Hawaii Big Island Itinerary

Hawaii Big Island Itinerary

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Happy Spring, TOBIQ Travelers! It's finally time for warmer weather and spring break getaways! Have you found yourself daydreaming about an island filled with colorful sandy beaches, lush rainforests, and, um...occasionally active lava fields? Yep, we're right there with you! Let's shake off the winter chill with this family-friendly Hawaii Big Island itinerary submitted by fellow TOBIQ traveler, Debbie Tanner.


Day 1: Morning flight from Honolulu to Kona, South Point, Green Sand Beach

Day 2: Volcanoes National Park (Steam Vents, Sulphur Banks, Crater Rim Drive, Thurston Lava TubeJaggar Museum & Lookout

Day 3: Rainbow FallsBoiling Pots & Pe'epe'e Falls, Kalapana Lava Fields

Day 4: Punalu'u Bakery, Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, Big Island Candies 

Day 5: Akaka Falls, drive to Kona, *Manta Ray Snorkel Excursion

Day 6: Hapuna Beach, Kona Hawaii LDS Temple, *Manta Ray Snorkel Excursion

Day 7: Pu'uhonua O Honaunau (Place of Refuge), Kailua-Kona town/Ali'i Drive, Resort pool/resturants

Day 8: Kayaking Kamakahonu & Kailua Bay, Waipi'o Valley Lookout, flight from Kona to Honolulu

*Our kids were too young to go on this tour. My husband and I booked separate evening tours so one of us could stay behind with our kids.

Why did you choose to visit the Big Island of Hawaii? At the time, our family was living on Oahu during my husband's residency. I made a goal to visit all 6 of the Hawaiian islands open to tourists while we were there. Big Island looked family-friendly, so we took the whole family and hoped we'd get to explore as much as possible. It didn't disappoint!

How many people were in your group? Four total. Two parents and two kids, ages 2 & 3 at the time.

What best describes your travel style (i.e. foodie, sightseer, athletic adventurer, resort relaxer)? I'm a go-go-go kind of traveler. I make a list of all the things I want to experience and I do my best to see and do all of them! We only slow down and spend time at the resort if we or the kids feel burned out after all the adventuring!

When did you visit the Big Island? December 2017

What modes of transportation did you use? We flew round-trip with Hawaiian Airlines from Honolulu to Kona Airport. We rented a car so we could drive all over the island.

Where did you stay for lodging? Kilauea Military Camp in Volcanoes National Park and Courtyard Marriott King Kamehameha Hotel in Kailua-Kona.

Favorite restaurants or places to eat? Volcano House for good food and memorable views when there is active lava in the caldera. Ken's Pancake House in Hilo (we went twice) for their friendly servers and specialty pancake syrups (yum, lilikoi). Ululani Shave Ice - we went more than once, haha!

Which activity, tour, site, or place is a MUST in your opinion? If the lava is flowing, DO NOT MISS IT! It is truly a wonder of the world to witness new land being "born." The lava lake in the caldera sounded like distant ocean waves, and when the fresh-flowing lava hit the cooled lava crust in the lava fields, it sounded like Pop Rocks! And yes, it's hot (like, nearly melt the bottom of your shoe hot) when you get close. I was in awe any time I was near it.

Anything you wish you'd known sooner or would do differently if you went back? We were feeling a little road weary with small kids by the end of our trip, so we didn't really make it up to the northern tip of the island and I had hoped to see more of it. I would also want to try the scuba manta ray tour instead of the snorkel tour.

Favorite memory or takeaway from the trip? Standing next to flowing lava blew my mind and the memory of hiking miles out and back with our kids and sharing that awesome moment as a family felt surreal. Conditions had to be just about perfect for that moment to happen, and I'm so grateful it worked out. Also, the green sand beach is not overwhelmingly green - but our local tour guides took us to a more private area with a higher concentration of olivine. It was really green, and we also saw blue "sand" embedded in the rocks. It was such a cool little area we otherwise wouldn't have seen.

Any advice for other travelers heading to the Big Island? Big Island really is BIG. It takes hours to drive around, or drive across from Hilo to Kona. Make sure you factor drive time into your daily plans. Also, local rules often change when it comes to popular tourist areas. What was okay to do in 2017 may not be okay to do now. Always check up on the local laws and regulations for specific activities or sites you plan to visit.

Most important item to pack? Good shoes if you plan to hike in the lava fields, and good road trip snacks!

Anything else you'd like to share? I really valued the interactions we had with other travelers. We joined up with another small group as we hiked back in the dark in the lava field and they happily joined in singing Christmas songs with my kids. One lady shared her band-aids with my son when he scraped his knee at Rainbow Falls. The waitress at Ken's Pancake House gave our boys Christmas stockings and stickers. A guy at the black sand beach pointed out a hidden sea turtle so that the kids could see it. I love those moment of kindness and the temporary sense of community we build as we share magical moments together with fellow travelers. I hope my Hawaii Big Island itinerary helps others plan an unforgettable trip!

For a trip to the Big Island, our TOBIQ recommendation is the 60L Washable Travel Duffel - in Pacific of course! Match those Hawaiian blues and keep your snacks, swimsuits, clothes, and toiletry items organized on the road. Aloha!

Pacific 60L

Pacific 60L


Introducing Our Original TOBIQ Travel Bag! Crafted from durable recycled polyester, our Original TOBIQ Travel Bag is the ultimate companion for your adventures. With a generous 60L capacity, this duffel is cleverly divided into four equal compartments, each equipped with… read more

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