avenue in downtown Hilo.

Rainbow Falls is a gorgeous 80-foot waterfall that got its name because you can often see a rainbow across the mist on sunny mornings. In Hawaiian, the waterfall is called Waiānuenue, which translates to “rainbow water.”

Rainbow Falls on the Big Island of Hawaii
Rainbow Falls

Legend has it that a cave under this waterfall was the home of the goddess Hina, mother of Maui.

The Boiling Pots can be viewed from an easy-to-access viewing area. The “boiling pots” are a series of large pools connected by the underground flow of the river. The water in the pools churns and bubbles, appearing as if it is boiling.

Boiling Pots, Wailuku River State Park, Hilo, Hawaii
The Boiling Pots at Wailuku River State Park

Exercise great caution if you choose to go down to the actual river: in Hawaiian, wai means “fresh water” and luku means “destruction.” The river can rise incredibly quickly during flash floods and has caused numerous drowning deaths.

Be safe and only sightsee from the designated viewing areas.

Rainbow Falls is open daily during daylight hours. The Boiling Pots area is open from 7 a.m. until 5.30 p.m. Entry is free!

>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Big Island tour now!

5. Kekaha Kai State Park

Formerly known as Kona Coast State Park, Kekaha Kai State Park is located just a few miles north of Kailua-Kona.

This coastal park encompasses a fair bit of mostly undeveloped coastline from Mahai’ula Bay to Kua Bay, and is home to three beautiful beaches.

The beautiful coastline at Kekaha Kai State Park north of Kona in Hawaii Island, Hawaii
Heliotrope tree along the coastline at Kekaha Kai State Park

You can hike from the Mahai’ula section in the south to Kua Bay in the north along the historic Ala Kahakai Trail. The hike is 4.5 miles one way.

En route, you can also hike to the top of Pu’u Ku’ili, a cinder cone that’s 342 feet tall, for expansive views over the coast.

You’ll want to bring lots of drinking water though, because the hike is hot and dry and the park does not have potable water.

In the north of the park, Manini’owali Beach offers swimming when the waters are calm, and bodysurfing during periods of shore breaks.

The super scenic white sand beach is also great for sunbathing. Bring a picnic to enjoy!

Sandy Mahai’ula Beach at the south end of the park also offers good swimming and there’s some shade from trees and picnic tables if you plan to spend some time here enjoying the beach activities.

Mahaiula Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii
Mahai’ula Beach at Kekaha Kai State Park

White sand Makalawena Beach lies in between Mahai’ula and Manini’owali. It is a picture-postcard tropical beach!

Kekaha Kai State Park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. and entrance is free.

>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Big Island tour now!

6. Kohala Historic Sites State Monument

Located by the ocean in the remote north of the Big Island, the Kohala Historic Sites State Monument protects Moʻokini Heiau, a National Historic Landmark.

Mo’okini Heiau is one of the most sacred sites in Hawaii, and one of the oldest, with the original temple at the site said to go back 1,500 years.

Mo'okini Heiau on the Big Island of Hawaii
Remains of Mo’okini Heiau

The current luakini heiau was built at some point between the 12th and 14th centuries. The sacrificial temple housed the ali’i and human sacrifices were offered here to the Hawaiian god Ku.

You can see the remains of the heiau at the site. There are two other heiaus nearby, but access is limited.

The park also contains the birth site of King Kamehameha I. He is said to have been born here in 1758, and a rock marks the precise birth spot.

Sign marking the birthsite of King Kamehameha the Great on the Big Island of Hawaii
A sign in the park marks the birth site of King Kamehameha the Great

Also known as Kamehameha the Great, he unified the islands and was the first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

On clear days, look oceanward to see the Haleakala crater on Maui island!

The Kohala Historic Sites State Monument is accessed via a rough dirt road and a 4X4 is recommended, especially after rains. Or park where it’s still decent and hike in.

The site is open daily during daylight hours and entry is free.

>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Big Island tour now!

7. Hulihee Palace

A historic Hawaiian palace, Hulihee Palace is located on Ali’i Drive in Kailua-Kona. It’s worth a visit if you enjoy local history!

Built during the time of the Hawaii Kingdom out of lava rock, Hulihee Palace occupies a site where King Kamehameha once lived.

Many members of the Hawaiian royal family have lived here, but sadly it fell into ruins in the early 1900s.

The Daughters of Hawaii took on the task of restoring the palace, and today it is a museum open to the public.

Hulihee Palace in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii Island, Hawaii

The palace features six beautifully-appointed rooms, two oceanfront lanai, and gracious grounds.

