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Offbeat Guide to Hawaii's Big Island

Local eats, colorful beaches, and volcanoes!

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Created by Roadtrippers - July 18th 2016

Hawaii is a vacation paradise, but don't let the convenience of resorts and tours keep you from experiencing an authentic taste of Hawaiian culture. Head a little further off the beaten path to some of these hidden gems of Hawaii's Big Island!

Not all beaches are created equal: some are more colorful than others! Papakolea Beach is known for its olive-hued sand. One of only four in the world, the green comes from a mineral, olivine, that results from a nearby volcanic cinder cone. You can hire a local to drive you out here (it's an offroad route) and then be prepared for a bit of a hike to the ocean... but man, is it worth it!

Rt 11 In Naalehu, Princeville, HI, US

Punalu'u Bake Shop

Want to eat like a local? Gather your appetite and head to the Punalu'u Bake Shop. They serve fresh-baked bread, shortbread cookies (go for the macadamia nut) and malasadas. Malasadas are a kind of local donut that are utterly addicting. They also have Japanese anpans, sweet, red bean-filled rolls.

Photo of Punalu'u Black Sand Beach

Ninole Loop Rd, Pahala, HI, US

Punalu'u Black Sand Beach

Green sand beaches are the only colorful seashores in Hawaii-- the Big Island is also home to the Punalu'u black sand beach. The way the black sand forms is pretty epic, actually: lava flows into the ocean nearby, and the difference in temperature between the molten lava and the water causes the lava to cool into basalt so rapidly that it explodes. Waves further pound it into fine grains that wash up here. It's not the best swimming beach around, but the jet black sand, blue water, and lush green coconut palms are a sight to see.

Photo of 1790 Footprints

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI, US

1790 Footprints

Photo of Kilauea Visitor Center

1 Crater Rim Drive, HI, US

Kilauea Visitor Center

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is an incredible place. Learn about Hawaiian culture, the history of the Kilauea Volcano, and the local history and lore of the island at this top-notch visitor center. This is also a great place to pick up a trail to explore the park... you can even see a real lava flow!

Mauna Kea Access Rd, HI, US

Mauna Kea Observatories

This is one you'll need to book a tour to see but it's worth it.

Photo of Worlds Most Scenic Urinal

76-5908 Mamalahoa Hwy, Kealakekua, HI, US

Worlds Most Scenic Urinal

83-5799 Mamalahoa Hwy, Captain Cook, HI, US

The Coffee Shack

From the unique beaches to the active volcanos to the delicious local cuisine, Hawaii is a special place with a totally unique culture and landscape, and taking advantage to explore every nook and cranny uncovers loads of new adventures.


Roadtrippers helps you find the most epic destinations and detours—from roadside attractions to natural wonders and beyond.