January 17, 2019||On the Lighter Side

19 Things to Do on the Big Island in 2019

Aloha and Happy New Year! To start 2019 celebrating this amazing place we call home—or a “home away from home”—we asked our agents and staff to recommend some of their favorite things to do on a weekend or day off. The list below is just a sample of the great responses we received. There were so many good recommendations we’re planning a “Part II” post for later this year. If you have a suggestion to share, please let us know in the comments section. In no particular order, here are “19 Things to Do on the Big Island” this year as recommended by the Clark Realty ‘ohana!

1. Explore Kona’s Coral Reef with Atlantis Submarine Tours

Not a SCUBA diver? No worries! Don’t let this opportunity to explore our unique reef system and its many inhabitants pass you by. The tour guides are incredibly helpful and also highly entertaining reports Blake Howell, our Relocation Director. Atlantis Submarines offers a terrific kama‘aina discount making this one-hour adventure a must for locals too. Come see what lurks a hundred feet below the surface of Kona Bay!

Schedule a Tour with Atlantis Adventures

2. Spend a Day at Hawaii’s Newest Black Sand Beach


On July 24, 2018, during the Kilauea erupton in East Hawaii’s Lower East Rift Zone, lava videographer Mick Kalber posted a video titled “Pohoiki Hanging On.” On July 25, his flyover recap video was titled “Pohoiki Stands Strong.” For several tense days, all eyes were waiting to see what would become of this beloved section of the Puna coastline and many hearts were lightened when it became clear that Pohoiki, although changed, would survive. Isaac Hale Beach Park reopened to the public on December 6, 2018, so, if you’re prepared to make the trek, the park is open for visitors from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm each day. Swimming is discouraged and camping is prohibited but, for now, this black sand beach is, literally, the newest Hawaii beach you can visit in the new year.

3. Take a Cooking Class at The Spoon Shop in Kona

The Spoon Shop Demonstration and Teaching Kitchen is holding demonstrations and hands-on classes and can also be rented for private parties and as a certified commercial kitchen. The classes are taught by on staff, private, and executive chefs, and occasionally, visiting chefs.

Register for a Class at The Spoon Shop

4. Tour Hilo’s Lyman Museum

Did you know that Hilo’s Lyman Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate? This treasure trove of natural and cultural history has several permanent galleries plus occasional special exhibits and events. The Lyman Museum is also one of only four museums in the State of Hawai’i accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Schedule a visit (or a re-visit, if you haven’t been in a while).

Visit the Lyman Museum and Mission House
Events Calendar

5. Zipline over a Waterfall


With glowing reviews on tripadvisor.com and a reputation for friendly and safety conscious guides, KapohoKine Adventures is known for their exhilarating adventure packages—think ziplining through the rainforest and over waterfalls, wilderness ATV tours and scenic tours of the Hamakua Coast and Waipi’o Valley. Covering nearly two miles of gorgeous tropical river gorges, their 8-line zip course is one of the longest in the state. When you’re ready to see Hawaii from a new perspective, KapohoKine guides can get you there.

Start Your Adventure in Hilo
Start Your Adventure in Kona

6. Get Moving—For the Run of It!

Runners and aspiring runners, the Big Island is a great place to take part in a marathon or half marathon. These events draw participants from all over the world and are well supported. Getting out on the road is a great way to start your vacation or mix things up if you’re an island resident looking for a new challenge. The Hilo Marathon and Half Marathon are coming up on March 17, 2019. The Kona Marathon and Half Marathon are scheduled for June 30,2019 and the Volcano Half Marathon will be held in August.

Register for the Hilo Marathon
Register for the Kona Marathon
Register for the Volcano Forest Run

7. Take a Hike on Hawaii Island’s Birding Trail

palila forest trail

The Big Island’s 90-mile Coast-to-Coast Birding Trail, a corridor connecting public lands from Kona to Hilo, was formally opened in September 2016. A day hike on a section of the trail provides an opportunity to explore the fragile ecosystems that are home to seasonal visitors, native and introduced species including geese, ducks, pheasant, shearwater, hawk, doves, tern, canaries, ʻiʻiwi, ʻapapane and the elusive palila. If you’re a true bird enthusiast or want to learn more about the trail, plan to attend the 4th annual Hawaii Island Festival of Birds in Kona in October.

