The Hawaiian Islands are a very popular destination for traveling. Known for their natural beauty of active volcanoes, wildlife refuges, and scenic beaches it is no wonder that people flock here year-round for some rest and relaxation. Hawaii also has an abundance of wildlife, including its official aquatic mammal, the humpback whale. These islands range from 5.1 million years old to .7 million years old. The youngest of the islands is the Big Island, which is also referred to as Hawaii. In this article, we are going to discuss some unusual things to do in Hawaii. If you want to explore this beautiful destination but want to avoid all of the tourist hotspots, stick around as we uncover some hidden gems that this island has to offer.
What is Hawaii?
When people say Hawaii, it can be confusing as to which island they are referring to. Is Hawaii all of the islands or just one? The state recognizes 137 islands, however out of that 137 there are eight major islands that people know of.
|Area (in sq. miles)
|The Island of Hawaii, also known as The Big Island
Although these eight are known, four of these islands are more frequently visited and the best known by the majority of people. Those four islands are the largest of the eight known islands, Hawaii, O'ahu, Kaua'i, and Maui. In this article, when we refer to Hawaii, we are specifically speaking of the Big Island, not all of the Hawaiian Islands.
Unusual Things to Do in Hawaii
Hawaii is the third most popular choice of island by visitors. With over 1.6 million travelers annually, there is no shortage of activities to enjoy. Tourists rave about the perfect weather, abundant shopping, and scenic beaches that this island has to offer. Popular activities when visiting include ziplining, beachgoing, and visiting volcanoes. If you want to take a step back from the more popular tourist destinations, here are ten unusual things to do while in Hawaii. Some of these activities are rare, some feature hidden gems, and some are just things you may not have expected in this incredible paradise, let's dive in!
1. Sunshine Helicopters Kohala Coast Waterfalls and Waipio Valley Flight
This helicopter ride takes you high in the sky to witness the stunning views of the Kohala mountains. Experience incredible sights of cascading waterfalls, ocean cliffs, and hidden valleys of Waipio, Waimanu, and Pololu. This tour allows you to see points that you would not be able to access on the ground. Your flight will be between 40-45 minutes, but the duration of the entire tour from start to finish will be between 1.5-3 hours, depending on your pick-up location and the package you select. It is available all day for booking and can be wheelchair accessible, providing those who may not be able to do the nature hikes with a chance to still witness these incredible views of the lush, tropical rainforests.
2. Mauna Kea Stargazing Tour Experience with Free Professional Photos-With Epic Tours
We have all gone out at night and looked up at the stars. While we may call that stargazing, it is not like this incredible experience. While most people venture out during the day, this unique tour shows you the magnificent beauty that Hawaii can offer you at night. This is a 2-2.5 hour tour that is rated by reviewers as a must-do experience. This tour is between 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., with start times varying to give you the highest potential to witness the best stargazing experience possible.
The experience will take you up the remote slopes of either Mauna Kea or Mauna Loa. Mauna Kea is an inactive volcano on the Big Island with a peak of 13,804 feet above sea level. Mauna Loa is its shorter but larger neighbor. This active volcano is known as “Long Mountain” and is 13,680 feet above sea level. This tour is led by an expert astrophotographer, and incredible photos are included in your experience. See nebulas, galaxies, and the Milky Way from the beauty of the slopes and have it all captured with stunning, professional photos.
3. Atlantis Kona Submarine Tour and Undersea Adventure
Talk about an unusual thing to do in Hawaii! Most people experience Hawaii's ocean life by visiting a beach or embarking on a snorkel cruise. Few people get to see it from underneath the depths of the waves. In Kona, there is a unique 45-minute experience that allows you to dive 100 feet below the surface in a recreational submarine. Admire the beauty of the ocean and get a chance to see sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, eels, and a variety of fish. They offer daily departures from Kailua-Kona pier and are a great family activity. Experience sunken ships, coral reefs, and underwater pyramid structures on your next family vacation.
