Weekend in Hawaii: An Adventurous 3 Days on The Big Island
Road Trip Travel
Weekend in Hawaii
The Big Island of Hawai'i is breathtaking and its air is electric with magic. You will find yourself welcomed by friendly locals, enormous mountains, America's only national park with an active volcano and a vibe that can only be described as the Aloha Spirit. While the Big Island is not known for an abundance of sandy beaches, its waters are full of some of the most beautiful and diverse marine life on the planet, making it a diver and snorkeler's paradise. It is the only place in the world where you can swim with wild Manta Rays at night! Foodies are in luck because the Big Island has some of the freshest seafood and pork dishes you will ever eat. Whether you want to go on a waterfall hike, go looking for black-sand beaches, plant Koa Trees or watch the surfers do their thing as you enjoy one of the island's locally brewed beers, the Big Island delivers.
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Where to stay
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
The Big Island’s standout resort on the quiet Kona-Kohala coast, home to an enormous spa, lauded golf course and raft of family-friendly activities.
When you book Four Seasons through Fora, you will enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits. Your advisor will be pleased to give you more details.
A Hawaii resort and spa located on the Kohala Coast, surrounded by lush tropical gardens, cascading waterfalls and a tranquil white sand beach and lagoon.
$100 food / beverage credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection
Royal, family-friendly Hawaiian hotel nestled along the dramatic Kohala Coast, in the center of five great mountains.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Unlock perks by contacting Awilda to book your trip.
Day 1: Arrive in Hawaii
Let your weekend in Hawaiʻi begin! Rent a car so that you can get all the best the island has to offer. There are a few places you will want to visit that will be difficult to access unless you have your own transportation.
If you arrive in the morning or early afternoon your first stop should be Da Poke Shack. Hop in the car and head down the coast through Kona for your first taste of The Big Island. For those who like spice get the Pele's Kiss for a special treat. If fish isn't your thing don't worry the Kalua pork plate is incredible. The food at Da Poke Shack is so good that you have to be prepared to wait in line in the parking lot of this small take-out-only eatery, as they sell out every day well before closing time.
On the way back to your hotel stop by the Kona Flea Market or check out the ABC shops. In the evening head over to Kona Brewing Company for amazing live music craft beers and seltzers brewed on the premises. If you want a traditional dinner menu, walk over to Umeke's market: Fish Market Bar & Grill.
Day 2: Diving/Snorkeling Adventure
Rise and shine! You may have already realized that you can hear the sweet sounds of the Coqui frog all over the islands of Hawaiʻi. It's time to get out into the world and really experience the Big Islands' marine life.
Divers: If your hotel is not already set up with a Dive shop or program - look no further than Jack's Dive Shop. They will have everything you need including a full schedule of dives for all levels of divers.
Snorkelers: Make sure you have your fins & dive socks for this trip, the Pacific is no joke and the water is deep - snorkeling with a life vest and a buddy is HIGHLY recommended, especially at locations where there are no lifeguards.
Today, if you're not already scheduled to go out on a dive boat, pack sunscreen and head first to Kahaluu Beach Park. This is a great place to get acclimated to the currents of the Pacific - and it is a lifeguarded beach. The entry is rocky but the payoff is totally worth it. The water is shallower than what you will experience at other sites today and even though it is a very popular destination there are little pockets of reef life all over the bay.
Next head to Manini Beach aka Captain Cook Bay. This small unassuming beach park is tiny. If you are not paying attention you might even miss it. There is parking is scarce so you may have to drive a little to find a spot. The beach is mostly grass with a small entrance to the Kealakekua Bay. The drop is steep and just a few feet offshore. This is not a lifeguard beach, so take every precaution to ensure your safety. Life vests are highly recommended.
From the moment you put your mask in the water you will be dazzled by a display of fish unlike anything you have seen anywhere else on the planet. The sheer volume, size and diversity of fish in Kealakekua bay are completely magical. It's the kind of place you want to spend hours in because it feels like your floating in a real-life aquarium.
Once you have had your fill, towel off and get dinner as the sunsets over magic sands beach at Magics Beach Grill. The views are absolutely bananas, you'll be torn between marveling at the rainbow sunset or watching the surfers get their last waves in for the day. If you are really hungry from all the swimming order the two-day pressed pork belly or the pork belly skillet appetizer it's absolutely delectable. For the fish lovers, the ahi tuna steak is also excellent.
The crown jewel of the Big Island is the Wild Manta Rays. It is the only place where you can go out nightly and interact with these gentle giants. Most tour companies offer one or two trips, nightly at 7 pm & 9 pm. This is an experience that will leave you speechless. Spending time in the water with these giant animals as they literally bump up against you is nothing short of a bucket list adventure.
Day 3: Volcanoes National Park (a must for any weekend in Hawaii!)
On the final day of your weekend in Hawaiʻi, take a day trip across the mountains to the botanical gardens and explore the natural flora and fauna of the island. Stop for lunch in Hilo on your way to Volcanos National Park. Although there is currently an active eruption many parts of the park are still open.
If volcanoes aren't your thing set up a Koa tree-planting excursion. These tours are a combination of hiking, adventure, education, reforestation and exploration. The reforestation of Koa trees is critical to the Hawaiian ecosystem. If you want to make your trip sustainable and leave a little bit of yourself in Hawaiʻi to grow, then I strongly recommend adding this experience to your trip. My Koa tree's name is Coqui.
Come back and have a one-of-a-kind dining experience at Seiji's Sushi. A small seven-seat restaurant run by a husband and wife who bring their customs and sushi culinary skills from their home of Japan to your plate. They book up fast so make sure you make a reservation well in advance. If you have trouble reaching them online the best tip is to show up at the restaurant when they are open at the beginning of your trip, they are extremely kind and will do their best to get you in if it is possible.
Need to Know
After booking your weekend in Hawaii, check out this guide for more travel tips: The Best Hotels, Restaurants & Things to Do in Curaçao.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Hawai'i.