The Big Island

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Day trip options abound on the Big Island, but keep in mind that no matter where you’re based, it will take you an entire day to check out a sight or activity on the other side of the island. Planning two back-to-back day trips with an overnight stay in between can save a lot of gas and help maximize your time.

Day Trips from The Big Island

Historic Downtown Hilo

This early 20th-century quaint plantation town has been lovingly restored after being devastated by two tsunamis (one in 1946 and another in 1960). It now hosts the Hilo Farmers Market and a cornacopia of independently-owned restaurants and businesses, plus the Pacific Tsunami Museum.

Pacific Tsunami Museum, Kamehameha Ave. off Hwy. 19, HI,
Tags: culture | day trip | museum

Kiholo Bay

This idyllic bay nestled between Kohala’s luxe resorts remains one of the island’s best kept secrets. It’s a bit of a trek, but worth it to swim with turtles and picnic on the sandy islet in the fresh- and salt-water blue lagoon.

Mile Marker 82 off Highway 19, HI,
Tags: beach | outdoors | day trip | adventure

Mauna Kea Summit

The sometimes snowcapped peak provides one of the most unique experiences in Hawaii – snowboarding. But altitude sensitivity is an issue and the facilities up top are limited to a bathroom at the visitors center, so come with everything you need.

Mauna Kea, Saddle Rd. to Summit Access Rd., HI,
Tags: hiking | day trip | adventure

North Kohala

Make your way to North Kohala to explore the artsy, up-and-coming town of Hawi, the 18th-century Pu'ukohola Heiau, a Hawaiian temple built from lava rock by King Kamehameha the Great, and Hapuna Beach, the prettiest on the island.

Hwy. 270, HI,
Tags: historic | day trip | crafts

Volcanoes National Park

Make a pilgrimage to one of the wonders of the world: a live volcano. Pay the park entry fee and stay and explore for up to a week. You could camp, but there’s no need to rough it – Volcano House hotel (808-967-7321; is on the park grounds. 

Volcano National Park, Hwy. 11, HI, 808-985-6000,
Tags: family | editor pick | day trip | adventure | national park

Waipio Valley

This black-sand beach is visible from a roadside lookout near Honakaa, but that view can’t compare to the beauty of seeing it up close. The ridiculously steep hill is best navigated by horseback, mule, or wagon tour.

Waipio Valley Wagon Tours, Hamakua Coast, off Hwy. 240, HI, 808-775-9518,
Tags: beach | editor pick | tour | day trip | adventure | road trips

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