Hilo
Nature & Adventure

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Our most recommended Hilo Nature & Adventure

Hilo: Sea Turtle Lagoon and Black Sand Beach Snorkel

1. Hilo: Sea Turtle Lagoon and Black Sand Beach Snorkel

This is your opportunity to swim in a lagoon full of abundant sea life. Join your hosts on a fully guided and narrated beach snorkel tour along the pristine Hilo coastline. Make 2 snorkeling stops and also enjoy island snacks and juices. The volcanic beaches are renowned for their abundant sea turtle population, and the brackish water bays and lagoons are home to a wealth of sea life including octopus, eagle and manta rays, eels, corals, and tropical reef fish. Your experienced snorkel guide will teach you about the beautiful and lush surroundings, how the beaches and volcanic islands are made, and about the abundant marine world which lies below. Newcomers to snorkeling and children are welcome. Your trained guide will teach you the basics and be with you every step of the way to make sure you feel safe and comfortable. Children will be introduced to nature in a spectacular way.

Big Island: Hilo Doors-Off Lava and Rainforest Adventure

2. Big Island: Hilo Doors-Off Lava and Rainforest Adventure

On this helicopter doors-off experience, you will see the best of the Big Island, with views only accessible by air. See giant waterfalls flowing down gorgeous cliffs and active glowing lava. For those wanting to see Hawaii from a bird's eye view, this tour will take you there. Jump aboard the Hughes 500 Helicopter doors-off and fly over one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Find out for yourself why this is the ”hottest helicopter ride on Earth.” After over 35 years of activity, Kīlauea Volcano has made its mark on the geological structure of the island. Witness otherworldly landscapes like the incredible 8-mile river of frozen lava from Fissure 8 to the Pacific Ocean, the newest black sand beaches, and enormous craters created by recent events. Along the way, view Mauna Loa’s vistas, the beauty of lush Puna rainforests, and mesmerizing Hilo waterfalls. With no windows to shoot through, there is no better way for you to share crystal clear photographs and videos of your experience. Many of these Hawaii waterfalls are accessible by air only so you will gain exclusive access to some of the largest waterfalls on the island. 

Big Island: Full Day Circle Island Tour From Kona

3. Big Island: Full Day Circle Island Tour From Kona

Travel south into Kona coffee country for the first stop at Bay View Farm, a working 24-acre coffee farm nestled on the slopes of Mauna Loa Volcano just above beautiful Kealakekua Bay and known for the best Kona coffee since 1984. Here you will see coffee growing on the trees and learn about the various steps and processes in making coffee, all of which happen right here on the farm. Sample 100% Kona Coffee at a gorgeous overlook with stunning views of Kealakekua Bay and the monument to Captain Cook standing on the only sliver of British land in the United States. The adventure continues as you head through the South Kona and Ka’u Districts. Stunning views, alternating between stark lava flows and Hawaiian dry forest, are visible through the huge picture windows of your tour vehicle. Stop briefly at picturesque Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. Lined with swaying coconut palm trees, this is one of the best black sand beaches on the island. Look for honu or green Hawaiian sea turtles feeding just offshore or sun-worshipping on the sand. Next travel to the crown jewel of Hawaii, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Visit the Kilauea Visitor’s Center, the Kilauea Iki Crater Overlook, and Steaming Bluffs. Walkthrough the famous Volcano House to view the smoking and steaming Kilauea Caldera. Dropping down into the lush eastern side of Kilauea Volcano, your next stop is Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm. In operation for more than 30 years, Mauna Loa has more than a dozen mac nut flavors to choose from, and visitors can watch the factory floor through glass windows. Big Island Candies is the next stop in Hilo-town. Founded in 1977, Big Island Candies is synonymous with quality. Big Island Candies welcomes everyone with samples of their amazing confections, still handmade using only the highest quality ingredients. Peek through the windows into the factory or browse the selection of gorgeous jewel-box gifts. Travel through quaint Hilo town where you drive along the historic waterfront and along the Onomea Scenic Route, a  four-mile section of the original old highway punctuated with historic wooden bridges, waterfalls, and lush tropical foliage. Waipio Valley, known as the Valley of Kings, is a place of impossibly steep cliffs carved by plunging waterfalls cascading more than a thousand feet to the valley floor below. Waipio Valley is still home to taro farmers as it has been for a thousand years. Look closely from the overlook and glimpses of the wild horses that roam the valley floor might be possible.

