Five Day Itinerary: Big Island, Hawaii

Five Day Itinerary: Big Island, Hawaii

Continuing our series of itineraries on the Big Island, this is our recommended five day itinerary flying in and out of Kona International airport. 

Our five day (four night) itinerary allows you to do more activities, like snorkeling or hiking or sightseeing. On your fifth 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.  

Day One: Explore the beaches on the Kona side
Day Two: Kona coffee and snorkeling
Day Three: Check out the Volcano
Day Four: Explore the Hilo side
Day Five: From Hilo to Waimea to Kona

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: Kona Coffee and Snorkeling

When on the Big Island, you must have some Kona coffee. Every time we visit the island, we head to Kona Joe Coffee to enjoy a cup of Kona coffee while overlooking their trellised coffee plantation (the first in the world). They also offer tours daily from 8am to 5pm. 

Next, do some snorkeling. We recommend these two locations:

  • Kahalu’u Beach Park:  Popular Kahalu’u Beach is also famous for it’s honu, or sea turtles. 
  • Kealakekua Bay: Kealakekua, also known as “Captain Cook”, is our favorite snorkeling spot. Rent a kayak and dive in. It is an underwater marine sanctuary with dolphins, sea turtles, and tons of colorful fish.

Afterwards, get some poke at Da Poke Shack in Kailua-Kona or Captain Cook. They have several types of poke as well as delicious hot Hawaiian plates, including Kalua Pork or Lau Lau. The food is so good, we've had it a few days in a row.

If you still have energy, do a manta ray dive at night. The Sheraton at Keauhou has a Manta Ray Learning Center as well as a viewing area at Pa’akai Point. You probably won't be able to see much at the point, but you can book a snorkeling tour with them.

Day Three: 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 Four: 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 explore 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.  Check out other points of interest like the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo, the only tropical zoo in the United States, or check out the botanical gardens.

For dinner, fill your belly with loco moco from Cafe 100, the Home of the Loco Moco.

At night, head up to Mauna Kea for some stargazing. Be sure to bundle up, as temperature drop to above freezing in warmer months, and below freezing in the winer. If you're traveling with kids or if you are pregnant, make note: It’s recommended that children under 16, pregnant women, and those in poor health not go higher than the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy Visitor Information Station (VIS), at 9,200 feet.

Day Five: From Hilo to Waimea to Kona

You'll need at least 5 hours for this trip as you'll likely stop and take a lot of photos and enjoy the scenery. Drive north to Honoka’a Town and check out the Waipio Valley Lookout at the end of Highway 240. This scenic trip is 45-miles long, and one of the best drives in all of the Hawaiian Islands. Next head down to Waimea for some refueling before heading back to the Kona side of the island to catch your flight.

The New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show 2018

The New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show 2018

Three Day Itinerary: Big Island, Hawaii

Three Day Itinerary: Big Island, Hawaii