Hidden Spots on the Big Island

Big Island

Crossing stream in Waipio Valley by Barry Inouye.

You’ve probably heard about the Big Island’s most famous attractions, like Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the high-end hotel properties along the Kohala Coast and the world-class deep sea fishing in and premium coffee plantations in Kona. But as in many other places that you visit, the Big Island of Hawaii has its own hidden spots that are amazing to see and visit. For the most part, these places, whether they are fascinating landmarks or great dining establishments, are not known to most tourists that travel to this island. Here are our suggestions on hidden hotspots on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Waipio Valley

This hidden valley can only be accessed by negotiating what is reported the steepest road in the world. This isolated valley on the Hamakua Coast was once the home of Hawaiian ali’i or royalty. Once in the valley, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of towering waterfalls, verdant tropical forests and a rugged scenic seacoast that was prominently featured in the Hollywood blockbuster, Waterworld.

Kazumura Cave

At over 40 miles long, this cave is the largest and deepest known lava tube in the world. A lava tube is a natural conduit from by flowing lava where the top of the flow hardens and beneath it lava continues to flow. Once the lava flow stops, it leaves behind a long cavern of hardened lava. The entrance to the cave in located in the Puna District, just south of the town of Hilo. There is an admission fee and guided tours of the cave are offered.

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Pe’epe’e Falls and Boiling Pots on a rainy day. Photo by Barry Inouye.

Boiling Pots

Not as well-known as its neighboring attraction, Rainbow Falls, the Boiling Pots State Park in Hilo offers great views of Pe’epe’e Falls and a series of cascading ponds known as the Boiling Pots along the Wailuku River. The Boiling Pots earn their name because, during periods of heavy rainfall, which can occur quite frequently, the water in them seems to bubble, boil and churn ferociously, which can be a pretty amazing sight to behold.

South Point

Near the town of Na’alehu and accessible through a lonely solitary road is the remote area known as South Point or Ka Lae, the furthest point south of the entire United States. Key West, Florida may make a claim of its southern location in the US, but it is only the southern-most point of the continental US, not the entire US. South Point is a remote and starkly beautiful area made up of jagged sea cliffs and deep blue ocean. There is evidence that the first Polynesian settlers to Hawaii landed in this area, which is now designated as a National Historic Landmark. Towards the eastern end, is a beach area uniquely made up of sparkling olivine green sand.

Ken’s House of Pancakes

This restaurant in Hilo has to be one of the most popular eating establishments among many local island residents. Well-known for its wide selection of pancakes, saimin (Hawaii’s version of a Chinese soup noodle dish) and large serving sizes, eating a meal at this place is sure to satisfy anyone’s hungry appetite.


The iconic Manago Hotel. Photo by Barry Inouye.

Manago Hotel and Restaurant

While this this hotel and restaurant in the town of Captain Cook on the outside looks to be an unassuming establishment, this has been the place to go for local style food across many generations of local residents on this part of the Big Island. When you enter the lobby and restaurant, it brings you back to the colorful old coffee plantation days of yesteryear. The food served here is distinctly from this part of the Big Island and is simple, hearty, good and inexpensive. If you want to partake in comfort foods that will take you back to the good old days in this part of the Big Island, this is where you need to go.

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