14 Spectacular State Parks on the Big Island of Hawaii

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The Big Island has so many jaw-dropping places to visit, and that includes its fourteen state parks. This is a guide to the beautiful state parks on the Big Island in Hawaii and why you should visit each of them!

Are you planning your trip to the Big Island last minute?

If you’re traveling to the Big Island last minute, you want to ensure you have lodging/tours ahead of time! Below are some of our top picks on Hawaiʻi!

🌴  Best Tours and Activities on the Big Island:

  1. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park + Kona Coffee Farm (my top pick!)
  2. Manta Ray Night Snorkeling Tour from Kona (likely to sell out!)
  3. Morning (or Afternoon) Kealakekua Snorkel Tour
  4. Zodiac Raft Whale Watching from Kona
  5. Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Flight from Kona

🛌  Best Hotels in Kona:

  1. Holualoa Inn (located nearby in beautiful Holualoa)
  2. Aston Kona By The Sea (oceanfront property!)
  3. Kona Magic Honu Room (affordable option for 2 travelers)
  4. Hale Honu – Spectacular Oceanfront Home (has a hot tub and wading pool!)

🛌  Best Hotels in Hilo:

  1. Shaka Shak Garden Inn
  2. The Inn at Kulaniapia Falls (has a private waterfall!)
  3. The Big Island Hostel
  4. Orchid Tree B&B
  5. Arnott’s Lodge & Hiking Adventures

🚗  Traveling to the Big Island independently? Be sure to book your rental car ahead of time to ensure availability!

One of the great things about the state parks on the Big Island is that they are a great mix of historical sights and natural areas.

State parks Big Island Hawaii
State parks Big Island Hawaii

You will find parks dedicated to Hawaiian kings and parks with a waterfall as the main feature.

Many people travel to the Big Island solely for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but there are plenty of other places, like these state parks, to put on your itinerary!

Kekaha Kai State Park 1
Kekaha Kai State Park

Which Big Island State Park is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

State Parks on the Big Island of Hawaii

1. Akaka Falls State Park

Akaka Falls State Park in Hawaii has a breathtaking view of two waterfalls – Akaka Falls and Kahuna Falls, the latter being 442 feet high!

Akaka Falls State Park 
Akaka Falls State Park

The beautifully paved route to the falls is full of pleasant views of lush green tropical vegetation. By just crossing a short route, travelers will behold a sight that can be cherished for a lifetime.

Akaka Falls State Park is located about 3.6 miles southwest of Honomu, right at the edge of Akaka Falls Road.

It serves as an amazing sightseeing spot in Hawaii. Also, the hiking trail to these falls is quite a favorite among tourists. Akaka Falls State Park is one of the best places to visit near Hilo!

2. Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area

The Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area provides a site to access the beach and offers visitors beach-related activities like sunbathing, fishing, surfing, and even swimming.

However, note that you can only participate in these activities during low tide. A full-time lifeguard is also present to ensure visitors are always safe. Add to all this the opportunity to go hiking along the trail, too!

Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area
Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area

Waves rise to 3 feet and you are permitted to experience it with professional surfers.

As for where to stay, a four-person shelter consisting of a single room with a wooden sleeping platform and a picnic table is available for rent.

3. Hulihe’e Palace

If you love exploring historical places, then Hulihe’e Palace is a must-visit destination.

Located at the historic site at All Drive, Kailua-Kona, the Hulihe’e Palace is a royal museum that displays Victorian artifacts of King Kalakaua and Queen Kapi’olani.

Hulihe’e Palace
Hulihe’e Palace

Hulihe’e Palace is made up of six exquisite rooms, two huge oceanfront lanai, and beautiful grounds.

You will also see exclusive koa wood furniture, portraits, ornaments, and many more artifacts that reflect the glorious Hawaiian culture.

Address: 75-5718 Ali’i Drive, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

4. Kalopa State Recreation Area

Kalopa State Recreation Area is another incredible hiking spot. The 0.7-mile loop trail passes through an arboretum of the native plants of Hawaii.

The adventurous and fun-filled walk through this native forest is a not-to-miss experience.

Travelers can visit the Kalopa State Recreation Area to enjoy family-friendly camping, hiking trips, or even picnicking with friends.

Address: 44-3480 Kalaniai Rd, Honokaa, HI 96727

5. Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park

Situated over an area of 0.4 acres across Kealakekua Bay, the State Historic Park is not only a traditional but also a religious site in the Hawaii Islands.

Travelers can pass through the Ka’awaloa Trail for hiking, or they may set up a guided tour and visit the bay if arranged by a permitted tour vendor.

Kealakekua Bay
Kealakekua Bay

The bay is surrounded by several archaeological and historical sites. The religious temples are gems that add to the serenity of the Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park.

6. Kekaha Kai State Park (Kona Coast)

Kekaha Kai State Park can be reached through a 4.5-mile-long historic coastal trail, on which travelers can enjoy several activities like hiking the midway to the summit of Pu’u Ku’ili, which is a 342-foot-high cinder cone.

Kekaha Kai State Park
Kekaha Kai State Park

While on the trail, visitors will also witness the breathtaking view of the coastline of Mahai’ula.

The Mahai’ula section offers a beach-going site along with a sandy dune allowing travelers to relax, sunbathe, and swim, of course, when the sea is calm.

Plus, the site has plenty of peaceful spots for picnicking.

