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There are different reasons to visit the Hawaiian islands. The Big Island is the largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago and attracts thousands of visitors.

Akaka Falls - things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii
Akaka Falls

The Big Island of Hawaii has more to offer than the volcanos. It is the place for big adventures and waterfalls.

If you can, we recommend spending five full days on the Big Island, since it is the largest of the Hawaiian Islands.

Hawaii is the proper name for Big Island.

All 137 islands in the Hawaiian archipelago are considered Hawaii, which is why Big Island is often referred to as "Hawaii".

We will show you how to get from A to B in this 5 day Big Island itinerary.

A lot of people go to Hawaii Island on a day trip. In our guide on 20 things to do in Oahu Hawaii, you will find some exciting attractions.

Getting Around Big Island

How to get around the Big Island of Hawaii is covered before we get into each spot on the itinerary. If you want to plan your journey, you have to fly into the airport in Hawaii.

Pick up a rental car when you arrive in Hilo because a lot of the attractions are far away and hard to get to.

While you can get around a lot of places with the public bus service in Hawaii, it takes a long time and the bus schedule is all over the place.

If you have time to spend and you want to save money, you can use buses to get around the island.

On the island, there are no trains. Renting a car will be more expensive than using one of the ride-sharing services.

Renting a hilo camper is a good way to tour around this area. You can explore the island and save money.

Day 1: Hilo, Big Island

The Big Island is a place where I like to travel. It was just enough time to see all the best things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Some of the most beautiful nature spots on the Hilo side will be covered in this itinerary.

Are you thinking about going to the beach? I don't think the Big Island of Hawaii is a good place to go for a beach vacation.

Adding a stop to the neighboring islands of Maui and Oahu will allow you to see some fantastic beaches.

There are better beaches on these islands.

Stop 1. Visit the Jaw-Dropping Akaka Falls

We are going to visit one of my favorite spots.

One of the most popular things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii is to go to Akaka Falls.

The waterfall is so large that it should be on our list of the best waterfalls in the US.

Akaka Falls - things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii
Akaka Falls

There is a paved trail that leads to the 100 foot waterfall. It's a good idea to check the weather before you visit. We missed the falls because the loop walk was closed.

The sun was shining on the falls on Craig's return. We saw a waterfall the day before, but he saw a different one.

The trail is easy for most travelers, but it can take up to 30 minutes to reach the falls.

The cheaper price can be found just outside the car park.

  • Hours: 8.30AM – 5.30PM
  • Address: 875 Akaka Falls Rd, Honomu, HI 96728

The hot tip is not to visit during the afternoon. It is hard to see behind the falls with your eyes because the sun is behind them.

Stop 2. Witness the Breathtaking Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls - things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii
Rainbow Falls

There is a waterfall near the center of Hawaii. From the parking lot, you can see the waterfall's summit. There is a reason for the fall's name.

From the lookout area you can take a few slippery steps up and through the forest to the river and waterfall views.

The island of Hawaii is not recommended for swimming. There are lava tubes that can be found anywhere. There have been people who have died.

Stop 3: Lunch at The Booch Bar

Lunch at Conscious Culture Cafe on the Big Island of Hawaii

When we asked the online community for their opinions on where to eat and drink on the Big Island of Hawaii, they were all in agreement.

The Conscious Culture Cafe is located on the side of the road on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is now known as The Booch Bar.

There's also music. White Shades of Grey is from the 60's Vietnam era.

We loved this place in Hawaii. The tip was from a couple of locals. Ask them for hidden secrets about places to visit.

Awesome milkshakes at Just Cruising Coffee in the town of Hilo, Big Island Hawaii
Milkshake at Just Cruising

If you want a snack on the go, go to Just cruisin coffee. Locals told us that this was the best place to get coffee in town.

I don't think it was the best coffee, but it was better than Starbucks. Our kids liked their drink.

