My sister and I are going to Big Island next week (Sept 2 to Sept 8, 2017). There are so many places to visit, so I spent a few days gathering info and put together the below itinerary. The goal is to visit as many places as possible and make the trip as smooth as possible.
I revised the plan on August 29 so that we can drive less and see more.
- 1 Preplanning
- 2 Day 1 (Sept 2): Getting Started
- 3 Day 2 (Sept 3): Kohala Coast & South Kona
- 4 Day 3 (Sept 4): Mauna Kea
- 5 Day 4 (Sept 5): Kona & South Kona
- 6 Day 5 (Sept 6): The Green & Black Sand Beaches
- 7 Day 6 (Sept 7): Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- 8 Day 7 (Sept 8): Hilo & Hamakua Coast Drive
- 9 After the trip
We book our flight, hotel and car rental on Expedia. We will spend 4 nights on the west coast at Hilton Waikoloa Village, and booked a B&B (Shaka Shak Garden Inn) for the remaining two nights in Hilo (the east coast).
Day 1 (Sept 2): Getting Started
We will take an early morning flight from Vancouver to Kailua-Kona so that we arrive at noon. We will visit two places and then check into Hilton. We will spend some time to practice snorkeling at the lagoon inside the resort. After seeing so many reviews, it is impossible not to snorkel!
- Early morning flight from Vancouver to San Francisco and then to Kailua-Kona.
- Lunch at Beach Tree Bar inside Four Seasons Resort.
- Visit Mahai’ula Beach & Makalawena Beach. Walk on the beaches and swim
- Visit Puako Petroglyph Park and see the archaeological preserve
- Pick up snorkel gear at Snorkel Bob’s and practice snorkeling at Waikoloa Lagoon
- Dinner at Napua (Hawaiian cuisine & seafood)
Day 2 (Sept 3): Kohala Coast & South Kona
This day we will go north first to visit beaches and parks on Kohala Coast. Later in the afternoon, we drive to South Kona.
- Breakfast at Island Lava Java
- Snorkel at Hapuna Beach State Park
- Snorkel and walk at Kapa’a Beach Park, Mahukona Beach Park, and Lapakahi State Historical Park
- Lunch at Cafe Pesto (Italian)
- Visit Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site
- Snorkel at Kahaluu Beach Park
- Visit Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park
- Watch Sunset at Magic Sands Beach Park
- Dinner at Umekes Fishmarket Bar and Grill (Hawaiian cuisine & seafood)
Day 3 (Sept 4): Mauna Kea
We will spend the entire afternoon to visit Mauna Kea. There are two options to explore the highest mountain on the island: taking a tour or driving up the mountain with a 4-wheel-drive (4WD). We choose the latter to save some money. Please note that regular 2-wheel-drive vehicles are not allowed to drive up to the summit.
- Breakfast at Mai Grille
- Visit Kiholo Bay
- Visit Manini’owali Beach
- Visit Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park
- Lunch at Kona Brewing Co (pizza)
- Visit Mauna Kea. See the sunset at the summit. Stargaze at the visitor center.
Day 4 (Sept 5): Kona & South Kona
This day we will spend the morning in the Kailua-Kona Town. Then we visit a few more parks in South Kona.
- Breakfast at 808 Grindz Cafe
- Activites in downtown Kailua-Kona:
- Snorkel at Kamakahonu Beach
- Visit Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area
- Walk around downtown Kailua-Kona. Visit Hulihe‘e Palace
- Lunch at Peaberry & Galette (crepe)
- Visit Greenwell Farms (coffee plantation)
- Visit St Benedict’s Painted Church
- Snorkel at Pae’a and walk at Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park
- Dinner at Annie’s Island Fresh Burgers (for mojito!)
Day 5 (Sept 6): The Green & Black Sand Beaches
This day we are visiting the two famous beaches on the south of the island: Papakōlea Green Sand Beach and Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. It will be a long drive and a long hike at the green sand beach. We will also leave Hilton Waikoloa Village and check into our B&B in Hilo.
- Breakfast at Daylight Mind
- Visit Papakōlea Green Sand Beach
- Visit Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
- Visit Boiling Pots and Rainbow Falls
- See sunset at Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens
- Dinner at Sombat’s (Thai)
Day 6 (Sept 7): Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
The entire day is reserved for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
- Activities in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Walk and visit Steam Vents, Sulphur Banks, Jaggar Museum and Kilauea Overlook
- Walk and visit Kilauea Iki Crater and Thurston Lava Tube
- Drive down Chains of Crater Road
- Do a ranger program
- See lava glow at Jaggar Museum after dark
- Dinner at Cafe 100
Day 7 (Sept 8): Hilo & Hamakua Coast Drive
This day we will do the Hilo & Hamakua Coast Drive on the northeast of the island. Later in the afternoon, we will visit Waimea and then get ready to go home.
- Walk around Hilo Town. Visit Hilo Farmers Market and Two Ladies Kitchen
- Visit Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
- Lunch at What’s Shakin
- Visit Akaka Falls State Park
- Visit Waipio Valley Lookout
- Walk around Waimea
- Dinner at Red Water Cafe
- Fly home in the evening
After the trip
I have posted our actual itinerary after our trip and comment on this plan. The only thing I do not consider here is my stamina. I assume that I can visit all these places without feeling too tired. I will probably need a lot of Kona coffee!