Inside, look for lovely furniture made from koa wood, Hawaiian quilts, and artifacts from the time of King Kalākaua and Queen Kapi‘olani.

You can tour Hulihee Palace on a docent-led tour (by reservation, Wednesday through Saturday) or on a self-guided tour (Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m).

Book your visit online. Walk-ins may be accepted depending on availability.

General adult admission for a self-guided tour is $16.00, with discounts for seniors, children, military personnel, and Hawaii residents. General adult admission for a docent-led tour is $22.00.

>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Big Island tour now!

8. Lapakahi State Historic Park

Lapakahi State Historic Park is one of the most fascinating state parks on the Big Island to visit if you want to learn more about the traditional Hawaiian way of life.

Located along the Kohala Coast to the north of the leeward side of the Big island, Lapakahi State Historic Park is the partial re-creation of an ancient Hawaiian settlement.

A reconstructed Hawaiian hale in Lapakahi State Historic Park, Big Island, Hawaii
A reconstructed Hawaiian hale at Lapakahi State Historic Park

An interpretive 0.5-mile loop trail allows you to take a self-guided tour through the park. Pick up a trail guide from the kiosk near the parking lot where the trail begins.

Enjoy views of the ocean as you stroll, and look for humpback whales in the winter.

En route, you will see many varieties of canoe plants — plants brought to these islands by the Polynesians that settled in Hawaii. Some were food plants, others were medicinal, and still others were used for making tools and for building shelters.

There is also a marine life conservation district offshore, with a rich variety of coral and fish. Look for cauliflower coral, yellow tang, and butterflyfish, among others.

Koai'e Cove at Lapakahi State Historic Park, Big Island, Hawaii
The rocky coastline at Koai’e Cove, Lapakahi State Historic Park

If you choose to swim or snorkel, exercise caution: the park warns of strong currents and dangerous shore breaks.

Lapakahi State Historic Park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. and there is no entry fee.

>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Big Island tour now!

9. Lava Tree State Monument

One of the more unique state parks on the Big Island, Lava Tree State Monument contains a forest of “lava trees” created by the volcanic forces that have shaped and continue to shape the island.

Such a forest is typically created when lava sweeps through a forested area, leaving behind lava molds of the trunks of the trees. This one was created in the late 18th century.

Lava molds in Lava Tree State Monument on the Big Island of Hawaii
Lava molds in Lava Tree State Monument

Lava Tree State Monument is located east of Pahoa, near the eastern tip of the Big Island, and is convenient to visit from Hilo.

A loop trail, 0.7 mile long, allows you to view the lava molds in this 17-acre state park. The paved trail is uneven in parts but it is an excellent family-friendly walk in forested terrain.

Observe the many varieties of flora, including ferns, along the trail.

Plants and ferns surround a lava mold in Lava Tree State Monument in Hawaii Island, Hawaii
Plants and ferns around a lava mold in the park

There is a picnic table if you want to enjoy a meal in these serene surroundings. No drinking water, though, so bring your own.

Look for the trailhead right next to the parking lot.

The park is open daily during daylight hours and entrance is free.

>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Big Island tour now!

10. Manuka State Wayside

Manuka State Wayside is actually a rest stop, with a picnic area set amongst native and introduced trees.

You will find this rest stop at the southern end of the leeward coast of the Big Island.

Nearby is the Manukā Natural Area Reserve, a 25,000-acre reserve on the leeward side of Mauna Loa.

The reserve features a variety of habitats, mainly forests, and features native and non-native plants and wildlife.

The'apapane Hawaiian honeycreeper
The ‘apapane is a native Hawaiian honeycreeper

A 2-mile moderately difficult nature trail accessed via Manuka State Wayside allows you to explore the reserve.

On the trail, you’ll see a variety of native Hawaiian plants and maybe spot some native Hawaiian birds like the i’iwi, the ‘apapane, and the Hawai’i ‘amakihi. Bring your binoculars if you enjoy birding!

You will also see non-native vegetation and cultural sites, and a pit crater at the top of the loop.

Bring drinking water and bug spray (lots of mosquitoes along the trail!), and allow 2 to 3 hours to complete the loop.

On the down side, the restrooms here aren’t always well-maintained.

Manuka State Wayside is open daily during daylight hours and entry is free.

>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Big Island tour now!

11. Wailoa River State Recreation Area

Located in Hilo, the Wailoa River State Recreation Area is one of the most-visited state parks on the Big Island.

The 131-acre landscaped park is a green oasis great for strolling (there is a walking path), or relaxing for a bit in pleasant surroundings.

