Hawaii Island Itineraries
Because Hawaii Island is so big (it takes roughly 3 hours and 15 minutes to get from Kona Airport to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park), it’s best to plan your itineraries by location. Below you’ll find seven days of itinerary suggestions. Choose your itinerary depending on where you’re staying and the length of stay.
Day 1: Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona) and Keauhou
Lively Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona) is the heart of the Kona Coast featuring a variety of hotels, shops and restaurants lining Alii Drive. But Kailua Village is also an incredibly historic area, home to Hulihee Palace, Mokuaikaua Church and Ahuena Heiau, all within walking distance of each other. Look into the past just north of Kailua-Kona at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, a place to learn about early Hawaiian culture. Take a surfing lesson or go snorkeling at Kahaluu Beach and other beaches in the Kailua Village and Keauhou resort areas. After a beautiful Kona sunset, enjoy nightlife along Alii drive with great food and live music. For the more adventurous, go on an unforgettable night-dive with manta rays.
Day 2: South Kona and Beyond
Visit Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park to step back in time and learn about early Hawaiian culture. Kealakekua Bay is a Marine Life Conservation District popular with snorkelers and the site of Captain James Cook’s death. In fact, south Kona’s beaches are a great place for snorkelers because of its calm and clear waters. Tour a Kona coffee farm in south Kona or in the art village of Holualoa and get a sip of 100% Kona Coffee. Then get off the beaten path and take a road trip to Ka Lae (South Point), the southernmost point in the United States.
Day 3: Kohala Coast & North Kohala
See the amazing contrasts between the black lava lined Kohala Coast and lush North Kohala. Start your day in Kohala’s fantastic resorts playing golf or indulging in a spa treatment. Then explore historic sites like the Puukohola Heiau National Historical Park and the Lapakahi State Historical Park. Head to the green pastures of Waimea and go horseback riding with an authentic paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy). Then continue driving to lovely Hawi for delicious food and fantastic shopping. Along the way, be sure to visit sites like the Mookini Heiau State Monument, the King Kamehameha Statue in Kapaau and the breathtaking view from the Pololu Valley Overlook.
Day 4: Hamakua Coast
On the northeastern Hamakua Coast of the island, spend the day driving along the Hamakua Heritage Corridor to see amazing scenic views, waterfalls and botanical gardens. Spectacular waterfalls that are easily accessible include Akaka Falls and Rainbow Falls in the Wailuku River State Park. See rare and exotic plants at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens and the World Botanical Gardens. Stop in Honokaa Town to browse the shops and art galleries. Finally, end your trip with an unforgettable view at the Waipio Valley Lookout.
Day 5: Volcano and Kau
You can easily spend a day exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Take a day hike through its miles of trails, see sights like Nahuku (Thurston Lava Tube), Halemaumau Crater and see lava meet the sea at lookout points at the end of Chain of Craters Road or in nearby Kalapana. Beyond the park, take a trip to Punaluu Black Sand Beach in Kau to feel black sand between your toes.
Day 6: Hilo Side
The lush Hilo side of Hawaii Island will be your home base for your visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Nearby you’ll find a variety of off-the-beaten-path discoveries. Visit the Puna area to find charming restaurants shops and amazing sights like Lava Trees State Park. You’ll also find even more interesting attractions like the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo, Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory and Akatsuka Orchid Gardens.
Day 7: Downtown Hilo
Relax and experience the local side of Hawaii Island in Downtown Hilo. Visit incredible museums like the Lyman Museum and Mission House, the Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, the East Hawaii Cultural Center, Mokupapapa Discovery Center and the Pacific Tsunami Museum. Shop at the Hilo Farmers Market and other local favorites to discover off the beaten path treasures. Then unwind in amazing parks like Liliuokalani Gardens after your busy trip to Hawaii Island.