The Large Island of Hawaii actually has no scarcity of unimaginable out of doors adventures. The island is a paradise for anybody who likes to get out in nature, from exploring lush forests and exquisite seashores to mountain climbing up volcanoes and thru lava tubes.
As a frequent traveler to Hawaii, I’ve spent numerous time exploring the Large Island and understand it just like the again of my hand. I’ve achieved many Large Island itineraries and have the news on the finest locations to see, issues to do, and escape the crowds.
This four-day adventure-packed Large Island itinerary will take you to among the most spectacular websites on the Large Island together with energetic volcanoes, waterfalls, marine life, and extra.
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Large Island Itinerary at a Look
The Large Island is thought for its number of unimaginable out of doors adventures, so this Large Island itinerary is geared towards guests who want to get exterior and discover. Right here’s what you will notice and do:
The place you’ll go to
DAY 1: Kealakekua Bay & Mauna Kea
DAY 2: Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park
DAY 3: Seashore Day & Snorkeling with Manta Rays
DAY 4: Discover Hilo
Day 1: Kealakekua Bay & Mauna Kea
Morning – Snorkeling
Begin your Large Island itinerary by spending the day at Kealakekua Bay on the Kona aspect of the island.
Kealakekua Bay is a protected marine sanctuary and is the finest spot for snorkeling on the island.
The bay is house to considerable marine life together with spinner dolphins, inexperienced sea turtles, and vibrant coral reefs.
Not solely is the bay nice for snorkeling, but it surely’s additionally a spot of historic significance. Kealakekua Bay is the place Captain James Cook dinner, the famend British explorer, first set foot on the island in 1778.
There are 3 ways to get to Kealakekua Bay:
1. Boat tour
The simplest and hottest technique for visiting Kealakekua Bay is by taking a ship tour. The beauty of a ship tour isn’t solely will you get to snorkel, however you additionally get to see the colourful volcanic shoreline with sea caves, blow holes, and lava tubes.
Again in 2006, BFT Founder Kristen lived on the Large Island and labored as a deckhand for Captain Zodiac, one of many Large Island’s few licensed sustainable tour operators. They’re nonetheless in enterprise at present and supply one of the crucial thrilling boat excursions to Kealakakua Bay. On this tour, you’ll be touring on a 16-passenger fast-moving zodiac raft that may get quite a bit nearer to the shoreline than a bigger catamaran. The journey could be very bumpy although, so solely do that in the event you’re prepared to carry on.
No matter what boat tour you select, most supply snorkels and fins so that you don’t have to fret about bringing your personal.
If you need a extra adventurous technique to expertise the bay, contemplate renting kayaks and paddling right down to Kealakekua Bay from a close-by launch level.
I like to recommend going with a guided kayaking tour, as permits are essential for every kayak that enters the bay.
It’s also possible to hire a kayak that has a allow and enterprise out by yourself. Kayak leases can be found on the aspect of Freeway 11 and alongside Route 160, the highway that takes you to the bay.
3. Hike the Ka’awaloa Path
There’s a difficult mountain climbing path right down to Kealakekua Bay. The path is 3.8 miles roundtrip and is sort of steep. Kristen did this hike typically when she lived on the Large Island and located it to be nice for train, however I believed the hike again to the trailhead was fairly exhausting after a few hours of snorkeling.
Nevertheless, in the event you’re seeking to mix mountain climbing and snorkeling, this can be a nice technique to spend the day. Get to the trailhead early as parking is proscribed. The path travels by grasslands with sweeping ocean views, dropping at 1,200 toes as you hike right down to the Bay. Simply bear in mind there may be hardly any shade on this hike, and also you’ll have to carry your personal snorkeling gear, reef-safe sunscreen, and loads of water and snacks. Then give your self loads of time to snorkel and for the trek again to your automobile.
Night – Mauna Kea
After a day of snorkeling and spending the afternoon stress-free at your lodge, head as much as the highest of Mauna Kea for sundown.
Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain on the earth when measured from its base on the seafloor, and it towers over the Large Island’s stunning panorama.
