Northern Big Island: Plenty of Things to See & Do

Lush, green, magical and remote are accurate words to describe the northern side of the Big Island. Ranging from the start of the Hamakua Coast to the end of Hawi by Pololu Valley, the north side of the island traverses valleys, sea cliffs, open pastures and secluded property. It would take at least one full day, or ideally two, to fully explore this area, so here's our list of the ten best things to see and do on the north side.

At the end of the road in Hawi is gorgeous Waipio Valley. Once home to Hawaiian royalty, and today a respected valley with a beautiful black sand beach and river, the valley is one of those places that shouldn't be missed on a visit. Gaze down from the top or hike down the extremely steep road, but only if truly prepared.

Along the Hamakua Coast is the Hawaiian Vanilla Company. Here you'll tour a vanilla orchid farm, enjoy a vanilla inspired lunch, and take a tea time. Learn all about local vanilla making in a presentation. Also along the coast is Hakalau Bay. A lovely place to swim, beachcomb and for historical fun (there's an old mill on the beach), this is a favorite with locals and a well kept secret.

So take some time to explore the greenest and calmest side of the island, with our list of the ten places things to see and do on northern Big Island.

Hamakua Coast


Hakalau Bay is a rather well kept secret with locals, and it's a favorite for many of them. It's a very Big Island style beach, meaning there's not really a beach but small black stones at a river mouth opening into the ocean. A highway bridge...  Read More



Not many people realize vanilla comes from an orchid. On the Hamakua Coast lies the Hawaiian Vanilla Company, where visitors can shop, enjoy tea time, and take in a vanilla presentation and tasting as well as ours of the vanilla factory and...  Read More



Enter Lapakahi State Historical Park to experience Hawaii as early settlers did 600 years ago. The reconstructed historical village is a good place for children and history buffs alike. There's a well marked and maintained trail that is fitting...  Read More



Macadamia nuts can be found here in just about all flavors imaginable. From Spam flavored, to chocolate covered, salted, garlic and onion, the flavor list goes on. What's even better news is that they're all available to sample for free. In...  Read More

Parker Ranch


Parker Ranch, one of America's oldest and largest ranches, was founded in 1847. Island visitors eagerly venture here to find out about paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys) and to see what ranch life is like in paradise. Guests may opt to tour Parker's...  Read More

Mo'okini Heiau


This three-story stone temple, erected more than 1500 years ago, stands as one of the oldest structures in the state. Built to honor Ku (the Hawaiian god of war), it was the setting for countless rituals and observances, including human...  Read More

Hamakua Coast


As the only certified zip-line company in the area, Zip Isle is located in the World Botanical Gardens, the state's largest botanical garden. This is quite a moderate zip-line course, not like a crazy one in a foreign country, but it's still...  Read More



Make it to the end of scenic Highway 270 and experience the majesty of the Big Island's dramatic Kohala coastline. High above waves that crash onto jagged rocks are several lookout areas that offer sweeping vistas of verdant cliffs and...  Read More

North Big Island


Mahukona Beach Park is a highly unique and intriguing place. Contrary to its name, there's actually no beach. It's a cement laden park along the water that blends naturally beauty and history. The underwater world here is one of the best...  Read More

Hamakua Coast
Waipi'o Valley


The Big Island version of the Valley of the Kings, Waipi'o has long maintained a special place in the hearts of locals. Steeped in legend, the deep, narrow valley stretches some 5-plus miles, flanked on either side by towering rock walls. The...  Read More


Meet Jade Eckardt

Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and...  More About Jade