The Big Island of Hawaii is my favorite Hawaiian island—you can chase lava, stand on top of the world, and sip some of the world’s best coffee. And you can do all that, plus more, in just three days. Amazing experiences lie at every traveler’s fingertips.
Foodies will be delighted here. With rich volcanic soils, the island is an agricultural dream and farms and markets are a common sight. There are also tons of mom-and-pop restaurants in Hilo, Kona, Waimea, and beyond. Take a look and see what you can eat and do in three days here.
The Kona side of the island is drier and sunnier than the Hilo side, so be prepared for changes in the weather.
If you only have time for one side of the island, make it Kailua-Kona.
On your first day, head to sunny Kailua-Kona, the epicenter of the Big Island’s food scene. This is where coffee farms and markets proliferate; it’s the kind of place where you can pull over to a farm stand (like Fresh Off the Grid Farms in Kapaau) and know you’re in for a treat. Get to know the area with a walking food tour of Kona proper.
In the afternoon, do a bit of exploring and see black-sand (and green-sand!) beaches, waterfalls, epic viewpoints, and volcanic coasts. Hop on a tour to experience a little bit of everything, then get out on the ocean on a sunset cocktail cruise.
This morning, learn all about Kona coffee on an actual Hawaiian coffee farm. All in all, there are some 650 coffee farms on the Big Island. Spots like Greenwell Farms, Sunshower Farms, Hula Daddy, and Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation all offer tours and, often, tastings.
Today, it’s time to explore a volcano. Mauna Loa is the most active volcano in the world. There’s also Mauna Kea and Kīlauea, so you’ve got a lot of options for exploring. Visit the epic lava flows at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park—where you should also grab lunch at the onsite Volcano House—then check out Mauna Kea State Recreation Area and Pohoiki black sand beach.
Last but not least, a luau. Grab a mai tai, take part in a lei workshop, learn all about traditional Hawaiian dance, and dine on a smorgasbord of Hawaiian fare, including the iconic roasted pig.