The predominant foliage in Volcanoes National Park is ‘ohi‘a, which contrasts with the bleak desert surroundings.

Ka‘u Desert Warrior Footprints on the Big Island

The 1.6-mile round-trip trek across this small section of the Ka’u Desert outside Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is fascinating, and the history of the footprints makes the experience more evocative. Because of deterioration, the footprints are faint and difficult to make out, but worth the trip to see for yourself.

Steam rises up in great white clouds from the crater of Kilauea volcano.

Kilauea’s Crater Rim Drive

The 11-mile road that circles the Kilauea Caldera and passes by nearly all the main sights in the park is Crater Rim Drive. Since you can’t circle the caldera because of a long-term road closure, we’ve divided the sights into two sections: those to the right of the visitors center and those to the left of the visitors center.

A Hawaiian cowboy (paniolo) astride a horse throwing a rope.

Paniolo: Hawaiian Cowboys

Learn the fascinating story of Hawaiian cowboys, the paniolo, from the origin of their name, their Mexican roots, to how the tradition continues today. At various ranches across Hawaii, visitors can take part in rides, events, and festivities.

Stretching over a mile, Waipi‘o Beach is the longest black-sand beach on the Big Island.

Getting to the Bottom of Waipi‘o Valley

Getting to the bottom of Waipi‘o Valley is a challenge. There are several modes of transportation, with the most unique being a mule-drawn wagon, but you can go by foot or horseback as well. There are several organized tours available, including one aboard a van for those who can’t make the journey otherwise.

A cyclist on the last leg of the 2007 Ironman in Kona.

Hiking and Biking in Kona

Hiking and biking in Kona are two vastly different experiences. There are a lot of moderate trails that are almost always the means to getting to some awesome beach, but as home to the famous Ironman World Championship, Kona takes biking seriously.

Three separate multistory buildings of the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa face the water; one faces inland for mountain views.

Kona Accommodations $150 and Up

In Kona you’ll find two resorts that offer a range of amenities. Both are fairly luxurious, full-service resorts, with very little need to venture off the grounds if sun, sand, and relaxation are your goals.

The gardens at the historic Parker Ranch are open to visitors.

Waimea Sights

Waimea sights are distinctly cultural in nature with two heritage sites to explore and a fine art museum focused on Hawaiian and Asian pieces. Make sure to plan ahead, especially if you’d like to take a guided tour, as it’s easy to lose track of time while wandering.