Hawaii Island is the youngest but the biggest island of the Hawaiian Archipelago, and is therefore know as the “Big Island.” With less than six days, we managed to drive all the way around it after arriving on the Kona side and leaving from the Hilo side. We barely managed to experienced a little bit of everything.
The Kona side is known for coffee, resorts, and snorkeling. After arriving at the Kona International Airport we found ourselves driving through open roads with nothing but ocean and volcanic rocks. Are we really in Hawaii? On the other side, Hilo felt like a completely different island. We suddenly started driving through lush rain forests (where it rained…a lot), small quiet towns and access to active volcanos.
We rented a car with Dollar Car Rental where we paid an additional fee to be able drop off the car in Hilo instead of in Kona (where we got the car). Below is our 5 night 6 day Big Island itinerary. This was part 2 of our trip to Hawaii, we flew to the Hawaii Island aka the Big Island from Oahu. Check out My Oahu Hawaii Itinerary.
Hawaii Big Island:
August 29, 2014 to September 3, 2014
Day 1: OAHU to BIG ISLAND (Kona side) = DAY 4: OAHU
Even with a short flight to the Big Island, we managed to pack a full day in on the Big Island. After waiting in a long line to get our rental car (I realized that I should have enrolled for “Express” where I can just pick up the keys and go), we headed south from the airport. We were originally searching for Kahalu’u Beach to see some turtles, but we somehow stumbled upon La’aloa Bay Beach Park instead. We stayed for some fresh air and pictures to kill time. We were waiting for coffee farms to open. We joined a free tour at Greenwell Coffee Farm and then back tracked Da Poke Shack for brunch. Before finally checking in our hotel, we stopped by Costco to stock up on food, water, etc. That evening we joined the rest of our family for the rehearsal dinner/picnic at the beach.
- Arrive at Kona International Airport (KOA) at 7:15am
- La’aloa Bay Beach Park
- Greenwell Coffee Farm
- Brunch: Da Poke Shack
- Hotel/Resort: Paniolo Greens Resort
- Hapuna Beach
Day 2: BIG ISLAND (Kona side)
This was the day of the wedding, and we decided to take it easy. We had a late breakfast at Pine Tree Cafe (recommended on Yelp) and then went snorkeling at Kahalu’u Beach Park and then just spent the afternoon at our hotel and getting ready to attend my cousins wedding at Hilton Waikoloa Village.
Day 3: BIG ISLAND – Road Trip from Kona Side to Hilo Side
We checkout out of our condo on the Kona side and started our road trip to the Hilo Side of course not before stocking up at Costco again. The longest leg of the drive was from Costco to South Point where we drove through some interesting (maybe dangerous) roads. After making it to South Point we started heading north to Punalu’u for some malasadas and to see sea turtles at Black Sand Beach. We were aiming to make it to the apartment we booked via VRBO.com by 4:00pm, but because we made one more detour through Onomea Scenic Drive, we got our apartment at 4:05pm and had to call our contact to help us get the key from the lock box instead. After a long road trip, we called it a night in the quiet town of Honomu (near Akaka Falls).
- Breakfast: Island Lava Java Bake & Brew Bistro
- South Point
- Punalu’u Bake Shop Inc.
- Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
- Onomea Scenic Drive
- Condo/Apartment in Honomu
Day 4: BIG ISLAND – Driving back to Kona
After spending a whole day driving to the Hilo side of the Big Island, we drove back to the Kona side – this time taking the shorter route and completing the whole circle around the island. We started the day by heading to the Tropical Botanical Garden first. We then started heading towards Kona, of course no without a quick detour at the Waipi’o Valley Lookout. We skipped Tex Drive-In because 1) I’m paranoid of missing our pick up time in Kona and 2) We were disappointed in the malasadas we had the previous day. We made it to Queens Market Place in Waikoloa Village with plenty of time to pick up snacks and shop before heading on our Mauna Kea Summit Tour. Of course we also had a long drive back to our place in Honomu (on the Hilo side) and getting home at about 1:00 am.
- Onomea Scenic Drive
- Tropical Botanical Garden
- Lunch: What’s Shakin’
- Waipi’o Valley Lookout
- Queens Market Place
- Mauna Kea Summit Tour
Day 5: BIG ISLAND (Hilo side)
Day 8 was our last full day in Hawaii, and with that we finally made it to Akaka Falls just down the street from our apartment (3 miles down the street) and Volcano National Park to see an active volcano. There is so much to do at Volcano Park. We went to the Visitors Center where a park ranger helped up pick a few things to do and see: Thurston Lava Tube, Chain of Craters Road, and the Thomas A. Jagger Museum. We picked up food before heading into Volcano National Park, to eat inside the park.
- Akaka Falls
- Lunch: Poke To Your Taste
- Volcano Park: Visitors Center
- Volcano Park: Thurston Lava Tube
- Volcano Park: Chain of Craters Road
- Volcano Park: Thomas A. Jagger Museum
Day 6: BIG ISLAND to San Diego
Our last day in Hawaii was a full day dedicated to airports and airplanes. After checking out of our apartment and returning our rental car (so much easier in Hilo since we didn’t need to take a shuttle) we were once again at the airport super early and even watched an earlier flight board and depart. It actually got a little complicating when I couldn’t take my carry on with me and had it check-in at the gate. I had to go out to get my carry-on in Honolulu (meaning I had to go back in though security afterwards), and I almost lost my bag because it didn’t have the proper tags? and airport staff was taking it to lost luggages. Luckily my sister spotted him with my red luggage and we chased after him. We had lunch at the airport and picked up some last minute snacks and souvenirs. We were in San Diego by 10pm.
- 10:21am flight to Honolulu
- Layover in Honolulu
- 2:15pm flight to San Diego