May 29, 2019||On the Lighter Side

19 MORE Things to Do on the Big Island in 2019

Our first 19 Things to Do in 2019 post prompted more suggestions than we could use so we hope you enjoy this “just in time for summer” follow-up! Above: a close-up of a Cattleya George King ‘Southern Cross’ orchid provided by Dana Culleney of the Hilo Orchid Society.

1. Kick Back at the Big Island Jazz and Blues Festival at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

The 8th annual Big Island Jazz & Blues Festival is back at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel from Thursday, May 30 to Sunday, June 2. Relax oceanside while enjoying music from Na Hoku and Grammy-winning blues artists, saxophone masters and zydeco legends. “This is one of my favorite events on the Big Island!” says Tracey Kauahi of our Waimea office.

Purchase tickets at

2. Explore NELHA—the Natural Energy Lab of Hawaii Authority

Visiting the Natural Energy Lab of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) is a wonderful experience for science and sustainability-minded residents and visitors, says Cyndy Dyal of our Kona office. Topics covered include discussions about food security, protecting Hawaiian monk seals and alternative energy. HOST—the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park— is the demonstration site where visitors learn about various ocean-based technologies.

Friends of NELHA is a 501c-3 non-profit that provides venues for addressing pressing issues that face us all today in our environment such as seeding oysters for tsunami ridden areas. To book a tour,

Several Clark Realty agents recommended visiting the Kanaloa Octopus Farm, one of the research facilities at NELHA. Tours are available and yes, you will get to touch an octopus if you really want to!

3. Be Transported to a Remote Reef at Mokupāpapa Discovery Center

Free and fun for the keiki! MDC is located in Hilo’s historic Koehnen Building and features a 3,500-gallon saltwater aquarium, interactive educational exhibits, lifesize models of wildlife found in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, artwork and more. The goal of the Center, according to the MDC website, is to transport visitors to the remote ocean wilderness where predators rule the reefs, the skies teem with swooping, screeching seabirds, and the Native Hawaiian chanting of the Kumulipo (a Hawaiian creation chant) sets the mood for exploration and learning.

4. Take a Cloud Forest Tour in Kona

Recommended by Janet Wells Brown of our Kona office, the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary botanical walk provides visitors, educators, keiki and horticulture enthusiasts access to a living classroom in a tropical forest set on 70 acres in Kaloko Mauka in North Kona. Tours are arranged in partnership with KapohoKine Tours. Read more about the plants and animals you might encounter on the tour at

5. Bottoms Up! Taste Your Way Around the Island

No visit to the Big Island would be complete without trying a local brew or two. Whether you join a tour of Kona Brewing Company or Ola Brew Co., a tasting at Hawaii Nui or Mahana Brewing, stop in for a happy hour special at Big Island Brewhaus or sample a signature local wine at Volcano Winery, the local beer and wine scene is sure to impress.

6. Walk Where the Royals Walked on the Ala Kahakai Trail

Running the length of the West side of the island and beyond into the Puna district, the Ala Kahakai Trail tied communities together for centuries.  In South Kohala, the hike from Pu’ukohola to Hapuna is easy and well worth it, says Jaclyn MacKinnon of our Waimea office. Just north of the King’s Shops at Waikoloa Beach Resort, the Waikoloa Petroglyph field is also easily accessible.

Before you go:

Please be respectful of the history of this area and be cautious—not all sections of the trail are open and not all are easily accessible.

7. Catch a Show at one of the Big Island’s Historic Theatres

With a schedule of concerts, community events and films spanning nearly every genre, the Hilo Palace Theatre has been entertaining residents and guests of Hilo since the 1920s. Coming up soon, the Made in Hawaii Film Festival will showcase local independent films over the weekend of June 1 & 2.

A few miles up the coast, the Honoka’a People’s Theatre boasts 525 seats, a 50-foot stage, a DTS surround sound system and a very rich history. Their monthly calendar includes a mix of live performances, independent movies, ecstatic dance and hula lessons.

Located in Kainaliu Town on Route 11 the, Aloha Theatre hosts workshops, concerts and is home to a thriving regional theatre community.

8. See What’s New at the Zoo

Hilo’s Panaewa Rainforest Zoo is the only zoo in the US located in a real rainforest! With paved walkways, over 80 animal species and no entrance fee this is a perfect family and keiki friendly outing. Don’t miss the daily alligator feedings at 1:30 pm and the petting zoo every Saturday from 1:30-2:30 pm. Tiger Fun Day is June 29, 2019 and this time of year is a great time to see gorgeous flowers in bloom as you meander through the grounds.

9. Stop by the Manago Hotel for a Meal at Hawaii’s Oldest Restaurant

With a fascinating history that began in 1917, the restaurant at the Manago Hotel is the oldest continuously running restaurant in the state of Hawaii. This simple, affordable hotel and restaurant in Captain Cook started small but has expanded to 64 rooms including a new wing overlooking Kealakekua Bay and City of Refuge. Book in advance to secure the one and only Japanese room complete with furo tub and tatami mats.

