Friday, June 21, 2024

4-Day Huge Island Itinerary for Outside Lovers – Bearfoot Principle


The Huge Island of Hawaii actually has no scarcity of unimaginable out of doors adventures. The island is a paradise for anybody who likes to get out in nature, from exploring lush forests and delightful seashores to mountaineering up volcanoes and thru lava tubes.

As a frequent traveler to Hawaii, I’ve spent lots of time exploring the Huge Island and understand it just like the again of my hand. I’ve achieved many Huge Island itineraries and have the news on the greatest locations to see, issues to do, and the way to escape the crowds.

This four-day adventure-packed Huge Island itinerary will take you to a few of the most spectacular websites on the Huge Island together with lively volcanoes, waterfalls, marine life, and extra.

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Huge Island Itinerary at a Look

The Huge Island is understood for its number of unimaginable out of doors adventures, so this Huge Island itinerary is geared towards guests who want to get outdoors and discover. Right here’s what you will note and do:

The place you’ll go to

  • Kealakekua Bay
  • Mauna Kea
  • Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park
  • Punaluʻu Black Sand Seashore
  • Hapuna Seashore
  • Hilo

DAY 1: Kealakekua Bay & Mauna Kea
DAY 2: Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park
DAY 3: Seashore Day & Snorkeling with Manta Rays
DAY 4: Discover Hilo

Day 1: Kealakekua Bay & Mauna Kea

Morning – Snorkeling

Begin your Huge Island itinerary by spending the day at Kealakekua Bay on the Kona facet of the island.

Kealakekua Bay is a protected marine sanctuary and is the greatest spot for snorkeling on the island.

The bay is house to considerable marine life together with spinner dolphins, inexperienced sea turtles, and vibrant coral reefs.

Not solely is the bay nice for snorkeling, however it’s additionally a spot of historic significance. Kealakekua Bay is the place Captain James Cook dinner, the famend British explorer, first set foot on the island in 1778.

Rock slab extending out into Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii
Kealakekua Bay is without doubt one of the greatest locations for snorkeling on the Huge Island

There are 3 ways to get to Kealakekua Bay:

1. Boat tour

The simplest and hottest technique for visiting Kealakekua Bay is by taking a ship tour. The wonderful thing about a ship tour is just not solely will you get to snorkel, however you additionally get to see the colourful volcanic shoreline with sea caves, blow holes, and lava tubes.

Again in 2006, BFT Founder Kristen lived on the Huge Island and labored as a deckhand for Captain Zodiac, one of many Huge Island’s few licensed sustainable tour operators. They’re nonetheless in enterprise at present and supply one of the vital thrilling boat excursions to Kealakakua Bay. On this tour, you’ll be touring on a 16-passenger fast-moving zodiac raft that may get loads nearer to the shoreline than a bigger catamaran. The experience will be very bumpy although, so solely do that should you’re prepared to carry on.

No matter what boat tour you select, most supply snorkels and fins so that you don’t have to fret about bringing your individual.

2. Kayaking

In order for you a extra adventurous option to expertise the bay, contemplate renting kayaks and paddling all the way down to Kealakekua Bay from a close-by launch level.

I like to recommend going with a guided kayaking tour, as permits are obligatory for every kayak that enters the bay.

You too can hire a kayak that has a allow and enterprise out by yourself. Kayak leases can be found on the facet of Freeway 11 and alongside Route 160, the highway that takes you to the bay.

3. Hike the Ka’awaloa Path 

There’s a difficult mountaineering path all the way down to Kealakekua Bay. The path is 3.8 miles roundtrip and is sort of steep. Kristen did this hike usually when she lived on the Huge Island and located it to be nice for train, however I assumed the hike again to the trailhead was fairly exhausting after a few hours of snorkeling.

Nevertheless, should you’re seeking to mix mountaineering and snorkeling, this can be a nice option to spend the day. Get to the trailhead early as parking is restricted. The path travels by way of grasslands with sweeping ocean views, dropping at 1,200 toes as you hike all the way down to the Bay. Simply remember there’s hardly any shade on this hike, and also you’ll have to convey your individual snorkeling gear, reef-safe sunscreen, and loads of water and snacks. Then give your self loads of time to snorkel and for the trek again to your automotive.

Night – Mauna Kea

After a day of snorkeling and spending the afternoon stress-free at your lodge, head as much as the highest of Mauna Kea for sundown.

Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain on this planet when measured from its base on the seafloor, and it towers over the Huge Island’s lovely panorama.

The 13,803 foot summit has a few of the greatest stargazing alternatives on this planet resulting from its excessive elevation and lack of sunshine air pollution. The view from Mauna Kea is an unforgettable expertise!

