There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you click on any of these links, I might earn a small commission at no extra cost to you (which I really appreciate, thank you!) The full disclosure policy can be found here.
4-day Big Island Itinerary
First, let me say that I would never recommend spending just four days on the Big Island! The Big Island is, well, big, and there is so much to do and see!
The best way to enjoy the Big Island is by car. There are so many things to see on the Big Island, you’re going to need a car, and preferably a Jeep, to truly enjoy it.
Is there a bad time to visit the Big Island of Hawaii?
I’m often asked if there is a bad time to visit the Big Island due to volcanic eruptions. The answer is no.
The resort areas are very far from the volcano. Vog (a form of air pollution) was a problem at one point, but the air quality has recently been excellent.
There’s never a bad time to visit Hawaii due to the weather, but there can be bad times to visit Hawaii due to crowds. If you’d like to learn more, check out the worst time to go to Hawaii.
Where to stay on the Big Island
There are many blogs out there saying you should stay in different parts of the island during your visit, and I’m afraid I have to disagree 100%.
Although the Big Island is big, it’s not as big as you might think. It’s quite easy to drive around the island, and I’ve never had an issue accessing any part of the island while staying in just one area.
The longer you stay in one place, the most cost-effective the stay.
If you’re only visiting the Big Island for four days, it’s best to stay in the same place. You can check out the best resorts on the Big Island for some of my favorite places to stay.
4-day Big Island Itinerary
Keep in mind that this 4-day Big Island itinerary can be moved around to work for you. If you would like a custom itinerary, I create one for all of my clients! Make sure to reach out if you need any help planning your Hawaii vacation.
Short Big Island Itinerary
Day 1 – Volcanos National Park
When my clients tell me they want to go to the Big Island; they almost always mention Kilauea, the active volcano.
Volcanos National Park is unique and a must-see on the Big Island. If you enjoy hiking, I recommend the Kilauea Iki Trail.
I had to wrap my camera around a tree with a Gorillapod to get this shot on the Kilauea Iki Trail.
On the way to Volcanos National Park, make sure to stop at Punaluu Black Sand Beach, one of the best places to view sea turtles on the Big Island.
It’s illegal to touch or go near the turtles, so make sure to keep your distance. I have a blog post about Hawaiian animals if you’d like to learn more about sea turtles and other animals that call Hawaii home.
If you’re only spending a couple of hours at Volcanos National Park, you could circle around and check out Hilo on the way back. Some of the top places of interest in Hilo are:
- Akaka Falls
- Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
- Liliuokalani Park and Gardens
- Hilo Farmers Market
- Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo
- Rainbow Falls
Depending on when you return, you can end your day at your resort or the beach watching the sunset. Check out the best places to watch the sunset in Hawaii here.
Although it’s not a great beach for swimming, you’ll often find sea turtles hanging out at Punaluu!
Day Two – Snorkeling and Luau
If you love boating or snorkeling, you are going to want to check out a snorkeling tour of Kealakekua Bay.
Kealakekua Bay is one of the best places to snorkel in Hawaii. You don’t even have to snorkel if you don’t want to. You’ll likely see some wildlife, dolphins in particular, from the boat.
If a luau isn’t for you, or if you plan to go to one on another island, have dinner or enjoy Happy Hour in Kona.
Day two would also be a great time to explore the town of Kona. Here are 25 things to do in Kona to give you some ideas.
Day 3 – Waipio Valley or Pololu Valley
On day 3, we’ll be heading North to Waipio Valley if you have a 4-wheel drive or Pololu Valley if you don’t. You can also take a tour of Waipio Valley. Pack a lunch and enjoy the beautiful scenery and black sand beaches.
Waipio Valley is one of the most stunning places in all of Hawaii!
Make sure to be respectful of those who live in the area and do not trespass. Check out 20 things you should never do in Hawaii for more tips.
On your way back, stop at Lapakahi State Historical Park. Here you can explore the ruins of an ancient Hawaiian fishing village.
If snorkeling with manta rays is on your Big Island to-do list, day three would be a great day to do that.
Day 4 – Beaches
You’ve had a full three days, so take some time to relax on your last day on the Big Island. Take a helicopter tour, or spend your day on the beautiful beaches.
Some of the best beaches on the Big Island include:
- Makalawena Beach
- Hapuna Beach
- Papakolea Green Sand Beach
- Kekaha Kai State Park
- Mauna Kea Beach
- Punaluu Black Sand Beach
- Pohoiki Beach (another black sand beach)
If you want to do more snorkeling, you can check out Two-Step.
The historical City of Refuge is just next door to Two-Step, and it’s also a must-see.
Kekaha Kai (Kona Coast) State Park is one of my favorite beaches in Hawaii. Located just north of the Kona airport, I’ve spotted sea turtles here more often than not!
More things to do on the Big Island
4-day Big Island itinerary
I hope this short Big Island itinerary helped you get some ideas for your Big Island vacation. Don’t forget to check out some of my other blog posts for more Hawaii travel ideas:
- Is Hawaii safe?
- 10 things to know before going to Hawaii
- 20 things you should never do in Hawaii
- What is the best luau in Hawaii?
- The pros and cons of a Hawaii cruise
- What is the best island to visit in Hawaii?
Ready to plan your Big Island vacation?
Although I am a Hawaii Travel Agent, I am only taking on a few clients for 2021. You can contact me if you’d like more information. I would recommend starting with my Hawaii travel guide if you plan to DIY your vacation!
The best way to get Hawaii travel tips and the most current travel information is to sign up for my email list. I send out one weekly email with the latest news, travel deals, and more. Sign up below.
Pin it for later: