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Top Rated Attractions in Hawai'i (Big Island)

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Mauna Kea

Standing tall at 13,803 feet (4,207.3 meters), Mauna Kea is the highest peak in the state of Hawaii. It is also one of five volcanic hot spots on the island, but is currently dormant, having witnessed its last eruption about 3,600 years ago. The mountain is sacred to the native Hawaiian people, and only high ranking members of the community were traditionally allowed to ascend the peak. Its summit is considered one of the best astronomical observation sites in the world and is home to a number of observatories. Numerous trails exist on the mountain, some of which lead up to the summit.

Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area

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!

Puako Petroglyphs

Estimated to be between 200 and 1000 years old, these eerie, timeless remnants of Hawaii's past are at the end of a 0.7 mile paved trail. The trail is easy to maneuver and the scenery is amazing. The first part travels over a vast expanse of lava rock. Eventually it leads into a dry wood forest where crude symbols are carved into large rocks. The historic site is located in the Holoholokai Beach Park.

Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve

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.

Waipio Valley

Located at the very end of the Honokaa-Waipio Road, this valley is perhaps one of the most sacred in the islands. Burial caves and other relics of ancient Hawaiians still exist in the valley. The endangered Hawaiian hawk are also spotted here. They gather in the late afternoons to search for prey. Today, the valley is home to taro farmers, who take their crop up the narrow road to poi factories in Hilo. The valley is on private property and access by rental cars is prohibited by car rental agencies. Please respect the area when visiting.

Pololu Valley Lookout

A visit to Pololu Valley is probably one of the most enjoyable drives on the island. It's an experience that can be described as interesting and pleasurable. To get to Pololu, one must drive through the small town of Hawi, past the King Kamehameha statue in Kapaau and continue down through single-lane bridges, metal-roofed plantation-style homes, and vistas that include the eastern slope of Haleakala on Maui on a clear day. The drive proceeds past forested land and tropical landscapes. The jaw-dropping view appears quite unexpectedly when the road starts its descent into the valley. Truly unforgettable.

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