The Big Island on Hawaii is absolutely gorgeous, and as the name itself suggests, quite large. You’re not going to see absolutely everything in a week, but this 1 week itinerary on the Big Island Hawaii is a good place to start. We personally based ourselves in Kailua-Kona for the week and LOVED it, but you can also road trip around the island and have different home bases each night…all a matter of personal preference! Using Kona as a base and doing day trips from there allowed us to see the beaches, volcanoes, and waterfalls, so I definitely recommend it!
Day 1 | Snorkel Kealakekua Bay
Welcome to Kona! On your first day, you’ll snorkel Kealakekua Bay, which had some of the most beautiful snorkeling I’ve seen. Honestly, Hawaii’s underwater life blew my mind, and I’d recommend getting in as much snorkel time as possible. Even if you don’t get out on a boat, there are a handful of spots near Kona where you can snorkel off the beach. Be careful for sharks though! One snuck up on me while I was swimming…pretty sure I swam out of the water faster than Michael Phelps. I don’t know what kind it was, but I was taking no chances!
Day 2 | Bike Down a Volcano
Your 1 week itinerary on Big Island Hawaii obviously has to include some kind of volcano exploration. I did a volcano bike tour and it was legit! Aside from some minor issue where my bike seat got detached and started spinning in circles, we all made it out alive. Exploring the Kilauea Volcano by bike is obviously way cooler than by car though, so it’s worth the risk! While you’re checking out the volcano, make sure to hit up the Thurston Lava Tubes and the lava cliffs…they’re pretty freaking awesome.
If you’re not big into biking, consider taking a helicopter tour over Hawaii’s volcanoes and waterfalls, where you can actually see the activity from up above! I’m dying to do this, so I know I’ll be back one day to check it out!
Day 3 | Sail & Snorkel
After a tough day of volcano exploration, pencil in some time for a nice sail & snorkel expedition. Take my advice when I say you 100% need to get out on a sailboat while you’re visiting Hawaii. Bonus points if you go cruising on a catamaran and you can nap on those rope nets up front! Sip on the tasty punch and enjoy all of the underwater sea creatures you’ll meet!
Day 4 | Lounge on Hapuna beach & Luau
Hapuna Beach is an easy drive from Kona and an absolutely gorgeous beach. After some quality adventure time around Hawaii, make sure to give yourself a chill day to read your book in the sun and frolic in the waves. Plus, you’re going to want to save up your energy for the evening luau! You can’t go to Hawaii and not do a luau, so put on your hulu skirt and get ready to eat a LOT of food.
Day 5 | Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens & Akaka Falls State Park
If you’re anything like me, you probably ate way too much at the luau, so day 5 is a good day to do some hiking. Head over to Hilo and explore the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens, which have SOOOO many colorful flowers…I couldn’t stop taking pictures of them. Also make sure to swing my Onomea Bay for a gorgeous photo op, and finish up your day hiking around Akaka Falls State Park. The park has beautiful waterfalls and are worth walking up and down every step!
If you have some extra time, consider doing this downtown Hilo and Botanical Gardens tour. It includes the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens I mentioned above, but also take you through Hilo’s downtown, plus to gorgeous waterfalls, beaches, and even a macadamia nut factory!
Day 6 | La’Aloa Beach & Downtown Kona
La’Aloa Beach is another must-do if you’re staying in Kona; head over there for a few hours for some more rest & relaxation. Make sure to reserve some time to explore downtown Kona. There’s plenty of great shopping, dining, and drinking. For the beer lovers, check out Kona Brewing Company…I love their beers! I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want to drink a beer called “Big Wave Golden Ale?” It just sounds so relaxing!
Day 7 | Up to You!
Alright, I’m leaving the last day up to you. I’m personally a HUGE fan of snorkeling, so that’s what I did with my day, but I wanted to give you some other options to consider in and around Kona. The Big Island Hawaii is known for adventure activities, so a few ideas for you are an ATV tour, ziplining, stand-up paddle boarding , or a manta ray night snorkel. This looked super cool, and is definitely on my bucket list for next time! Another suggestion would be Mauna Kea stargazing, which gives you a sunset view from the top of Mauna Kea, and then epic stargazing with a hot chocolate in hand. If you have a whole extra day on the Big Island Hawaii, consider taking a day trip to Pearl Harbor on Oahu. Again, this is something I desperately want to do next time to get a good taste of the history.
Cheap Flights to Kona: I’d recommend checking out Momondo. They scan tons of different travel discount sites and let you filter by cheapest, best, and shortest. After landing, pick up your car rental and drive the short distance to downtown Kona.
Car Rentals on Big Island Hawaii: As far as rental cars go, you can’t go wrong with CarRentals.com . They pull from a number of different car companies, and definitely provide good deals. If you’re looking for a luxury rental (imagine cruising in a plush convertible, wind whipping through your hair), try Sixt –they provide some legit deals on premium and luxury rentals!
Where to Stay in Kona: If you’re traveling with friends or family, your best bet is to do an Airbnb. (Use my link for savings on your first stay!) This is what we opted to do and had insanely beautiful sunset views from our porch each evening. Plus, you could wake up and watch the surfers from your living room! For hotels, check out the Holualoa Inn, which showcases beautiful rooms and world class service. Another great option is to look into bed & breakfasts; Lilikoi Inn is perfect for a romantic getaway!
And there you have it, a 1 week itinerary on the Big Island Hawaii that will show you the best of volcanoes, beaches, snorkeling, and so much more! Have you been to Big Island Hawaii? What else would you add to the itinerary?
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