Top 5 Free Things to Do on Big Island

So, you’re on vacation in Hawaiʻi. You’ve already spent a lot of money just to get here, not to mention on your rental car and hotel or condo. If you’re on a budget, and don’t want to pay for pricey tours, find out about the things to do on big island Hawaii for free.

Go for a Hike

There are some unique and special places to hike and enjoy nature on Hawaiʻi Island. Check out a peaceful forest sanctuary at Kalopā State Park in Hāmākua; you’ll have the place practically to yourself if you go on a weekday. Head to the top of Puʻu Waʻawaʻa, halfway between Kona and Waimea, for some incredible vistas down to the coast. And though there is a cost to enter Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, it’s not expensive, and well worth it for the numerous excellent trails to be found there.

Attend a Local Festival or Parade

Though it’s not quite Mardi Gras, there are a variety of local festivals and parades to choose from year-round on Hawaiʻi Island. Locals and visitors alike enjoy the annual Merrie Monarch parade in Hilo. Kamehameha Day in June brings parades in both Kona and Kapaʻau, the king’s birthplace. Waimea celebrates its ranching heritage with the Paniolo Parade every September, and the Cherry Blossom Festival in February honors Japanese cultural heritage. Summer also sees annual Japanese o-bon festivals at temples around the island (visitors welcome).

Visit a Farmers’ Market

While free to attend, farmers’ markets will of course induce you to spend money on something exotic and delicious. But whether you have 50 dollars or only 5, you can enjoy the cultural flavors and scenery of different island markets. Downtown Hilo’s market (bigger on Wednesdays and Saturdays) is hands-down the best for trying new fruits you’ve probably never seen before. If you prefer amazing breakfasts cooked to order, live music, and artisan crafts, check out the Saturday markets in Waimea, or the Pure Kona Green Market in Captain Cook on Fridays and Sundays. Plenty of free things to do in Hawaii.

People Watch

You already know that people visit Hawaiʻi from all around the globe. What this means for locals and visitors alike is some truly prime people-watching. The best places are those with the busiest foot traffic, such as Aliʻi Drive near the Kailua-Kona pier, and downtown Hilo Bayfront. If you’re visiting during one of the island’s famous events, like the Ironman Triathlon or the Merrie Monarch Festival, even better!

Go to the Beach

It is Hawaiʻi, after all, and there’s always the beach. This island is geologically young, and doesn’t have as many beaches as the other islands, but there’s still plenty to choose from. On Hilo side, hop in for a swim at one of the “beach parks” (warning: no sand to speak of) in Keaukaha. On the Kohala coast, you have many great choices, such as ʻAnaehoʻomalu, Kaunaʻoa, and Hāpuna. In Kona, check out Kahaluʻu, Magic Sands, or just jump in at the Kailua pier.

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