Stop 4: Boiling Pots of Wailuku (Lava Pools)

The Boiling Pots, which are bubbling basalt-lava rock pools, are one of the highlights of Big Island.

At first, the pools just look like any other river, except on closer inspection, they look like little witches' cauldrons.

The cylinder-like rock that you see today was created by lava flows from Mauna Kea, as well as underground tunnels that pushed water up and made the formation.

It is said that the lava flows that created the river are the same ones that created Rainbow Falls. The river is named after how the water looks during a storm.

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is a great place to stop if you have more time to spare.

Stop 6: Dinner – Hilo Bay Cafe

The food at Hilo Bay Cafe is modern and fresh.

The view of beautiful Hilo Bay, old Hilo Town, and the slopes of Mauna Kea made for a peaceful atmosphere.

We shared some good food.

  • Mushroom poke – a chilled pan-roasted mushroom twist is a Hawaiian favorite dish.
  • Grilled cauliflower.
  • Mushroom lettuce cups – sautéed mushrooms, house-made garlic shoyu, basil, cilantro, shaved heart of plan and roasted macadamia nuts.

The Big Island Booch made the ginger and turmeric kombucha.

If you like waterfalls, then this waterfall adventure will take you to Akaka Falls State Park.

Where to Stay in Hilo, Big Island

Grand Naniloa Hotel, a Doubletree by Hilton in Hilo, Big Island Hawaii
Grand Naniloa Hotel, a Doubletree by Hilton

It's a good place to stay for one night before we head off to the next destination.

The location of the hotel was great, but the rooms were small and the views were not as good as they could have been.

You can go to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at night. Depending on your time frame.

Day 2: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island

We will have one stop on the second day. You should spend the entire day in the park.

It is one of the best things to do in Hawaii.

Stop 1. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Family Travel Blog Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Big Island Hawaii (1)

It was an amazing experience to be in the middle of creation.

It has been my favorite lesson so far. Mother Nature took over and taught the girls about fire, land growth, and rainforests.

You can't get so close to an active volcano anywhere else in the world. It's on your list of educational things to do in Hawaii.

We were disappointed that we were not able to see where the lava flowed into the ocean.

It is possible to get closer with an 8-mile return hike or on a boat tour.

We were warned that it was not a good idea with young children. Their lungs can be damaged by the high sulfur content. It's not worth the risk.

When we return to Hawaii, it will be on our bucket list.

It's a hot tip to beware of the Kapu.

The rocks are taken from the lava fields. A lot of packages are sent to the post offices on the Big Island to return rocks or black sand that have been stolen.

The Goddess of Hawaii's volcanoes is called Pele.

You should stay here tonight if you didn't stay yesterday. You can get to Kona tomorrow if you stay again, as there is a fair amount to see.

Family Travel Blog Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Big Island Hawaii (2)

We traveled along the crater chain link road to view the craters, seeing giant fields of lava rock, and imagining the red hot lava oozing down and cooling down to the preserve.

The girls were interested in what was happening. She learned a lot about volcanoes and lava, so she took a pen and paper and wrote her story.

We talked about the rainforests and how volcanoes help them.

We went to the Jaggar Museum to learn more about earthquakes and volcanoes, as well as to see the lava in the crater.

The creator of the Hawaiian Islands is known as the Hawaiian Fire Goddess and she lives in the Halema'um'a crater at the summit of Kilauea. She does not destroy anything in her path.

After dinner, we saw a fiery glow in the sky above the volcano and it was on fire.

Night time view of lava in Kilauea - Volcanoes National Park, Big Island Hawaii
Night time view of lava in Kilauea

It was fascinating to watch it move. The lava lake in the crater bubbles over when it's full. On the day we arrived, the water was bubbling over.

You may be able to find strands of his hair in the park. The golden threads are formed when lava is ejected into the air and small droplets are caught by the wind and stretched into thin strands.

The chain of craters road and the Thurston lava tube are some of the most well-known stops in the park.

There is an entrance cost and details.

