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Our most recommended Hilo Small group activities

Hilo: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Waterfalls Flight

1. Hilo: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Waterfalls Flight

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.

Big Island: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, & Coffee Farm Day-Trip

2. Big Island: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, & Coffee Farm Day-Trip

The morning is filled with guided visits to some of the most majestic waterfalls on the Big Island. The views stop you in your tracks at the Waipio Valley lookout, where a dramatic backdrop of lush cliffs drops into the sparkling blue ocean. Continue riding along the Hamakua coast as more postcard-worthy views pass by your window before visiting Akaka Falls and the famous Rainbow Falls. Take a short walk through the rainforest for an up-close view and plenty of photo opportunities. In the afternoon, explore the wonders of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, including steam vents, the Halema’uma’u, and Kilauea Iki crater lookouts, and take a short hike along the crater rim trail.  From here, relax and take it all in at Punalu’u Beach, a great place to spot marine life from the black-sand shore. On the leisurely drive back around sunset, you’ll see views of South Point, the southernmost point of the United States, and Kealakekua Bay.  Finally, enjoy a visit to Kona Coffee Farm. Stroll through the orchards with your guide and learn about the harvesting and milling process while sampling a warm cup of Kona-grown coffee.

Hawaii: Big Island Self-Guided Driving Tour

3. Hawaii: Big Island Self-Guided Driving Tour

Start by downloading the Action Tour Guide app, which will function as your personal tour guide, audio tour, and map. Purchase one tour per car, not per person. Everyone listens together! Note: This 100+miles-long tour covers the essentials of Yellowstone National Park in 3-5 hours. 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.

From Kona and Waikoloa: Kilauea Volcano Discovery Tour

4. From Kona and Waikoloa: Kilauea Volcano Discovery Tour

Begin your adventure with a scenic drive over the stark and beautiful Saddle Road to set the stage for the day. or. Your first stop will be an exclusive lava tube on private property. Venture beneath the Earth's surface and discover how lava travels around the islands underground. Explore a unique cave with ceilings as high as 35 feet, expansive rooms, bright golden walls, and an “upside-down” forest of roots. Enjoy a peaceful picnic lunch on this private property's natural surroundings in the middle of a Hawaiian rainforest. Following lunch, continue to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Discover the park's must-see spots including the dramatic Halemaumau Crater. Learn about the history and culture of the world's most active volcano, Kilauea, as your guide leads you through the park's diverse terrain. After a full afternoon of exploring the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, enjoy a warm picnic dinner with your fellow travelers. As your full-day experience comes to an end, sit back and relax as your guide returns to your meeting location while reflecting on your volcano experience. If the twilight option is available and selected, stay in the Park past sunset to view the eruption's glow. Experience a once-in-a-lifetime view of the glowing lava at one of the last remaining active volcanoes in Hawaii. Have your camera ready to capture the orange glow of lava against the night sky

Hilo: Sea Turtle Lagoon and Black Sand Beach Snorkel

5. 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 Tour Bundle: Self-Drive Sightseeing Road Trip

6. Big Island Tour Bundle: Self-Drive Sightseeing Road Trip

Welcome to Shaka Guide's audio tour app, your gateway to the remarkable wonders of the Big Island of Hawaii. Get ready to embark on a captivating adventure through diverse landscapes, active volcanoes, lush rainforests, and stunning coastlines. As you begin your tour of the Big Island with the Shaka Guide app, prepare to be amazed by the island's natural beauty, unique geological formations, and rich cultural heritage. The app will provide informative and engaging audio commentary, sharing insights into the island's volcanic activity, endemic wildlife, ancient legends, and local traditions. Your journey starts along the Kona Coast, known for its pristine beaches and vibrant marine life. The app will guide you to scenic overlooks, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the turquoise waters and explore picturesque beach towns such as Kailua-Kona and Kealakekua Bay. Continue your exploration of the island as you venture to the majestic Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The app will lead you through the park's scenic drives and trails, providing information about the island's volcanic history, geological wonders, and the awe-inspiring Kilauea volcano. Discover the lush beauty of the Hamakua Coast, where the app will guide you through scenic drives and waterfalls. Marvel at the towering Akaka Falls, stroll through the tropical gardens of the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, and learn about the island's agricultural history in the charming town of Hilo. Explore the mystical Waipio Valley, known for its dramatic cliffs, black sand beach, and rich cultural significance. The app will share stories and legends associated with this sacred place as you navigate the steep road into the valley or opt for a scenic lookout. Visit the stunning beaches of the Big Island, from the golden sands of Hapuna Beach to the green sea turtle haven of Punalu'u Black Sand Beach. The app will guide you to the best spots for relaxation, snorkeling, and witnessing the island's diverse marine life. As you venture to the Kohala Coast, the app will lead you to historic sites such as Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site, where you can learn about the island's ancient Hawaiian history and visit sacred temples. Throughout your journey, the Shaka Guide app will recommend local eateries, hidden gems, and cultural experiences that will enrich your visit to the Big Island. Whether it's sampling local Hawaiian cuisine, attending a traditional hula performance, or visiting a coffee plantation, the app will provide valuable insights to enhance your trip. With the Shaka Guide app as your knowledgeable companion, your tour of the Big Island will be enriched with fascinating stories, natural insights, and practical information. So, grab your phone, and get ready to embark on an extraordinary journey through the captivating landscapes and rich culture of the Big Island of Hawaii.

