Island of Hawaii (Big Island) Tours and Activities

We don’t say this lightly, a trip to the Big Island requires a tour or activity. There are so many hard-to-reach places, history, and fascinating things to do on the island that the best and sometimes only way is to do a tour. Pick one or two (or three) for your Hawai’i vacation.

For Erica and me, our must-do activities are manta ray night snorkeling and a tour to Kaleakekaua Bay to snorkel at the Captain Cook Monument. Don’t let us hold you back from more, pick the tour right for your party.

🍍 Snorkeling Tours

🍍 Manta Ray Snorkeling

🍍 Whale Watching

🍍 Diving Tours (including manta ray night dives)

🍍 Volcano Tours

🍍 Surfing Lessons

🍍 Stargazing on a Volcano

🍍 Adventures – UTV, Zipline, and Waterfall Swims

🍍 Outrigger Canoe Ride

🍍 Sightseeing Tours

🍍 Fishing Charters

Snorkeling Tours

As the Big Island is relatively young in geological time, there is not much dirt and runoff so the visibility is amazing for snorkeling. We share our favorite snorkel spots in this video on Hawaii’s best snorkeling spots. But two snorkeling experiences require a guided tour to access them. The Captain Cook Monument snorkeling can be accessed by boat or kayak and manta ray night snorkeling requires a guide for safety. Here are our favorite tour operators.

Adventures in Paradise Hawaii Kayak tour

Guided Kayak and Snorkel to Captain Cook Monument

Our favorite place to snorkel on the Hawai’i! Experience Kealakekua Bay and snorkel at the Captain Cook Monument with your guides from Adventures in Paradise. Take either a morning or afternoon tour to kayak across the bay while your guide shares the history of the area and points out local landmarks. If you’re lucky, you might even see a pod of spinner dolphins as you cross the bay. Lower group rates are available!

Guided Kayak and Snorkel to Captain Cook Monument

Departs from: Napo’op’o Pier, Kealakekua Bay (South Kona)

Tour operator: Adventures in Paradise

Captain Cook Monument Snorkeling Tour Captain Zodiac Rafts

Power Raft Snorkel Tours to Kealakekua Bay Plus a Kona Coast Cruise

Looking for world-class snorkeling? Join Captain Zodiac for an award-winning snorkeling adventure! Your destination is Kealakekua Bay, which is a National Marine Park and the site of the Captain Cook Monument. Hop into a Zodiac raft for their 5-hour Beat the Crowds Tour to Kealakekua Bay or choose their 4-hour morning or afternoon tours. Only the Zodiacs can get close to the many lava tubes, sea caves, sea grottos, and wave-powered blowholes that this tour also includes.

Power Raft Snorkel Tours to Kealakekua Bay Plus a Kona Coast Cruise

Departs from: Honokohau Marine (north of Kailua-Kona)

Tour operator: Captain Zodiac

Manta Ray Snorkeling

Adventures in Paradise Hawaii Kayak tour

Manta Ray Night Snorkel in Manta Village

Once the sun is completely set, slip into the water and observe the manta rays as they feast on plankton. They turn, swirl, and do barrel rolls, often bringing themselves just inches from your face. Join Sea Paradise on their 45 foot vessel for a night with mantas you won’t soon forget.

Manta Ray Night Snorkel in Manta Village

Departs from: Keauhou Bay in South Kona

Tour operator: Sea Paradise

Manta Ray Night snorkeling tour big island hawaii

Manta Ray Night Swim at Mauna Kea Resort

Walk in the water from the beach in front of the Mauna Kea Resort on the Kohala Coast to swim with manta rays. If you’re staying on the Kohala coast, consider going out from the beach. At Manta Ray Advocates, the mantas always come first. We adhere to strict guidelines to make sure the manta rays don’t get disturbed by our presence. We approach the mantas from the beach, an eco-friendly alternative to sightseeing boats.

Manta Ray Night Swim at Mauna Kea Resort

Departs from: Kauna’oa Bay on the Kohala Coast

Tour operator: Manta Ray Advocates

Whale Watching (seasonal)

whale watching humpback whales rafting kohala resorts

Whale Watching from the Kohala Coast

Experience whale watching just a few minutes from the Kohala resorts. A high-speed raft takes you right into the action. Guests experience the thrill of encountering these 80,000-pound animals in a close and safe way. Four tours are available daily, including a sunset whale watching tour. Available from December through March. 

