Make The Best of Your Big Island Hawaii Vacation
We have created an itinerary for separate places on the Volcano Inn side of the Island. There are also a lot of tips to help you while you’re planning your trip. Since a lot of information on the internet is misleading, we have created this page to help you get the most out of your Big Island Hawaii Vacation! Most people book their hotel in Kailua Kona and do not realize how far they have to drive to see everything on the Hilo, Puna and Kau side of the island. We specifically made this page to help you see all the attractions and activities on this side of the island while you make your itinerary!
We invite you to make the most of your vacation by using our guide of all the must-see attractions nearby.
Disclaimer: If you want to sit on the beach or by the pool with a MaiTai, this itinerary page is NOT for you! Also, this page is constantly being updated to help give you the best information on planning your trip.
Turn your trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park into a relaxing getaway here at Volcano Inn Hawaii Hotel!
Conveniently located less than 1 mile from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, our property sits atop of Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano. Nestled amidst the Hawaiian rain forest, Volcano is famous for its picturesque beauty. Our different rooms will give you a lush experience of Hawaii forest. Light rain and mist is common in the area, and keeps the forest lush!
We recommend getting a rental car during your Big Island stay. There is a public bus system, but it is very limited and unreliable. There are also taxi services like Uber & Lyft, which can get pricey if you are planning to see a lot of different sites.
Useful Information for Volcano Area
Since we are located at 3,800 ft elevation level, it tends to be 10-15 degrees cooler than Hilo. Temperatures can range throughout the year anywhere between 45 degrees F in the winter to 78 degrees F in the summer. There is about 100+ inches of rainfall per year in this area. We love the rain here! It provides us with all the water we use to keep our business running. Bring a light raincoat and enjoy the natural beauty of the rain forest.
Historic Volcano Village
In Historic Volcano Village, there are two small convenient stores with gas stations, a few different restaurants, a small hardware store and laundromat, a post office, and even an art center. Additionally there is a golf course, a winery, and an orchid garden all within a 15 minutes of Volcano Inn.
Visit Hawaii’s #1 Attraction!
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is HUGE and stretches from sea level to the summit of Mauna Loa (13,000 ft!). It encompasses a wide range of ecosystems and climates and can take a couple days to fully explore, especially for those avid hikers and national park enthusiasts. The absolute best place to start your National Park adventure is at the Kilauea Visitor Center. They provide excellent driving maps and information, and offer free ranger-guided activities.
For a Short Visit… (1-2 hours)
If you only have an hour or two to spend at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, we recommend seeing these top three spots:
Stop #1 – Steam Vents: Safely feel the heat from the active Volcano
Stop #2 – Jaggar Museum: View the erupting summit crater and learn about Kilauea & Hawaiian Culture
Stop #3 – Nahuku Lava Tube: Half Mile walk through a Hawaiian rain forest and underground through a lava cave
All three of these spots are located along the summit area following the open section of Crater Rim Drive.
For a Full Day Visit…
If you have a full day to check out Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, here are some of the
For a Longer Visits… (2-4 days)
Suggested Itinerary per day:
-ONE DAY: EAST SIDE (Puna)
You can spend a full day to visit the East Portion of the Big Island. This includes visiting the East Point of the Island (Kumukahi), Kapoho Tide Pools, Champagne Pond, Ahalanui Warm Pond, Lava Tree State Park, Issac Hale Beach Park (Pohoiki) and Boat Ramp, Walking out to Kaimu Black Sand Beach, Snorkeling at Waiopae Fish Reserve, and on Wednesdays there is the big night market with food and entertainment at Uncle Roberts Awa Bar.
-ONE AFTERNOON/EVENING: Hike to Active Lava Flow
You will need one full afternoon/evening to hike out to the lava, up close and personal. This will be one of the greatest experiences of your life!
-ONE DAY: SOUTH (Kau)
You can spend one full day exploring the South Portion of the Big Island. This includes hiking out to the Green Sand Beach (Papakolea), seeing the scenic Southern Tip of the Island (Kalae), the famous “Punalu’u Bakery” for delicious treats in Na’alehu town, Punalu’u Black Sand Beach to see turtles, and Ka’u Coffee Mill in Pahala town.
-ONE DAY: NORTH (Hilo)
You can spend one full day exploring the Northern Portion of the Big Island. This includes seeing the famous “Mauna Loa” Macadamia Nut Factory, Richardson’s Black Sand Beach (and other beaches) in Keaukaha, Old Banyan Drive over to Lili’uokalani Japanese Gardens along Hilo Bay, visiting historic Hilo Town, checking out the Farmer’s Market and check out unique shops and restaurants at Bayfront, Rainbow Falls and Wailuku River just up the road from Bayfront, Imiloa Astronomy Center has a great planetarium show, cross “singing bridge” to drive north of Hilo town, check out the waves at Honolii Beach Park, do the scenic drive in Onomea, see Akaka Falls in Honomu town, and Zipline Fun!
-ONE MORNING OR AFTERNOON/EVENING: MAUNA KEA
Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world, if you are counting from the sea floor. You need either one morning (for sunrise) or afternoon/evening (for sunset and star gazing) to see Mauna Kea. From Hilo side, you follow HWY 200 (Saddle Road) for about 30 minutes to the Mauna Kea Access Road. Follow that road for another 15 minutes and you will arrive to the Mauna Kea Information Station. Driving to the summit from there will take another 30-40 minutes, where you can see the different observatories, and get a view from above the clouds.
Here are some helpful tips for making the best of your Big Island Vacation
Kilauea Volcano is the Most Unique and Biggest Tourist Attraction in Hawaii
Majority of the tourist attractions are on the East Side of the Big Island (It is easier to drive to Kona for a day trip instead of wasting 6+ hours driving to East Side daily)
Allow at least three nights to see East Side of the Big Island, 4-wheel drive vehicle is not necessary
The primary things to see in Kona is the City of Refuge (Puuhonua o Honaunau) and Puukohola Heiau (North of Kona).
You will hear about things like swimming with dolphins & manta ray dives, but most of these things are can be done on the other islands.
If you need to stay in Kona because of a late/early flight in or out, try our friends at the Kona Tiki Hotel (reserve far ahead). For a last minute reservation, try the cheap Manago Hotel for a taste of old funky Hawaii
Unique Big Island, Hawaii Attractions:
See Kilauea, the worlds most active volcano!
Kilauea Iki trail – one of the nation’s TOP 40 hikes is just a 15 minute drive from Volcano Inn
Backcountry hiking and camping at Halape
Backcountry hiking and camping at Waipio Valley and Muliwai trail to Waimanu Valley
Horseback ride on the edge of Waipio Valley
Kayak through the Kohala Ditch with Flumin Kohala