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Things to do in Big Island of Hawaii

Itineraries for Your Trip to Big Island of Hawaii

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2 Days in Big Island of Hawaii for First Timers

Curated by Lydia Schrandtwriter, editor, and award-winning photographer.

With two days on the Big Island, there’s time to explore the geological diversity of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, as well as the beaches, waterfalls, and towns that make the Big Island so special. Here are some options for the ultimate 48 hours on the Big Island.

Day 1: Morning

Kick off your stay on the Big Island with an early morning helicopter flight over its volcanoes, waterfalls, and lush valleys. Traveling by air allows you to see the highlights without spending valuable time driving. If you’d rather keep your feet on the ground, opt for a walking or Segway tour of Hilo or Kailua-Kona.

Day 1: Afternoon

No trip to Hawaii is complete without some time at the beach. This afternoon is your chance to soak up some vitamin D. Find the nearest strip of sand for some relaxation, or opt for a more active afternoon of snorkeling, sailing, dolphin watching, or riding a banana boat just offshore.

Day 1: Night

Wrap up your first night on the Big Island with a quintessential Hawaiian experience, a luau. These traditional feasts take place on the beach beneath the stars and include hula dancing, story telling, and a buffet of traditional Polynesian cuisine, such as roast pig, sweet potatoes, and poi (a sticky taro dish).

Day 2: Morning

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a draw, no matter which side of the island is your home base. Get an early start for the drive to this remote section of the island. Sign up for a guided tour to make the most of your time, with opportunities to walk through a lava tube, warm your hands over volcanic steam vents, and observe the active Kilauea volcano.

Day 2: Afternoon

You could easily spend the entire day in the national park, but if you prefer you can explore other attractions in the region. Look for Hawaiian green sea turtles basking in the sun at Punaluu black sand beach, tour the Mauna Loa macadamia nut factory, or stop to smell the flowers at Akatsuka Orchid Nursery.

Day 2: Night

Head to the summit of Mauna Kea, the island’s highest point, at dusk to watch the sunset and enjoy guided stargazing. Most tours to the summit include a pre-trip picnic dinner, transportation in a 4WD vehicle, telescopes for use, hot chocolate, and dessert.

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