The pristine seashores and pastoral countryside of the Aloha State have long held court as the most popular desktop screen savers for a reason: the North Shore, Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, the road to Hana – they’re nothing short of breathtaking. For Mother Nature at her finest on the Big Island, pull yourself out of bed for an early morning trip to Rainbow Falls, easily accessible by car from downtown Hilo. Named for the prismatic light the rising mist catches, the dramatic waterfall plunges over a natural lava cave and into the cool, crystalline river 24 meters below. Get your cameras ready — this one, and let’s be honest, everything else here in Hilo, is Instagram-worthy.
If you’re up for a challenge with an awe-inspiring view at the end, summit great Mauna Kea, the tallest sea mountain (and dormant volcano) in the world, rising 10,200 meters from the ocean floor. This 18.5-kilometer, round-trip hike with a 1,300-meter elevation gain takes the seasoned hiker about eight hours, so while not for the faint of heart, we think it’s worth it. If you’re not quite ready to make your way to the top, let the Milky Way melt over you outside of Mauna Kea’s visitor’s station. At night, local volunteer astronomers set up telescopes as part of a free stargazing program that’s... out of this world.