This is a recap of our birthday trip to the Big Island of Hawaii – Kona side. I put our itinerary together based on our vacation preferences which is:
We had a few goals to accomplish since we have history on Kona side. We recreated memories and wandered around historic Kona Town the first day we got there. The other big activities we wanted to make sure we got to experience was: snorkel tour, hike to the green sand beach, and eating good food in amazing atmosphere.
The Big Island is very relaxing and casual. Even though we crammed as much as we could into each day, we also planned our relaxing time, and still went to bed by 10 each night! The terrain of Big Island is so different than I experienced before. The lava is everywhere and it’s just part of the landscaping. There are less easy to find beaches for lounging, but the beauty is everywhere.
3 Amazing Days on the Big Island of Hawaii Itinerary
We stayed on Kona side this short trip due to the duration that we needed to stick to and the fact that right now we couldn’t see the lava flowing. After the last eruption in 2018, the lava changed from flowing into the water to mainly staying in the caldera. The only sight you could see is the glow from the caldera at night and you’d have to hike to it. This experience didn’t make it to my priorities list for those reasons as there were a couple other things I wanted to do. I put together what we did and where we ate on all of our days of our trip. There is so much to do and I wish we had more time. One thing for sure is – we’ll be back to Big Island!
Day 1 Explore Day
This was our arrival day and our psych up day! We wanted to get our bearings on the island and where we were staying. We also wanted to go and explore so we didn’t make reservations for anything.
- Arrived in the morning, pick up the Jeep, head to the hotel and change
- Explore historic Kona Town starting with lunch at Umeke’s or Da Poke Shack
- Visit the town pier and shrine
- Walk around and do some fun shopping
- Get shave ice at Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice
- See Magic Sands Beach (first time – you have to see it twice) – perfect for a swim in the waves!
- Go to the Kanaloa octopus farm ($40pp) or stop at the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm (~$60pp)! (or both)
- Back to the hotel rest and get ready for dinner
- Dinner at Huggo’s On the Rocks back in Kona town – try to get a table to catch the sunset, the view is amazing from everywhere here
- Night snorkel manta tour – it’s amazing!
Day 2 Snorkel Tour Day
The snorkel tours on island offer different options, morning/afternoon, meals, activities, etc. You have to shop around to see which tour will be best for your vacation. The tour we booked launched from Keahou bay. We stayed at the Sheraton Kona so parking was no issue – if you’re not staying there, parking is available, but it’ll be the side of the road outside of the bay.
Snorkeling is important to us so of course we needed to go to the Captain Cook monument at Kealakekua Bay. We live on Oahu and snorkel all the time, but the snorkeling was so different. This place is AMAZING for snorkeling. The water isn’t rough at all so it’s great for beginners too.
Reef preservation is so crucial to the awesomeness of this place so the state has issued a sunscreen ban so PLEASE PLEASE make sure your sunscreen is really reef safe. Only the mineral sunscreen is allowed, the ones with titanium and zinc. Any of the other ones that have ingredients you cannot pronounce are NOT reef safe – no matter what the sticker on the bottle says.
- Met at the bay to check-in for tour! Our tour included breakfast and lunch which was awesome and much appreciated. We snorkeled to our heart’s content! The tour was a half day tour and we picked the morning time, but there are afternoon tours available too. You can read a full detailed recap of the snorkel tour here.
- We went back to the hotel and actually napped under an umbrella by the resort pool, then we got ready for dinner
- Dinner at Foster’s Kitchen – be sure to catch the sunset here too as every seat is a great view. The food was really good too!
- We checked out the live music at one of the many water front bars
Day 3 Green Sand Beach Hike Day
We also love hiking so we NEEDED to hike to one of the only 4 green sand beaches in the world, duh. The whole hike is recapped here.
- Early big breakfast at Broke Da Mouth
- Pickup hike essentials at Sack n’ Save (local grocers) – take a musubi, it’s my favorite hike snack because it’s salty, filling, and packs really well!
- Drive to South Point – pop off those top panels on the Jeep if you can! It’s about 1.5 hours from Kona
- Greenwell Coffee Farm for real Kona coffee tasting
- Hike – swim – eat – hike back
- Stop at fruit stands on the way back to the hotel
- Pick up a malasada in town because you really need to try one if you have not
- Pre-dinner drinks at Ola Brew – it’s a local cider place
- Dinner at Lava Lava Beach Club – again the view
- Go hang out at the hotel pool at night
Day 4 Travel Home Day
This is the day that we went to see the Magic Sands beach again. The magic is that over a short period of time, the beach goes from pillows of soft white sand to a rocky jagged landscape as the tides pull the sand away from the beach. You will need to double check that you’re in the right place!
There you have it – you did it, you had a great vacation. But wait it’s not over because if you have time before your flight, you can pick up breakfast while you’re killing time before your flight at the Fish Hopper. What kind of travel day is it without a bloody mary to start you off? You need to get the ultimate bloody mary at Fish Hopper because it comes with all the fixings, and when I say “all the toppings” I mean everything you can think of. There was a slider, an oyster, veggies, and all the regular players too.
The airport is open air and it rains and it’s hot, but it’s an experience too! They only have one store/cafe on each side of the airport so stock up before you go through security.
What are some things that I didn’t have time to do?
What types of things do you love to do on vacation?