A Local Guide to the Best Day Trips On Hawai‘i Island
If you’re headed to Hawai‘i Island for a well-deserved vacation, then you’re going to need an arsenal of excursions and adventures to embark on when you aren’t relaxing back at the resort. We checked in with our good friend on the island to find out her favorite things to do on Hawai‘i Island, and she helped us put together a quick local guide. Whether you’re sightseeing or looking for a spontaneous day trip, there’s no better way to explore the area. Who knows? What starts out as a couple of hours out of the itinerary could turn out to be the best part of your trip.
Green Sands Beach
Green Sands Beach, also known as Papakōlea Beach, is on the southern coast of Hawai'i Island. The beach gets its distinctive color from olivine, a type of mineral that is found in the surrounding cinder cones. Green Sands is located in a remote area, and reaching it requires a little bit of hiking (pack these men’s Holo and women’s Huia sneakers). Once at the beach, you can swim in the clear waters, relax on the soft green sand, and take in the stunning surroundings. It’s relatively uncrowded here but is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike who are looking for a serene beach experience.
Mauna Kea Summit for Sunrise or Sunset
At an elevation of 13,803 feet above sea level, Mauna Kea is the highest point in the state of Hawai'i (aka the ideal spot to catch the sunset or sunrise). The summit of Mauna Kea is home to a number of important astronomical observatories, including the W. M. Keck Observatory and the Mauna Kea Observatories. The winding road up that starts at an elevation of 9,000 feet and climbs to the summit. It’s narrow and winding, so be sure to drive carefully. At the summit, the air is thin, and the weather can be harsh, with strong winds and low temperatures, even during the summer months. Make sure you pack warm clothing, as well as plenty of water and snacks! The summit of Mauna Kea is sacred to Native Hawaiians. Be sure to respect the cultural and natural resources of the area.
Kamuela Farmers Market
If you’re in town on a Saturday (7:30 am - 1:00 pm) or Wednesday (9 am - 2 pm), head to Kamuela Farmers Market at Pukalani Stables in Waimea. Known for its drool-worthy assortment of fresh bread and pastries, produce, plants, takeout foods, jewelry, handcrafted items, and herbal products, there’s no better way to spend a sunny day on Hawai‘i Island. Browse the market for omiyage (gifts), or grab some fresh and tasty materials for a picnic. Make sure you wear your best leather sandals, like men’s ‘Ilikai and women’s Huawai, for walking and a tote or bag to carry home your finds.
Waialea Beach, also known as 69 Beach or Beach 69, is a must-see beach on Hawai‘i Island. Situated on the western coast, it’s renowned for its beautiful white sand and clear blue water. Waialae is a popular spot for swimming, snorkeling, and other water activities. The beach is protected by a reef, which helps to calm the waves and makes it suitable for swimming. You can find restrooms, showers, and picnic tables there, which makes it an easy choice for day trips with your family. Waialea Beach is a popular destination for both locals and tourists, so keep in mind that it can get crowded on weekends and holidays. And if you decide to explore the area a bit, the beach is surrounded by luxury resorts, golf courses, restaurants, and shops. Be sure to pack your reef-safe SPF.
Another stunning beach trip to add to your list is Anaeho‘omalu Bay (or A-Bay). Situated on the Kohala Coast, about 40 minutes drive from downtown Kailua-Kona, Anaeho‘omalu Bay is known for its salt and pepper sand beach, sea turtles, and picturesque views. For the more adventurous types, you’ll also find miles of coastal hikes around the area on The King’s Trail. Ready to immerse yourself in culture and history? Check out the ancient fishponds and petroglyphs. As far as the “what to pack” checklist, we’d suggest you bring your bathing suit, a towel, and a change of clothes if you decide to hit the trail. P.S. If you do decide to hike, slide our puffy men’s Maha 'Olu or women’s Hila recovery sandals on afterwards for instant relaxation.
Looking For Something More Adventurous?
Here are a few of the top excursions and local tours near Hawai‘i Island that our friend raves about. There’s truly something for everyone:
1. Kohala Divers for snorkeling, whale watching, or diving
2. 4D Quarter Horses Hawai‘i (formerly Dahana Ranch) for horseback riding
3. Kahalu‘u Bay Surf & Sea for snorkeling and surf lessons