Question: Spending One Day on the Big Island

We received the following question via email:

I will have one day on Hawaii in June 2010 with my 18yrs old daughter. Should we rent a 4-wheel to drive around all day or take one of the bike tours out of Hilo? - Jack D.


The first thing I will tell you is you should have planned to spend more time on the Big Island!  It is so much more vast, diverse, and interesting than the other islands that you cannot possibly visit all the attractions in one day.  That said, I would recommend NOT trying to hit every single thing you find in the guidebooks (or our website) in one long marathon sightseeing day.  Instead, I’d recommend finding two or three great things to see and enjoying your time at those locations.

The Big Island ”Circle Tour”  Bus Tour will take you around the entire island in one day, but you won’t have much time to explore any of the attractions - it is geared more towards those that just like to sit back and take in the view.  If you and your daughter are more inclined to going out and really experience the Big Island - there is no better way than to simply get a car and drive around yourself.  Knowing that the Big Island is almost overwhelmingly large and many of the attractions are spread out (many over several hours apart by car), we’ve written several articles on how to plan your vacation.  We’ve specificaly written a few sample itineraries - check out our Big Island One Day Travel Itineraries.

One thing that is a must-see on the Big Island is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  Here you can see some magnificent sites, enjoy fantastic hiking, get a sense of the miracle of volcanic activity and the everchanging land, and even view an active lava flow.  You could realistically spend several days here and still not see it all!  So, devote about half the day here.  A few quick sights to see just north of Hilo are Akaka Falls, and the Waipio Lookout.  Also, if you have time, check out a black sand beach - if you arrive via the Hilo Airport, the Richardson’s Beach Park  is nearby.  Otherwise further south near the Volacano Park is Punaluu Black Sand Beach (the most famous black sand beach).

Try not to take on too much in one day or it will not be very enjoyable.  Best of all - make it a memorable day so that you come back to visit this incredible island!  Please comment below with additional questions or comments.

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  1. Jack Durant says:

    So if you only have one day on the Big Island you recommend renting a vehicle versus taking the Bike Tour?

  2. Letsgo-Hawaii says:

    Jack, I would recommend renting a vehicle if you have only one day. I am assuming you are arriving by air - but I am not sure if you are landing at Kona Keahole Airport or Hilo Airport. Either way, there are ample rental car companies located at both locations. Unfortunately, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is more than 2 1/2 hours drive from the Kona Airport, so driving there and back will take up much of your day…

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