Check out these awesome Free Things to do Big Island Hawaii with Kids! Some require a vehicle to get to the destinations but many can be done at or near your resort, especially if you are staying at Hilton Waikoloa Village.
1. Visit a Black Sand Beach
Visit a Black sand beach. 49 Black sand beach is a 30-40 minute hike on Fisherman’s Trail from Hilton Waikoloa and there’s also limited free parking. In winter, keep your eyes peeled for whales. You also may see turtles sunning themselves on the sand.
2. Hike the Ala Kahakai Trail by the Sea
Hike the Ala Kahakai Trail by the Sea that runs along the western half of the island. The path to 49 Black sand beach-fisherman’s trail, is part of this trail and if staying at Hilton Waikoloa village you can also head south on the trail. 49 Black Sand beach is more of a salt and pepper beach with some white coral sand mixed in. The best black sand beach on the island is Punaluʻu Beach near Volcano National Park.
3. Go Paddle Boarding
Go Paddle Boarding. We brought our inflatable paddle boards for free thanks to SWA generous checked bags policy but you can’t also rent them for a fee.
4. Watch the Sunset.
5. Star Gaze
Whether you choose to head to Mauna Kea for their observatory or simply take in the view on a late night drive or even from your resort. The light pollution is fairly minimal and the stars are amazing.
6. Visit Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park
Learn the history of Hawaiian culture at Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park. Admission is free if you have a national parks pass and 4th graders get a complimentary annual pass. The $80 fee for the annual pass easily pays for itself in just a few visits so it’s definitely worth the cost if you can plan even 2 different national park trips.
7. Learn to Play a Native Hawaiian Games.
Kōnane is similar to checkers. There’s a table at the national park but you can easily make your own game in the sand on the beach with some natural items like kukui nuts.
8. Go Snorkeling
2 Step Beach next to Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park is one of the best spots on the island. The snorkeling is amazing but bring water shoes as there’s lots of sea urchins. Parking for the beach is along the road and fills up fast. The parking at the National Park is not for the beach but it’s easy to combine both in one visit. Thanks again to Southwest Airlines generous baggage allowance there was plenty of room in our suitcase for us to bring snorkels. We also packed wetsuits which helps us all last longer in the cooler waters and provides additional flotation.
9. Explore Tidal Pools
Since the majority of the Big Island is lava rock coast, there are many tidal pools to explore. We even saw an eel in the tidal pools at 2 step beach.
10. Look for Wildlife and other Animals. It’s our favorite Free Things to do Big Island Hawaii with Kids while Driving
We saw tons of feral goats, chickens and roosters and wild boar. It was a fun activity on our road trips across the island.
11. Hike to Papakōlea Green Sand Beach
Papakōlea Green Sand Beach is one of only 4 in the world. The hike isn’t considered easy but it’s very muddy and due to tire tracks that have been worn down by rain creating up to 6 feet deep mounds, it’s a bit more challenging in my opinion. At the time, this was the longest (5.5 miles round trip) hike we had completed as a family. The view of the coast is beautiful but there weren’t any great places to stop for a break or picnic. Regardless, with kids it’s a good idea to take a snack break so they keep their energy up. The beach isn’t as challenging as it looks to hike down to. The rocks create like steps naturally. The wooden stairs down is a bit rickety and definitely the scariest part. If you hike early enough you may be lucky enough to have this secluded beach to yourself.
12. Spot Sea Turtles.
We were lucky to spot sea turtles while snorkeling and paddle boarding in the Lagoon at Hilton Waikoloa. Punaluʻu Beach black sand beach is a great place to see them as they enjoy the warmth of the black sand.
13. Visit Volcanoes National Park
Visit Volcanos National Park to see lava fields, lava tubes and even petroglyphs. After dark see views of lava glowing from the cauldron. Admission is free if you have a national parks pass and 4th graders get a complimentary annual pass.
14. Look for Rainbows After it Rains
15. Explore a Cave such as Kaumana Caves
Kaumana Caves were formed by a collapse lava tube. You can enter both sides though one side ends with a waterfall and the other goes a bit deeper. It’s pretty neat taking the steep steps down into a rainforest pit and then entering the caves. We liked this better than the Thurston lava tube at VNP, as it seems more rugged.
16. Visit a Waterfall
Visit waterfalls like Rainbows and Boiling pot falls. Wintertime means the falls will be gushing but it also means you may not see the rainbows of the falls if it’s overcast or raining.
17. Picnic in Liliʻuokalani Park and Japanese Gardens in Hilo.
18. Drive Banja Tree Blvd
Drive down Banja Tree Blvd to see trees planted by famous people who visited. This includes Amelia Earnhardt tree planted before her final flight
19. Visit the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens
Visit the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens. This small free zoo has a variety of animals including a white tiger. The lemurs are always a favorite for us but even the birds were fun to interact with. It’s definitely worth a visit for 1-2 hours.
20. Resort Complementary Cultural Activities
Take advantage of all the complimentary cultural activities offered by your resort. You often pay for it as part of your resort fees anyway. Hilton waived resort fees for points stays.
In addition to free activities, there’s many ways to save on a trip to Hawaii. You can use credit card or airline points to cover your flights. Southwest Airline Companion pass and points is a great way to fly for nearly free paying as little as $5.50 each way in fees. You can also utilize credit card and hotel points to cover your hotel for free.
There’s Hyatt, Hilton and Marriot Hotels on several of the islands. Marriott and Hilton offer 5th night free so its ideal to stay at least 5 nights when staying there to stretch points further. Hyatt and Hilton waive resort fees on points stays. With Hilton Diamond members get $18 per person up to 2 people for a total of $36 dining credit at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. This covers about 2 kids meals or appetizers. The poke nachos at the Hilton Waikoloa village was our favorite use of the credit.
20 Free Things to do Big Island Hawaii with Kids
These awesome 20 Free Things to do Big Island Hawaii with Kids will keep you busy have a fun adventure on your Big Island Hawaii adventure. Some require a vehicle to get to the destinations but many can be done at or near your resort, especially if you are staying at Hilton Waikoloa Village.