A four-wheel-drive car is required previous the Customer Heart to the summit. Additionally, cease by the Customer Heart to acclimate earlier than heading to the summit.

For those who don’t really feel like driving, there are numerous tour firms that supply sundown/stargazing excursions as much as Mauna Kea.

It will get chilly on the summit, so convey a heat jacket. If you’re fortunate, you would possibly even see some snow!

Tip: You don’t should hire a 4WD throughout your whole keep on the island. We solely rented one for the day we wanted it for Mauna Kea and it was nicely value the price. We then returned it for a less expensive automotive for the rest of our journey.

View above the clouds from the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii
Catch the sundown from the summit of Mauna Kea – bear in mind to convey heat garments! (Picture: Trysta B)

Day 2: Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park and Punaluʻu Black Sand Seashore

Morning – Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park

Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park is without doubt one of the high issues to do on this Huge Island itinerary. This Nationwide Park is house to 2 lively volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. It’s additionally house to a few of the greatest mountaineering trails in Hawaii and quite a few cultural websites.

I like to recommend beginning your day earlier than dawn to maximise your time within the park, particularly in case you are staying on the Kona facet of the island.

The scenic drive to the park from Kona takes about 1 hour 45 minutes (or 40 minutes from Hilo).

There are a number of issues to do on the park – under is the itinerary we adopted throughout our brief go to. In case you have extra time and are on the lookout for extra hikes, issues to do, and tenting data, head to Bearfoot Principle’s Hawai’i Volcanoes Nationwide Park Journey Information.

The very first thing it’s best to do while you get to the Park is cease by the Guests Heart. There you possibly can study in regards to the newest volcanic exercise, which can dictate what you’re in a position to do within the Park.

Listed below are some concepts for a half day in Volcanoes Nationwide Park

  • Hike to Sulphur Banks from the Customer Heart to see colourful steam deposits and billowing vapors
  • Kīlauea Overlook to look at the magnificent Kīlauea Caldera
  • Steam Vents, that are attributable to the strain of the magma under
  • Thurston Lava Tube, a 500-year-old lava tube fashioned when a scorching river of lava flowed into solidified rock and cooled.
  • Chain of Craters Street
  • Kealakomo Overlook for beautiful ocean views
  • Holei Sea Arch, a formidable lava rock formation.
  • Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs & Mountain climbing Path, a 1.4-mile path that options over 23,000 petroglyphs
Kīlauea Caldera in Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii
Kīlauea Caldera

Bonus possibility: See Kīlauea erupting! If you’re fortunate sufficient to go to throughout an eruption of Kīlauea, we suggest skipping Punaluʻu Black Sand Seashore talked about under and staying on the park till darkish to catch a glimpse of the lava flowing.

Lately, one of the best locations to observe the lava stream have been from Halemaʻumaʻu Crater or Kīlauea Overlook if you could find parking.

Entrance to Thurston Lava Tube at Hawaii Volcano National Park
Don’t miss the Thurston Lava Tube – it’s one of many fundamental sights within the Park (Picture: Trysta B)

Afternoon – Punaluʻu Black Sand Seashore

In case you have time after visiting the Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park, make your option to Punaluʻu Black Sand Seashore, which is positioned about 19 minutes from the Park.

Typically referred to as the “greatest black sand seaside on the Huge Island”, Punaluʻu Seashore is to not be missed in your Huge Island itinerary.

This seaside can also be house to endangered species such because the Hawaiian inexperienced sea turtles, which you’ll usually discover resting right here. Keep in mind to comply with tips and don’t disturb the wildlife.

Man standing on Punalu'u Black Sand Beach in Hawaii
This isn’t lava or rocks he’s standing on – it’s black sand at Punaluʻu Black Sand Seashore (Picture: Trysta B)

Day 3 – Seashore Day and Evening Snorkel with Manta Rays

Morning – Seashore Day

Since yesterday was a busy day, at present can be a bit extra stress-free. That is the right day to go to the seaside, chill, and take in the solar.

We suggest spending the day at Hapuna Seashore alongside the Kohala Coast. This white sand seaside is the biggest white sand seaside on the Huge Island and is without doubt one of the most lovely seashores in Hawaii.

Hapuna Seashore is great for swimming and snorkeling if the waves are calm. Concentrate on shore breaks and robust currents, although, and keep away from swimming if the waves are excessive.

Sun setting over Hapuna Beach in Hawaii
Spend the day stress-free on the lengthy stretch of white sand at Hapuna Seashore

For those who go to from December to March, you would possibly even see some humpback whales within the distance. We bought fortunate and noticed them breach out of the water whereas mendacity on the seaside!