The park costs $30 per car or $12 per person without a car. Please check the prices for accurate admission costs.

The Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park and Haleakal National Park are included in the Tri- Park Pass.

Where to Stay at Volcanoes National Park

Hale Ohio Cottage - where to stay at Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Hale Ohai Cottages

Hale Ohai Cottages is a great place to stay near the National Park.

The Volcano House is within the park. The red glow from the crater can be seen from the dining room windows of the lodge.

Day 3: Swim with the Manta Rays, Kona

On the third day of the Big Island itinerary, we will need to leave early in the morning so you have plenty of time to explore some of the sights along the way.

If you aren't tired of volcanoes by now, you can drive over the summit of Mauna Kea.

Stop 1. See Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles at Punalu’u, Black Sand Beach

Punaluu Beach (Black Sand Beach) on the Big Island of Hawaii
Punaluu Beach

Black Sand Beach was one of the top recommendations from our community.

The place where Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles like to visit is also the place where you can look at and walk on.

One was chilling on the sand at the water's edge.

The turtle has a lot of space. It's not worth distressing an animal if you don't take selfies. There are a lot of reminders. Lifeguards respectfully remind you. People are sticking their cameras close to their faces.

See turtles on Black Sand Beach - things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii
Green Sea Turtles

You can use a zoom lens Although it looks close, we were a respectful distance away from this picture.

The jet-black sand formed when molten lava from two nearby active volcanoes flowed into the water, cooled, and broke into fragments.

Stop 2. Papakolea Beach, Green Sand Beach

We had to make a decision on Green Beach.

Papakolea Beach.
Papakolea Beach

It was one of Hawaii's best, but as we were running short on time and it had just started raining, we were worried it would be just a quick photo. Is it worth it to be late?

We made a decision no.

You have to hike 2.5 miles from the parking lot to get to the beach. We listened to our gut. This would have been too difficult for the girls and made us leave. You will have it to yourself as the beach is remote.

It is a full day trip to Papakolea Beach.

The hike to and from the beach alone takes about 2 hours, depending on how fast you can walk, and then you have to calculate for some time on the beach and the drive time to get to South Point.

I would have traded the Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park for this, arriving early in the morning after visiting the Black Sand Beach.

To help you learn from your mistakes, we write these posts.

Stop 3. Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

We had a great time trying to say Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. We couldn't say it even after the park Ranger gave us a lesson.

Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park - Hawaii

The site of royal grounds used to be a national historic park and was once a refuge for lawbreakers.

If a lawbreaker were able to make it here alive, they wouldn't have to pay for their crimes.

It reminded me of my ex-boyfriend from South Africa who was told if he stayed in the UK for 14 years without being caught, he would be granted permanent resident status. When I left him, he was eight years old.

The Pu'uhonua is a sacred place. The spirit of peace and forgiveness still surrounds this special place.

There is a park on Honauau Bay. The Hale o Keawe temple is where the Kings used to reside.

The second best snorkel spot on the Big Island can be found here. That can be combined into your trip. It is not possible to snorkel off the historical park. It can be seen from the shores of the city.

It costs $5 per car, but if you combine it with the park pass from the volcano then it is free.

You should skip this park if you are short on time.

Stop 4. Swim with Manta Rays

I think there is nothing else to say. This was our favorite stop on our trip.

swim with manta rays big island of hawaii
Incredible experience. Photo: Deposit Photos

It wasn't until our 40-foot double-hulled Hawaiian sailing canoe pointed towards the setting sun that I realized what was about to happen.

My child and I are going to swim in the ocean. We were crazy. I was not sure if I was letting the girls do it.

I could see that she was shaking because she was pretending to be brave. I promised her that she would be looked after by the crew from Eka Canoes, but she didn't do it.

I encouraged her to give it a try because I wanted her to know not to run from their fear.

She did, that's right. I was so happy for her.

Jono and I lifted her up and took her to the floating surfboard. The board had handle grips on the side that we held onto and laid on our bellies so we didn't kick the manta rays.