Mauna Kea: Stellar Explorer Tour from Hilo

7. Mauna Kea: Stellar Explorer Tour from Hilo

Visit Rainbow Falls and the Kaumana Caves before heading to your stargazing location. Travel across Saddle Road between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, 2 of the tallest and biggest volcanoes on Earth. To complete your tour, your guide will take you to one of the preferred locations on Mauna Kea for nighttime stargazing. Observe the deep sky and planetary objects through a large aperture telescope, under one of the darkest and most pristine skies on planet Earth. Enjoy narration from expert astronomers, who have written articles for well-known magazines and worked at world-class observatories for decades. The telescopes are a true purist way to view the night sky. Their fast focal ratio enables you to see sprawling wide-field views of objects that are simply not possible with other telescopes.  Weather permitting and depending on what is visible in the current sky, you can observe galaxies, nebula, star clusters, planets, double star systems, the moon, and much more.

Big Island: Volcanoes & Winery Tour with Breakfast & Lunch

8. Big Island: Volcanoes & Winery Tour with Breakfast & Lunch

See the best of Big Island, Hawai’i, on this guided tour. Visit active volcanoes at the National Park, watch sea turtles on Punalu’u beach, and stop at a coffee farm and winery for breakfast and lunch. Admire the 80 ft tall Rainbow Falls, and the beauty of the coastline at Hamakua, Kona, and Ka'u. Start your adventure with a pickup by van. Head into the Kona district, the heart of coffee country, to visit a mountain coffee farm. Sample a wide selection of Kona coffees and enjoy a continental breakfast while you look over the coast. Next stop is Punalu’u. Drop into the local bake shop to pick up some treats and continue to the black sand beach. The area is home to many turtles, including the endangered Hawksbill, and is where many of the first Polynesian explorers landed. Head inland to a winery and tea farm situated between two volcanoes. Sample unique wines grown at 4,000 feet of elevation and stop for a scenic lunch. Then, continue to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to admire the active volcanoes Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Your final visit will be to Rainbow Falls, an 80 foot waterfall that plunges over the entrance to a natural lava cave. The Hawaiian goddess Hina, mother of Maui, is said to dwell in the cave, and on a sunny day, rainbows appear in the mist around it. Cruise back along the beautiful, lush coast of Hamakua and get dropped back at your starting point to end the day.

Big Island: Hilo Doors-Off Lava and Rainforest Adventure

9. 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. 

Big Island: Evening Volcano Explorer from Hilo

10. 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.

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What people are saying about Hilo

This was an amazing experience. I would have enjoyed more hiking. But the stops were all incredible and I loved everything we viewed. The steaming crater was amazing. The private lava tube was absolutely spectacular and a truly unique experience. I really enjoyed the fissures and the cinder cone. And the view from the cliffs at dinner was awe inspiring! Maddie was a great guide and took care of everything you could want on a full day tour. The food and snacks were delicious and dinner hot and a wonderful. I highly recommend this excursion!

It was fantastic, from start to finish. Our guide Maddie was excellent - clear, easy to understand and extremely interesting. She knew exactly how to get everywhere, took us to the least crowded places with great views, pointed out a lot of the wildlife along the way and told us all about it.... The van was comfortable, the food [lunch, dinner and snacks] very good and plentiful, great walks... I really can't say enough about the whole experience.

Best tour we took on the island! Our tour guide, Eric, was excellent! He is very knowledgeable about the island of Hawaii, it’s history, and Volcano National Park. He combined dry facts with a sense of humor that made the tour so much fun! We would highly recommend specifically asking for Eric if you take this tour. You will see amazing sights, learn about the volcanoes, and have a lot of fun too! 5 stars! Wayne Blankenship and Max Torgersen

Our guide Morgan was very friendly and knowledgeable and gave us a great experience! We had been snorkeling before, but greatly appreciated his tips and excellent advice.

Loved it. Pilot was very professional made sure everyone could see the volcano and waterfalls