The Big Island of Hawaii has the lowest population density of the four major Hawaiian Islands. With only 46 people per square mile, there is an abundance of forest reserves, animal sanctuaries, and hiking trails to explore on the island. It can exhaust even the most avid hikers with over 300 miles of trails.
As the home to five very distinct volcanoes, the Big Island is a great place to view lava flows and immense craters. The most famous and most active of the five is Kilauea and you can view its glowing lava within the grounds of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Volcanoes National Park
With so many natural resources, choosing where to hike can be a daunting task. A great place to start is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The visitor center will have trail information, maps, and permits. To get you started, a few of the most popular hikes are the Thurston Lava Tube, Chain of Craters Road, and the Twilight Volcano Unveiled Guided Tour. The Twilight Volcano Unveiled tour is a visual learning experience that showcases an active lava lake and a private lava tube. It’s an incredible experience, to say the least.
While Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is an incredible opportunity for hiking, you will want to explore the rest of the Big Island as well. Keep in mind the Big Island is the largest of the major Hawaiian Islands. No need to constrict yourself to the always popular leeward coast. The windward side of the island receives an incredible amount of rainfall. Thankfully, these wet conditions produce some incredible opportunities to explore the jungle. The districts of Puna, Hilo and the Hamakua Coast are where you’ll find some incredible sights and jungle treks.
Starting in Puna is the Puna trail, a 5-mile hike that overlooks a pristine, sparsely populated beach. Deep green ferns and rainforests along the trail guide you to a small bay with lava cliffs.
Kalopa Native Forest State Park
Arguably, the best rainforest hiking on the Big Island is the Kalopa Native Forest State Park & Recreation Area in Hilo. This 100-acre state park is near the village of Honoka’a. Many of the plant species in this park are native to Hawaii and are centuries old. A visit to this park is a chance to enjoy some solitude and time to take in the untouched rainforest of old Hawaii.
Explore the Big Island
Exploring the Big Island can be difficult due to its size and numerous trails. It’s difficult to know where to go or where to start but one of the best ways to explore is with Airbnb experiences! It’s a fantastic way to connect with others and take in some locals-only knowledge of the region. The guides are typically very knowledgeable and provide all the necessary preparations for your hike. Another fantastic resource is the website bigislandhikes.com. They have numerous trails and valuable safety guidelines for all the hikes listed on their site. I highly recommend looking at it prior to venturing out.