Do you want to visit Big Island, Hawaii and see as much as possible in a few days? Here’s your guide to do so on a Road trip around the southernmost Hawaiian island. It is possible in four days though I would recommend at least five and spend some more time in Pahoa. I’ve lived there for a bit and I have to admit that it is quite charming.
DAY 1 VOLCANO NATIONAL PARK
Starting in Puna, Pahoa it only takes a few hours to reach the Volcano National Park. You can easily rent a bed and breakfast outside of the national park and drive through the next morning. This way it’s not that hot already and you have all day to walk around the Halemaʻumaʻu crater on Kilauea and the barren landscape surrounding it. It feels so unreal walking over the dried grass seeing smoke coming out of various steam vents inside the ground. Make sure not to inhale too much of those fumes as they are toxic and can harm your lungs. Plus you will end up with a massive headache all day long.
Along the Rim Drive are various spots yo can stop your car and just walk around old dried up lava stones. If you walk long enough you can find some small caves. Be careful with climbing around them though as lava stones are as sharp as glass and can cut you badly.
Talking about caves… make sure to visit the lava tubes. There are signs on the way so you can’t miss them. Those tubes are basically tunnels inside the island that have been formed by hot underground lava streams. They will also cool you down from the sweaty hikes and will have you move inside an island. Awesome, huh?
PAPAKŌLEA GREEN SAND BEACH
Once you’ve left Volcano National Park you head down south along Pahala Road and follow the signs toward Green Sand Beach. Follow the road with the ocean on your right hand and you will soon reach the cliffs above Green Sand Beach. Make sure to take some water, cool beers and a beach towel to hang out there. In the United States there are only two green sand beaches and this is one of them. The color comes from the green crystals called Olivin and make the beach glow in this unreal colour. Once you’re there you can climb down along the lava cliff on the right side of the bay.
You can also climb down the middle as my friend Dad did, but then make sure not to slip, not to freak out and not to bother bleeding all over your body. He mastered all including the blood and I would have probably died in the attempt of not rolling down the whole thing. Oh and yes, you will cover some people downstairs with sand and yes they will complain.
PU’UHONUA O HŌNAUNAU NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK
Pu’uhonanao is a sacred place, so pack away your beach towel, cool beers, footballs, frisbees and everything you would not do in a church either. Respect the sacred space! You might also get in trouble using a drone above the area. Make sure to check with the authorities first. What you should bring though is your passport as you can stamp some rad turtles inside over there.
Up until he 10th century Hawaii was governed by very strict laws (kupu). Breaking them most certainly meant death. Pu’uhonanao was a place where Hawaiians fled to once they had broken an ancient law, so they could avoid punishment. If they were able to make their way there safely they were pardoned after performing certain rituals.
There are also a lot of turtles swimming around. To be honest, if I was a turtle I would choose a place without any tourists in the water aswell. You can watch them closely there, but please don’t touch them.
THE SOUTHERMOST POINT IN THE USA
Yes you read right. It is possible to walk towards the southernmost point of the USA. In case you are keen to do that, it is not far from Green Sand Beach. There you go, take a selfie and then head north towards Kona.
There is also a nice hole in the ground you can jump in. Just make sure to jump when the water flows OUT. By the time you’re down there the water has gotten back in. From there you can swim with the waves through a small cave out towards the ocean.
DAY 2 KONA
Kona is located on Big Islands Westcoast. It is a nice place to visit as there are a lot of bars and restaurants. It’ possible to snorkel over there and go out at night. Plain speaking you can say that it is a lot more touristic than the island’s east coast. It also offers some boat tours you can take to spot whales, swim with manta rays and much more. The sunsets (as everywhere on Hawaii) are amazing!
ROYAL KONA COFFEE CENTER
Once you’re in Kona make sure to visit a coffee plantation and buy as much coffee you can fit in your bags! If you love coffee make sure to stop by some of the cafes that sell and serve it. It is definitely worth a visit!
DAY 3 HILO
On your way down the east coast towards Hilo there are a lot of things to see, for example the Waipio Valley. In another post I will talk more about this beautiful place. The drive from Kona towards Hilo takes a while though and I wouldn’t recommend going down the valley unless you have a whole day to spare.
AKAKA FALLS STATE PARK
Another spot definitely worth visiting are the Akaka Falls surrounded by a lush tropical landscape. A small pathway leads to those falls where you can get mesmerised my huge amounts of water falling down into a valley.
Big Island has some great Farmer’s Markets, where you can buy fresh organic fruit and vegetables. You can also find a lot of fresh fruit juices and energy balls made out of dates and nuts. Make sure to go there and grab a healthy snack or two.
HILO’S FARMER’S MARKET
• Location: Corner of Kamehameha Avenue and Mamo Street
• Opens: Wednesday and Saturday between 6:00 AM and 4:00 PM
The Hilo Farmers market is one of the most popular markets on the Big Island. There are more than 200 vendors who sell fresh fruit and vegetables as well as locally made crafts.
DAY 4 PAHOA
Pahoa is located in the district of Puna and has around 900 inhabitants. You can find some nice bed and breakfasts, where you can stay. Though I would recommend to stay at an eco hostel called Hedonisia Hawaii. From there you can take various trips around the Puna district.
KEHENA BLACK SAND BEACH
The Kehena Black Sand Beach is a nudist beach where you can play frisbee naked, drink beer naked, play football naked and swim naked. hahahaha, go there!
Right at the entrance you can find the “signature tree”. Make sure to scratch your name in!
POHOIKI WARM SPRING
The Pohoiki warm springs are located in the Isaac Hale Beach Park in Puna. It is great to swim there at night as they are warmed up by water that has been warmed up by volcanic rocks. Compared to other warm pons on Big Island Hawaii the ones in Pohoiki are rather small, but if you go there at night, you can take some drinks and watch the stars sparkling between the trees above you.
If you go there during the day, take your snorkels as you will see a lot of fish swimming around the reef. The waves are perfect for surfing aswell.
Location: 13-5579 Kalapana – Kapoho Rd, Pāhoa, HI 96778, EUA
AHALUNI WARM PONDS
Another great natural Spa are the Ahaluni Warm Ponds. The spring is ocean-fed, half nature, half man-made. The water heats up to 32°C. The ponds are fun to swim in, but if you have some kind of an open wound you should avoid going there as it is not that sanitary.
Location: Kapoho Kalapana Rd, Pahoa HI 96778
KAPOHO TIDE POOLS
The Kapoho Tide pools are the perfect snorkelling spot. Watch the video on the left to find out why.
How to get there: Take Highway 132 east and turn right at the Highway 137 intersection. Right before mile marker 9 you turn left onto Kapoho Kai Road. Drive along a bit until you reach a T in the road, then turn left and follow the sign that reads “Reef Parking”.
The Champagne Pond runs along the Puna coast and offers one of the best swimming experiences. It is a huge natural pond made out of lava rocks. Outside the pond is the ocean, but don’t get in there as the sharp rocks will cut open your feet.
Location: 14-5008 Laimana Ave, Pāhoa, HI 96778, EUA
Enjoy your travels on Big Island! You can do everything in four days, but if you have more time I would recommend five, so you can tray out all of the warm ponds.