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The Big Island, Hawaii in 8 Days

Guest post by kestrovich

Map tips: Each color represents a different day. Click a marker to learn more about the spot, and click the star in the map header to save the entire map under Your Places in Google Maps.

Day 1

  • Kekaha Kai Beach Park
  • Hāpuna Beach State Park

Flew into Kona late morning and got our rental car, were staying 2 nights at the Sheraton Kona. Had lunch at Da Poke Shack and just had a beach day. Kekaha Kai is right by the airport, then drove about 30 minutes to Hapuna.

Day 2

  • Ali’i Drive
  • Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation
  • Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park
  • Honomalino Bay

We went up and down the west coast this day. The highlight was snorkeling at Pu’uhonua – great for beginners and experts alike. Teeming with fish and turtles. Drove back up to Sheraton.

Day 3

  • Papakōlea Green Sand Beach
  • Punaluu Black Sand Beach
  • Kalapana

Explored the south shore and worked our way east. Left our hotel for Papakolea Beach, which was about an hour and a half drive. It was ncredible! I’d love to go back here and just sit on this beach for a full day. Once you reach the parking lot, you need to either hike (2 hours I think), or, there are guys with 4WD vehicles that know the terrain and can drive you for $15/each round trip (I believe). We did that. It was well worth it. We have a picture of us in front of this beach blown up into a big 3 panel canvas on our living room wall. Punaluu was about 45 minutes further and it’s another beautiful beach with huge green sea turtles. We then drove another hour and a half to see the lava from Kalapana. The last entry is at 8pm, make sure you have sneakers, pants, and a flashlight.

Day 4

  • Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
  • Kīlauea Iki Trailhead
  • Thurston Lava Tube
  • Steam Vents

This was a good day spent pretty much all in the southeast. We hiked the Kiluea Iki Trail – our one hike in Hawaii – it’s half through a “rainforest” which was not so impressive, and half across the crater floor, which was very different and unique. The Lava Tube was very cool, the Steam Vents were interesting, and the Jaggar Museum is (I believe) where we went to see the glow of the magma from the crater as the sun set. Try to get there before sunset and you can slowly see a red glow appearing from the crater where the steam is coming from. Ahalanui is a gorgeous beach spot, just chill on the big lava rocks watching the waves. We went into the hot springs which was nice and warm. Drove to Hilo, which is about an hour north of Ahalanui. Note: Jaggar Museum and Ahalanui are now closed due to the eruptions.

Day 5

  • Hilo Farmers Market
  • Akaka Falls State Park

More of a relaxing day, started out at the farmer’s market and then drove about a half hour north to Akaka Falls. It’s beautiful, must-see if you’re in the area.

Day 6: Waipio Valley

We were beginning to work our way north and back around the island to Kona. Spent the day on ATVs riding the ridges and through the Waipi’o Valley, which is basically at the northern tip of the island. There is beauty in every direction, waterfalls and peaks/valleys – highly recommend this and bring swimwear. Afterwards, drove another hour west to stay at Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows.

Day 7

  • The Shops at Mauna Lani
  • Mauna Kea Beach
  • Makalawena Beach

Spent some time at The Shops at Mauna Lani, which is very close to our hotel. Went to Mauna Kea which was less than 15 minutes back east. Another beautiful Hawaii beach.

Day 8: Mauna Lani Hotel

Just spent around the hotel and beach relaxing, good way to end the trip. Flew home out of Kona (45 minute drive) the next morning.

Traveled in January 2014

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