Three Day Itinerary: Big Island, Hawaii

Three Day Itinerary: Big Island, Hawaii

We've visited the Big Island of Hawaii four times over the eight years, and I'd say we're pretty familiar with the island. People often ask for advice on where to go, what to do, and for how long. My next series of posts will provide an itinerary for three, five and seven days on the Big Island.

Our three day (two night) itinerary is an ambitious one. On your third day, try booking a late flight so you can make the most out of your last day. You'll get tired from all the driving because the island is big! The Big Island is approximately the size of the state of Connecticut.  There are so many sights to see, and things to do, that you'll scrape just the surface of what the island has to offer. I'd recommend staying at least 5 days.

Day One: Explore the beaches on the Kona side
Day Two: Check out the Volcano
Day Three: Explore the Hilo side

Day One: Explore the beaches on the Kona side

Arrive at Kona, get your car rental and hit the road. There are plenty of beaches along the coast. We usually grab food and pack it in a cooler to bring along for a picnic. Our favorite beaches are Hapuna Beach State Park and Kaunaoa (Mauna Kea) Beach. Be sure to check what time the sun sets. Since you'll be on the west coast, you've got to see it. We've seen spectacular sunsets during each trip. On some nights, the sky would be orange, and some purple.

Day Two: Check out the Volcano

Leave your hotel early and drive to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The park is open 24 hours a day, year round. You can find out the weather and lava viewing conditions on their website or when you check in at the Visitor Center. You can spend your day hiking, exploring the lava tubes, or checking out the craters. You can also explore by car by doing the Crater Rim Drive Tour.

When you're done, drive up to Hilo which is about 45 minutes north of the park and spend the night. We recommend staying at the newly renovated Grand Naniloa Hotel.


Day Three: Explore the Hilo side

Catch the sunrise and eat at Ken’s House of Pancakes to fuel up before embarking on the day's activities. Check out Akaka Falls, which is open daily from 8:30am to 6pm. The hike to the falls is less than an hour round trip. Following the ʻAkaka Falls Loop Trail (.4 mile loop), you can see both the Kahuna and ‘Akaka Falls (422 feet high) along with beautiful lush plants and trees.

Next drive north to Honoka’a Town and check out the Waipio Valley Lookout at the end of Highway 240. 

If time permits, head back to Downtown Hilo and pick up some souvenirs at the Farmers' Market or at the shops. Don't forget to try some delicious handmade mochi at Two Ladies Kitchen.  Afterwards, get back in your car and drive back to the airport.

Five Day Itinerary: Big Island, Hawaii

Five Day Itinerary: Big Island, Hawaii

Hotel Review: Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo, Hawaii

Hotel Review: Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo, Hawaii