Whale Watching from the Kohala Coast

Departs from: Puako Bay (just south of Hapuna Bech)

Tour operator: Adventure X Boat Tours

Price: $125

Kona Whale Watching Boat 1

Kona Coast Whale Tour on 20 Passenger Boat

A spout, a splash, the tell-tale flukes rising from the blue…there is nothing quite like getting that first glimpse of a whale to get your heart racing. Join our favorite boat tour operator and third-generation whale watching family, as you seek out the incredible beings that live beneath the waves, and experience whale watching in Hawaii like never before.

Kona Coast Whale Tour on a 20 Passenger Boat

Departs from: Kona Marina (12-mins north of Kailua-Kona)

Tour operator: Hawaiian Adventures

Price: From $109

Whale Watching Tour Sunset Tour Captain Zodiac

Whale Watching from the Kona Coast

Make your experience of the Big Island one you’ll never forget for a lifetime with a Kona whale watching tour! Captain Zodiac’s fast-moving Zodiacs get into viewing position quickly and provide an exhilarating and fun ride. The small-group atmosphere allows for a personal and intimate tour. The rafts are only a few feet off the water and everyone has a front-row seat on their 16-passenger Zodiac. Available from December through March only.

Whale Watching from the Kona Coast

Departs from: Kona Marina (12-mins north of Kailua-Kona)

Tour operator: Captain Zodiac

Price: From $105

SCUBA Diving Tours

Kona Manta Ray Night Dive scuba

Manta Ray Night Dive (2-Tank)

Combine daytime diving, watching the sunset, and a manta ray night dive with Kona Honu Divers. Enjoy a 60-minute night dive at the popular manta ray viewing spot Garden Eel Cove before heading back for the evening.

Manta Ray Night Dive (2-Tank)

Departs from: Honokohau Marina, Kona

Tour operator: Kona Honu Divers

manta night snorkel kona ocean adventures

Manta Ray Night Snorkel or Dive

Have the option to snorkel or dive with manta rays at night with Kona Ocean Adventures. Leaving from Honokohau Marina, they’re centrally located to go either Manta Heaven or Manta Village and can choose their location depending on where they think the best activity will be.

Manta Ray Night Snorkel or Dive

Departs from: Honokohau Marina, Kona

Tour operator: Kona Ocean Adventures

Kona Hawaii SCUBA dive morning dive kona honu divers

Morning Reef Dive (2-Tank) on the Kona Coast

Explore two dive sites as you ride on a spacious 46-foot Newton Dive Special. You can expect to see many of our endemic fish, swim through old lava formations, spot the hard-to-find octopus, see a resting white tip reef shark, or encounter many other creatures that call Kona their home.

Morning Reef Dive (2-Tank) on the Kona Coast

Departs from: Honokohau Marina, Kona

Tour operator: Kona Honu Divers

Volcano Tours

volcano-big-island-tour-volcano-unveiled

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Guided Tour

Leave from your resort on the Kohala or Kona Coast to explore places few experience. An in-depth volcano experience on the Island of Hawaii is offered by Hawaii Forest & Trail. Your National Park Certified Guide will share a mix of natural and cultural history about the island’s formation, illuminating the stories behind the ever-changing landscape of the Island of Hawai’i.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Guided Tour

Pick up locations: Kailua-Kona and Waikoloa

Tour operator: Hawaii Forest & Trail

Kona Volcano Tour Hidden Craters Hike Hawaii Forest and trail

Hidden Craters Hike: Hualalai Volcano Above Kailua-Kona

Looking to explore a volcano without doing a 12-hour trip to Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park? Venture onto private land behind 3 locked gates to explore the upper slopes of Kona’s very own volcano – Hualalai. This journey provides intimate, unique access to the site of multiple volcanic eruptions from the 1800s, all within a short distance.  Explore a unique lava tube and capture scenic views of the coastline.

Hidden Craters Hike: Hualalai Volcano Above Kailua-Kona

Pick up locations: Kailua-Kona and Waikoloa

Tour operator: Hawaii Forest & Trail

Surfing Lessons

Group Family Surf Lessons Kailua Kona

Group Surf Lesson near Kailua-Kona

When on Hawaii, you gotta get in the water to catch some waves. Join the best surf school on Hawaii (and the only native Hawaiian-owned and operated) to get on the waves for the first time or improve your skills. These guys will get you on the waves with a smile on your face. This 3 to 4 person group surf lesson is a great way to get started!

