Big Island 5-Day Itinerary: A Definitive Day-by-Day Guide

April 29, 2019

Maximize your time on the island with our Big Island 5-day itinerary.

So, you’ve decided to jet off to the Big Island of Hawaii for a five-day getaway. Now what? With historic volcanoes, towering waterfalls, picturesque beaches, and delicious coffee, there’s so much to do and see in such little time! You’ll make your way around the island while embarking on memorable adventures and seeing the sights at the same time.


Day 1: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Assuming you’ve arrived to the island and checked in to your accommodations the night before, your trip begins bright and early at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on day one.

The park is about 45 minutes south of Hilo, so those staying on the west side of the island should prepare to wake up extra early. Don’t worry—the jet lag will take care of that for you.

Once at the park, you have your choice of activity. Go hiking on historic trails filled with petroglyphs or drive along the Crater Rim. Or, you can sign up for a volcano tour led by a knowledgeable tour guide with extensive insight into the park’s history, volcanoes, and area.

After you’ve explored all there is to see at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, make your way to Volcano Village. This nearby rustic village is home to unbelievable art, farmer’s markets, a winery, the Hawaiian Ola`a Rainforest Reserve, and so much more. It’s truly a hidden gem on the island!

aerial view of Akaka Falls in hawaii


Day 2: ‘Akaka Falls State Park and Hilo

Day two also puts you on the east side of the island as you prepare to explore ‘Akaka Falls State Park. Here you’ll find Akaka Falls and Kahuna Falls, two of the island’s most popular waterfall destinations.

After a short, uphill hike, you’ll find yourself submerged in a lush rainforest with beautiful flowers, trees, and bamboo groves. Best of all, the hike to Akaka Falls is only 0.4 miles long, leaving you with plenty of time left in your day for more fun.

Do note the entrance fee required to visit the park. Guests are required to pay $5.00 per car or $1 per person for pedestrians.

Once you’ve completed your waterfall adventure, it’s time to make the 11-mile drive to Hilo for additional exploration. While in Hilo, choose from top destinations and things to do in including:

  • Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens
  • Pacific Tsunami Museum
  • Coconut Island
  • Mehana Brewing Company
  • Hilo Farmer’s Market
  • The Lyman Museum

Spend your time in Hilo embracing the Hawaiian culture, sampling the cuisine, and learning more about the Big Island.


Day 3: Big Island Beaches

What Big Island 5-day itinerary would be complete without at least one day at the beach? Fortunately, the Big Island is home to an abundance of beach options, including:

  • Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
  • Mauna Kea Beach
  • Hāpuna Beach
  • Makalawena Beach
  • Wailea Bay
  • Lele’iwi Beach Park
  • Pololu Valley Beach
  • Ai’opio beach

No matter which beach you choose to visit, you’ll have a relaxing day on the Big Island. Pack your swimsuit, towel, reef-safe sunscreen, and a good book for a fantastic day by the ocean.

Of course, if you’re looking for a little more adventure, go snorkeling! A few of the top recommended snorkeling spots on the island include:

  • Honaunau Bay
  • Kahalu’u Beach Park
  • Magic Sands
  • Hapuna Beach
  • Kauna’oa Beach
  • Waialea Beach
  • Kealakekua Bay

You’ll notice several of these spots are situated along the Kona Coast, which is a perfect segue into day four of our Big Island 5-day itinerary!


Day 4: Discover Kona

Use your second to last day on the Big Island to discover Kona’s natural beauty, culinary scene, history, and more. In Kona, you can go snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay, hike to the top of Mauna Kea, visit a seahorse farm, and so much more.

Start your day the caffeinated way by touring one of Kona’s coffee farms. Throughout the tours, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about the island’s coffee industry, processing methods, and coffee farming history all while sampling the area’s claim to fame—Kona coffee.

Once you’ve gotten your caffeine intake for the day (or week), grab a bite to eat at a nearby local restaurant or farmer’s market before embarking on your next big adventure. Whether you choose to go hiking, try a surfing lesson, or go on a tour, you’re in for a fun-filled day on the Kilauea-Kona Coast.

A bit of advice: pace yourself.

Have a few definite plans for the day and be flexible with the rest! You don’t want to over-schedule yourself and rush through your vacation.

blue hawaiian helicopter flying over kohala for a tour

Day 5: Choose Your Own Adventure

With one day remaining in your Big Island 5-day itinerary, the choice is up to you. Would you rather relax on the beach and soak up the Hawaii sun before heading home? Or, are you the adventurous type who needs one last adrenaline rush before you go back to your daily routine? No matter what path you choose, you’re bound to have a perfect last day on the island!

Need some last day inspiration? Check out these incredible things to do on the Big Island:

After your last day on the Big Island is complete, head back to your hotel to pack up, get ready for your flight, and reminisce about the past five wonderful days on the island.

Big Island 5-Day Itinerary: Your Guide to the Island

From volcanoes to coffee, make the most of your Big Island vacation with our day-by-day guide.

What activities do you have planned for your upcoming Hawaii trip?

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