The 13,803 foot summit has among the finest stargazing alternatives on the earth as a consequence of its excessive elevation and lack of sunshine air pollution. The view from Mauna Kea is an unforgettable expertise!
A four-wheel-drive car is required previous the Customer Heart to the summit. Additionally, cease by the Customer Heart to acclimate earlier than heading to the summit.
For those who don’t really feel like driving, there are lots of tour corporations that provide sundown/stargazing excursions as much as Mauna Kea.
It will get chilly on the summit, so carry a heat jacket. If you’re fortunate, you may even see some snow!
Tip: You don’t need to hire a 4WD throughout your complete keep on the island. We solely rented one for the day we wanted it for Mauna Kea and it was properly price the price. We then returned it for a less expensive automobile for the rest of our journey.
Day 2: Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park and Punaluʻu Black Sand Seashore
Morning – Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park
Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park is likely one of the high issues to do on this Large Island itinerary. This Nationwide Park is house to 2 energetic volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. It’s additionally house to among the finest mountain climbing trails in Hawaii and quite a few cultural websites.
I like to recommend beginning your day earlier than dawn to maximise your time within the park, particularly if you’re staying on the Kona aspect of the island.
The scenic drive to the park from Kona takes about 1 hour 45 minutes (or 40 minutes from Hilo).
There are a number of issues to do on the park – under is the itinerary we adopted throughout our quick go to. In case you have extra time and are in search of further hikes, issues to do, and tenting data, head to Bearfoot Concept’s Hawai’i Volcanoes Nationwide Park Journey Information.
The very first thing you need to do if you get to the Park is cease by the Guests Heart. There you possibly can be taught concerning the newest volcanic exercise, which can dictate what you’re capable of do within the Park.
Listed here are some concepts for a half day in Volcanoes Nationwide Park
- Hike to Sulphur Banks from the Customer Heart to see colourful steam deposits and billowing vapors
- Kīlauea Overlook to look at the magnificent Kīlauea Caldera
- Steam Vents, that are brought on by the stress of the magma under
- Thurston Lava Tube, a 500-year-old lava tube fashioned when a scorching river of lava flowed into solidified rock and cooled.
- Chain of Craters Street
- Kealakomo Overlook for gorgeous ocean views
- Holei Sea Arch, a formidable lava rock formation.
- Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs & Climbing Path, a 1.4-mile path that options over 23,000 petroglyphs
Bonus choice: See Kīlauea erupting! If you’re fortunate sufficient to go to throughout an eruption of Kīlauea, we advocate skipping Punaluʻu Black Sand Seashore talked about under and staying on the park till darkish to catch a glimpse of the lava flowing.
In recent times, the most effective locations to observe the lava move have been from Halemaʻumaʻu Crater or Kīlauea Overlook if you will discover parking.
Afternoon – Punaluʻu Black Sand Seashore
In case you have time after visiting the Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park, make your technique to Punaluʻu Black Sand Seashore, which is positioned about 19 minutes from the Park.
Usually known as the “finest black sand seaside on the Large Island”, Punaluʻu Seashore is to not be missed in your Large Island itinerary.
This seaside can also be house to endangered species such because the Hawaiian inexperienced sea turtles, which you’ll typically discover resting right here. Bear in mind to observe pointers and don’t disturb the wildlife.
Day 3 – Seashore Day and Night time Snorkel with Manta Rays
Morning – Seashore Day
Since yesterday was a busy day, at present will likely be a bit extra stress-free. That is the right day to go to the seaside, chill, and take in the solar.
We advocate spending the day at Hapuna Seashore alongside the Kohala Coast. This white sand seaside is the biggest white sand seaside on the Large Island and is likely one of the most stunning seashores in Hawaii.
Hapuna Seashore is great for swimming and snorkeling if the waves are calm. Pay attention to shore breaks and powerful currents, although, and keep away from swimming if the waves are excessive.
For those who go to from December to March, you may even see some humpback whales within the distance. We bought fortunate and noticed them breach out of the water whereas mendacity on the seaside!