Group Surf Lesson near Kailua-Kona

Lesson location: Kahalu’u Beach Park (14-minutes south of Kailua-Kona)

Tour operator: Hawaii Lifeguard Surf Instructors

Hawaii Big Island Best Private Lesson Surf Instruction

Private Surf Lesson near Kailua-Kona

Join the best surf school on Hawaii (and the only native Hawaiian-owned and operated) to get on the waves for the first time or improve your skills. A private lesson with a surf instructor will not only get you on your feet but also catch more waves during your 2-hour lesson.

Private Surf Lesson near Kailua-Kona

Lesson location: Kahalu’u Beach Park (14-minutes south of Kailua-Kona)

Tour operator: Hawaii Lifeguard Surf Instructors

Stargazing on a Volcano

best stargazing tour Hawaii big island

The Best Stargazing Tour on Hawaii

The Big Island has so many bucket list experiences, this is one of them. You will journey from sea level to the nearly 14,000-foot summit of Maunakea to reveal the wonders and world-class clarity of the Hawaiian night sky. Depart in the afternoon for a 7 to 8-hour experience to the top of the world (it feels like it) for world-class stargazing with an interpretative guide.

The Best Stargazing Tour on Hawaii

Pick up locations: Kailua-Kona and Waikoloa

Tour operator: Hawaii Forest & Trail

Zipline, ATV, and Other Land Adventures

Kohala Zipline Hawaii Canopy Adventure Tour

Kohala Canopy Zipline Adventure

Join us for a Big Island canopy experience like no other. Perched amongst the trees of Halawa Gulch, Kohala Zipline’s Kohala Canopy Adventure features elevated suspension bridges, soaring tree platforms, and thrilling ziplines. From the moment you enter the aerial trekking course, you’ll be enthralled by the magic of Kohala.

Kohala Canopy Zipline Adventure

Tour location: Hawi

Tour operator: Kohala Zipline

Kohala Zipline Zip and Dip zipline tour

Kohala Zip & Dip Adventure

Spend an exhilarating and inspiring day in North Kohala and experience a land of stunning beauty and profound cultural significance. Zipline well above the forest floor, picnic on the rim of Pololu Valley, and swim under an exclusive waterfall fed by a cool mountain stream.

Kohala Zip & Dip Adventure

Tour location: Hawi

Tour operator: Kohala Zipline

Big Island Waterfall Hiking tour

Kohala Waterfall Swim and Hike

Immerse yourself in stunning private Kohala waterfalls, tranquil streams, scenic coastlines, and rugged valleys on this North Kohala adventure. Starting with an off-road drive to an exclusive trailhead, working in a private picnic lunch on the sea cliffs, and ending with a waterfall swim makes this tour a memorable one, to say the least.

Kohala Waterfall Swim and Hike

Tour location: Hawi

Tour operator: Kohala Zipline

Best HIlo hawaii zipline Umauma Falls zipline course

9-Line Zipline Course on the Hilo Side

Heading to Hilo, cruising down the Hamakua Coast, or you need a reason for an adventure then stop at The Umauma Experience for some zipline action. Begins by zipping up to 65 miles per hour on 9 longlines, over 14 rushing waterfalls, suspension bridges, and treetops. Experience exhilarating panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean in this one-of-a-kind tour. Ages 4 and up – great for the whole family!

9-Line Zipline Course on the Hilo Side

Tour location: Hakalau (14-miles north of Hilo)

Tour operator: The Umauma Experience

umauma falls big island zip and dip

Zip & Dip with The Umauma Experience

Zip through nine lines, over waterfalls and rivers through the lush, scenic landscape. End your experience with kayaking, SUP, or swimming in the Umauma river. 

Zip & Dip with The Umauma Experience

Tour location: Hakalau (14-miles north of Hilo)

Tour operator: The Umauma Experience

Big Island Hilo ATV UTV Off-Road Tour Umauma Falls

ATV Off-Road Adventure North of Hilo

Get down and dirty on a thrilling, fun-filled adventure for the whole family to enjoy! Take in a full tour of Umauma’s beautiful views on an all-terrain vehicle. Guided tours are offered daily, all drivers must have a valid driver’s license! Located 14.5-miles north of Hilo, Umauma Falls is the place to go for adventure.

