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The Most Unique Activities on the Big Island of Hawaii in 2024!

Every time we visit a Hawaiian island we make it a point to try out something new or unusual. Our preference is to go off the beaten path or to try a lesser-known tour that isn’t packed with tourists. Here are four unique activities on the Big Island of Hawaii!

Unique Activities on the Big Island of Hawaii!

Flumin Kohala Tour

Climb in a kayak and tour the historical Kohala Ditch irrigation channel on the Flumin Kohala trip.  It’s a unique and fun family activity.  The water is really very shallow in the flumes–maybe 3-4′ so if you’re not a swimmer, don’t be intimidated. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll fall in, but if you do, all you have to do is stand up.  There are plenty of beautiful views and picture opportunities along the tour!

Note: Flumin Kohala is currently closed due to flood damage.

unique activity big island of hawaii

Visit A Hawaiian Vanilla Farm

Hawaiian Vanilla Farm is a family-run business with a great tour and lots of information about vanilla growing and vanilla products.  I highly recommend taking the tour,  which comes with fresh lemonade and a scoop of vanilla ice cream at the end.  They also had a cooking class and food using ingredients from the farm and everything uses vanilla as an ingredient. 

The Hawaiian Vanilla Farm has a small restaurant where you can buy vanilla coffee. They also offer delicious vanilla bread pudding with vanilla ice cream.

This location also offers to ship and you can have your vanilla products mailed home for an additional cost.  

Roast Your Own Coffee at UCC Hawaii

UCC is a popular coffee shop in Japan and it makes one of the unique activities on the Big Island of Hawaii because of its Roaster tour!  The view is worth a stop alone and it’s one of the few coffee places that have a large and ample parking lot. 

The Roasters tour at UCC Hawaii includes roasting your own beans using a hundred-year-old roasting tumbler. You also get to design your own label that is placed on the package of your own freshly roasted coffee. 

UCC offers tours in both English and Japanese, and they also sell coffee drinks and coffee ice cream for sale.

Tour Big Island Abalone

Big Island Abalone operates a 10-acre aquafarm to serve the world market for premium, live abalone. Located on the Kona coast, the farm tour operates daily.

The tour lasts about 30 minutes, you get to see where the abalone grows, and what they eat and the staff will let you hold one for pictures. At the end of the tour, you can sample their grilled abalone. 

There is a stand where you can order more abalone poke or BBQ abalone. The tour costs $12 per person.

Get insider tips for visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, visiting Kona coffee plantations, and so much more!

Visit Black Sand Beach A Unique Big Island of Hawaii experience!

Be sure to visit at least one black sand beach on the Big Island! Make Punalu’u a stop on your visit to the Big Island, even if you have to go out of your way a little bit.  This is such a unique beach.  Don’t let the pictures mislead you – the sand isn’t grey or lightly colored – it is dark black, pulverized volcanic rock, with tiny grains of green and orange volcanic glass mixed in. 

Lifeguards are on duty at this beach. 

There is a concession stand selling cold drinks, snacks, T-shirts, postcards, artwork and more. 

unique activity big island of hawaii

To the left of the beach is a hidden treasure, a mini body of water (with lots of rocks so be very careful) which was the perfect location for a lookout point with views of sea turtles swimming about near the surface of the water. 

Kanaloa Octopus Farm

Kanaloa Octopus Farm is located in the industrial part of Big Island near the airport. You get to meet the octopus and learn about its life cycle. Guests get the chance to see eggs, and babies, and adult octopuses! Every guest will get “play time” with the octopuses and even several guests will help feed them- after pointers/instructions from biologist staff.  

The research team at Kanaloa Octopus Farm team educates guests on their goals for the facility and while the price is not cheap ($50) it’s a unique and inspiring activity!

Ziplining Near Akaka Falls

For an adventurous experience unlike any other on the Big Island, consider ziplining through the lush rainforests near Akaka Falls. This exhilarating zipline course is located just south of Honomu off scenic Akaka Falls Road, about a 30-minute drive from Hilo on the northern part of the island.

Ziplining tours in this area typically cost between $150-190 per person for a 2-3 hour experience.

No experience is required to participate but be prepared for an incredible journey across rivers and waterfalls in the island’s inland forests. Wear closed-toe shoes and clothing you don’t mind getting wet or dirty as you soar through the treetops.

Listen to safety instructions from knowledgeable guides, and ride the dual lines, which stretch over a mile in length, with a partner for added fun. This unique adventure is suitable for ages 10 and up and offers breathtaking perspectives of the Big Island’s natural beauty from an entirely different vantage point.

Stargazing at Mauna Kea Observatory

Perched nearly 14,000 feet above sea level, Mauna Kea Observatory on Hawaii’s Big Island offers one of the world’s best locations for stargazing and astronomy.

Location:

  • Mauna Kea Observatory is located near the summit of Mauna Kea volcano, about a 1.5-2 hour drive from Kona or Hilo. It’s one of the best places for astronomy in the world.

Cost:

Free self-guided stargazing is available every night from sunset to 10 pm. There are also paid guided summit tours ranging from $200 – $250 per person which provide transportation, lectures from astronomers, and access to telescopes and equipment.

These tours include transportation to the top, lectures from knowledgeable astronomers, and access to high-powered telescopes and equipment for hands-on observation.

Dress extremely warm for the freezing temperatures at the summit, around 30 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Proper attire like winter jackets, gloves and hats are a must. Stay hydrated in the 48 prior hours to acclimate to the high altitude and avoid strenuous activity.

First-time visitors can expect phenomenal stargazing and celestial sights from this astronomical perch. Watch in awe as the sun sinks below the towering Mauna Loa volcano, then identify constellations, planets, and deep space objects with stargazing apps or via the guidance of professional astronomers. With the right preparation and respect for the rules of the road, a visit to Mauna Kea Observatory promises an unforgettable experience.

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