Big Island Activities

Hawaiian History and Beauty Awaits.

St. Benedict’s Catholic Church—aka “Painted Church”

In 1904, Father John Velge covered the interior of this quaint little church with religious murals to relate biblical stories to native Hawaiians. These trompe-d'oeil paintings are distinct and unforgettable, from the striped columns to the florid ceiling imbued with shades of aquamarine and red. The church itself is surrounded by a small graveyard spotted with leis, statues, and exotic flowers. It is well worth the visit to this beautiful and secluded church, a miniature Hawaiian version of the Sistine Chapel.

  • 7 Minute Drive
  • 40 Minute Walk
  • 15 Minute Bike

Photo Credit: "St Benedict's Painted Church - Exterior (89964720)" by Steve Cadman from London, U.K. - St Benedict's Painted Church - Exterior. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

City of Refuge

Learn about Hawaii's past Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, the Place of Refuge. It is a beautiful beachside park that preserves aspects of Hawaiian history. Admission is $5 for parking.

  • 40 Minute Walk
  • 15 Minute Bike
  • 10 Minute Drive

Park rangers will give you a map of a self-guided tour of interesting spots. You will see recreated thatched temples and dwellings, a royal fish holding pond and a boathouse where you may watch a Hawaiian in traditional garb carve a Koa canoe. Play the ancient game of Konane, with black and white pebbles on a special lava playing surface.

Kahalu’u Beach Park

Kahalu'u Beach Park is a great place to snorkel and surf. It's easily accessible and full of sea life. The south end of the bay is fairly shallow and protected from ocean currents by an ancient breakwater. Green sea turtles chew away on the sea bottom, occasionally surfacing for air. Walk just north of the park and visit the historic St. Peter's Catholic Church (“Painted Church”), the Little Blue Church, and Ku'emanu Heiau—the surfer temple. In ancient times, only chiefs were allowed to surf. Here, chiefs would pray and make offerings to ensure good waves.

  • 15 Minute Drive
  • 30 Minute Bus
Snorkel Captain Cook Monument

Kayak among dolphins as you cross Kealakekua Bay, to the village site where Captain Cook was mistaken for the Hawaiian god, Lono. Cook Monument is a premier snorkeling site. You can also get there by horse, or hike a steep and difficult trail 2 1/2 hours. For $40, you can rent a double kayak from Pineapple Park's grass shack in front of the hotel. It's about a 30 minute paddle to the Cook Monument. Tow your kayak behind you as you snorkel with your mask and fins.

  • 10 Minute Drive
  • 1 Hour Horseback
  • 30 Minute Kayak
  • 2.5 Mile Hike

Important Note: Do not land your kayak on the shoreline near the monument. This is allowed by permit only.

Swim with Dolphins

Swimming with dolphins changes you. You can swim with spinner dolphins in the Kealakekua Bay or in the Honaunau Bay. The dolphin's world is one of flow and grace, community, and communication. Experience the sonic ray of dolphins’ sonar, as it resonates through your body and reveal multi-dimensional realities full of transformation and healing. Dolphins are safe, gentle, profound and joyful beings.

  • 5 Minute Drive
  • 7 Minute Bus
  • 20 Minute Walk
  • 10 Minute Bike

Important Reminder: Hawaiian Spinner dolphins are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. That means you cannot pursue, harass, touch, or get within 100 feet of them. Please help these amazing creatures rest and feel safe.