The Big Island offers some very unusual places to see. Let's start with the volcanoes. On my volcanoes page (click the picture below), I have pictures in and around Volcanoes National Park, which is most likely where you will currently find live lava. We have two other active volcanoes on the island: Hualalai, above Kailua Kona, and Mauna Loa, a portion of which is part of Volcanoes National Park. Neither of these volcanoes is currently producing lava.
Waipio Valley is the best known of the valleys on the northeast side of the island. You can drive into the valley and see a lovely black sand beach and perhaps even a wild horse or two. Pololu Valley, where the Highway north of Hawi ends, is also very easy to descend into, but you cannot drive; you must hike.
Mauna Kea is covered with astronomical observatories from many different countries. The mountain is a dormant volcano (or extinct depending on who you listen to), and it is a little higher than Mauna Loa at 13,796 feet; Mauna Loa is a mere 13,333 feet. On my Mauna Kea page, you will find much more information about this place like no other in the world.
Akaka Falls represents one of the largest and most beautiful waterfalls on the northeast side of the island, where there are many, many waterfalls. Akaka Falls is surrounded by tropical flora and well worth the drive off the main highway.
Place of Refuge, the other National Park on the island, represents one of the best pictures of the former Hawaiian lifestyle if you take the walking tour (which can be done by simply reading the brochure as you walk from place to place). There is also a wonderful snorkeling spot close by.
Please click on the beaches picture below to see some of the most unusual beaches in the islands. Click on the other pictures to get more information about other areas of the Big Island.