Hilo: Small-Group Humpback Whale Expedition

4. Hilo: Small-Group Humpback Whale Expedition

Prepare for an awe-inspiring whale watching trip offering you intimate wildlife encounters off Hilo's shoreline. Begin your journey at Wailoa Boat Harbor where you will set sail aboard the Moana Mea a'a (Hawaiian for "Ocean Adventurer").  Venture out of Hilo’s breakwall in search of these majestic creatures for an up-close and personal, once in a lifetime experience. Throughout your tour catch glimpses of Hawaii’s gentle giants and its winter visitor, the Humpback Whale. These fascinating mammals come to the warm Hawaiian waters every year to breed and give birth to new calves. While in search of whales, be delighted by pods of dolphins following and frolicking near your vessel. Before you know it, you will see one of these 40-ton giants breach the water for an unforgettable sight. Learn from your knowledgeable captain about the nonstop 6-8 week and 6,000-mile migration from Alaska, while encountering a few of the 12,000 North Pacific Humpbacks that arrive in the Hawaiian Islands each year for a season of mating, birthing, and nurturing their newborns.

Big Island: Evening Volcano Explorer from Hilo

5. Big Island: Evening Volcano Explorer from Hilo

Start with a drive through quaint Hilo town where you’ll drive along the historic waterfront before heading out to the old fishing village of Kalapana. Your National Park Service certified guide will discuss the volcanology, geology, and history of Kilauea Volcano, as well as providing in-depth narration on the various lava flows and flora and fauna that you’ll be passing by.  Hike out across the lava flow to the new black sand beach. Stop by Star of the Sea Painted Church, moved by the community twice to save it from advancing lava flows in 1990, this decommissioned church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Next travel to the crown jewel of Hawaii, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. V isit the Kilauea Visitor’s Center, the Kilauea Iki Crater Overlook, and Steaming Bluffs. Stop in at the famous Volcano House for incredible views of Kilauea Caldera, and hike to the cracks and sinkholes in the paved roads left behind by the historic eruption of 2018.

Hilo: 2-Hour Historic Hawaii Hamakua Cruise

6. Hilo: 2-Hour Historic Hawaii Hamakua Cruise

Grab your camera and get ready for a sightseeing cruise that will provide you with stunning photographs and beautiful memories for years to come. During this small and intimate tour, spend 2 hours viewing lush tropical landscapes, secret coves, beautiful waterfalls, and visiting ancient Hawaiian villages. You will see the remains of Hilo's plantation-era sugar mills including the 1900s-era Papaikou Mill that is now a popular spot with surfers. Be sure to capture majestic photos of Mauna Kea, the world's largest volcano, as well as Kilauea, the world's most active one. The two tallest and most active volcanoes in the world, all visitors should be sure to make time to see these mountains of fire, which are both located in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. While on the waters keep an eye out for playful spinner and bottle-nose dolphins; these crowd favorites love to put on an acrobatic show next to the boat. Throughout the tour, your guides will share insightful stories and fascinating facts about the history and culture of Hilo and Hamakua. Reserve your spot in the boat today.

Hilo Bay: Myths & Legends Waterfall & Lagoon Raft Adventure

7. Hilo Bay: Myths & Legends Waterfall & Lagoon Raft Adventure

Step aboard a 6-passenger inflatable boat and explore Hilo's culturally rich coast within the calm of the protected Hilo Bay. Take a peek at the mysterious jungle waterfall and traverse upstream on Hawai'i's longest river.   Travel back in time to when Polynesian explorers discovered this volcanic island and gave meaning and stories to the land. Pass by Coconut Island, a small isle that was a refuge for warriors in ancient times. Visit popular sites on the bay including the ice ponds and bayfront black sand beach.  Have the chance to swing from the banyan trees over the lagoon. Enjoy views of historic Hilo Town and learn about its history of thriving sugar plantations and a large sampan fishing fleet before 2 major tsunamis in 1946 and 1960 changed the nature of the town. Keep an eye out for sea turtles swimming in the lagoon as you pass under the Singing Bridge on your way to the falls on Wailuku River.