Explore the Interactive Birding Trail Map

8. Go Fish! (Deep Sea Fishing in Kona, That Is)

There’s a reason Kona is known worldwide as a deep sea fishing destination of choice. Our Pacific blue marlin often gets top “billing” (along with black marlin, striped marlin, shortnose spearfish, Pacific sailfish, and broadbill swordfish) but there is a wide variety of other fish to learn about as well. If you aren’t sure where to start, Tracy Leverone, the Assistant Director of Clark Realty’s Property Management division, has a suggestion: get in touch with her husband, Captain Dale Leverone, to inquire about half-day, 3/4 and full day charters on the Sea Strike out of Honokohau Harbor. If you’re ready for a deeper dive, the 60th annual Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament will be held this year from July 27 to August 4.

Charter the Sea Strike for a Day
Register for the 2019 Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament

9. Stroll Through the Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Garden

Located seven miles north of Hilo on the scenic route through Onomea on the historic Hamakua coast, the 40-acre Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is nestled in a lush and enchanting valley. The walk down from the gift shop to the ocean is an incredible experience. Along the way, you can get acquainted with over 2,000 unique species of orchids and exotic plants from all over the world. The garden is a delight for anyone interested in botany or who simply appreciates the beauty of the tropical rain forest.

“I visited recently for the first time since I was a kid,” says Kahili Hahn, the agent in our Hilo office who suggested HTBG for this post. “It was absolutely AH-mazing! It took me three hours to walk the loop. Every step there is some new flower or unique leaf to look at. A visit could be done in an hour, I’m sure, but I am super into plants. It was awesome and should definitely be on the ‘to-do’ list!”

Plan a Visit to the Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Garden

10. Catch a Show at Waikoloa Luxury Cinemas

Luxurious leather loveseats, state-of-the-art digital projection and sound, a “dine-in” option to have your pupu or cocktail delivered to your seat. If this sounds like the way you’d like to enjoy your next movie, Waikoloa Luxury Cinemas has you covered! Early bird and night owl tickets are $12.50 and evening tickets are $18.50. Waikoloa Luxury Cinemas offers a 10% kama‘aina discount for patrons with a Hawaii license.

See Showtimes at Waikoloa Luxury Cinemas

11. Explore the Roots of Kona Coffee at a Living History Farm

The Kona Historical Society offers a wide range of programs from cultural exhibits to yoga classes at the Kona Coffee Living History Farm, the only living history coffee farm in the United States. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the farm has “Hands on History” activities that give visitors a chance to experience coffee history in a way that will leave a lasting impression. Upcoming activities include Art & Language: Learning Japanese with Calligraphy, Balanced Bento: Pickling as a Mainstay of the Japanese Table, Beans in the Skillet: Coffee Roasting at Home, and Home Grown Remedies: Kona’s Traditions of Medicinal Gardening.

View the Hands on History Schedule
Learn More about the Kona Historical Society

12. Ride the Range on Horseback in North Kohala

This is your chance to get up close and personal with the green-gold vistas of upcountry North Kohala from horseback on a working ranch! Recommended by two accomplished riders at Clark Realty, Paniolo Adventures offers private rides and five different tour packages—the Morning Paniolo ride, the Afternoon Paniolo ride, the Wrangler ride, the Sunset ride and the City Slicker ride (for those looking for a leisurely, walking-only option). Read up on paniolo history before you go and you’ll be free to focus all your attention on the hills, pastures and scenic views that surround you at Ponoholo Ranch.

Book a Horseback Ride with Paniolo Adventures

12. Go Rainforest Bathing at Niaulani in Volcano Village

Forest bathing has been making headlines over the last few years and it doesn’t mean what you might, at first glance, think it means. As more people migrate to urban areas and excessive screentime becomes more of a concern for everyone, the “apple a day” recommendation for our generation may well become take “two hours of forest and call me in the morning.” On Monday mornings at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani campus, visitors can get a taste of the benefits of forest bathing (along with a good dose of knowledge about one of Kilauea’s last old-growth koa and ‘ohi’a rainforests) by joining a guided stroll through the forest with a knowledgable tour guide. If that leaves you wanting more, consider going deeper with your forest immersion, Heather Cole of our Hilo office recommends exploring Pu‘u Maka‘ala Nature Forest Reserve north of Volcano Village.

