Fathom Favorites : Hawaii (Big Island)

1. Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea

The highest peak on the island and internationally known as one of the world's best places to observe stars. The drive requires a 4WD and an indifference to hairpin turns with plunging edges and no guardrails. The top is freezing cold, but the sunset is spectacular. In the winter, locals use their surfboards to sled down its snowy flanks.

Mauna Kea Access Rd. (off Hwy 200)
Hilo, HI 96720

2. Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

A private paradise on the east side of the island, with a hefty entry fee of $15. But it's Hawaiian beauty distilled — spectacular plants condensed into a walkable hideaway.

27-717 Old Mamalahoa Hwy
Papaikou, HI 96781

3. Kapoho Tide Pools

Kapoho Tide Pools

Interconnected tidal pools deep enough to swim and snorkel in. Some are volcanically heated, reaching up to 90 degrees. Water shoes recommended for walking on the rough and slippery rocks.

Wai'opae Rd.
Kapoho, HI 96778

4. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Home to active volcanoes, miles of hiking trails, hissing steam vents, and the occasional cinematic opportunity to see flowing lava.

Hwy 11
Hawaii National Park, HI 96718

5. Manago Hotel Restaurant

For old-school Hawaiian fare, the Manago family has been serving the best pork chops in town since 1917. Add on a side of their equally famous pickled seaweed salad.

82-6155 Mamalahoa Hwy
Captain Cook, HI 96704

6. Hilo Bay Cafe

Hilo Bay Cafe

Once hidden in a strip mall, the small bistro and local favorite recently moved to a bigger location on the beach. That means more room for serving up imaginative salads, specialty sushi rolls, and the local dish — ahi poke.

123 Lihiwai St.
Hilo, HI 96720

7. Miyo's


Humble, family-run BYOB dishes homestyle Japanese food, like grilled salmon over salad and crispy tonkatsu, to a crowd of laid-back locals.

564 Hinano St.
Hilo, HI 96720

8. Big Island Brewhaus

Big Island Brewhaus

Tiny, cheerful, and noisy restaurant serving fresh Mexican food made with locally sourced ingredients. Located off Highway 19, which makes it the perfect stop between Hilo and Kona.


64-1066 Mamalahoa Hwy
Kamuela, HI 96743

9. Merriman's


One of the first locally sourced restaurants on Hawaii, turning out some of the island's most gourmet Hawaii Regional Cuisine with prices to match.

65-1227 Opelo Rd.
Kamuela, HI 96743

10. Da Poke Shack

Da Poke Shack

Unassuming joint serving up the Hawaiian specialty, fresh poke (POH-kee), in a variety of flavors that change according to the whims of the young, tatted-up guys behind the counter.

76-6246 Ali'i Dr.
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

11. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

The classic Laurence Rockefeller resort underwent a major renovation, making rooms that are subsequently bigger and nicer (and pricier). Even if you're not a hotel guest, you can visit the spectacular public beach.

62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Dr.
Kohala Coast, HI 96743

12. Ala Kai Bed & Breakfast

Ala Kai Bed & Breakfast

Located in a residential neighborhood close to many of the east side's major sites. Sweet owners Mary Roblee and Pat Fay turn out a tasty breakfast. Rooms are clean, cozy, and outfitted with thoughtful amenities like picnic baskets, guide books, and chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.


15-782 Paradise Ala Kai Dr.
Keaau, HI 96749

13. Four Seasons Hualalai

Four Seasons Hualalai

If you have to ask the price (of anything), this resort isn't for you. Rooms start around $650, but many things are free, like self-parking, snorkeling equipment, and the kids program. Despite the price tag, it's always busy.


72-100 Ka'upulehu Dr.
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

14. Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows

Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows

Rooms are small, but the resort feels big and prides itself on having no hidden costs for amenities like parking, snorkel gear, and WiFi. The staff, nearly all locals, provide indispensable advice for exploring the island like an insider. Named one of the world's Top Luxury Eco Friendly Beach Destinations by Condé Nast Traveler.

68–1400 Mauna Lani Dr.
Kohala Coast, HI 96743

15. Hilo Farmers Market

Hilo Farmers Market

Hilo's flagship farmers market, with giant avocados, exotic peppers, and addictive, intensely sweet white pineapple. Best days to visit are Wednesday and Saturday.

400 Kamehameha Ave.
Hilo, 96721