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Our most recommended Hilo Activities

Hilo: Fly over Volcano National Park and Waterfalls

1. Hilo: Fly over Volcano National Park and Waterfalls

Take a helicopter ride over ever-changing scenery at Volcano National Park with this tour from Hilo. Journey over black sand beaches where lava once flowed into the sea. Take off from Hilo and fly directly to Volcano National Park. See the caldera of the Kilauea volcano. Admire the Pu'uo'o' volcanic cone. Snap pictures of the massive volcanos Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Discover new lava fields that are forming and go over old lava fields. View how waterfalls create a deep blue pools amid jungle greenery.

Hilo: Sea Turtle Lagoon and Black Sand Beach Snorkel

2. Hilo: Sea Turtle Lagoon and Black Sand Beach Snorkel

This is your opportunity to swim in a lagoon full of abundant sea life. Join your hosts on a fully guided and narrated beach snorkel tour along the pristine Hilo coastline. Make 2 snorkeling stops and also enjoy island snacks and juices. The volcanic beaches are renowned for their abundant sea turtle population, and the brackish water bays and lagoons are home to a wealth of sea life including octopus, eagle and manta rays, eels, corals, and tropical reef fish. Your experienced snorkel guide will teach you about the beautiful and lush surroundings, how the beaches and volcanic islands are made, and about the abundant marine world which lies below. Newcomers to snorkeling and children are welcome. Your trained guide will teach you the basics and be with you every step of the way to make sure you feel safe and comfortable. Children will be introduced to nature in a spectacular way.

Big Island Volcano Adventure: Full-Day from Hilo

3. Big Island Volcano Adventure: Full-Day from Hilo

The highlight of our Hilo adventure is a visit to the world-famous Kilauea Volcano, which has been erupting continuously since the 1980s. Your guide will tell you about the history of the volcano on your visit to the park and the Kilauea lava flow. On our Big Island Volcano Adventure enjoy the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - Visitor Center, an ancient lava tube, Kilauea Iki Crater and more. We’ll take you on a drive along the famed Banyan Tree Drive. The trees you’ll see on the this road were planted by various local Hawaiians, political and religious leaders, famous authors, movie stars and world adventurers beginning back in 1933. At Akaka Falls we’ll stop so you can take photos. This waterfall is 80 feet tall and nearly 100 feet wide, and flows over a natural lava cave into a large freshwater pool surrounded by thick tropical vegetation.

Big Island: Hilo Doors-Off Lava and Rainforest Adventure

4. Big Island: Hilo Doors-Off Lava and Rainforest Adventure

On this helicopter doors-off experience, you will see the best of the Big Island, with views only accessible by air. See giant waterfalls flowing down gorgeous cliffs and active glowing lava. For those wanting to see Hawaii from a bird's eye view, this tour will take you there. Jump aboard the Hughes 500 Helicopter doors-off and fly over one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Find out for yourself why this is the ”hottest helicopter ride on Earth.” After over 35 years of activity, Kīlauea Volcano has made its mark on the geological structure of the island. Witness otherworldly landscapes like the incredible 8-mile river of frozen lava from Fissure 8 to the Pacific Ocean, the newest black sand beaches, and enormous craters created by recent events. Along the way, view Mauna Loa’s vistas, the beauty of lush Puna rainforests, and mesmerizing Hilo waterfalls. With no windows to shoot through, there is no better way for you to share crystal clear photographs and videos of your experience. Many of these Hawaii waterfalls are accessible by air only so you will gain exclusive access to some of the largest waterfalls on the island. 

Hilo: Small-Group Humpback Whale Expedition

5. Hilo: Small-Group Humpback Whale Expedition

Prepare for an awe-inspiring whale watching trip offering you intimate wildlife encounters off Hilo's shoreline. Begin your journey at Wailoa Boat Harbor where you will set sail aboard the Moana Mea a'a (Hawaiian for "Ocean Adventurer").  Venture out of Hilo’s breakwall in search of these majestic creatures for an up-close and personal, once in a lifetime experience. Throughout your tour catch glimpses of Hawaii’s gentle giants and its winter visitor, the Humpback Whale. These fascinating mammals come to the warm Hawaiian waters every year to breed and give birth to new calves. While in search of whales, be delighted by pods of dolphins following and frolicking near your vessel. Before you know it, you will see one of these 40-ton giants breach the water for an unforgettable sight. Learn from your knowledgeable captain about the nonstop 6-8 week and 6,000-mile migration from Alaska, while encountering a few of the 12,000 North Pacific Humpbacks that arrive in the Hawaiian Islands each year for a season of mating, birthing, and nurturing their newborns.

Big Island: Evening Volcano Explorer from Hilo

6. Big Island: Evening Volcano Explorer from Hilo

Start with a drive through quaint Hilo town where you’ll drive along the historic waterfront before heading out to the old fishing village of Kalapana. Your National Park Service certified guide will discuss the volcanology, geology, and history of Kilauea Volcano, as well as providing in-depth narration on the various lava flows and flora and fauna that you’ll be passing by.  Hike out across the lava flow to the new black sand beach. Stop by Star of the Sea Painted Church, moved by the community twice to save it from advancing lava flows in 1990, this decommissioned church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Next travel to the crown jewel of Hawaii, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. V isit the Kilauea Visitor’s Center, the Kilauea Iki Crater Overlook, and Steaming Bluffs. Stop in at the famous Volcano House for incredible views of Kilauea Caldera, and hike to the cracks and sinkholes in the paved roads left behind by the historic eruption of 2018.