4. Visit a Farmers Market
While visiting a farmers market may seem like the last thing on your list on a vacation, it can be a unique experience. The Hilo Farmers Market, located in Hilo, Hawaii, is a fantastic way for you and your family to encounter locally-grown produce. It is a great place to try new and exciting foods that are specific to the area. Additionally, on certain days they have crafts made by locals, food truck vendors, and flowers. There are a variety of things to explore and purchase here. It is a great family-friendly activity that can be enjoyable, and leisurely, and expose you to new things traditional to Hawaiian culture.
5. Do a Manta Ray Tour
While many people know of Hawaii's incredible whale-watching opportunities, less know about their incredible manta ray tours. While there are a variety of tours, some of the most popular ones take place in Kona, Hawaii. In this tour, you take a short cruise to the manta site and you enjoy the sunset from the boat. Once the sun dips below the horizon, you will put on your snorkel gear and get into the water to swim with giant manta rays. All necessary snorkeling gear, as well as light refreshments, will be provided on this tour. The tour takes about two and a half hours from start to finish and is one that you will not likely forget. These gentle giants can reach lengths of up to 23 feet and weigh up to 5,300 pounds! Imagine coming so close to such an incredible creature.
6. Visit Papakōkea Green Sand Beach
While visiting a beach may not seem like an unusual activity, visiting a beach with green sand is definitely an unusual thing to do in Hawaii. This beach is one of four green sand beaches in the world. When visiting this beach, it is best to take a local shuttle as the various paths down to it can be a bit tricky. The green sand of this beach is created by a common mineral on the island called olivine. While swimming at this beach is possible, it is not always advised. The surf can be quite strong and there is no lifeguard. Visiting this beach is more for the beautiful hike and taking in the incredible scenery of this unique beach. Additionally, there are no facilities here, so plan and try to leave it as untouched as before you got there.
7. Take a Kona Coffee Tour
We have all heard of wine tours, but have you heard of a coffee tour? Many people don't imagine spending their vacation taking a tour of a coffee farm, which is why this makes it on our list of unusual things to do in Hawaii. Hawaii is renowned worldwide for its exceptional coffee. The tropical climate and rich soil make it a perfect place to harvest this treat year-round. Take a tour of the farm, learn all about the history and the process, and taste this delicious coffee. It is a unique experience and a treat to have on your next visit.
8. Visit a Treehouse at Kīlauea
The Kīlauea Treehouse offers people a chance to live out their childhood dreams. Stay in an adorable home, nestled in the trees of the tropical Hawaiian rainforest. Relax as you soak in the beauty of your surroundings. Additionally, this treehouse is near the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. You get an up-close view of these incredible volcanoes, and can even see the glow of molten lava after dark.
9. Visit Keahole Point Blowhole
Located in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii this is an unusual thing to do because not many people get to experience something so unique. In this region, there is a volcano that last erupted in 1801. Although this volcano hasn't erupted in quite some time, there is still some activity surrounding this volcano. There is a lava tube created by the flow of lava going into the sea during a past eruption, that serves as a conduit between the ocean and the cliff above.
When the waves crash against the coastline, just right, water rushes through this lava tube. As it does, water blasts vertically from the opening and creates a spout of water that shoots out of the top of the lava tube. Many people love to gather around and watch this blowhole spout its impressive water.
10. Go Bird-Watching
While bird-watching may seem like an unusual thing to do while on your vacation to Hawaii, it is worth doing. Hawaii is home to many stunning species of birds. One of the best bird-watching spots on the big island is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The eruptions from the volcanoes change the environment, causing different species of birds to thrive here. Two of Hawaii's favorites inhabit this area, the Hawaiian goose and the Hawaiian hawk. Additionally, you can find rarer species such as the Elepaio and Omao as well.
Unusual Things to Do on Hawaii's Smaller Islands
While the Big Island is a popular destination for vacation, it is not the only Hawaiian island that gets visited. Below are a couple of unusual things to do on Hawaii's smaller islands, so that no matter where you choose to vacation you have a great activity to do.
- Visit the Byodo-In Temple
- Take the Hollywood's Tropical Backlot Tour at Kuaola Ranch
- Visit the Maui Honey Bee Sanctuary
- Camp inside of a dormant volcano at the Haleakala cabins, located within the Haleakala crater
- Visit Waimea Canyon
- Take a boat tour of the Nāpali Coast
The image featured at the top of this post is ©norinori303/Shutterstock.com.