10. Hike the Kalopa Nature Trail

Getting up close and personal with Hawaii’s forests is a great way to begin to understand the interconnectedness of island ecology. Healthy forests are essential for healthy watersheds and for Hawaii’s coral. On the Hamakua Coast, the trails at Kalopa offer relatively easy loop hikes through a protected area. Campsites and cabins are also available at Kalopa for those looking for a longer stay.

Kalopa Nature Trail
Kalopa State Recreation Area

11. Get Your Paddle On with Kai Opua at Kamakahonu Beach

Kai Opua paddlers

Are you an early riser with a desire to get out on the water with a friendly crew of paddlers? At 6:00 am Monday through Saturday mornings, Kona’s Kai Opua welcomes anyone curious about the sport to join them to experience the magic of being out on the water. The one catch? You must know how to swim. Visit for details.

To watch Kai Opua and other clubs from around the world compete at the big race, plan to tune in or join the fun in Kona in September –

12. Learn about Hawaii’s Sugar History at the Laupahoehoe Train Museum

Even if you are not a serious train enthusiast, chances are you’ll still find something to capture your imagination at the Laupahoehoe Train Museum on the Big Island’s Hamakua Coast. If nothing else, the exhibits and the historical footage in the movie that plays inside the museum will transport you back to a time when the economy of the Big Island depended largely on sugar plantations. Stop in to learn more about how the sugar industry forever altered the land and the demographics of Hawaii’s population.

13. Sample Goat Milk Caramels at the Honomu Goat Dairy

Not far from Hilo, the small community of Honomu offers several unique experiences for day-trippers looking for a taste of rural Hawaii living.  One of those unexpected adventures is visiting the Honomu Goat Dairy. “Hanging with the ‘the kids’ is cool!” says Jen McGeehan of our Waimea office. Stop by to enjoy the goats, shop for goat milk products in their cute little store and get a #HonomuLife Instagram photo.

14. Take a Drive to Holualoa

One of the stops on the Mamalahoa Kona Heritage Corridor, Holualoa Village is located up-country above Kailua Kona. Many of the older homes in the village center have been renovated to accommodate a variety of artisans where you will find “one of a kine” art that will surprise you. The Holuakoa Gardens and Cafe is a crowd favorite with an up-country laid-back atmosphere. Be sure to save some time to stop in for a meal or coffee. If you follow the Mamalahoa Hwy. south for about three miles, you will come upon the Donkey Mill Art Center where you can take a class, see an exhibit or shop in the gift store for treasures made by local artists.

15. Plant a Legacy Tree with Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods

Help reforest Hawaii Island by planting a “King Koa” or “Royal Sandalwood” tree with Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods. The Legacy Forest is located at 2,500′ elevation on the Hamakua Coast and various tour packages are available.  “This is a fabulous tour!” says Jennifer Tanaka of our Kona office. As of January 2019, over 400,000 trees have been planted in this beautiful endemic forest.

16. Go on an Orchid Odyssey at the Hilo Orchid Show

Hllo Orchid Festival display

What better way to celebrate living on the Orchid Isle than to take an Orchid Odyssey with the Hilo Orchid Society. Over 4,000 people attended this beloved event in 2018. Your next chance to join the fun is coming up on the weekend of June 28-30. Get the details and plan your visit at

Bonus tip: If you visit the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo, look for orchids that have been mounted on trees along the walking trails. The brilliant idea for this project originated with a Hilo Orchid Society member and was carried to fruition by a team of HOS volunteers.

17. Crush the Coffee Trail 5K in Wood Valley

Gear up for the 6th annual Ka’u Coffee trail run in Wood Valley (September 21)! If you’re looking for a challenge, there’s a 10K and 1/2 marathon in addition to the family-friendly 5K race, all starting and ending at Ka’u Coffee Mill. The trail will take you through fields of coffee and macadamia nuts and forests of eucalyptus and ohia trees with breathtaking views of the Ka’u coastline as a reward along the way. For more information, call (808) 938-5124, (808) 928-0027, or visit

18. Test Drive West Hawaii Living with Home Tours Hawaii

If you’re new to West Hawaii, this home tour offers a taste of island-style living beyond the hotel atmosphere. You can join the progressive brunch culinary tour for a three-course meal served at three different homes or take the cacao tour, a three-hour visit to Kokoleka Lani farm and the Kona Natural Soap Factory. Tours require a minimum of six participants and arrangements can be made for large groups.

Visit for details and to book online.

19. Wander through Wailoa Art Center in Hilo

If you haven’t stopped in for a tour of Wailoa Art Center in Hilo, you’ve missed a hidden treasure! Wailoa Center, a division of the State Parks system, is free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Upcoming exhibits include a Midsummer Art Celebration (June 7-26) and a bonsai exhibit with Ikebana floral displays (June 28 & 29). See the full calendar at or follow the @wailoacenter Instagram page for updates.

Mahalo to all the Clark Realty agents and staff who contributed ideas and thank you to Dana Culleney of the Hilo Orchid Society and Jim Fairhurst of Kai Opua for contributing photos. 


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