Travel Itinerary: One Week on the Big Island

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

When planning their Big Island vacation, many visitors do not anticipate the huge size of the island and how much there is to see.  We recommend one week on the Big Island - this will allow you to see the attractions and still not feel rushed.  Below is a sample itinerary for a one week visit to the Big Island.  Because these schedules are just rough guidelines, we have omitted times to allow you more flexibility in planning.

Kohala Coast Beaches (day 1)

Hapuna Prince Hotel in BackgroundDrive to Hapuna Beach State Park.  Spend time swimming, sunbathing, relaxing at the famous Hapuna Beach.  Enjoy a picnic at the covered pavilion.
If you have time, drive to any of these nearby Kohala Coast beaches, less widely known, but equally spectacular:
Kua Bay, Kona HawaiiKua Bay Beach (closed Wednesdays)
Kikaua Point - white sand beachKikaua Point Beach
Green Sea Turtle at Kukio BeachKukio Beach
Kekaha Kai State Park or Makalawena Beach


Kona Beaches + Snorkeling (day 2)

Drive Snorkeling is better in South Kona - underwater visibility is better and the sea life is marvelous
Visit the Kahaluu Beach Park at the southern end of Kailua-Kona town.  The bay is protected and the snorkeling is top-notch
Magic Sands Beach, KonaIf you have time, move on to Magic Sands Beach Park nearby.  The beach is beautiful and the waves are good for body-boarding.
For young kids, or people just looking for a place to relax, try the Kamakahona Beach located right in Kailua-Kona
Check out the our Big Island Hawaii Beach Guide for more information


Volcanoes National Park (day 3)

Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, HawaiiOn your way to the Volcano, if you have time take a detour to visit the nearby Punaluu Black Sand Beach and see the turtles
Volcanoes National Park Visitor's CenterDrive to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  Stop at the Visitor’s Center, view exhibits and walk across street to the Volcano House and observation deck
Halemaumau Crater with Mauna Loa in BackgroundDrive around Crater Rim Drive counter-clockwise stopping at these attractions:  Sulphur Banks; Jaegar Museum; Halemaumau Crater; Thurston Lava Tube
Sea cliffs, Chain of Craters RoadDrive to the ocean via the Chain of Craters Road and stop at these attractions: Scenic Overlooks; Holei Sea Arch; end of road where lava flowed
Lava flow ocean entryHike to scenic lookout to see the lava flow at dusk.  The first scenic lookout is a short 30 minutes from the parking area, the distant lookout is about 3 miles hike over rough lava each way (add additional time for this hike)
Spend the night at a hotel near Volcano or Hilo


Hilo + Hamakua Coast (day 4)

Richardson Beach ParkIn Hilo, drive to Richardson Beach Park, walk around and take a look at the black sand beach and scenery, swim and snorkel
Rainbow Falls, Big Island HawaiiDrive to Rainbow Falls State Park at the edge of Hilo town and view the falls
Onomea FallsVisit Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens and Onomea Bay Trail, just north of Hilo, near the “4-mile scenic drive”
Akaka Falls, Big IslandHike short trail-loop and view Kahuna Falls and Akaka Falls State Park
Rocky beach at the Waipio ValleyContinue driving north along the Hamakua Coast to the Waipio Valley Overlook


Kealakekua Bay Kayak + Snorkel (day 5)

Kealakekua BayRent a kayak and drive to Kealakekua Bay in South Kona.  Kayak across the bay to the Captain Cook Monument and snorkel in the marine sanctuary area.  Bring food and water with you and spend all day enjoying the bay.


Honaunau Snorkel + Explore (day 6)

Drive to Honaunau (Place of Refuge) in South Kona.  The bay and shore area is located adjacent to the National Park.
Snorkel or SCUBA dive in the clear waters at Honaunau.  You may see the turtles or Spinner Dolphins.
Honaunau Place of Refuge TempleAfterwards, go over to the Puuhonua o Honaunau National Park (admission fee) and explore the preserved ancient Hawaiian village and trail.
Sea Caves at HonaunauIf you are up for the challenge, kayak around the point to the sea caves near Honaunau


North Kohala Hiking (day 7)

Pololu ValleyDrive north to the end of Highway 270 in North Kohala and you will reach the Pololu Valley Lookout.  The road ends here, but you can hike down into and explore the valley and black sand beach below.
On the way back, stop in Hawi for lunch at the Bamboo Restaurant
Kiholo BayIf you have time and energy left on your way home, stop on Highway 19 and hike from the road to the scenic Kiholo Bay
Black Sand Beach, Waipio Valley

Black Sand Beach, Waipio Valley

For more help in planning your trip, check out our articles below:

Travel Planning Articles

Planning your Trip When to come, how long to stay, books Vacations for Families Best family beaches, activities for youngsters, infants, teens Hawaiian Cruise Passengers Information about port calls in Hawaii Sample Travel Itineraries Suggested itineraries, 1-2 day, 1 week Island Activities Guide Guide to the activities & tours Tips for Traveling with Kids Packing and flying with kids Island Hopping Visit more than one Hawaiian island Regions of the Big Island Geography and climate descriptions Big Island Transportation How to get there, plan your driving Rent a 4-Wheel Drive SUV Off-roading on the Big Island Top 5 Attractions (You Might Miss) You’ll never hear about these… Packing for your Trip Big Island scenery & weather is diverse Big Island Wedding Planner How to plan your wedding in Hawaii

Accommodations Articles

Where to Stay Three different parts of the island to stay - which is best? Vacation Rentals Big Island Vacation rentals are a deal Bargain or 5 Star Hotel Stay at a resort or a bargain hotel Discount Big Island Hotels Check out the latest rates

Shopping in Hawaii

Big Island Shopping Guide Guide to the shopping destination Hawaii Souvenirs The best souvenirs to buy in Hawaii

Gear & Equipment Articles

Gear for your Trip Get outfitted with the right gear GPS Points of Interest (POI)GPS Coordinates for Points of Interest

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