She didn't want to see the rays in the water, but she did see them swimming below the lights.

The plankton is attracted to the light.

I had no idea what we experienced.

The butterflies of the sea flew over to our board and barrel rolled over and over again so close that we could see their stomachs.

They glided by so close to us that they could have kissed us on the lips. They looked into my eyes. Let me show you how gorgeous we are.

It is difficult to get good photos because it is nighttime and underwater.

It wasn't possible to get her to look under. Kalyra did it and it blew her away. After the cold saw through their bones, I took them back to the boat and gave them hot chocolate.

About an hour is spent in the water with the rays. I only had 15 minutes with the girls. I have never had a better wildlife encounter.

After this experience, you will be hungry. If you want to eat in town, I recommend you go to Rays on the Bay at the Sheraton. You will be alight from your swim at this location.

It was one of the best activities for kids in Hawaii.

Where to Stay in Kona, Big Island of Hawaii

Sheraton Kona - Hawaii
Sheraton Kona

We stayed at a resort. Extra nights at Kona will add a few more days to your Big Island itinerary.

Families will love the Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa.

One of the pools has a good view of the ocean at sunset. We didn't have time to enjoy the views from our balcony.

Sunset over Keauhou Bay from the Sheraton Kona - Big Island Hawaii
Sunset views from the hotel
Awesome pool at Sheraton Kona, Hawaii
Awesome pool

The girls liked the waterslide. Kalyra thinks it's the best hotel in Hawaii.

The little tots in the inner pool are able to swim 24 hours a day.

Waterslide at the Sheraton Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii

The rooms were spacious and comfortable and the service was excellent.

You can find the current prices for Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa on Booking.

Day 4: Snorkel at Kealakekua Bay and Explore Kona Town

Either you go snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay in the morning or in the afternoon, or both. It's up to you, whatever works best for you.

Snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay
On the way to Kealakekua Bay

If you only have two nights in Kona, you may want to take the morning tour at Kealakekua Bay so you can catch the sunset at Hugo's.

The morning includes a BBQ lunch and is cheaper than the afternoon tour.

Stop 1. Kealakekua Bay Snorkel Tour

How does a slide go down into a bay full of fish and coral? Maybe you're going to enter off a high diving tower. This isn't the same as the reefs in Western Australia, but it's the best thing to do.

The tour with Fair Wind Cruises was great. We raced each other down the slides.

Jumping into Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii

There is a marine sanctuary 17 miles south of Kona.

The place where Captain Cook died is also known for its pristine beauty and underwater world.

Australians will get a thrill out of visiting the place where Captain Cook was murdered due to the tense relations with the locals.

When you arrive, you learn a lot about the story.

Snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay on the Kona Coast of Big Island Hawaii

The next 90 minutes are spent in the water.

There were lots of flotation devices for children. There was a rubber tube and snorkeling. She put her head under for a closer look at the fish.

Near the Captain Cook monument is the best place to snorkel.

Snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii
Snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii

Due to the rising popularity of this area and the need to restrict the negative impact on the reef system, your other options are more limited.

The car park is on the other side of the bay.

  • Swim from the car park area (1.5) miles
  • Hike to the opposite end of the bay
  • Rent a kayak and paddle. It is illegal to land vessels along the Ka‘awaloa shoreline or moor at the wharf adjacent to the Captain Cook Monument. Make sure you ask to see the permit from whoever you rent the kayak from to avoid getting in trouble. Big Island Kayak, Kona Boys are two rental companies we recommend. We originally wanted to visit this way, but thought it might be too much for the girls.

Day 5. Explore Kona Town or Scuba Diving Kua Bay

Since the last day of the Big Island itinerary is a flight, you won't have a lot of time to explore. The last day will be decided by how long you have been awake.

One of the best ways to relax on the Big Island of Hawaii is to visit Kona town. If you don't have a lot of time, we recommend you explore Kona Town more and spend some time on the water.

