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Where to Find the Best Views on the Big Island of Hawaii

Make the most of the Big Island with our recommendations for the best views and vistas.
Hi, I'm Jen!

Jen is a Tahoe-based writer who loves traveling, food, and adventures. She has written about food and drink for the likes of Mashed, Tasting Table, and Getaway Reno/Tahoe. Jen spent 20 years living in China and Hong Kong, and has traveled to more than 75 countries. When she’s not out exploring the world or the great outdoors, you can find her curled up with a good book.

The Big Island of Hawaii is as diverse as it is large, with scenic viewpoints from under the water to the top of Mauna Kea, and everywhere in between. Here are some of the best views on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Helicopter rides

Bird's-eye views are unrivalled.

To see the Big Island in style, take to the air on a helicopter tour. As you soar above the island you'll get a bird's-eye view of towering volcanoes; crashing waterfalls; and the famous white-, green-, and black-sand beaches. Opt for a doors-off tour and take photos without a window obstructing your shot or view.

Mauna Kea

The Big Island's most popular volcano.

For a clear view of the stars, head up to Mauna Kea which rises 13,796 feet (4,138 meters) above sea level. Take advantage of telescopes at Mauna Kea Visitor Information Center—some 9,300 feet (2,790 meters) up—and enjoy sweeping views of spectacular sunsets and sunrises. As an added bonus, it's possible to see snow on Mauna Kea in winter.

The stars over the Mauna Kea Observatory.
Marvel over the stars at the Mauna Kea Observatory.Photo Credit: Brian Fulda / Viator

Sightseeing cruises

Views from the water's edge.

Go on the water to get a different perspective of the Big Island. Cruising options include sailboats, catamarans, Zodiac rafts, and outrigger canoes. If the timing works out, you might even see lava flowing into the ocean—Hawaii is one of the only places in the world where such a sight is possible.

Out to sea

In or under the water, the views are incredible.

One major appeal of the Big Island is its diverse sea life. Manta rays appear regularly off the Kona coast at night, and you can spot dolphins, turtles, and reef sharks while snorkeling or scuba diving. In winter, look out for humpback whales, whale sharks, and hammerhead sharks.

A girl snorkels off the coast of the Big Island in Hawaii.
Go beneath the waves off the coast of the Big Island.Photo Credit: Megan Spelman / Viator

Waipio Valley

For sweeping scenery.

One of the most scenic valleys in all of the Hawaiian islands, Waipio Valley or the "Valley of the Kings," is around 6 miles (10 kilometers) deep with a long black sand and boulder beach, as well as a scenic overlook which stands at nearly 2,000 feet (610 meters) above the valley floor. If you've got more time, hike or drive down to the valley and see one of the tallest waterfalls in Hawaii, the towering Hiilawe waterfall.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to two of the most active volcanoes in the world: Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Volcanic activity can affect what’s open, but possible sights include craters, old volcanic flow, lava tubes, and petroglyphs. Then, drive the Chain of Craters Road when it’s open—the scenic road stretches for 19 miles (30 kilometers) to the Holei Sea Arch and offers many overlooks, pullouts, and hikes.

Visitors tour the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Admire the striking landscapes at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.Photo Credit: Brian Fulda / Viator

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