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You’ve decided to make a trip to the Big Island, but before you can book those flights, you need to know just how long to stay.
How many days should you spend on the Big Island? Ideally, plan to spend at least a week on the Big Island (and more if you can swing it). This will give you time to see plenty of the top spots and still build time into your schedule to relax.
But the actual amount of time you plan to spend depends on exactly what you want to see and what you want the pace of your vacation to be. This article will help you plan for that.
How Many Days Do People Spend on the Big Island?
According to data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, in 2019 the average length of stay for a visitor to the Big Island was 8.13 days. That’s the second longest stay, after Maui. And there’s a reason for that: there is so much to do and see on the Big Island that it’s difficult to fit it all into one week.
Here’s how long visitors stay on each island:
|2019 Average Length of Stay:|
|Island of Hawai’i (Big Island)||8.13|
How Many Days Should You Spend on the Big Island?
Ideally, you should plan to spend at least a week on the Big Island to give you plenty of time to visit some of the major spots while also building time into your schedule to relax. Depending on the pace of your vacation and how much you want to see and do, you might want to consider adding more time (if possible!).
If you can’t spend that much time on the Big Island this trip, prioritize the activities and sights that are most important to you — and plan a future trip back to experience more. There is a lot to see and do on the Big Island and one week-long trip isn’t enough time to experience it all.
Once you know how long you’re staying, it’s time to figure out where to stay. Here’s how to decide whether to stay in Kona or Hilo on the Big Island.
Things to Do and See on the Big Island
If you want to plan out your own itinerary based on the top things to do and see on the Big Island, this list will help you get started:
- Visit Volcanoes National Park and hike in a volcano crater
- Snorkel on your own from many of the great beach snorkeling sites
- Take a snorkeling tour of Kealakekua Bay
- Take a night snorkeling tour or night dive with Manta Rays
- Visit historical sights like Pu’uhonua O Honaunau
- Spend the day on a black sand beach
- Explore Kona Coffee Country and enjoy Kona coffee tastings
- Spend the day exploring Hilo
- Hike the beautiful coastline and explore the sacred Waipio Valley
- Stargaze on Mauna Kea
- Learn to surf
- Head out whale watching from December – April
- Explore the beautiful beaches
- Enjoy the sights of some majestic waterfalls and botanical gardens
See all of our favorite tours and activities on the Big Island. And you can get ideas for even more things to do on the Big Island with our video:
Clearly, that’s more than enough to keep you busy for a long time. Pick your favorite activities and estimate how many days you’ll need to spend to do it all. Don’t forget to build in days for relaxing. After all, it’s a long trip out to Hawaii!
Sample Day Itineraries for the Big Island
Because the Big Island is big (hence the name), it’s best to group your activities and sightseeing into specific days, so you’re not spending too much time in the car.
For example, if you want to snorkel in Kealakekua Bay, you might want to include a visit to Pu’uhonua O Honaunau.
A day of snorkeling: Head south of Kona to hit up some of the best snorkeling spots on the island. Start out with a snorkeling tour of Kealakekua Bay, and if you’re lucky, enjoy a pod of spinner dolphins greeting you. Then head up into the hills for a great, casual lunch. And continue up the road for some Kona Coffee tasting and farm tours.
Exploring Waipio Valley: Hike or take a tour down into the sacred Waipio Valley, the boyhood home of Kamehameha I. A tour of this area is recommended so you can make sure you get the history and stories of the region as well as stay off private land. After your tour, get food and stroll through historic Honokaa Town and be sure to make a stop at the original King Kamehameha I statue in Kapaau.
Visit the Volcanoes: Spend a day exploring Volcanoes National Park, hiking around a crater and through a lava tube. Take in the view from Volcanoes Inn over lunch. And then enjoy a tasting at Volcanoes Winery before heading back for the day.
Spend the day in Hilo: Hilo is a charming town located on the leeward side of the island. There’s so much to do here: farmer’s markets, art galleries, restaurants, and beaches. Explore more with our one day in Hilo itinerary.
The Big Island has 10 of the world’s 14 micro-climates. It can get really hot to snow-capped peaks. So regardless of how many days you spend, here is your Hawaii packing list.
Is 3, 4, or 5 Days Enough on the Big Island?
We’re all rushed for time, especially with a lack of vacation days. So when you’re planning your trip to the Big Island, you might be wondering if it’s worth it to visit for just 3, 4, or 5 days.
If you’re coming from the mainland for a trip to the Big Island only, five days is the bare minimum trip that you should book. You’ll be contending with jet lag and getting used to a new area. And if your entire vacation is five days, you’ll need to carefully plan those days out between seeing the sights and enjoying some downtime.
If you’re doing an inter-island trip, making a stop for just 3 or 4 days is doable, especially if you have a good idea of what you want to do and see. While it is still a rushed trip, you’re not fighting jet lag and you probably won’t be as tired from a 30-minute inter-island flight as you are from a trans-pacific flight.
Whether you have three days or 30 days on the Big Island, make the most of your time. Our Big Island itinerary can help you do just that. The itinerary comes with a video overview of the island, five done-for-you excursion days that take you to the best spots on the island, and a “quick hits” section of beaches, restaurants, and snorkeling spots so you always have something near you to go do.
“Love your itinerary! I was spending hours researching and watching videos taking pages and pages of notes. You have done the work for me. It is organized so well we can just take off for the day with no guesswork where we are headed or doing on any given day. All the little details and tips are very helpful too. Absolutely love it.” Mandie C.
Check out our best itineraries here.
Get The Big Island Itinerary
The step-by-step itinerary takes you to all the best beaches, snorkeling spots, restaurants, and sights. You’ll get six carefully planned excursion days to help you see the can’t miss stops no matter how limited your time is.
Get all the details on our itinerary and download it for a memorable and easily planned trip to Hawai’i (Big Island).