The Big island of Hawaii has an incredible variety of activities to offer. The island offers about anything you can imagine, from world class golf, to great scuba diving, the ironman triathlon world final, and exciting game finishing events. You can book a wide variety of activities through our virtual concierge and get all your activities lined up and organized before you even start your journey to Hawaii.
Often referred to as the golf capital of Hawaii, the Big Island boasts 20 of the world’s best and most spectacular golf courses along the Kohala Coast, many of which were designed by the best-known names in the industry. Some of the world’s most scenic holes are here on the island, nestled among black lava-lined fairways, palm tree-speckled greens with rhythmic crashing waves, pure white bunkers, and framed by turquoise Pacific waters.
Among the top choices for golf aficionados are the Jack Nicklaus designed Hualalai Golf Course, the championship Francis H. Ii Brown courses at the Mauna Lani Resort, and the Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed courses at the Mauna Kea Resort.
If you enjoy the challenge of playing over and near water, you will love the Waikoloa courses, as well as the Ocean Course and Mountain Course at the Kona Country Club. The Waikoloa Beach Resort course was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and the Waikoloa King Golf Course, a par-72 course with double green, was designed by Weiskopf & Morrish.
The Hapuna Golf Course is one of the most natural you will find anywhere in Hawaii. Rising to an elevation of 700 feet above sea level, the golf holes fit exquisitely into the contours of the land. The views here are spectacular and seemingly endless. Every direction you turn provides a different yet equally breathtaking perspective: from the sparkling blue Pacific to the dramatic Big Island topography. And, as always, the awe-inspiring beauty of the slopes of Mauna Kea looms in the distance.
The Mauna Kea Resort has been famous for its golf ever since the legendary Mauna Kea Golf Course opened back in 1964. Nearly thirty years later, when the Hapuna Golf Course opened, accolades started pouring in. The USGA even referred to the Hapuna as THE golf course of the future.
Jack Nicklaus achieved a spectacular layout out of Big Island's stark black lava when he designed the Hualalai course, a golf course so exceptional that since 1997, it remains home to the Champions Tour season opening - MasterCard Championship. Nicklaus created a wonderful blend of holes that can stretch to over 7,117 yards, and feature some very high shot values. The back nine has two unique par 3's, one of which is inland, while the other sits right at the edge of the ocean. The 112th is a relatively short par 3 reminiscent of the famous 6th hole at the Riviera. This very large green has a bunker right in the middle which effectively turns it into four very small greens. The par 3 17th hole at Hualalai Golf Club is Hawaii's seaside golf at its best. Like the 12th, this hole is not overly long but requires great accuracy.
Few golfing experiences can rival – let alone equal – the one at the Mauna Kea Golf Course. Still considered one of the benchmarks by which other island courses are judged, this exclusive course has consistently held a spot in Golf Digest's top 100.
The Mauna Kea Golf Course embodies all the qualities of a great resort golf course: natural beauty, dramatic views, strategic design and memorable holes. The golf course was christened on Dec. 8, 1964, when the three most popular golfers at the time - Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player - arrived at Mauna Kea for ‘Big Three’ golf.
The North Course at Mauna Lani is built on a much older lava bed than the Kaniku flow, resulting in a smoother lava called Pahoehoe. The layout of the course features rolling fairways, and Kiawe forests that come into play on many of the holes. The signature hole on this course is the 17th, a short but charming par 3. Golfers play from an elevated tee down to a green surrounded by the lava. Even though this is a short shot, judging the distance is tricky because of the change in elevation.
The South Course is built on the 16th century Kaniku lava flow, a relatively young flow that produced a stark, rugged lava called a'a. The layout presents a terrific challenge, and, in several instances, takes you right out to the sea. Here you will face two breathtaking par 3's, while the 7th can be stretched to well over 200 yards but does play downhill. Once you've reached the green, your work has just begun: this putting surface is massive and features three distinct tiers. The back sides 15th is one of the most photographed golf holes in the world. This tee shot is not as difficult as the one at the 7th, but is equally as enjoyable.
With its opening back in 1981, the Beach Course was Waikoloa's first golf course. But don't let the yardage of this layout fool you! Even though it plays to just under 6,600 yards, the par is a very strict 70.
The course was carved out of an ancient lava flow, and winds its way around historic petroglyph fields and fishing shelters. Designed by the world-famous team of Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, the 7,074 yard Kings’ course meanders over and around the ancient black lava flow, inland towards the ancient mountain of Mauna Kea, ever present in the distance. Its wide, undulating fairways are framed by palm trees and vibrant flowers, and its strategic layout requires players to carefully plan their way around. Multiple tee placements, strategic lakes and challenging pot bunkers add complexity to the experience.
Whale-watching holds a definitive top spot on the 'must do' list for Hawaii's Big Island. Weighing up to 45 tons, these whales can be graceful acrobats. Seeing a humpback whale ‘breach’ the ocean by propelling its 45-foot long body out of the sea is a spectacular event. Tours out of the Kona Harbor are available year-round, however, at certain times of the year when their numbers peak (in January and early April), whales can be spotted right of the coast as well!