Wailoa River State Recreation Area in Hilo, Hawaii Island
The grassy lawns and shade trees of Wailoa River State Recreation Area

There are many mature shade trees in the park, and concrete arch bridges span the river. Bring a picnic meal to enjoy at one of the covered picnic tables!

There is a boat tie-up area (if you arrive by boat!), and fishing (with a permit) is offered as well.

Look for the statue of King Kamehameha, and two memorials, one honoring victims of the Shinmachi Tsunami and the other Vietnam War veterans.

Statue of King Kamehameha in Wailoa River State Recreation Area in Hilo, Hawaii
A bronze statue of King Kamehameha graces the park

The Wailoa Center, located within the park, has two galleries that feature changing art and cultural exhibits by local artists. Note that the center is closed on the weekends and on state holidays.

Birders will be excited to learn that the park contains many ancient Hawaiian fish ponds (no longer in use), that provide habitat for a variety of waterfowl.

The Wailoa River State Recreation Area is open daily during daylight hours, and it is free to enter.

>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Big Island tour now!

12. Kalopa State Recreation Area

Located near the village of Honokua, about 40 miles north of Hilo, Kalopa State Recreation Area makes for a great getaway into nature: the park rents cabins, and you can also camp here.

Because of its remote location on the windward slopes of Mauna Kea in the north of the island, this is one of the lesser-trafficked state parks on the Big Island.

The upcountry forested park features a family-friendly 0.7-mile loop hike that passes through a forest of ohi’a lehua trees and an arboretum of native Hawaiian plants.

Ohia lehua tree in Hawaii
Hike through an ohi’a lehua forest at Kalopa State Recreation Area

You can pick up a trail guide at the trailhead: it has numbered stops with information.

Look for the beautiful hapu’u fern in the understory, along with other native shrubs and plants.

Hapu'u fern in the rainforest on the Big Island of Hawaii
Look for the hapu’u fern along the nature trail!

If you enjoy hiking, there are more trails to discover in the adjoining forest reserve, some more challenging than others. Trails are marked with white or blue marks on trees.

Birders should bring their binoculars: you may see native species in the park.

There is no potable water in the park, so be sure to bring drinking water so you can stay hydrated as you hike.

Also, since the park is at an elevation of 2,000 feet, you will want to bring an extra layer for comfort.

Kalopa State Recreation Area is open daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is free to enter for day use.

>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Big Island tour now!

13. MacKenzie State Recreation Area

Located along the Puna Coast on the windward side of the Big Island, MacKenzie State Recreation Area is one of the Big Island state parks that is convenient to visit from Hilo.

The 13-acre state park is home to the largest stand of ironwood trees in the Hawaiian islands. The trees were largely planted by Albert MacKenzie, a forest ranger for whom the park is named.

Ironwood trees and lava cliffs at MacKenzie State Recreation Area on the Big Island of Hawaii
Ironwood trees and lava cliffs make for a picturesque sight in the park!

You can bring a picnic to enjoy in the covered picnic pavilion in this historic ironwood grove!

The coastline at the park is wild and volcanic, with low lava cliffs that make for a picturesque sight. The park also contains some lava tubes that you cannot enter.

Stay away from the cliff edges when you explore: there are no protective railings and the rock may be loose.

MacKenzie State Recreation Area in Hawaii Island, Hawaii
Waves pound the low lava cliffs at MacKenzie State Recreation Area

The old Hawaiian coastal trail known as The King’s Highway, traverses the park and makes for scenic hiking. Watch the waves pound the cliffs and look for spinner dolphins in the ocean.

According to local legend, the park is haunted. Haunted or not, it does feature cliffs and fields formed by fairly recent lava flows, which is exciting to see!

MacKenzie State Recreation Area is open daily during daylight hours. the park is free to enter.

>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Big Island tour now!

14. Kiholo State Park Reserve

Kihola State Park Reserve is located on the North Kona Coast on the leeward side of the Big Island. The coastal park offers weekend camping by permit for outdoor enthusiasts.

With a black lava rock coastline, small lagoons, and few trees, Kiholo State Park Reserve offers a wild and beautiful landscape if you are looking to visit a beach away from the crowds.

Wainanalii Lagoon in Kiholo Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii
Wainanalii Lagoon in Kiholo Bay

This is a great place to look for Hawaiian green sea turtles resting on land! The waters in the lagoon are a little murky for snorkeling though, so head to the black sand beach in the south of the park for snorkeling (and swimming).

The lagoon is about a mile-long walk from the road, so be sure to bring water and wear sun protection.

Black sand beach at Kiholo Bay State Reserve on the Big Island of Hawaii
Black sand beach at Kiholo Bay

There is a scenic viewpoint near mile marker 82 along Highway 19 that offers a great look down into the striking cyan blue waters of Kiholo Bay below.

