Perfect for those who want to see the beauty of this island but are not at all interested in long heart pumping hikes, brave enough to venture out with minimum supervision and like adventures short, satisfying and relaxing. This half-day Big Island itinerary fits in well for early or late risers, day-trippers, kids and more. It requires a rental car, and ten dollars for entrance into the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, reservations for a 50-minute helicopter tour and a huge appetite to enjoy either lunch or dinner at one of Hilo’s favorite award winning local spots. It is an enjoyable morning or afternoon perfect for romantics to linger leisurely and quick moving enough for kids with shorter attention spans, and for everyone who enjoys easy access to all that is the Big Island has to offer. Day-trippers can easily re-arrange the order of this trip to begin with the helicopter trip and end at the airport after eating.
Day 1 - Big Island (Hawaii)
If starting from Hilo or Kona, begin with Akaka Falls. Start with Kahuna Falls first because the trail access is easier and avoids the steep angles upward. As you pass Kahuna Falls, the white noise of rushing water of Akaka Falls will be heard in the distance. This is where Hawaiian legend says that the warrior chief Akaka was discovered by his wife having an affair and while overwhelmed with guilt, threw himself over the cliff into the pool below. His wife, mistress and dog turned to stone out of grief for losing the chief. The area is full of streams, fragrant flowers and foliage. Be sure to watch your step on the trail since areas are quite slippery and remember to never leave any valuables in your car.
The drive from Akaka Falls to the entrance of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park should take about 60 minutes. The drive will take you through Hilo town via Hawaii Belt Road. The signs to the entry of the park are well marked. Once through the entrance, it’s highly recommended that you start at the Kilauea Visitor center for any updates and maps.
The Kilauea crater is a sacred spot for Hawaiians. The home of Madame Pele the fire goddess she is known to appear in several forms and can be very ruthless. The drive to the lava tube is short and well marked. A walk through the lava tube is exciting, and includes a large collection of flora and fauna. Return to Hilo the way you came and continue into Hilo town and turn left onto Waianuenue and follow the signs to Rainbow Falls. Hawaiian legend says that the goddess Hina lives in the cave under the falls where she crafts her highly prized tapa cloth. There is a free parking lot and a short path to the viewing area that is so close it is one of the best drive-up waterfalls in the islands. The river that flows over the falls is the longest in the state.
The drive to Hilo Bay Café will take you back down Waianuenue and right back onto Hawaii Belt Rd. Turn right onto Makaala St. The café is nestled near the Hilo Wal-Mart and Boarders Bookstore. Once inside the menu offers a collection of contemporary dishes and local favorites. The décor is sparse at best, and the service is attentive but not rushed. I recommend the Wellington. Puffs of beef, ahi and pork with a sauce that will make your taste buds sing. Chef Joshua Ketner is the man behind this success story. Great food reasonable prices all make this spot an island favorite.
Big Island (Hawaii), HI 96728
+1 808 974 6200
P.O. Box 52
Big Island (Hawaii), HI 96718
Waianuenue Avenue & Rainbow Drive
Big Island (Hawaii), HI 96720
Big Island (Hawaii), HI