ATV Off-Road Adventure North of Hilo

Tour location: Hakalau (14-miles north of Hilo)

Tour operator: The Umauma Experience

waterfall repel umauma falls hilo hawaii

Umauma Waterfall Rappel and River Experience

Want an extreme river adventure? Take a leap and rappel down a waterfall into the beautiful Umauma River. Afterward, go for a swim or float, hike the valley, or just relax and enjoy Big Island’s natural beauty. Located 14.5-miles north of Hilo, Umauma Falls is the place to go for adventure.

Umauma Waterfall Rappel and River Experience

Tour location: Hakalau (14-miles north of Hilo)

Tour operator: The Umauma Experience

Outrigger Canoe Ride

Kona Boys Hawaiian outrigger canoe tour

Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Adventure

Erica and I have found one of the best cultural experiences you can do on the islands is paddling on an outrigger canoe tour. Let Kona Boys share Hawaiian watermen’s skills, learn to paddle as a team, and soak up the rich Hawaiian history.

Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Adventure

Location: Kailua-Kona

Tour operator: Kona Boys

Sightseeing Tours

Pearl Harbor Memorial Guided Tours

Pearl Harbor Tour from the Island of Hawaii

Want a done-for-you-trip to Pearl Harbor from the Big Island? Planned and operated by Hawaii Tours, this trip takes you from a neighbor island (Maui, Kauai, Big Island) to Oahu, where you experience a fully guided tour. They handle the flights, itinerary, guided tour, and everything else to make a day on Oahu a breeze.

Inter-Island Pearl Harbor Tour

Location: Big Island to Pearl Harbor and Honolulu

Tour operator: Hawaii Tours

Waipio Valley Tour

Waipio Valley and Waterfall Tour

Waipi’o Valley is a sacred valley located on the stunning Hamakua Coast. This location on the east side of the island is known as the “Valley of the Kings”, a place of historic significance and also stunning beauty. Experience the valley with a fully guided tour that includes pick up from your Kona or Kohala area hotel. Wasabi tours makes this an easy-to-experience location with their 4WD vehicle and excellent tour guides.

Waipio Valley and Waterfall Tour

Tour location: Keahou, Kona, Waikoloa, and Kohala pickup

Tour operator: Wasabi Tours

Big-island-full-circle-guided-tour

Big Island Grand Circle Tour

This incredible Circle Island Tour takes guests through Big Islands coffee country, visits the world-famous Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, and explores all the beauty of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Rainbow Falls, and see Waipio Valley. This tour showcases Kona’s best views, the Big Island’s best coastline views with all the stops at the must-see locations! Coffee lovers unite!

Grand Circle Island Tour

Departure Location: Resort Pickup

Tour operator: Hawaii Tours working with Kailani Tours

Fishing Charters

kona-cowboy-fishing-marlin

Fishing Charter Off the Kona Coast: Half-Day (4-hour)

Fish the blue marlin capital of the world offshore the Kona Coast. Join Captain Shawn and his team for an epic sportfishing half-day (4-hour) charter offshore the Kona Coast. This may be why you are visiting Hawaii!

Fishing Charter Off the Kona Coast: Half-Day (4-hour)

Departure Location: Honokohau Harbor (15-mins north of Kailua-Kona)

Tour operator: Kona Cowboy Sport Fishing

Kona Sport Fishing Hawaii fishing trips

6-Hour Fishing Charter Off the Kona Coast

The same fishing company as the half-day charter but 2-more hours to snag the big one with Captain Shawn and his crew. Fish the blue marlin capital of the world, bring your own drinks, and take home what you catch. This is a Hawaii fishing experience like no other.

6-Hour Fishing Charter Off the Kona Coast

Departure Location: Honokohau Harbor (15-mins north of Kailua-Kona)

Tour operator: Kona Cowboy Sport Fishing

kailua kona hawaii sport fishing trips

Fishing Charter Off the Kona Coast: Full Day (8-hrs)

Spend the whole day out on the Kona Coast of Hawaii for some fun, but mainly to catch a big one. An 8-hour fishing charter with Captain Shawn and his crew. Spend a whole day out on Hawaiian waters to soak up the sun, bring some drinks, and let Kona Cowboy Sport Fishing put you on top of the fish!

6-Hour Fishing Charter Off the Kona Coast

Departure Location: Honokohau Harbor (15-mins north of Kailua-Kona)

Tour operator: Kona Cowboy Sport Fishing