In Hawaiian mythology, the whale is a manifestation of Kanaloa, the god of the sea. Some native Hawaiians believe that the Kohala is an aumakua, or family guardian, so they have high regard for these special visitors. Because humpback calves are born in Hawaiian waters, the whales are considered kamaaina, or native born.
Every year, from December to early May, the Hawaiian Humpback whales (called Kohala), make an incredible 3,000 mile ocean journey down from their Gulf of Alaska feeding grounds to Hawaii, seeking not only refuge from freezing water temperatures, but also (and mainly) to give birth in the islands’ warm and shallow waters. The journey is one of the longest migration distances covered by any animal species, yet takes less than two months to complete.
Dan McSweeney, a dedicated researcher who studies whales, personally conducts all the whale-watching tours organized by the company he owns, the only one on Hawaii’s Big Island that actively supports and protects these magnificent creatures.
Dan's life-long commitment to whale research, education and conservation has furthered our understanding of these majestic mammals. His important work focuses not only on migratory humpback whales, but also on the many other cetacean species (including dolphins and porpoises) who make Hawai'i their home year-round. For more information about Dan's whale tours, visit here.
Hawaii Humpback whales belong to the order Cetacea, which also includes dolphins and porpoises.
The common name “humpback” refers to the high arch of their backs when the whales dive.
All cetaceans are descendants of land-dwelling mammals. The whale is related to the Indohyus, an extinct semi-aquatic deer-like ungulate, from which they split around 54 million years ago.
Like all mammals, whales breathe air, are warm-blooded, nurse their young with milk from mammary glands, and have body hair.
A humpback whale’s pectoral fins are up to 15 feet in length with a bone structure not unlike the human hand and arm.
Females usually delivers a single calf, which is birthed tail-first to minimize the risk of drowning.
Helped by its mother, a newborn calf instinctively swims to the surface within 10 seconds for its first breath. Within 30 minutes of birth, the calf can swim, frequently riding in its mother’s slip-stream.
Whales nurse by actively squirting milk into the mouths of their young. Whale milk is so rich in fat that it has the consistency of toothpaste.
Their mysterious song is yet another intriguing trait of male humpback whales. These complex songs can be heard underwater from up to twelve miles away.
Whales employ an internal system of air sinuses and bones to detect sound because they lack external ears.
Whale lifespan in the wild is believed to be around 80 years, while in captivity, whales have a much shorter life.
Hawaii’s Big Island offers some of the best big game fishing and related events anywhere in the world. Only a short boat right away from Big Island, an abundance of fish species is available to the big game fishing enthusiast, including spearfish, tuna, dorado, and wahoo.
Kona is known for the trophy blue marlins caught here every month throughout the year. Many of the giant blue marlin tip the scales at over 1000 pounds!! Kona is also the home to the world famous Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament held every year in late July or early August.
Visiting anglers do not need fishing licenses to enjoy the sport. Most of the fishing boats in Kona are located at the Honokohau Marina, approx. 10 minutes south of the Kona Airport. Many of the charter boats offer a single or shared price.
Given the popularity of the sport, the best boats in the marina operate on a very busy schedule, and will likely be unavailable for rentals on-the-spot. For the best experience and your desired charter boat, it is important to make reservations in advance.
Charter boats range in size from 28 foot to 61 foot. Prices range from $500 for a half day exclusive charter, and up to $1500 for a full day charter.
The Blue Marlin is the ultimate challenge in big game fishing. The Big Island of Hawaii/Kona holds the official world record at 1,376 pounds and is the only place in the world where blue marlin is caught year-round.
A more rare catch, the Black Marlin is caught occasionally off the Big Island coast in early spring, and grow to approximately the same size as its cousin the Blue Marlin.
The Striped Marlin can be caught year-round off the Big Island coast. The average size of Striped Marlin in Kona is less than 120 pounds. These fish travel in groups of three to ten fish, and sometimes strike lures in a pattern.
The Big Island of Hawaii/Kona is one of the few areas where the acrobatic Spearfish is consistently caught. The average weight of the Spearfish caught off the Big Island is 40 pounds.
Caught occasionally off the Big Island of Hawaii/Kona coast in the spring and summer months, and usually at night. Average weight in Kona is 250 pounds.
Caught occasionally off the Big Island of Hawaii/Kona coast, mainly in the summer months. These exciting acrobatic fish are fun to catch. The average weight of Sailfish in Kona is under 100 pounds.
Caught year- round off the Big Island of Hawaii/Kona coast, this bright blue, green and yellow fish has an average weight of 20 to 25 pounds. They are very acrobatic when hooked, and great to eat.
Several different types of tuna can be caught off the Big Island of Hawaii/Kona coast. The Yellowfin(Ahi) off the Kona coast averages 150 pounds, and the Skipjack Tuna (Aku) averages around 10 pounds.
Caught year-round off the Big Island of Hawaii/Kona coast. Average size is 75 pounds.
Caught year around off the Big Island of Hawaii/Kona coast. Ono is one of the fastest of fish (up to 60 m.p.h.). Fun to catch, and popular to eat.