Be aware: There may be an entrance payment of $5 per particular person and parking is $10 per car. Kids underneath three years outdated enter free of charge. The parking payment put us off throughout our first go to right here, however it was value it!

An alternative choice is to spend the day at Kua Bay, a pristine paradise with a white sand seaside simply north of Kona.

The water is crystal clear and excellent for swimming and snorkeling when the waves are calm.

The seaside has no shade, although, so convey a solar shade and reef-safe sunscreen. Parking is free and there’s no entrance payment.

Turqoise waters of Kua Bay on Hawaii's big island lined with volcanic rock
Kua Bay

Night – Evening Snorkel with Manta Rays

Right this moment you’ll finish your day with a rare expertise: snorkeling (or SCUBA Diving) with manta rays in Kona!

Not many locations on this planet supply this expertise, however fortunately the Huge Island does. This once-in-a-lifetime journey will take you into the open ocean to observe these majestic creatures feed on plankton underneath the starry evening sky.

Vibrant lights are illuminated within the space, creating an otherworldly scene as these light giants glide gracefully by way of the water. It’s a surreal encounter that may go away you in awe of the pure wonders that the ocean holds.

If there’s one tour it’s best to splurge on throughout your journey to the Huge Island, that is it! We’ve snorkeled with mantas on The Huge Island twice and wouldn’t hesitate to do it once more. The guides are very educated and respectful and the expertise is unforgettable.

scuba divers sitting on the ocean floor at night with flashlights as manta ray swims above their heads on the big island of hawaii
You’ll be able to snorkel or SCUBA dive with the manta rays at evening on the Huge Island

We suggest reserving with Sea Paradise, Kona Ocean Adventures, or Hawaii Oceanic. We went with Sea Paradise and the expertise was wonderful. We extremely suggest them!

Manta rays are a protected species in Hawaii, so respect their habitat and comply with all related security tips.

Be aware: Lately, swimming with manta rays has turn into more and more in style. There aren’t any security or sustainability greatest practices in place, which has led Hawaii Ocean Watch to not contemplate it an eco-friendly exercise anymore.

Day 4: Discover Hilo

On the ultimate day of your Huge Island itinerary, you’ll discover the town of Hilo. Located on the jap facet of the Huge Island, this charming city is understood for its lush rainforests and small-town vibes.

We suggest grabbing breakfast in Kona and venturing to Hilo. Whereas the drive is 1 hour and half-hour, it’s scenic and peaceable. I’ve achieved this drive quite a few occasions, and it’s all the time a spotlight of my journey!

Listed below are a couple of stops and adventures I like to recommend whereas visiting Hilo:

Rainbow Falls

Begin your day with a go to to Rainbow Falls the place you possibly can view an 80-foot-tall waterfall cascading right into a pool under.

The waterfall will get its identify from the rainbows that always seem within the mist when the solar’s rays hit the water.

The Falls will be simply accessed because it’s positioned a couple of steps from the car parking zone.

Be aware: swimming is now not allowed resulting from security causes. Throughout our final go to, we noticed some folks trying to leap into the pool under the falls, however don’t be tempted to take action because it’s extraordinarily harmful. The indicators preserve everybody protected and we urge you to respect them.

Rainbow Falls on the Big Island in Hawaii
Begin your go to to Hilo with a cease at Rainbow Falls – search for the prism that always seems within the mist! (Picture: Trysta B)

Akaka Falls

Take a brief 6-minute drive from Rainbow Falls to the beautiful Akaka Falls State Park.

Right here you’ll discover two of Hawaii’s most iconic waterfalls: Kahuna and Akaka.

Kahuna is a 100-foot waterfall that tumbles over a sheer cliff face, whereas Akaka Falls is a robust 442-foot waterfall that drops right into a stream-eroded gorge. Most individuals normally come right here to see Akaka Falls, however because you’re already there, you would possibly as nicely take a look at each!

The falls will be accessed by way of a brief and simple 0.4-mile loop path. The paved route consists of a number of steps however is well-maintained and simple to navigate.

Swimming can also be not allowed right here, however the views from the overlooks are unimaginable and definitely worth the go to.

Akaka Falls outside of Hilo, Hawaii
Akaka Falls cascades 440 toes right into a deep pool at its base

Pe’e Pe’e Falls

The final waterfall to go to at present is Pe’e Pe’e Falls, positioned a brief 9-minute drive away from Akaka Falls.

This hidden gem is without doubt one of the lesser-known waterfalls on the Huge Island, however it’s nicely value a go to in case you are within the space and have a while. These falls are fed by the Wailuku River, which additionally feeds Rainbow Falls.

