Hilo Coffee Mill
If you are looking to sample fresh Hawaiian coffee, then head to Hilo Coffee Mill on Big Island.
Hawaii’s Big Island produces some of the richest coffee in the world. Hilo Coffee Mill is a family run coffee plantation that is located between Volcanoes National Park and the town of Hilo.
Covering around 24 acres, the mill has a viewing area from where visitors can watch the roasting and packaging process, as well as the Latte Da Bar where samples are available. There is also a complete menu of coffee drinks, smoothies, milk shakes, ice cream, breakfast and lunch items. Roasted coffee beans are available for sale.
Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation
The Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation is located in Keaau, Big Island. Drive through 3 miles of macadamia nut orchards to the visitor center, where free samples of freshly roasted macadamia nuts can be tasted. Visitors can also watch the nut and chocolate processing plant at no cost.
In addition, packed Mauna Loa macadamia nut products are available for purchase. They include Kona Coffee Glazed, Butter Candy Glazed, Dry Roasted Salted, and Milk Chocolate.
Star Gazing in Mauna Kea
Mauna Kea is one of Big Island’s five volcanoes. At 14,000 feet above sea level, Mauna Kea offers one of the world’s best spots for star gazing. Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean means that there is almost no light pollution at night. Hence, it is home to many of the planet’s top observatories.
The road up to the visitor center is curvy, but no worries. It is completely paved and doable. And the amazing part? Star gazing is completely free!! 🙂
Volcanoes National Park
One of Big Island’s, if not the whole of Hawaii’s, biggest attractions is the Volcanoes National Park. Part of the Hawaiian Island-Emperor Seamount chain, the Kilauea and Mauna Loa are two of the world’s most active volcanoes.
Note: Due to recent volcanic activity, parts of the park remain closed to visitors. Be sure to update yourself with current conditions before planning your trip.
Pu’uhonoa o Honaunau National Historical Park
Located on the west coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, the Pu’uhonoa o Honaunau National Historical Park is highly sacred to Hawaiian culture.
Admission: $5 per car, $3 per individual
The Great Wall was built in the 1500s, and is made of dry masonry. Beyond The Great Wall, the Pu’uhonoa served as a refuge for those who broke the kapu, sacred laws of the land. It also protected defeated warriors and civilians during times of battle. The kahuna or priests were obligated under the pain of death to provide shelter to all fugitives, no matter their offence. Without this refuge, these asylum seekers would have faced death.
In Ancient Hawaii, this place known as Hale O Keawe had incredible mana or spiritual power. 23 ali’i chiefs’ bones are protected in this heiau (temple).
Akaka Falls State Park
Akaka Falls State Park lies 11 miles north of Hilo. You will come across the park on the 4 mile scenic route on Big Island known as the Hamakua Coast Drive. Kolekole Stream has cut a deep, narrow gorge into the basalt and ash of the dormant volcano, Mauna Kea. This makes it ideal for waterfalls.
Admission: $5 per car, $1 per pedestrian
The park trail is 0.4 miles and takes you through lush tropical forest with several viewpoints available to admire the 442 feet tall Akaka Falls.
This is a cascading waterfall, which means that the water drops down a series of pools before merging with Kolekole Stream. However, you can barely see Kahuna Falls through the dense forest foliage.
This is a free falling waterfall, meaning that the water drops from the cliff edge down 442 feet to the plunge pool below, all in one continuous flow. Akaka Falls is twice the height of Niagara Falls.
Waipio Valley Lookout
The Waipio Valley lies at the end of the 4 mile Hamakua Heritage Corridor, also known as the Hamakua Scenic Coastal Drive. Breathtaking and serene, it is considered as one of the most stunning scenic overlooks in Big Island. It was the childhood home of King Kamehameha I, who unified Oahu after winning the Battle of Nu’uanu at the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout.
This fertile valley is over five miles deep and surrounded by cliffs up to 2000 feet high. Big Island’s tallest waterfall, Hiilawe Falls cascades down 1,300 feet in the back of Waipio Valley.
Driving into the valley requires a 4 wheel drive and isn’t recommended. Check with your rental company before attempting to maneuver down the steep slopes.
Town of Waimea
Hawaii has a rich cowboy culture which is more than a century old. When travelling east from the volcanic Kohala coast on Big Island, you are met with green pastures, cattle and cowboys. Called paniolo, local men were trained to rope and ride way before their Wild West counterparts. Tours of ranches such as Kahua Ranch and Anna Ranch are available including horseback riding.
Alii Drive is the main street in Kailua-Kona, one of the bigger cities in Big Island. Lined with banyan trees, feisty bars, places to eat and shopping niches, it speaks fun and relaxation by the sea. Keep an eye out for the many henna tattoo places! Cruise liners fill the bay and the streets are packed. We were lucky to find free street parking. A great place to eat and enjoy the ocean breeze is Kamana Kitchen. Truly amazing Indian food!
Mokuaikuau Church is Hawaii’s oldest church and dates back to 1820, when the first congregation was founded by American Christian Missionaries, Asa and Lucy Thurston. Today, it is part of the National Register of Historic Places.
Hulihee Palace was built in the early 1800s for the Hawaiian royalty and was originally made completely out of lava rock. In 1885, King Kalakaua had the palace plastered to give the building a more refined look. In 1927, the Daughters of Hawaii, a group of seven women dedicated to the preservation of the island’s cultural heritage, converted the palace into a museum. In 1973, the palace was added to the National Register of Historic Places.