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.

Hawaii Island features some of the most picturesque and varied beach landscapes in the islands.
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Historic Kailua Village is a lively seaside town in the heart of Kona home to shopping, dining and important historic sites.
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Travel back to the days of the Hawaiian monarchy at Hulihee Palace, located right on Alii Drive in the heart of Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona).
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The Keauhou resort area, just south of Historic Kailua Village in Kona, is where you can often spot manta rays and honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles).
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The Kona Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island offers the best opportunity to encounter Hawaii’s amazing manta rays.
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Whether watching surfers or taking your first surf lesson, Hawaii’s Big Island offers fantastic surf adventures from Hilo to Keauhou.
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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.

There are hundreds of coffee farms in Kona as well as boutique coffee plantations in Kau, Puna and Hilo.
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Java is the juice that powers Holualoa, the little village and art enclave in the heart of Kona coffee country.
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Ka Lae is the southern most point in the U.S. and is believed to be the point where the first Polynesians landed on Hawaii.
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Visit Puuhonua o Honaunau and learn about early Hawaiian history at this National Historic Park, historic place of refuge and former royal grounds.
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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 Parkand 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 King Kamehameha Statue in Kapaau and the breathtaking view from the Pololu Valley Overlook.

Spend a few hours browsing the peaceful haven of Hawi, North Kohala’s biggest little town.
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The original King Kamehameha Statue can be found in Kapaau, near his birthplace in North Kohala. Kamehameha the Great unified the Hawaiian Islands in 1810.
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The Pololu Valley Lookout offers a breathtaking view overlooking Pololu Valley, a black sand beach and the northeastern coastline.
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Part of the National Park System, this historic site is home to one of the largest and last heiau (temple) built in Hawaii.
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Travel to the cool, green pastures of Waimea to discover paniolo (cowboy) country, as well as fine dining, shopping and culture.
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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 Garden 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.

Akaka Falls State Park features two amazing waterfalls, Akaka Falls (442 feet) and Kahuna Falls (100 feet).
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Take a memorable drive from Hilo to the Waipio Valley Lookout to see scenic overlooks, waterfalls, botanical gardens and small towns.
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If you’re looking for a waterfall near Downtown Hilo, take a short drive west on Waianuene Avenue to Wailuku River State Park.
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Located on the northern Hamakua Coast, the sacred Waipio Valley was the boyhood home of King Kamehameha I, and an important center for political and religious life in Hawaii.
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Some of Hawaii Island’s most breathtaking and accessible waterfalls can be discovered along the Hilo and Hamakua Coast.
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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.

Spanning the summit of Maunaloa to the sea and home to Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes.
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Whether you're looking for a challenging trail on fields of lava to short, Hawaii Island is heaven for hikers.
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In the Puna District, drive beyond Pahoa Town toward the coast and you’ll find the end of the road is covered in lava.
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Nahuku, also known as Thurston Lava Tube, is a 500-year old lava cave located at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
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This is one of the most famous black sand beaches in Hawaii and a place to spot protected honu, or Hawaiian green sea turtles.
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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.

Whether it’s through paintings, sculptures, glassware, jewelry or hand-carved koa wood bowls, you’ll see the distinct styles that make the art found on Hawaii Island truly unique.
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The Hilo Farmers Market is one of the best open markets in Hawaii, featuring fresh fruit, vegetables, plants and local crafts.
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Liliuokalani Gardens is a beautifully landscaped, 30-acre Japanese garden featuring fishponds, pagodas and rock gardens.
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Hawaii Island features four National Parks, including Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, as well as beautiful state and county parks.
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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.

Whether it’s through paintings, sculptures, glassware, jewelry or hand-carved koa wood bowls, you’ll see the distinct styles that make the art found on Hawaii Island truly unique.
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The Hilo Farmers Market is one of the best open markets in Hawaii, featuring fresh fruit, vegetables, plants and local crafts.
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Liliuokalani Gardens is a beautifully landscaped, 30-acre Japanese garden featuring fishponds, pagodas and rock gardens.
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Hawaii Island features four National Parks, including Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, as well as beautiful state and county parks.
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