There is only one street that runs along the edge of the water. There are many places to eat and shop in the area.

It used to be a retreat for Hawaiian royalty and you can see some of that in the Hulihee Palace and the Mokuaikaua Church.

If you think you can do it, you might want to check out the World Championship that starts and ends here in October. I would love to be able to.

It looks like a fun place to hang out with live music and Hawaiian chill spilling out from the bars and restaurants on the Bay.

Stand-up paddle boarding can be done in Kona. Kona Boys can give you a stand up paddle board. If you paddle out to the bay, you could be joined by dolphins.

If you have a full day before your flight, then you might want to head out to Kua Bay to scuba dive.

Places to eat in Kona, Big Island

It is a good idea to save some good places to eat when you are in Kona. There are some restaurants that we liked.

Sunset at Huggo’s

Sunset drinks at Huggos Bar in Kona - Big Island Hawaii
Sunset drinks at Huggo’s Bar in Kona

We went to Huggo's on the Rocks because it was recommended to us. For yourself, check it out.

If you want to eat here, you can check it out for lunch. We didn't eat here, but I liked the views.

Island Lava Java

Breakfast at Lava Lava on the Big Island of Hawaii

We had a great breakfast at their sister restaurant. The view of the ocean from Island Lava Java is popular so get there early. It is a great place to relax and drink coffee.

Kona Canoe Club

Before our flight to Maui, we discovered this. It was cheap and great.

Happy hour was from 2 pm to 5 pm and included frozen margaritas and $5 meals. A colorful lizard was hanging out with us. This is where we love to hang out the most.

Hilton Waikoloa Village
Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort

You can head further north if you don't want to stay in Kona. After moving so quickly, we decided to relax at the hotel.

There are many relaxing things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii, and this is one of them.

More than 5 days?

Are you able to spend more than 5 days on the Big Island? If you want to extend your trip, we suggest you spend a couple days in the area.

Places to visit near Waikoloa

Adding these attractions to your Big Island itinerary is a good idea.

  • Slightly north are the beaches of Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area
  • Kauna’oa Bay has one of the few white sand beaches on the Kohala Coast
  • Waimea is Known as paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) country and is home to rolling, green pastures, cattle, cowboys, and ranches. Take the scenic drive north to the charming town of Hawi and the Pololu Valley Lookout, which showcases breathtaking coastal views of the Hamakua Coast.

Where to Eat in Waikoloa: Lava Lava Beach Club

Sunset and dinner at Lava Lava Beach Club on the Big Island of Hawaii

The lava lava beach club made our stay worthwhile.

I didn't like the food at the hotel and it was expensive. I would go to the Lava Lava Beach Club only for a sunset drink.

You can get there early to grab a beach chair. It is advisable to reserve a table in the restaurant ahead of time. It's first come first serve to get a beach chair.

Someone left as we walked by. The seat we were in was the best. The sunset didn't show off too much initially due to clouds, but then it shone this pretty pink color as we danced to the band.

Watch the sunset at Lava Lava Beach Club in Waikaloa on the Big Island of Hawaii

Before You Go

This is how you can go to the Big Island in Hawaii for five days. This Big Island itinerary is full of adventure and will leave a lasting impression.

It is recommended that you book your hire car in advance since it is a popular destination and prices can go up last minute.

Dropping off your rental car in Kona for a small fee is possible if you arrive in Hilo. I think it will work out better than going back to Hilo.

You can fly to your next island from the airport at Kona. Flying is the most convenient way to travel since there is only one ferry per day from Kona to Kailua.

There are no ferries between the two islands.

We traveled to Hawaii with Hawaiian Airlines. Regular flights from the United States are also available.

This Big Island itinerary will help you plan your trip, and we wish you the best time in Big Island.

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5 Day Itinerary - tips on things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii including tips for Kona, Volcanoes National Park, Hilo and Waikoloa.

We didn't see anything. Do you have any suggestions on what to do in Hawaii? We want to know in the comments.

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