Observe: There’s an entrance charge of $5 per individual and parking is $10 per car. Kids underneath three years previous enter free of charge. The parking charge put us off throughout our first go to right here, but it surely was price it!
An alternative choice is to spend the day at Kua Bay, a pristine paradise with a white sand seaside simply north of Kona.
The water is crystal clear and excellent for swimming and snorkeling when the waves are calm.
Night – Night time Snorkel with Manta Rays
At the moment you’ll finish your day with a rare expertise: snorkeling (or SCUBA Diving) with manta rays in Kona!
Not many locations on the earth supply this expertise, however fortunately the Large Island does. This once-in-a-lifetime journey will take you into the open ocean to observe these majestic creatures feed on plankton underneath the starry evening sky.
Shiny lights are illuminated within the space, creating an otherworldly scene as these light giants glide gracefully by the water. It’s a surreal encounter that may go away you in awe of the pure wonders that the ocean holds.
If there may be one tour you need to splurge on throughout your journey to the Large Island, that is it! We’ve snorkeled with mantas on The Large Island twice and wouldn’t hesitate to do it once more. The guides are very educated and respectful and the expertise is unforgettable.
We advocate reserving with Sea Paradise, Kona Ocean Adventures, or Hawaii Oceanic. We went with Sea Paradise and the expertise was superb. We extremely advocate them!
Manta rays are a protected species in Hawaii, so respect their habitat and observe all related security pointers.
Observe: In recent times, swimming with manta rays has turn into more and more well-liked. There aren’t any security or sustainability finest practices in place, which has led Hawaii Ocean Watch to not contemplate it an eco-friendly exercise anymore.
Day 4: Discover Hilo
On the ultimate day of your Large Island itinerary, you’ll discover town of Hilo. Located on the jap aspect of the Large Island, this charming city is thought for its lush rainforests and small-town vibes.
We advocate grabbing breakfast in Kona and venturing to Hilo. Whereas the drive is 1 hour and half-hour, it’s scenic and peaceable. I’ve achieved this drive quite a few occasions, and it’s all the time a spotlight of my journey!
Listed here are a couple of stops and adventures I like to recommend whereas visiting Hilo:
Begin your day with a go to to Rainbow Falls the place you possibly can view an 80-foot-tall waterfall cascading right into a pool under.
The waterfall will get its title from the rainbows that always seem within the mist when the solar’s rays hit the water.
The Falls could be simply accessed because it’s positioned a couple of steps from the car parking zone.
Observe: swimming is not allowed as a consequence of security causes. Throughout our final go to, we noticed some individuals trying to leap into the pool under the falls, however don’t be tempted to take action because it’s extraordinarily harmful. The indicators preserve everybody secure and we urge you to respect them.
Take a brief 6-minute drive from Rainbow Falls to the gorgeous Akaka Falls State Park.
Right here you’ll discover two of Hawaii’s most iconic waterfalls: Kahuna and Akaka.
Kahuna is a 100-foot waterfall that tumbles over a sheer cliff face, whereas Akaka Falls is a robust 442-foot waterfall that drops right into a stream-eroded gorge. Most individuals normally come right here to see Akaka Falls, however because you’re already there, you may as properly take a look at each!
The falls could be accessed by way of a brief and straightforward 0.4-mile loop path. The paved route contains a number of steps however is well-maintained and straightforward to navigate.
Swimming can also be not allowed right here, however the views from the overlooks are unimaginable and definitely worth the go to.
Pe’e Pe’e Falls
The final waterfall to go to at present is Pe’e Pe’e Falls, positioned a brief 9-minute drive away from Akaka Falls.
This hidden gem is likely one of the lesser-known waterfalls on the Large Island, but it surely’s properly price a go to if you’re within the space and have a while. These falls are fed by the Wailuku River, which additionally feeds Rainbow Falls.
Sadly, mountain climbing right down to the waterfall and pool is not permitted as a consequence of security issues. Nevertheless, you possibly can nonetheless observe a partial view of the waterfall from a lookout level close to the parking space.