Big Island: Self-Drive Sightseeing Road Trip

7. Big Island: Self-Drive Sightseeing Road Trip

Explore Hawaii’s youngest and largest island and change the way you see the Big Island with this narrated, self-drive road trip. Visit historic sites, popular attractions, world-class beaches, and scenic hikes. Hear local stories, legends, and fun facts about the places you’re visiting and listen to unique Hawaiian music to entertain and relax you along the way. Drive across barren lava fields that are wedged between two active volcanoes. Visit a black sand beach and taste Hawaiian coffee and macadamia nuts on local farms. Be adventurous and go cliff diving or take advantage of the beautiful nature and take a scenic hike. See the tallest mountain in Hawaii at night for the ultimate stargazing experience. This adventure is great for families and solo travelers alike.

Hawaii: Big Island Self-Guided Driving Tour

8. Hawaii: Big Island Self-Guided Driving Tour

Experience Hawaii's Big Island at your own pace with a self-guided driving tour. Stops include Hulihe's Palace, Magic Beach, and the Lekeleke Burial Grounds. Your tour of the Big Island begins outside the quaint town of Kailua-Kona. Start by downloading the Action Tour Guide app that will function as your personal guide, audio tour, and map all in one. As you drive, you’ll see the historic Hulihe’e Palace, once the vacation home of the island’s royalty. Continue south to Magic Beach, where the sand sometimes simply disappears. After that is Kahalu'u Beach, a perfect place for snorkelers, followed by the sacred Lekeleke Burial Grounds. Next, pass the remnants of Hikiau Heiau, an important religious site in ancient Hawaii. Past that is the Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park for those looking to learn more about the island’s history. See the Honaunau Rodeo Arena and learn all about Hawaii’s cowboys. Next up is Pebble Beach, where you’ll get to know the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele. You’ll also have the option to check out the Kula Kai Caverns, left by ancient volcanic activity. Continuing on, reach the startling Punalu'u Beach, which features totally black sand. The route then passes an old sugar plantation, followed by the huge volcanoes Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Pass by Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where you can explore the island’s volcanoes up close. After that, drive through the picturesque town of Hilo. Then, cruise through the almost impossibly scenic Liliuokalani Park and Gardens. Find surfers catching waves next at Honoli'i Beach. After that is Onomea Bay, featuring a spectacular hiking trail with views that can’t be beaten. Then, admire the astonishing flora at the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden. Continuing on, you’ll arrive at the surprising sight of the Honohina Hongwanji Mission, a historic Buddhist temple. Next pass the Laupahoehoe Train Museum before reaching Laupahoehoe Point, a spectacular ocean vista. Don’t forget to snap some photos. Anyone hankering for a snack will definitely want to stop at the Hamakua Harvest Farmers Market before continuing on to the cowboy town of Waimea. Up next are a pair of great beaches: Hapuna Beach is the largest white sand beach on the island and Beach 69 is beloved by locals, so take your pick. Then you’ll arrive at the Kings Highway Foot Trail, where you’ll have the chance to see the ancient Waikoloa Petroglyphs. After that are another few scenic overlooks, followed by the beautiful Kekaha Kai State Park. Your tour concludes here, just north of where it began.

Hilo: Wailoa River to King Kamehameha Guided Kayaking Tour

9. Hilo: Wailoa River to King Kamehameha Guided Kayaking Tour

Experience Hilo from a new perspective as you journey up the river. Cruise underneath the dragon arches of the Japanese-style bridges. Loa, or "long water," includes an easy entry from a boat ramp that travels up Wailoa River and into Hilo Bay. See unique birds and fish throughout your excursion.  Take a break and enjoy the King Kamehameha Statue. Learn more about the History of the Big Island and the Tsunamis that have cleared the area and created an arboretum of trees, recognized by the Tree Association as "The Largest of Tree Species outside of Africa." 

Kailua-Kona: Volcano and Kohala Landing Helicopter Tour

10. Kailua-Kona: Volcano and Kohala Landing Helicopter Tour

See the immense beauty of Kailua-Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island. Depart from Kona International Airport for a helicopter tour over the Kona coffee district and towards Kohala. Explore the mountains with a special landing after skirting 3 towering volcanoes: Hualālai, Mauna Kea, and Mauna Loa. Venture into the area surrounding Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to hunt out any current lava activity and see historic flows frozen in time. Sweep north to Hilo town and the lush rainforests of the east. Notice how the windward side of the island is transformed by the water caught by the mountains. Next, disembark deep in Kohala and walk the same fertile valleys that Hawaii’s King Kamehameha the Great did as a child. Learn about local legends, culture, and diverse wildlife in an area normally only accessible by hours of hiking. After exploring on the ground, take to the air again to view the drastic landscape change from windward to leeward, and see world-famous white-sand beaches and resorts on the route back to Kona.

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What people are saying about Hilo

It was an amazing experience. I was grateful for the help and advice from the front desk - advising me to wear my hair up (if it was long). They were very professional and fun. We were celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary and the front desk shared that information with the pilot. Wade was amazing. Would do it again and highly recommend it for anyone even remotely considering it as an option - very well worth the $$$$$.

Everyone was very nice and helpful, even though one of our party couldn't participate in the helicopter ride, because of the helicopter being over the weight limit. But 2 people in our party had been on a helicopter before so one of them stayed behind, the other 4 people had never been on a helicopter before and everybody enjoyed themselves.

I've never been on a helicopter before so didn't know what to expect. Sam is an amazing pilot with a ton of knowledge about Hawaiian culture, the island, and the volcanoes. The flight was smooth as silk from take off to landing. Highly recommend this excursion!

Great please to see turtles. We saw plenty before snorkeling. Went to 2 locations. The first was my favorite, on a black sand beach. The second was a bit colder temp for the water and very shallow. We saw turtles at both locations

Darren, the pilot, was very knowledgeable and brought us through some of the most beautiful areas, turning so people on both sides of the helicopter were able to see and get some amazing pictures. The highlight of my vacation!