Kiholo State Park is under “reserve” status, meaning that it is still in the planning phase for development for public use.

The park is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and entry is free.

Gates are locked after hours, and vehicles cannot enter or exit when they are locked.

Map of Big Island State Parks in Hawaii

Best Big Island Tours

Have you booked these top-rated Big Island tours yet?

Guided snorkeling with manta rays at night, a bucket-list underwater Big Island adventure to watch the amazing manta rays up close. Sightings guaranteed or go again.

Big Island in a Day excursion from Kona or Waikaloa, including Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, ‘Akaka Falls, and the Waipi’o Valley Lookout!

Snorkeling historic Kealakekua Bay, one of the top snorkel spots on the Big Island. Look for dolphins en route (plus whales in season)! Don’t want to snorkel? Take a dinner cruise instead.

Sunset and stargazing at the summit of Mauna Kea, the highest point in all of Hawaii! Travel up and down in a luxury 4X4 van. Hooded parkas and gloves provided!

Thrilling zipline adventure over KoleKole Falls, a 7-line Hilo ziplining experience that allows you to soar over lush forest vegetation and the 250-foot waterfall!

Renting a car on the Big Island

Most visitors that travel to the Big Island choose to rent a car because the island is, well, BIG, and the Big Island must-see attractions are scattered around the island.

Depending on where you choose to base — Kona or Hilo are the main places visitors choose — you can pick up a rental car in either location.

We always use Discover Cars to book Kona car rentals or Hilo car rentals. They search across a variety of rental car companies, both budget and brand, to offer you the best deals, AND they offer free cancellations. Plus, there are no hidden fees.

>> Check availability and prices on Kona car rentals now!

>> Check availability and prices on Hilo car rentals now!

Where to Stay on the Big Island

Kailua-Kona, on the sunnier leeward side of the Big Island, ands Hilo, on the lush windward side, are the main bases on Hawaii Island, also known as the Big Island. Most visitors to the Big Island split their stay between these two places.

You will find the biggest choice of hotels and resorts in Kailua-Kona and Waikaloa, with both chains and boutiques, while Hilo has fewer hotels and inns.

The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort is an excellent choice if you are looking for a pristine beach out the front door. The Hilton Waikaloa Village is a great choice if you are traveling as a family.

The Mauna Lani on the Kohala Coast, just 40 minutes from Kailua-Kona, is a fabulous resort for a splurge. The SCP Hilo Hotel is the perfect base from which to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

You will find VRBO listings all over the island, especially in Kailua-Kona, Hilo, and Volcano (the base for travelers spending a night or more visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park).

We have stayed in VRBO rentals in Volcano as well as in Kailua-Kona and Hilo and we’ve found the choice and quality great.

>> Look for a Big Island vacation rental on VRBO now!

Akaka Falls Trail in Akaka Falls State Park, Big Island, Hawaii
Walking the Akaka Falls Trail in Akaka Falls State Park

More Big Island Travel Inspiration

Planning a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii? Also known as Hawaii Island, the Big Island is home to some spectacular scenery and lots of activities.

Learn about the 4 national parks on the Big Island, including Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where you may be lucky enough to catch flowing lava!

Head to the southeast part of the island to admire Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, possibly the most striking of the Big Island’s black sand beaches, and read our guide to the rare green sand beach on the Big Island!

The state parks of the Big Island protect some of the island’s best treasures. A few miles north of Hilo, you will find Akaka Falls State Park, home to the 442-foot Akaka Falls.

Also on the scenic Hamakua Coast, stop to visit the lush and beautiful Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden, with its numerous varieties of tropical plants.

On the leeward side of the island, you’ll find many beautiful beaches. Must-visit Hapuna Beach is a picture-postcard tropical beach with its long stretch of white sand.

Kauna’oa Beach, also known as Mauna Kea Beach, is another white sand beach north of Kona you have to visit. It routinely makes the top 10 beaches in the USA list!

Part of the Kekahai Kai State Park, Manini’owali Beach is yet another stunning white sand beach on the Kohala Coast just north of Kailua-Kona.

South of Kailua Kona, you’ll find arguably the best snorkeling spot in all of Hawaii at the Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Bay. Our guide to the best Captain Cook snorkeling tours will help you find the perfect tour for you!

Also on the South Kona Coast is Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, one of the Big Island’s national park sites that is historically and culturally significant. And, it’s very scenic!

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Discover the 14 beautiful state parks on the Big Island of Hawaii, from Akaka Falls and Hapuna Beach to lesser known gems like MacKenzie State Recreation Area and more!

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