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Perfect 3-Day Hawai‘i Island Itinerary

Hawaii Island

Hawai‘i Island offers so much to see and do that the hardest part about your trip is figuring your limited itinerary. Three days on Hawai‘i Island is hardly enough to cover this fascinating island’s entire grounds — it’s so large, you can fit all of the main Hawaiian Islands inside of it. Therefore, you must choose wisely when it comes to arranging your schedule.

Day One Itinerary

You might not feel like hitting the ground running on your first day so it’s best to plan for some beachside relaxation. You’re likely staying in Kailua-Kona located on the westside of the island, as this is the most popular visitor destination. In that case, check out any number of the beaches nearby like Kahalu‘u Beach Park and grab some snorkeling gear on your way. The underwater world surrounding Hawai‘i Island is unlike any other. The vibrant colors of coral and fish are a testament to the island’s “young” birth date of about one million years (compared to Kaua‘i, which is about five million years old).

Some suggestions for renting gear or embarking on a snorkeling tour are Snorkel Bob’s or Boss Frog’s.

Afterwards, take a stroll through Kailua-Kona town along Ali‘i Drive and enjoy gorgeous ocean vistas. Stop by local shops and admire historical landmarks like Hulihe‘e Palace.

If you’re staying in Hilo, there are many relaxing ways to spend your day here as well. Take a short trip to see the more than 400-foot tall Akaka Falls and drive along the scenic 4-mile Pepe‘ekeo (Onomea) road that traverses through tree tunnels and wraps around a glorious coast. End your day with a sunset stroll through Lili‘uokalani Park and Gardens, a lovely Japanese garden dripping in banyan trees and adorned with seaside views.

Day Two

Hawai‘i Island is the only island in the state that hasn’t stopped expanding. Pele, Hawai‘i’s fire goddess, still churns at Kīlauea volcano, which has attracted awestruck visitors for decades. Though you can’t predict when or where lava will be visible on any given day, making a trip to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, is highly recommended. Spend an entire day in the park’s moon-like landscape trekking across solidified lava and gawking at Halemaumau crater where a lava lake constantly swirls. Or, catch a helicopter flight and gain a panoramic view of the entire southeastern part of this grand island. This is actually the best way to gain a comprehensive view of Hawai‘i Island’s enchanting landscape and several helicopter companies offer tours that depart from Hilo and Waikoloa.

Click here for a list of helicopter tour companies on Hawai‘i Island.


Day Three

This is a great day to spend time sightseeing and exploring what the North Shore and Hamakua Coast have to offer. This older side of the island is where greenery flourishes and where you can drive cliff hugging roads that traverse magnificent gulches decorated with tumbling waterfalls.


En route from Kailua-Kona, take time to explore the rolling hills of the paniolo (cowboy) town of Waimea or take a trip to the quaint seaside town of Hāwī with eclectic art galleries and lovely vistas.

If you’re staying in Hilo, you might instead consider heading to Saddle Road and driving up the majestic Mauna Kea, the prominent dormant shield volcano you can see from almost any angle on the island. This is an especially significant journey to take during the early evening so that once you arrive at, or near the top, you’ll have the privilege of gazing at an infinite sky full of stars. Just cozy up with proper attire, as it’s chilly up there and the only place in Hawai‘i that regularly snows.

Experience an impressive range of landscapes during this three day itinerary on the “Big Island.”

Check out each island’s monthly Events and Special Deals.



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