Hawaii: Big Island Self-Guided Driving Tour

8. Hawaii: Big Island Self-Guided Driving Tour

Experience Hawaii's Big Island at your own pace with a self-guided driving tour. Stops include Hulihe's Palace, Magic Beach, and the Lekeleke Burial Grounds. Your tour of the Big Island begins outside the quaint town of Kailua-Kona. Start by downloading the Action Tour Guide app that will function as your personal guide, audio tour, and map all in one. As you drive, you’ll see the historic Hulihe’e Palace, once the vacation home of the island’s royalty. Continue south to Magic Beach, where the sand sometimes simply disappears. After that is Kahalu'u Beach, a perfect place for snorkelers, followed by the sacred Lekeleke Burial Grounds. Next, pass the remnants of Hikiau Heiau, an important religious site in ancient Hawaii. Past that is the Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park for those looking to learn more about the island’s history. See the Honaunau Rodeo Arena and learn all about Hawaii’s cowboys. Next up is Pebble Beach, where you’ll get to know the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele. You’ll also have the option to check out the Kula Kai Caverns, left by ancient volcanic activity. Continuing on, reach the startling Punalu'u Beach, which features totally black sand. The route then passes an old sugar plantation, followed by the huge volcanoes Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Pass by Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where you can explore the island’s volcanoes up close. After that, drive through the picturesque town of Hilo. Then, cruise through the almost impossibly scenic Liliuokalani Park and Gardens. Find surfers catching waves next at Honoli'i Beach. After that is Onomea Bay, featuring a spectacular hiking trail with views that can’t be beaten. Then, admire the astonishing flora at the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden. Continuing on, you’ll arrive at the surprising sight of the Honohina Hongwanji Mission, a historic Buddhist temple. Next pass the Laupahoehoe Train Museum before reaching Laupahoehoe Point, a spectacular ocean vista. Don’t forget to snap some photos. Anyone hankering for a snack will definitely want to stop at the Hamakua Harvest Farmers Market before continuing on to the cowboy town of Waimea. Up next are a pair of great beaches: Hapuna Beach is the largest white sand beach on the island and Beach 69 is beloved by locals, so take your pick. Then you’ll arrive at the Kings Highway Foot Trail, where you’ll have the chance to see the ancient Waikoloa Petroglyphs. After that are another few scenic overlooks, followed by the beautiful Kekaha Kai State Park. Your tour concludes here, just north of where it began.

From Hilo: Kilauea Lava Flow Tour with Lunch and Dinner

9. From Hilo: Kilauea Lava Flow Tour with Lunch and Dinner

Start with a drive through Hilo along the historic waterfront, and head out to the old fishing village of Kalapana. Move on to Mackenzie State Recreation Area, take a hike along the now-closed highway. Follow the lava flow through the pine forest to the cliffs overlooking the new black sand beach. Enjoy a picnic lunch amongst the pine trees. Stop by Star of the Sea Painted Church, moved twice to save it from lava flows. Head to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to visit the Kilauea Visitor’s Center, the Kilauea Iki Crater Overlook, and Steaming Bluffs. Hike out to Keanakakoi Crater and walk over the most recent cracks and sinkholes left behind by the eruption of 2018. Later, enjoy a delicious dinner.

Big Island: Self-Drive Sightseeing Road Trip

10. Big Island: Self-Drive Sightseeing Road Trip

Explore Hawaii’s youngest and largest island and change the way you see the Big Island with this narrated, self-drive road trip. Visit historic sites, popular attractions, world-class beaches, and scenic hikes. Hear local stories, legends, and fun facts about the places you’re visiting and listen to unique Hawaiian music to entertain and relax you along the way. Drive across barren lava fields that are wedged between two active volcanoes. Visit a black sand beach and taste Hawaiian coffee and macadamia nuts on local farms. Be adventurous and go cliff diving or take advantage of the beautiful nature and take a scenic hike. See the tallest mountain in Hawaii at night for the ultimate stargazing experience. This adventure is great for families and solo travelers alike.

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What people are saying about Hilo

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 25 reviews

The tour was really good and specially for our tour guide Brett. It was raining that day amd the visibility was really low, so we could not go to the active volcano but to make it up he drove us to the solidified lava fields and also showed us another dormant crater. He provided us with snacks, umbrellas and rain jackets and took very good care of us. The two waterfalls Akaka and Rainbow falls were amazing. We went to the big island just to see the active volcano, too bad it was raining… wish we could still walk up there. Other than that th whole tour was fun.

This was by far the highlight of my trip to Hawaii! Kurt, our guide, was OUTSTANDING! My daughter and myself spike about it later and agreed that Kurt made the adventure. His knowledge of the islands, the legends and the actual history, the plants as well as all the wild animals ... unbelievable. The places that we stopped at were beautiful, but with the information from Kurt... they came to life. We would do the tour again and are recommending it to everyone we speak to.

The entire experience was phenomenal. Devyn was the BEST guide and he didn’t only take us snorkeling, but also took the time to teach and guide us through the beaches of Hilo. He was wonderful and made the experience so informative and safe.

David was a great tour guide. Got to see all the highlights. Perfect if you don’t have a vehicle or have limited time to explore the big island

Nice and informative tour to explore the island. Everything went well.