HAWAII Magazine
Big Island

The Best of Hawaiʻi Island:
What to do on the Big Island According to our
2023 Readers' Choice Awards

At 4,028 square miles, Hawaiʻi Island is affectionately nicknamed the Big Island. It’s nearly twice as large as all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined. Whether you’re a honeymooner, traveling solo or visiting with the entire ʻohana, you’ll be charmed by this serene island. Here, breathtaking beauty and adventure are around every corner, from the rolling hills of Waimea and verdant valleys in Hilo to the black sands of Punaluʻu Beach and the majesty of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.   

Perched on the scenic Kona Coast, Outrigger Kona Resort is a favorite place to stay for local and visiting families. So, it’s no surprise the resort made HAWAIʻI Magazine’s lists of the island’s best hotels or resorts for families and best value hotels or resorts. Outrigger Kona Resort’s epic multilevel pool—which was also voted onto the list of best hotel or resort pools—is a paradise for kids, with a thrilling 200-foot waterslide. Guests can keep their families busy all day with activities including yoga, lei making, hula and ʻukulele lessons, and cultural tours. But at Outrigger Kona Resort, the excitement doesn’t end when the sun sets. At dusk, guests can watch manta rays swimming in Keauhou Bay and enjoy the resort’s new lūʻau show, too. Diners will experience the thrill of heart-pumping drums and Polynesian dancing while eating Island specialties under the stars. Outrigger Kona Resort is more than just a place to stay: It’s home base for an unforgettable Hawaiʻi Island vacation.   

On a trip to the Big Island, visitors can also develop a deeper understanding of how Hawaiian culture and the island’s natural history are tightly interwoven. Voted onto HAWAIʻI Magazine’s list of best guided tours, Hawaiʻi Forest & Trail leads visitors through the island’s breathtaking scenery while connecting the importance of all of this nature to the people of Hawaiʻi, both past and present. With the most access to private property, which includes hiking through lava tubes, exploring craters in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park and rambling in a four-wheel-drive vehicle to secluded waterfalls, Hawaiʻi Forest & Trail provides visitors with a rare look into some of the most remote parts of the island. The business has locations in Kailua-Kona and Hāwī.   
Kohala Zipline, Hawaiʻi Forest & Trail’s sister company, is also on HAWAIʻI Magazine’s list of best zipline operators. The company offers the only tree-to-tree zipline excursion on the island. The course runs through a private nature preserve and includes eight lines, six sky bridges and a portion for participates rappel down. Experience the thrill of zipping from tree to tree while taking in the beauty of the canopy forest.  

After a day of exploring, hungry hikers and adventurers can head to Chubby’s Diner for comforting island favorites including hearty loco mocos, satisfying saimin, teriyaki burgers and sweet desserts like banana bread and banana cheesecake lumpia. Chubby’s Diner is in Kailua-Kona’s KBXtreme, an indoor family entertainment center with a bowling alley and video arcade. The diner is popular for its homestyle comfort food and generous portions.   

Travelers searching for sweet gifts, memorable souvenirs or a great meal can visit Keauhou Shopping Center on Aliʻi Drive in Kailua-Kona. Here, shoppers can browse the eclectic mix of shops and restaurants, and a farmers market too.   

With its fascinating history, beautiful environment, exciting activities and diverse dining scene, visitors to Hawaiʻi Island keep returning—and for good reason.

Check out more winners at our 2023 Readers' Choice page.


RCA 2023


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