13.Spend a Wednesday Evening at Uncle Robert’s Night Market in Kalapana

Ask anyone who has spent an evening talking story or dancing with friends at Uncle Robert’s Night Market at the end of Kapoho-Kalapana Road and they will tell you that it’s an experience that will shift your perspective of the world—in the best of ways. The market is held on Wednesday evenings, which allows those who work during the day to be part of this beloved community gathering. To learn about Robert Keli‘iho‘omalu, who passed away in 2015, we recommend reading this 2012 article in Ke Ola Magazine (our favorite Hawaii Island magazine).

14. Shake “Hands” with a Sea Horse

Ocean Rider, Inc., also known as “The Sea Horse Farm in Kona” is a 3-acre aqua-farm and aquarium that offers educational tours (Monday-Friday) led by naturalists with biology degrees and special training in ocean conservation. Read all about it in this article from Hawaii Magazine and plan your visit by purchasing tickets at seahorse.com.

15. SUP, Snorkle or Kayak with the Kona Boys Crew

If we had posted this list in the order of “votes” received, scheduling a day on the ocean with Kona Boys would be at the top! From the enthusiastic recommendations from our crew from around the island, it’s clear that our agents and staff have great respect for the watermen and waterwomen at Kona Boys. Activities offered include stand-up paddle boarding, kayak and snorkel tours, canoe rides and surfing lessons. If you simply need to rent beach gear, they have you covered there too.

Book a Kayak Tour with Kona Boys
Schedule a Paddle Board Lesson

16. Stargaze from the Planetarium at ‘Imiloa in Hilo

On Friday, January 25, the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center will be offering visitors an opportunity to view star clusters, nebulae and galaxies from the imaging telescopes at the Maunakea Visitor Center, all from the comfort of ‘Imiloa’s Planetarium. You’re invited to join them on a journey to explore the stars and celestial objects from the 9,000 foot-level in real time. If you can’t make it to that event, there are many more daily activities and special presentations coming up throughout the year. Learn more about the current exhibits, planetarium shows and more at imiloahawaii.org.

17. Spend an Evening at Kahilu Theatre

How did world-class theater and music come to Waimea when it was just a little town in the middle of a cow pasture? It starts with the story of the heir to Parker Ranch who left the island and spent 30 years on Broadway. When he returned to run the ranch he decided to build a theater. After his passing, the community came together to create a foundation to sustain the theatre’s legacy for the benefit of the entire island. “We are so fortunate to have this wonderful place in North Hawaii,” says Karen Clarkson, the Waimea agent who suggested Kahilu Theatre for our list. “There’s something for everyone, from slack key guitar to ballet. Thank you, Richard Smart!”

Purchase Tickets for a Kahilu Theatre Show
Become a Kahilu Theatre Member

18. Get a Facial at the Big Island Beauty Academy

According to this West Hawaii Today article, the Big Island Beauty Academy, which opened in the summer of 2018, is a 4,000-square-foot facility on Luhia Street (in Kona’s Old Industrial Area) that houses equipment for comprehensive courses in cosmetology, hairdressing, nail technology, aesthetics and becoming a beauty instructor. Salon services, from basic haircuts to facials to eyelash extensions, are performed by students under the instruction licensed instructors. See the full menu of services at bigislandbeautyacademy.com. What a great way to support this new endeavor and get a great deal on a day at the salon at the same time! (h/t to Cyndy Dyal of our Kona office for this suggestion.)

19. Watch the Turtles at Richardson’s Beach in Hilo

What better way to spend a day in Hilo than sitting by the ocean or going snorkeling at one of East Hawaii’s favorite beach parks? This is Richardson’s, as described by gohawaii.com:

The shallow bay fronting Richardson Ocean Center is the most popular snorkeling site on the east side of the island. Located outside Hilo, just two miles south down Kalanianaole Avenue from Onekahakaha Beach, the ocean here is spring-fed, calm and current-free. With its tide pools and picnic tables, it’s a great beach for keiki (children). It also features unusual black sand flecked with green olivine crystals.

We loved the “everyday Hawaii” simplicity of this recommendation, which was sent in from Lidia Maylath of our Hilo office. It’s a perfect way to wrap up the “19 for 2019” list.

Mahalo to all the Clark Realty agents and staff who contributed ideas and thank you to Atlantis Adventures (cover image), Simas Castillo (Pohoiki photo) and KapohoKine Adventures for contributing photography for this post. 


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