Sadly, mountaineering all the way down to the waterfall and pool is now not permitted resulting from security considerations. Nevertheless, you possibly can nonetheless observe a partial view of the waterfall from a lookout level close to the parking space.

Pee Pee Falls on the Big Island of Hawaii
Pe’e Pe’e Falls isn’t as nicely generally known as the opposite waterfalls round Hilo (Picture: Trysta B)

Kaumana Caves

Earlier than you head again to Kona, make a cease at Kaumana Caves. Positioned simply 6 minutes away from Pe’e Pe’e Falls, the caves are an unimaginable lava tube cave system and one of the vital distinctive sights on the Huge Island.

The caves had been created by a stream of lava from Mauna Loa in 1880 and are a part of a 25-mile-long lava tube. Right this moment, guests can discover the caves and their tunnels extending greater than two miles.

Keep in mind to convey a headlamp, good sneakers, and loads of water. The cave is perhaps muddy and slippery in spots, so watch out whereas exploring.

As a word, there are many mosquitos right here. I all the time convey some insect repellent to keep away from bites. However don’t let that deter you from visiting! The beautiful pure formations within the caves are nicely definitely worth the minor inconvenience of mosquitos.

These caves are additionally a part of the primary purpose I am going to the Hilo facet of the island.

Entrance to Kaumana Caves in near Hilo, Hawaii
The Kaumana Caves had been fashioned by molten lava over 100 years in the past – don’t miss them! (Picture: Trysta B)

Downtown Hilo for Meals

Lastly, seize a chunk to eat in downtown Hilo earlier than driving again to Kona. This charming city is stuffed with nice eating places and cafes that supply scrumptious native and worldwide delicacies. That is all the time our final cease on our Hilo highway journey, and it by no means disappoints.

For contemporary seafood, try Seaside Restaurant, Moon and Turtle, or Pineapple’s Island Recent Delicacies. Our high favourite restaurant is Seaside Restaurant – we extremely suggest the teriyaki butterfish and the fried aholehole. Each had been scrumptious and cooked to perfection.

For those who’re on the lookout for one thing extra informal, head to Jackie Rey’s Ohana Grill, Cafe Pesto, or Ken’s Home of Pancakes. For those who love breakfast as a lot as we do, pancakes at Ken’s Home of Pancakes are a must-try!

For a fast chunk to eat, Hilo Bay Cafe and Hawaiian Fashion Cafe are our favorites. Hilo Bay Cafe has a few of the greatest views on the town and Hawaiian Fashion Cafe is understood for its scrumptious pancakes, steak and eggs, and vegetarian choices.

For a scrumptious vegan Vietnamese impressed meal, head to the Vegan Store.

And, after all, a visit to Hilo isn’t full and not using a go to to Two Women Kitchen for a few of the greatest mochi on the island. Whereas we all the time have to attend in line, it’s all the time value it for his or her contemporary and flavorful mochi.


Attending to the Huge Island

The Huge Island has two fundamental airports: Kona Worldwide Airport to the west and Hilo Worldwide Airport to the east.

I flew into the Kona Worldwide Airport since most flights arrive there. Kona can also be the place most guests keep whereas exploring the island.

Because the Huge Island is “large” (therefore the identify), renting a automotive in your keep is greatest. This gives you the liberty to discover the island and expertise all that it has to supply.

Rental vehicles will be picked up on the Kona airport. You’ll undoubtedly need to e book forward, although.


Huge Island Climate

The climate on the Huge Island of Hawaii is as various as its terrain, creating a singular expertise in contrast to another island.

Some areas obtain no rainfall all year long, leading to dry landscapes, whereas locations like Hilo and Puna are identified for constant rain, making the east facet of the island extra lush.

The moist climate on the east coast is the primary purpose most vacationers keep in Kona in comparison with Hilo. Kona has extra sunny days, whereas Hilo will get extra rain.

The island maintains a heat tropical local weather year-round, with coastal areas averaging temperatures between 75-85°F within the winter and summer time. Nevertheless, larger elevations like Mauna Kea, Waimea, and sure inland areas will be cooler.

The summits of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Hualālai will be chilly since they’re above 10,000 toes excessive. You should definitely pack heat layers should you plan to journey up any of those mountains.

We’ve visited the Huge Island a number of occasions throughout the winter and summer time months and might attest that the climate is heat and pleasurable all yr spherical.

Whereas it would rain extra within the winter, it usually passes shortly, and you may nonetheless benefit from the solar for many of the day.

Planning a visit to Hawaii? Use these posts to ensure you benefit from your time in paradise:

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What questions do you’ve got about this Huge Island itinerary? For those who’ve visited, what else would you add? Depart a remark under!



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