7 Big Island Activities to Enjoy for… FREE

A Hawaii vacation doesn’t always have to mean spending a lot of money… In fact, there are plenty of ways that you can budget correctly during your vacation! One of the best ways to vacation cheaper is to do activities that just so happen to cost you nothing — or next to nothing. Hike the valleys, stand underneath waterfalls, and visit animal sanctuaries. The Big Island offers a wide array of free activities to make your vacation unforgettable and wallet-friendly.

Check out these free activities to enjoy while you’re on the Big Island:

Waipi’o Valley

Once home to old Hawaiian kings, immerse yourself in the wilderness that they call Waipi’o Valley. This valley is named after the Waipi’o River that happens to run through the valley, with stunning waterfalls that cut into the river. Fun fact: you can actually hike in Waipi’o Valley for roughly 6 miles if you’re looking for a challenge. This valley is also next to a black sand beach and offers the perfect opportunity for a quick swim.

Pololu Valley Lookout

Carved into the Kohala volcano, Pololu Valley offers some spectacular views of the ocean water and lush green valley. Sea cliffs that fall into the ocean and truly panoramic views like no other — this valley lookout is worth the trip. Interested in beachside action? Hike down the steep trail to another black sand beach! Make sure to wear closed-toe shoes for your visit to this valley as walking might be hard on other types of footwear. Also, note that there are no restrooms, so use the restroom before the hike!

Anaeho’omalu Bay

Known for its incredible sunset views, Anaehoomalu Bay is a local and tourist favorite on the Big Island. Head to the beach and get some snorkeling action in or test out your paddleboarding skills. This beach has the calm waters that you’ve been looking for and is conveniently located near plenty of restrooms and restaurants. You’ll quickly find yourself spending all day at A-Bay, waiting for the sun to set upon the water and add the perfect cherry on top of your day.

Lava Tree State Park

Don’t pass on these unusual lava tree molds at Lava Tree State Park. The story goes: in the 1700s, lava flow came through and coated several tree trunks in the area — leaving lava molds of these trunks. An excellent way to appreciate history and culture for free, as you learn about the wonders of lava flow and the volcanic goddess. This stroll along these lava trees is a unique and peaceful experience that you cannot get anywhere else.

Rainbow Falls

Group of 2 kids and parent watching a waterfall

Because what’s better than waterfalls? Rainbow Falls is a popularly visited waterfall located in Hilo, and it’s known that you could glimpse several rainbows if you visit during the day. If you’re up for a swim, you can also swim above the falls (not below for it’s dangerous) and experience the truly indescribable swimming hole of Hilo! Rainbow Falls is also extremely accessible and easy to get to, which might be why this location is so popular.

Mahana Beach/Green Sand Beach

If you haven’t seen a green sand beach before, head on over to Mahana Beach and get your fill of the differently colored beach that you cannot get really anywhere. Getting its color from olivine stone, this is a beach where you’ll want to go and relax upon the shore. There’s no shade here, however, and swimming conditions aren’t great. So, come early in the morning and plan a picnic breakfast or bring a book to read. A must to add to the list as it’s extremely rare.

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

Explore this historic park and get a little taste of old Hawaii. The Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park offers hikes and sacred temples as well as fishponds! Spot the recreated Hawaiian huts and learn about the culture and history of the people in this area, as well as the abundance of sea turtles along the waters. There are also some snorkeling opportunities and tide pools for those who want to play in the water. Take note that there isn’t an overwhelming amount of shade, so pack accordingly.

Budget/Friendly Activities That Won’t Break the Bank:

The Vanillerie

The Vanillerie is a small vanilla farm on the west side of the Big Island and offers special tours where you can explore the farm. Taste, tour, and treasure the hand-grown vanilla from Guy and Jeannie Cellier. Tours range from $10 to 20 depending on age and offer the unique experience of the vanilla farm. You can also find vanilla products like body lotions and gourmet vanilla food items! The Vanillerie is not something you would see everywhere, so we recommend partaking in this cheap activity and going for the tour.

Big Island Bees

Head over to Big Island Bees for a beekeeping tour! Tickets range from about $5 to 20 and offer a tour and inspection of a live hive with a beekeeper. Learn how bees live and try out a taste of the different honey varieties as you watch videos of the production of honey from flower to jar. Reservations are required, so if you’re wanting this experience then definitely schedule ahead. Not wanting to spend the money? Visiting the bee museum is actually completely free (without the experience) and no reservations are required. Browse the store and pick out some samples or look inside the demonstration hive without spending a dime.

Akaka Falls State Park

Expect to spend a merely $5 fee to enter into the Akaka Falls State Park, with parking fees ranging from $10 and up. When you get to witness the beautiful 440-foot waterfall, however, each dime you spent will be worth the view. On this short hike, you can see two waterfalls… One is only 100 feet, and the other is the main attraction which is around 442 feet. Either way, these waterfalls are extremely accessible and only require a short hike.

Whether it’s a cheap fee or completely free, you’ll find that these activities will make for one memorable trip without having to be too expensive. So, save yourself a buck or two and make incredible memories while you’re on the Big Island!