How to Get Off the Beaten Path on the Big Island of Hawaii
Most visitors to the Big Island explore Volcano National Park and Mauna Kea and spend time on the Kona beaches. To escape the crowds—and see a different side of the island—go off the beaten path. Here are our picks of the top alternative attractions and things to do on the Big Island.
Green Sand Beach and South Point
There are plenty of white sand and black sand beaches on the Big Island, but there's only one green sand beach. Papakolea, located near South Point, is known for its olive-colored sand, formed from olivine from a nearby volcanic cinder cone. Reach the beach via a 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) hike from the end of South Point Road. Not far away from Papakolea is South Point, the southernmost point of the United States.
Farmers markets are a hidden gem on the Big Island and a great way to sample local favorites and pick up handmade souvenirs. There are farmers markets across the island. Popular options include the Hilo Farmers Market, Maku’u Farmers Market, Uncles Kaimu Farmers Market and Wednesday Night Market, Volcano Farmers Market, and the Kona Farmers Market.
There are two painted churches on the Big Island. The first, St. Benedict’s Painted Church, is on the Kona side, overlooking Kealakekua Bay. This small church has lavishly painted murals on the inside of the church walls, altar, and ceiling. The other church is Star of the Sea Painted Church in Kalapana, which has its own brightly painted interior.
The Big Island is well known for its coffee and macadamia nuts, but what’s less well known is that it's also a major producer of chocolate. Visit a cacao farm to learn more about how cacao is grown, harvested, and processed, and sample several types of chocolate in the process. Options include the Hamakua Chocolate Farm, the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, and Lavaloha Chocolate Farm.
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