7. Kiholo State Park Reserve

If you are planning on a camping experience with your family or friends, then the Kiholo State Park Reserve allows you to camp during the weekends!

The stark, lava-covered coastal park provides camping facilities at the unimproved gravel access road. The area consists of a sparsely-vegetated coastline, small bays, and wide-open spaces created with the historic lava flow!

Kiholo State Park
Kiholo State Park

Travelers have access to facilities such as beach-going, swimming, fishing, hiking, camping, sightseeing, and much more.

8. Kohala Historical Sites State Monument

The Kohala Historical Sites State Monument has a national historic landmark in Hawaii – Mo’okini. The Mo’okini Heiau is the most famous sacrificial temple in Hawaii.

The Kohala Historical Site State Monument not only has a great view of the Mo’okini Heiau but also of the Kamehameha birth site, which is a memorial built in honor of the greatest king of Hawaii.

A flower lei is a memorial tribute to ancestors of Hawaiian tribes
A flower lei is a memorial tribute to ancestors of Hawaiian tribes

The king had united all the kingdoms into a 6.7-acre kingdom. This site is a must-see for those who enjoy a thrill.

9. Lapakahi State Historical Park

Another beautiful historical spot to visit is the Lapakahi State Historical Park. It is a stunning place that reflects the traditions and culture of the people of Hawaii.

You can go hiking along the coastline of this ancient Hawaiian coastal settlement, which is perfect for a self-guided tour.

Lapakahi State Historical Park
Lapakahi State Historical Park

The traditional area consists of what remains of the Hawaiian coastal settlement that has been partially restored.

10. Lava Tree State Monument

Surrounded by a forest of lava trees, the Lava Tree State Monument adds to the list of amazing must-visit spots for sightseeing.

The Lava Tree State Monument is led by the loop trail, which is 0.7 miles long and is one of the best things to do on the Big Island.

Lava Tree State Monument 
Lava Tree State Monument

This loop trail along the forest of lava trees contributes to the beauty of the hiking spot. Fun fact: the trail was naturally made through volcanic eruptions and the solidifying of lava that flowed through this forest.

This unusual volcanic structure is a fun picnic-friendly spot for family and friends.

11. Mackenzie State Recreation Area

The Mackenzie State Recreation Area is yet another spot created through the solidifying of volcanic lava! The unique volcanic features attract tourists to this spot.

The area has a beautiful volcanic coastline and is a low-cliffed area that provides the opportunity to picnic in an ironwood grove. Visitors can also go fishing there, which can make the experience a lot more fun.

Mackenzie State Recreation Area - Chris Allan - Shutterstock.com
Mackenzie State Recreation Area – Chris Allan – Shutterstock.com

The beachside area is aligned with the lava park at the old Hawaiian coastal trail.

12. Manuka State Wayside

Surrounded by native and inspiring age-old trees, Manuka State Wayside is a beautiful spot for a picnic. The serene view of the greenery is spread across the 2-mile-long natural hiking trail.

Manuka State Wayside - Ty King - Shutterstock.com
Manuka State Wayside – Ty King – Shutterstock.com

Adjacent to the trail loop of the Manuka State Wayside is the Manuka Natural Area Reserve, which is 2500 acres long.

The area is ideal to experience the natural view of the Hawaiian forests such as the Mesic Montane Kipuka forests, wet montane forests, lowland mesic forests, and lowland dry forests.

13. Wailoa River State Recreation Area

The most relaxing area for travelers is the Wailoa River State Recreation Area, which provides visitors with different activities like fishing, hiking, sightseeing, and so on.

You’ll also find Landscape Park there where you can go boat fishing along the Wailoa River.

Wailoa River State Recreation Area
Wailoa River State Recreation Area

From the 131.9-acre-long Piopio Street, you can also reach the Waiola Center where the cultural displays and information services of the Hawaiian culture are featured.

14. Wailuku River State Park

Wailuku River State Park is comprised of two separate attractions – the Boiling Point and Rainbow Falls. The Boiling Pots are connected through an underground flow. The water appears as if boiling with bubbles, thus its unique name.

There is also an 80-foot deep waterfall named Rainbow Falls, along which a rainbow appears in the foggy mornings.

Wailuku River State Park
Wailuku River State Park

There is an amazing cave that has been formed right beneath the Rainbow Falls, believed to be the home of Hina, the mother of the demi-god Maui. The cave covers an area of 16.1 acres.

Taking a day trip to Wailuku River State Park is easy from Hilo and should be done by everyone visiting the rainy, Hawaiian city!

What are your favorite state parks on the Big Island of Hawaii? Let us know your top picks in the comments!

State Parks on the Big Island (On a Map!)

🗺️  HOW TO USE THIS MAP: You can use your fingers/mouse to zoom in and out. To get more info about a place, simply touch/click the icons. Want to save this map for later use? Click the ‘⭐’ by the map title and it will add it to your Google Maps account (Saved > Maps or ‘Your Places’).

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Looking for some unique places to visit on the Big Island? These are some beautiful state parks on the Big Island of Hawaii - historical, natural, and more! | Big Island state parks | Big Island Hawaii state parks | Big Island itinerary | Itinerary for the Big Island | Things to do in Hawaii | Things to do Big Island | Big Island things to do | Big Island places to visit | Big Island history | Big Island waterfalls | Big Island hiking

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