top of page

The Island of Hawaiʻi: A 4-Day Itinerary

Updated: Jun 1



Hawai'i, also known as "The Big Island," is the largest of the Hawaiian Islands and is home to lush rainforests, active volcanoes, colored sand beaches, dramatic waterfalls, and more. While less visited than its neighbor Oahu, Hawai'i offers a more quiet experience for those seeking to escape the crowds.


In April 2023, my family and I visited Hawai'i for the first time. Watch this video for my travel guide, or keep reading for our 4-day itinerary.


Our 4-Day Itinerary in Hawai'i

Day 0:

Izakaya Shiono Kona: After flying into Kona International Airport and settling into our Airbnb, we had dinner at Izakaya Shiono Kona—a local Japanese restaurant. End your meal with their green tea ice cream with mochi and red beans!


Dessert at Izakaya Shiono Kona
Dessert at Izakaya Shiono Kona

Day 1:

808 Grindz Cafe: Begin your first day with a filling, Hawaiian breakfast at 808 Grindz Cafe—a neighborhood favorite.


Hawaiian breakfast at 808 Grindz Cafe
Breakfast at 808 Grindz Cafe

Manini'owali Beach: Manini'owali Beach is a white sand beach with clear, turquoise water. Explore the area to spot some wild goats!


Manini'owali Beach
Manini'owali Beach

Wild goats near Manini'owali Beach
Wild goats near Manini'owali Beach

Lilinoe Fruit Stand: On the way to Waipiʻo Valley Lookout, stop by Lilinoe Fruit Stand which offers a variety of tropical fruits.


Tropical fruits at Lilinoe Fruit Stand
Lilinoe Fruit Stand

Lilinoe Fruit Stand
Lilinoe Fruit Stand

Waipiʻo Valley Lookout: Waipiʻo Valley Lookout is an overlook with a bird's-eye view of Waipiʻo Valley—a historic site known as "The Valley of the Kings." You'll find several adorable cats roaming the area.


Overlook at Waipiʻo Valley Lookout
Waipiʻo Valley Lookout

Cats at Waipiʻo Valley Lookout
Cats at Waipiʻo Valley Lookout

ʻAkaka Falls State Park: An easy, 0.5-mile loop trail will take you through a tropical rainforest to the dramatic, 442-ft. ʻAkaka Falls cascading into a gorge.


ʻAkaka Falls State Park
ʻAkaka Falls

Rainbow Falls: Rainbow Falls is an 80-ft. waterfall that cascades over a lava cave and into the Wailuku River. The falls are easily accessible—the overlook to the falls is steps away from the parking lot.


Rainbow Falls in Hilo
Rainbow Falls

Kula Shave Ice: Stop by Kula Shave Ice to enjoy Hawaiian shave ice after an afternoon exploring!


Kula Shave Ice in Hilo
Kula Shave Ice

Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens: Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens is the perfect place to enjoy a walk—this 24-acre Japanese garden overlooks Hilo Bay and features fishponds, pagodas, bridges, rock gardens, and more!


Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens in Hilo
Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens

Foodland Kea`au: Foodland is a supermarket chain with stores throughout the island—stop by to try their fresh poke.


Day 2:

Tin Shack Bakery: Start your morning with breakfast at Tin Shack Bakery—you'll find both tourists and locals at this open-air café.


Tin Shack Bakery in Pahoa
Tin Shack Bakery

Makuʻu Point: Visiting Makuʻu Point was one of my favorite memories from our trip as we had the place (almost) to ourselves. Located off the beaten path, Makuʻu Point features a shoreline with groves of trees and moss-covered lava rocks.


Makuʻu Point
Makuʻu Point

Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park: Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is home to two of the world's most active volcanoes—Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. The park spans over 340,000 acres with an abundance of sights to see. If you only have one day to explore the park, I recommend visiting the following:


Steam Vents: See and feel hot vapor from Steam Vents as they rise from cracks in the ground, created by water seeping down to rocks heated by magma deep underground.

