This Hawaii family trip takes you on thrilling hikes, live volcanoes, lava flows, gorgeous beaches, excellent snorkeling, swimming with Mantas and delicious Hawaiian food. This trip has it all for everyone in the family. Big island offers less crowded experiences for families compared to other Hawaiian islands. The Big island is the youngest and largest island in the Hawaiian chain. Nearly twice as big as all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined (hence, its nickname, “Big Island”), its sheer size is awe-inspiring. Big island hosts 8 out of 13 of the world’s climate zones, stunning beaches, waterfalls and rainforests inhabited by species found nowhere else on the planet. It is home to a series of majestic volcanoes that are constantly changing the island’s landscape.
- Parking in volcanoes national park is pretty limited and tends to fill early each day. Visitors are encouraged to plan carefully.
- Being a national park, you can bring/use America the beautiful Interagency Annual Pass to get free entry to volcanoes national park.
- Always carry sunscreen and use reef safe sunscreen to protect endangered coral reefs.
- Carry a hat to protect face and eyes.
- Carry plenty of water and make sure there’s enough water in your car.
- Tips are generally expected everywhere, carry change money.
- Beach shoes are a must have.
- Carry re-usable bags if you plan to go grocery shopping. Plastic bags are banned in hawaii.
- If you decide to drive up to mauna kea (not recommended with small kids), carry a warm layer as it gets cold.
- Some trails aren’t well marked, carry map, gps/compass to help you navigate.
Recommended daily itinerary
Estimated cost: $1500-$1800 per person
First day of the trip, check in to your hotel and get settled.
- Fly into KOA or HI airport.
- Drive to Hilo and checkin to Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a newly renovated waterfront hotel that is located close to downtown Hilo’s quaint shops and eclectic restaurants, and the Hilo Airport.
- After checking in, explore hilo downtown and dine at Moon and Turtle for a very special dinner of all small plates.
Explore Hilo downtown and nearby beaches
- Enjoy your breakfast at Popover bakery & cafe for the best coffee, fresh baked bakeries and made fresh to order flat bread.
- After breakfast, head over to Carlsmith Beach park for strolling or if you want to get into the water – easy snorkeling with turtles.
- Around noon, visit the farmers market (Wednsday and Saturday are big farmers market day) to buy fresh fruit, groceries and enjoy lunch from local vendors’ food truck.
- After lunch, head over to Richardson’s ocean park for some more water activity or making sand castle on the black sandy beach.
- Enjoy your dinner at Mom’s hilo.
Visit the iconic Volcanoes National Park
- After early breakfast at Paul’s place, Drive to Crater rim drive to hike Kïlauea Iki Crater. It’s an easy 4 miles hike with 400 feet elevation gain however, some areas have steep climb. Go counter-clockwise to avoid steeper climb. The trail is pretty exposed so carry lots of water, hat and sunscreen. A personal cooling fan can be handy as well.
- Enjoy Lunch at Crater rim cafe or food trucks nearby.
- Visit Kilauea visitor center to get upto date park information.
- Go to Thruston Lava tube for a quick 30 minutes hike
- If you aren’t tired yet, go back to opposite side of parking lot for a short walk to steam vents.
- Drive through chain of craters road stopping by several viewpoints along the drive.
- Enjoy your dinner at Thai Bistro and bar.
Continue exploring Volcanoes National Park
- Enjoy hearty breakfast at Hawaiian Style Cafe and make your way to the Mauna Loa road scenic drive.
- On the end of the Mauna Loa Scenic Strip you find a little kiosk which is the trail head for the Mauna Loa Trail, while the trail is over 18 miles to get to the summit of Mauna Loa, an easy 1.5 miles hike takes you to mauna loa lookout which is a good point to return.
- After your hike, drive back to enjoy lunch at The rim or food trucks nearby the visitor center
- Visit Jaggar museum. While the museum is closed, you can get an up close view of Halema’uma’u crater overlook.
- Drive back to hilo and enjoy hilo town with nice dinner at Miyo’s Restaurant.
Some More Hilo exploration and drive to Kona
- Enjoy your breakfast at Hawaiian Style Cafe.
- Head over to Rainbow falls for a quick and easy hike and hopefully catch some rainbows.
- Enjoy your lunch at Kuhio Grille.
- Venture to Kaumana Caves State Park for a cave hike. It’s dark and slippery, bring flashlight and plenty of water. Wear comfortable shoes with good grip. Gloves are recommended to grab onto sharp lava rocks.
- Wind down at Liliuokalani Gardens where you can stroll through the Zen japanese garden or walk all the way to coconut island.
- Make your way to Kona and check in to Royal Kona Resort.
Octopus farm and Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park
- Enjoy early breakfast at Tea:licious Cafe.
- Visit Kanaloa Octopus farm for an hour tour. Make sure to make reservations ahead of time.
- Enjoy your lunch at Pau Hana Poke.
- Visit Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park where you can hike through lava flows, view petroglyphs or if you are lucky spot resting sea turtles. You can jump in nearby beach for swimming or snorkeling.
- Enjoy your dinner at Broke Da Mouth Grindz.
Vanilla farm and captain cook monument
- Enjoy your breakfast at A Whale of a Crepe.
- Visit Vanillerie for vanilla farm tour. Book a 10 am tour prior to your visit.
- After the tour, have lunch at Umeke’s.
- Take a Catamaran tour to Kealakuka bay & captain cook monument. Make sure to book your 2 pm tour in advance.
- After the tour, dine at Jackie Ray’s Ohana Grill .
- Head back to your hotel and rest.
Beach and Jungle hike
- Enjoy your breakfast at 808 Grindz cafe.
- Drive to Punaluʻu black sand beach and enjoy the beach. It is the most famous beach in big island. Beach is a bit rocky and black sand gets pretty hot so wear beach/reef shoes.
- Head over to Umekes Fish Market Bar & Grill for lunch.
- Drive over to makuala-ooma-trail for a moderate 3.5 miles hike through hawaian jungle. The trails are in good condition but not marked. Bring a GPS or an app with map and gps that works offline.
- Enjoy your dinner at Umeke’s and head back to your hotel to rest.
Swim with Manta Ray
- Enjoy your breakfast at Kalikala Cuisine.
- Drive to Mahailua beach to enjoy swimming/snorkeling. Pack your lunch before heading to the beach as food options nearby are limited.
- Once you have soaked enough of this beach make your way to Makalawena beach which is consistently rated as the most scenic beach in big island.
- Drive back, rest up and have an early dinner/snacks at Sushi Shiono.
- Head over to Keauhou Harbor and take Night manta ray snorkeling/diving tour. Make sure to book the tour in advance.
Pack up and ready to head back
- If you have time before your flight, you can explore Kahalu’u beach park to enjoy beach activities or Sadie seymour botanical gardens.
- Pack your bags, checkout from the hotel and headover to the airport waving goodbye to the island until next time.