Earlier than you head again to Kona, make a cease at Kaumana Caves. Positioned simply 6 minutes away from Pe’e Pe’e Falls, the caves are an unimaginable lava tube cave system and one of the crucial distinctive points of interest on the Large Island.
The caves had been created by a move of lava from Mauna Loa in 1880 and are a part of a 25-mile-long lava tube. At the moment, guests can discover the caves and their tunnels extending greater than two miles.
Bear in mind to carry a headlamp, good footwear, and loads of water. The cave is likely to be muddy and slippery in spots, so watch out whereas exploring.
As a observe, there are many mosquitos right here. I all the time carry some insect repellent to keep away from bites. However don’t let that deter you from visiting! The gorgeous pure formations within the caves are properly definitely worth the minor inconvenience of mosquitos.
These caves are additionally a part of the principle purpose I am going to the Hilo aspect of the island.
Downtown Hilo for Meals
Lastly, seize a chunk to eat in downtown Hilo earlier than driving again to Kona. This charming city is stuffed with nice eating places and cafes that provide scrumptious native and worldwide delicacies. That is all the time our final cease on our Hilo highway journey, and it by no means disappoints.
For recent seafood, try Seaside Restaurant, Moon and Turtle, or Pineapple’s Island Contemporary Delicacies. Our high favourite restaurant is Seaside Restaurant – we extremely advocate the teriyaki butterfish and the fried aholehole. Each had been scrumptious and cooked to perfection.
For those who’re in search of one thing extra informal, head to Jackie Rey’s Ohana Grill, Cafe Pesto, or Ken’s Home of Pancakes. For those who love breakfast as a lot as we do, pancakes at Ken’s Home of Pancakes are a must-try!
For a fast chunk to eat, Hilo Bay Cafe and Hawaiian Fashion Cafe are our favorites. Hilo Bay Cafe has among the finest views on the town and Hawaiian Fashion Cafe is thought for its scrumptious pancakes, steak and eggs, and vegetarian choices.
For a scrumptious vegan Vietnamese impressed meal, head to the Vegan Store.
And, in fact, a visit to Hilo isn’t full and not using a go to to Two Girls Kitchen for among the finest mochi on the island. Whereas we all the time have to attend in line, it’s all the time price it for his or her recent and flavorful mochi.
Attending to the Large Island
The Large Island has two fundamental airports: Kona Worldwide Airport to the west and Hilo Worldwide Airport to the east.
I flew into the Kona Worldwide Airport since most flights arrive there. Kona can also be the place most guests keep whereas exploring the island.
Because the Large Island is “large” (therefore the title), renting a automobile on your keep is finest. This will provide you with the liberty to discover the island and expertise all that it has to supply.
Rental vehicles could be picked up on the Kona airport. You’ll positively need to e book forward, although.
Large Island Climate
The climate on the Large Island of Hawaii is as numerous as its terrain, creating a novel expertise not like another island.
Some areas obtain no rainfall all year long, leading to dry landscapes, whereas locations like Hilo and Puna are recognized for constant rain, making the east aspect of the island extra lush.
The moist climate on the east coast is the principle purpose most vacationers keep in Kona in comparison with Hilo. Kona has extra sunny days, whereas Hilo will get extra rain.
The island maintains a heat tropical local weather year-round, with coastal areas averaging temperatures between 75-85°F within the winter and summer season. Nevertheless, increased elevations like Mauna Kea, Waimea, and sure inland areas could be cooler.
The summits of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Hualālai could be chilly since they’re above 10,000 toes excessive. Be sure you pack heat layers in the event you plan to journey up any of those mountains.
We’ve visited the Large Island a number of occasions throughout the winter and summer season months and may attest that the climate is heat and pleasant all 12 months spherical.
Whereas it’d rain extra within the winter, it sometimes passes rapidly, and you’ll nonetheless benefit from the solar for many of the day.
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What questions do you could have about this Large Island itinerary? For those who’ve visited, what else would you add? Depart a remark under!