Among Big Island's white sand spots, this one stands out and is regularly ranked among the top beaches in the world. The sand is sugar-fine, warm and clean and stretches as far as the eye can see. The waves are deep blue in the distance, foamy when they hit the shore. The half-mile strip also has great facilities like a paved walkway leading from the parking lot, which is a rarity in Hawaii!
This is one of the Big Island's best places to swim, sunbathe, picnic and bodysurf. A dirt road off Highway 19 (aka Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway), leads out to Mahai'ula Beach, where a picturesque crescent of golden sand meets the head of a protected bay. Kua Bay, located about a four-mile hike north from the beach, is a good place for more activities. Divers frequently visit the underwater tunnels and the shipwreck off shore. In vehicles that aren't four-wheelers, drives down the one-mile unpaved road to the beach will be a difficult one.
Located inside the Hilton Waikoloa Village, this dolphin habitat draws visitors from up and down the big island of Hawaii. Dolphin Quest Hawaii offers a variety of programs and encounters for everyone from children to couples. Guests and visitors have the chance to learn about these extraordinary creatures through fun and educational programs. See their website for more information.
This special ranch is located about an hour from Kona International Airport and just 15 minutes from the Waikoloa resorts at the 12,500-foot level of the Kohala Mountains. The ranch is situated in the midst of the small ranching town of Waimea where horses, cowboys and saddles don’t afford a second look. The ranch is over 100 years old and the historical value continues today in the preservation of the area’s history, artifacts and collections that are unique to Hawaii. The ranch has a wonderful gift shop filled with unique and special gifts. Tours are scheduled daily for those who want to be introduced to a special part of Hawaii’s history and culture.
A visit to this site is a visit to one of the most historical and revered heiau in all of Polynesia. Located on a hill between Spencer Beach Park and Kawaihae Harbor, this heiau is dedicated to the Hawaiian War God Ku. It is the location where King Kamehameha launched the unification of the Hawaiian Islands after the death of Keoua. The area is sunny and warm, and the experience includes a short video, a gift shop and several attendants that will answer any questions and provide local insight to the temple, the area and more.
The tallest peak in Hawai'i, Mauna Kea is famed for snow dusted slopes through the winter season. Natural deposits left by Ice Age glaciers are easily visible to any science buff. People with an interest in archaeology may want to hike the 40-minute path to Lake Waiau, where an archaeological site still shows remnants of ancient pre-contact Hawai'i. Plenty of other people come here to get a good look at the island from the vantage point of 13,000 feet above sea level. Note: Limited access to rental cars. Check before attempting to make the drive.
A visit to this island art gallery requires a drive past wide open countryside, green pastures, grazing cattle, horses and perhaps even snow-capped Mauna Kea in the winter months. Located 2300 feet above sea level in the upland beauty of what islanders refer to as Waimea, this art gallery is a wonderful spot for browsing for local art treasures. The gallery is a unique consortium of private education and a multitude of artists. The gallery's collection contains paintings, sculpture, glass, photography and woodwork. It's worth the drive.
The sunny Kohala Coast yields some of the best beaches on the Big Island, and Waialea Beach is certainly one of the best. Located at mile marker 69 along Queen Kaahumanu Hwy, this beach is not as popular as nearby Hapuna or as busy as Spencer. The shoreline is a sliver of white sand but the beauty is in the clear waters and remote location. Locals gather on weekends in droves with kids and body boards in tow. Snorkeling is a popular activity here since the waters are clear and conditions are typically calm, especially in the summer months. Park respectfully and leave only footprints, please. The beach is open from sunrise to sunset.
This small gallery in the shops at Mauna Lani offers the casual art enthusiast a place to browse among the collection of sculpture, glass, wood and metal work. The items in Third Dimension rarely change, but they all have a sense of uplifting contemporary lines, tropical themes and unique pieces that are engaging. The staff here is certainly more knowledgeable than most when it comes to local artists and inventories. More upscale and modern than most area galleries, this one is a stand out along the Kohala Coast.