Things to Do for Free on Hawaii's Big Island

Free (Or Almost Free) Ways to Enjoy the Big Island

Lapakahi State Historical Park, Hawaii
••• Lapakahi State Historical Park. Mark Daffey / Getty Images

You won't find more affordable activities on the Big Island of Hawaii than things that are free to do. Check out these great free things to do on Hawaii's Big Island.

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  • 01 of 14
    USA, Hawaii, Big Island, Honomu, Akaka Falls
    ••• Westend61 / Getty Images

    'Akaka Falls State Park, located 13 miles north of Hilo above Honomu, has an easy and pleasant footpath loop that provides views of two beautiful waterfalls. It's one of the Big Island's most-visited spots.

  • 02 of 14
    Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company
    ••• Courtesy of Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company

    Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company, located in Kawaihae, offers free tours and samples at its new factory store. The company grows, markets and processes 100-percent Big Island macadamia nuts and other delicacies.

  • 03 of 14
    Hawaii, Ka Lae (South Point) Vegetation And Volcanic Rock
    ••• Education Images / UIG / Getty Images

    Ka Lae, the remote and windswept southernmost part of the island, is where Polynesians first arrived in Hawaii and settled. Now a National Historical Landmark district, it is a beautiful place to look out to sea and contemplate what caused Polynesians to outfit their voyaging canoes and set out purposefully seeking new lands, as well as their arrival in Hawaii.

  • 04 of 14
    Steam rises when Lava from Kilauea Volcano pours into ocean at Kamokuna
    ••• Grant Kaye / Getty Images

    Located at the end of Highway 130 in the Puna District, the Kalapana Lava Viewing Area affords a dazzling vantage point to see molten lava. Conditions change daily, but visitors to the safe viewing area have been awed by the fury of roaring steam and exploding lava gushing from the black lava plain into the roiling ocean, adding more and more land to "the Big Island."

    Open daily from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., but no cars are allowed into the parking area after 8 p.m. Call the Kalapana Lava Viewing Hotline (808) 961-8093 for current conditions or visit U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory for Kilauea Volcano eruption updates.

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  • 05 of 14

    Kalopa State Recreation Area

    Kalopa State Recreation Area
    ••• Forest and Kim Starr / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Kalopa State Recreation Area is off Highway 19 at the end of Kalopa Road, southeast of Honoka'a. This beautiful and cool park, situated at 2000 feet, has picnic areas, an easy nature hike in a native 'ohi'a forest, and additional trails in the adjoining forest reserve.

  • 06 of 14
    Thatch shack at Mo'okini Heiau
    ••• Douglas Peebles / Getty Images

    Kohala Historical Sites State Monument, off Hwy. 270 near 'Upolu Airport, consists of two historic sites. Mo'okini Heiau, a National Historic Monument, is the most famous ancient sacrificial heiau (temple) in the state. The adjacent site is Kamehameha's Birth Place, a memorial to the 18th-century chief who united the islands under one rule.

  • 07 of 14
    kona Portuguese bread
    ••• sodai gomi / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Kona Historical Society's traditional Portuguese bread-baking, every Thursday 11 a.m. to 2 pm. See how Portuguese families in Hawaii traditionally baked their weekly supply of bread in large, wood-fired "fornos" (stone ovens)—and sample some, too!

  • 08 of 14
    Lapakahi State Historical Park, Hawaii
    ••• Mark Daffey / Getty Images

    Lapakahi State Historical Park is off of Hwy. 270, 12.4 miles north of Kawaihae. It is the partially restored remains of an ancient coastal settlement, and there are daily cultural demonstrations and also storytelling.

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  • 09 of 14
    'Lava trees' at Lava Tree State Monument.
    ••• Greg Elms / Getty Images

    Lava Tree State Monument, off Pahoa-Pohoiki Road, is 2.7 miles southeast of Pahoa. The site is a forest of "lava trees," formed by a lava flow that swept through the area and left behind lava molds of tree trunks.

  • 10 of 14
    Observatory on Mountain Ridge
    ••• Christopher Chan / Getty Images

    Mauna Kea, above the clouds, at 9,000 feet, the Visitors Information Station offers displays about the mountain's world-class astronomical observatories; and every evening of the year, even on holidays, its volunteer astronomy buffs roll out telescopes for an outstanding—and free—stargazing program.

  • 11 of 14
    Mokupapapa Discovery
    ••• Courtesy of UH Hilo Marine Option Program

    Mokupāpapa Discovery Center showcases the marine life of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, perhaps Earth’s most remote and pristine ocean environment – and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is also a World Heritage Site). Scientific interpretation, a 2,500-gallon saltwater aquarium, and more await visitors. Located at 308 Kamehameha Ave. in Hilo, near the Hilo Farmers Market.

  • 12 of 14
    Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo
    ••• Bob Linsdell / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

    xPana'ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens is a 12-acre rainforest zoo located south of Hilo on Mamaki Street. Namasté, its white Bengal tiger, gets fed daily at 3:30, and there's a children's petting zoo on Saturdays from 1:30-2:30. The zoo is also known for its beautiful botanical gardens, which have more than 100 varieties of palm trees and other plants. Open 9-4 daily.

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  • 13 of 14
    Puako Petroglyphs
    ••• Alvis Upitis / Getty Images

    Puako Petroglyph Preserve, off Highway 19 and just north of the entrance to the Fairmont Orchid on the Kohala Coast, offers a short hike that leads to more than 3,000 petroglyphs; the hotel provides a free map and brochure.

  • 14 of 14
    Pu‘ukoholā National Historic Site
    ••• Bamse / Wikimedia Commons

    Pu‘ukoholā National Historic Site is Hawai‘i’s largest heiau (temple) and was built under the order of Kamehameha I to appease the war god Ku. Once the hillside heiau was complete, Kamehameha sacrificed a rival and set sail to unify all the Hawaiian Islands under his rule. Pu‘ukoholā “Hill of the Whale” is located between the Kohala Coast resorts and Kawaihae off Highway 270. The founding of the Hawaiian Kingdom can be directly associated with this one sacred structure. Open daily 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding federal holidays.

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