Completely free things to do on Hawaii's Big Island. There's something for everyone in this list.
General: DIY / How-To
General: Good For Rainy Days
General: Kid Friendly
|Guide Series: Free Things Hawaii
Planning a trip to Hawaii's Big Island and budgeting got you down? It's never cheap but certainly there must be some free stuff to do so you're not constantly tossing money away, right? Fear not, there really is quite a lot to do on the Big Island without spending any money. So here's our list of completely free things to do on the Big Island.
Visit the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Co. for free samples of their macadamia nuts and watch, through windows, how the nuts are processed right there on site. Fun for the whole family and tasty to boot. Find it at: Hamakua Macadamia Nut Co.
What happens when a lava flow blankets a forest? The trees burn away and what's left is nature's own sculptures, or maybe we should say Pele's (the volcano goddess) own sculptures. It's a very short and easy hike, about 0.7 miles, along the loop trail so bring a camera and take some photos of something you can't see in too many places. Find it at: Lava Tree State Park
Check out the completely free Star Gazing Program near the top of Mauna Kea. The stargazing program happens every night of the year and no reservations are needed. It's fun for the whole family. More at: Mauna Kea Star Gazing Program
Ka Lae, or simply South Point, is the southernmost tip of the Big Island as well as the southernmost point of the entire United States. It's a great place to experience nature as well as a fun place for a family photo. You can drive most of the way here so there isn't much walking required. Find it at: Ka Lae (South Point)
This isn't just any old beach, in fact there is no sand here at all. This is nature's own hot tub. It's commonly referred to as the Hot Ponds because the water here is volcanically heated! While the heating system was designed by Mother Nature, the pool here is actually partially manmade. There is a manmade wall that runs along one side to turn a pond into a pool, complete with railings and steps. Find it at: Ahalanui Beach Park / Maunakea Pond / The Hot Ponds
History buffs will love this one for sure. Kohala Historical Sites State Monument includes both Mo'okini Heiau State Monument and King Kamehameha I Birthsite. The Mo'okini Heiau State Monument is one of the oldest historical sites in Hawaii and was used for human sacrifice in ancient Hawaii. King Kamehameha I Birthsite is the spot where King Kamehameha was actually born. For most cars, the road is a bit rough so you'll end up hiking in a mile or two but it's a relatively easy hike / walk for most. Find it at: Kohala Historical Sites State Monument
Ready to do a little spelunking? Then you'll love this authentic cave experience. Well, it's actually an old lava tube but it's the real deal. With that in mind, you'll want proper shoes (no flip flops), bring water as well as a flashlight. Find it at: Kaumana Caves
This is a massive collection of petroglyphs, which are rock carvings. The exact meaning of these is actually not known, but the general belief is that it was a way the ancient Hawaiians kept records of important events and births. It's a fun place to explore with the whole family. Find it at: Malama Petroglyph Trail / Puako Petroglyph Preserve
Admittedly, this isn't for everyone since it requires a bit of a hike to get here. But this place is one of only four green sand beaches in the entire world! It's truly unique and special and worth the hike for those who have the time. Find it at: Papakolea Green Sand Beach
Believe it or not, it's completely free to enter the Panaewa Zoo & Gardens! Now, and to be fair, they do accepts (and highly appreciate) donations so consider giving them a few dollars if you enjoy the place. They're home to more than 80 animal species, feature an extensive collection of orchids, bamboos, and other plant life, and even off a petting zoo! Find it at: Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens
Is Mother Nature on your BFF list? Do you hug trees even when people are looking? Then the Hilo Nursery Arboretum is right up your alley. Over 50 species of trees grow on 19 acres of green and lush wonderland. See where Hawaii's famous macadamia nuts come from, or better yet, see where chocolate comes from (hint, it's the Cacao tree which you'll find here too). Find it at: Hilo Nursery Arboretum
I know, I know, it's Hawaii so everything is pretty much a scenic lookout point. But Pololu Valley Lookout is extra special and one of the most popular vistas on the entire island. The views from here are absolutely stunning so be sure to bring that camera! Find it at: Pololu Valley Lookout
A park? He puts a boring old park on the free things to do in Hawaii list? Must be filler! Hold on now, this isn't any old park. It has basketball and tennis courts like many parks, but that's where the similarities end. The playground area here is second to none and something every kid will love. There are all sorts of things to play on, jump on, and climb on and it's all done in a Hawaiian theme. The masterpiece here is really the huge castle like structure / play house that comes complete with a couple of large slides. If you have kids, it's worth a stop. Find it at: Harold H Higashihara Park
Part of the charm of Hawaii's Big Island are black sand beaches which are just neat to see and experience in person. So if you want to see a black sand beach it doesn't get any easier than Punaluu since you can basically drive right up. It's not a place to swim due to strong currents, but come and experience a black sand beach firsthand. Find it at: Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Park
The Mokupapapa Discovery Center has a goal to bring the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to you since visiting those islands is impossible for most people. Experience the wildlife of the 583,000 square mile Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument that surrounds the islands and atolls in this area. More at: Mokupapapa Discovery Center
Free Shows & Classes
The The Shops at Mauna Lani offer free Polynesian shows twice a week as well as other classes and entertainment. Queens' MarketPlace offers daily koi (fish) feedings and other classes and entertainment. Kings' Shops also offers koi feedings, live music, and other entertainment.
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