Kīlauea Overlook: Kīlauea Overlook offers panoramic views of the Kīlauea caldera and Halemaʻumaʻu crater, which according to the National Park Service grew from 280 ft. deep to 1,600 ft. deep and doubled in diameter after the 2018 eruption of the Kīlauea volcano.

Chain of Craters Road: Take a scenic drive on the Chain of Craters Road—a 19-mile long, paved road that ribbons through expansive craters and alongside the coast.

Thurston Lava Tube: Thurston Lava Tube was the highlight of our park visit. Walk through a tropical rainforest to enter the lava tube—which was formed over 500 years ago by flowing lava.

Hōlei Sea Arch: Hōlei Sea Arch is a 90-ft. arch that extends from steep sea cliffs into the Pacific Ocean—the arch was also formed by flowing lava.


Steam Vents at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Steam Vents

Kīlauea Overlook at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Kīlauea Overlook

Chain of Craters Road at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Chain of Craters Road

Thurston Lava Tube at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Thurston Lava Tube

Thurston Lava Tube at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Thurston Lava Tube

Hōlei Sea Arch at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Hōlei Sea Arch

Punaluʻu Beach: After exploring the park, relax at Punaluʻu Beach—a black sand beach formed by lava flowing into the ocean.


Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach
Punaluʻu Beach

Teshima's Restaurant: End the day with Japanese comfort food at Teshima's Restaurant—a family-owned restaurant that has been running since 1929.


Teshima's Restaurant
Teshima's Restaurant

Dinner at Teshima's Restaurant
Dinner at Teshima's Restaurant

Dinner at Teshima's Restaurant
Dinner at Teshima's Restaurant

Day 3:

Kona Mountain Coffee: Begin your morning at Kona Mountain Coffee—their coffee is sourced directly from their farm on the Big Island!


Kona Mountain Coffee on the Big Island
Kona Mountain Coffee

Kona Glass Bottom Boat: Cruise along Kailua Bay on a narrated tour with Kona Glass Bottom Boat, where you can see the coral reef below in a glass bottom boat.


Kona Glass Bottom Boat Tour
Kona Glass Bottom Boat

Gecko Girlz Shave Ice: After the boat ride, grab Hawaiian shave ice at Gecko Girlz Shave Ice. Don't forget to add on their mochi, which was delicious!


Gecko Girlz Shave Ice on the Big Island
Gecko Girlz Shave Ice

Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park: Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park is one of Hawaiʻi's most important historic sites—it served as a sanctuary and place of refuge for those who violated "kapu" (ancient laws). Enjoy a walk and self-guided tour through the grounds, where plenty of resources are available onsite to learn about Hawaiian history in this area.


Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park
Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park

Broke Da Mouth Grindz: One of our favorite meals during the trip was from Broke Da Mouth Grindz—a takeout-only restaurant offering generous portions of Hawaiian dishes. I recommend trying their garlic furikake chicken and garlic butter shrimp rice plates, which were so good!


Garlic furikake chicken at Broke Da Mouth Grindz
Garlic furikake chicken at Broke Da Mouth Grindz

Garlic butter shrimp at Broke Da Mouth Grindz
Garlic butter shrimp at Broke Da Mouth Grindz

Day 4:

Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park: Visit Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park to learn how early Hawaiian settlement survived on the island. Exploring this park was the perfect way to wrap up our last day in Hawaiʻi as we spotted several sea turtles along the Aiopio Fishtrap.


Halau Wa`a (canoe house) at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park
Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park

Sea turtle at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park
Sea turtle at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park

Ali’i Poke: Before heading back home, grab one last bowl of poke at Ali’i Poke. I recommend trying their spicy tuna poke bowl!


Ali’i Poke
Ali’i Poke

43 views

Comments


bottom of page