In this article, you will learn about how to make the most out of your Big Island trip by visiting the top and most famous attractions throughout the Big Island in 5 days. You will be able to visit the North, South, West, and East side of the island. Big Island has so much to offer but we understand that you don’t have unlimited time here, so here we offer the best things or must-sees you can do in 5 days. If you have more than 5 days, we make more recommendations at the end of the post. For now, let’s get right into the Big Island 5 day itinerary for you.
Day 1: Kona Town, Magic Sand Beach, Manta Ray Snorkeling
Kona is where most tourists head to and stay when they come to the Big Island. The reason is that Kona looks like how you imagine typical Hawaii would look like. It has white sand beaches, beautiful sunsets, touristy souvenir shops, resorts, and restaurants by the coastline. We believe it’s essential to visit Kona when you come to see the Big Island. In one day, you can walk around Kona town, visit the Magic Sand Beach, sit at the beach and watch the sunset and do the famous Manta Ray night snorkeling. All these activities are on the west side of the island in or near Kona.
Day 2: Waipio Valley, Hapuna Beach, Mauna Kea
From Kona, you can drive north to visit see the beautiful Hapuna Beach Park. From there you keep going to get to Waipio Valley Lookout Point to get the best view of the valley. You could hike down the valley if you’re adventurous. It is the steepest hike in all the Hawaiian Islands and all the states. Towards late afternoon around 3pm, start heading to the Mauna Kea visitor center. Once you get to the visitor center, you can walk around for a little bit. Remember to bring warm clothes since you will be sitting on 9,200 ft elevation. If you have a 4WD, you could continue to the summit to watch the sunset. The view at the summit is unbelievable. Click here to see more about the sunset at Mauna Kea summit.
Day 3: Volcanoes National Park
You can easily spend 2 days at the Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. The best attractions in the park are the Kilauea summit (Halema’uma’u crater), Steam Vents, Holei Sea Arch, Ke Ala Kahiko Stop (Catch a classic “lava over road” picture here! ), and hiking trails. We invite you to read: What to do in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
For at least day 3 and day 4, we recommend you to spend the nights at Volcano Inn for proximity reasons in order to get the most time doing sightseeing rather than driving from one end of the island to the other end.
Day 4: Green Sand Beach, Ka’u south point & Black Sand Beach
The Green Sands Beach and Punaluu Black Sand Beach are world-class famous. Everyone who comes to the Big Island knows about these two beaches. Lucky for you, the Green Sand Beach (there’s only one on the Big Island) and the Punaluu Black Sand Beach(there’re many black sand beaches on the island. The most famous one is Punaluu) are close by. If you stay at the Volcano Inn the night before, you can sleep in, and at 10 am, drive down to the Green Sand beach. Before you reach the Green Sand Beach, on the way, you can take a quick detour to check out Kalea. It is the southernmost point of the United States. Once you get to the Green Sand Beach parking lot, you can either hike out to the beach, drive or take one of the truck services where people take you directly to the Green Sand Beach by car. Learn more about Green Sand Beach here. The beach is fabulous and you can easily spend your entire day at the beach relaxing and swimming. As you head back towards the Volcano Inn, you can stop by the famous Punaluu Black Sand Beach. Not only do you get to walk on the black sand, but you might also be lucky enough to see a sea turtle sun basking on the warm sand. We invite you to read All you need to learn about Punaluu Black Sand Beach.
Day 5: Hilo
On the last day, you can explore the top attractions in Hilo. You can do sightseeing in this order: Akaka Falls, Rainbow Falls, Boiling Pots, Kaumana Lava Tube, Carlsmith Beach Park, Richardson Black Sand Beach Park.
And there you go, by the end of the fifth day, you will have seen all the top and must-see attractions on the Big Island. For more, we invite you to read: Top 33 things to do on the Big Island.
Do you have more time on the Big Island?
If you have more time on the Big Island, we invite you to read a longer post: Big Island Trip Itinerary & Tips that details everything you can do on the Big Island for your longer stay.