We recently booked a last minute trip to the Big Island and are a bit unsure about our itinerary. We have never been to Hawaii before and we only have 5 days (My SO could not get off work for any longer unfortunately). We could really use some advice/feedback on our itinerary!
About us: We are a couple in our very late 20’s, and we both love hiking (we take days hikes regularly around the mountains here in the SF Bay Area). Must sees for him: volcanoes, lava (if possible), and star gazing at Mauna Kea. Must sees for me: Snorkeling, waterfalls, black/green sand beaches, rain-forests, botanical gardens, and farmer's markets. We are both obsessive foodies, but that is not the main purpose of this trip other than coffee (I haven’t started researching restaurants yet; however, any recommendations are appreciated). When we travel we try to avoid huge crowds/tourist traps and large group tours. We prefer to do things on our own if possible; however we do make exceptions (especially for boat tours… I love boats!).
Here is an itinerary that we are considering:
8pm Feb. 10th - Arrive at KOA and pick up a rental car
Night 1 – Stay somewhere on the north west Coast not too far from KOA
Day 1: Thurs. Feb. 11th
- Start really early at Pololu Valley – perhaps hike down and back up real quick
- Waipio Valley – I am not sure if we should just go to the lookout or try to do a tour (I have read about all reasons we should not try hiking here alone). Can you see Hi’ilawe Falls from the lookout? Are there any hiking tours (I haven’t read about any)? I have read about the Waipio Valley Shuttle tour, but I am skeptical about how well you can see the valley from the tinted windows of a van. Do they let you out at all? Personally, I would love to see the valley on horseback, but my SO has never been near a horse and is very apprehensive about this. Is Na’alapa stables good for complete novices? Also is there any way to see the black sand beaches?
- Hamakua Coast Drive
- Akaka Falls
- HTBG if we have time (this will probably depend on if we do a tour at Waipio valley or not)
- night time – Lava viewing area (if there is anything to see)
Night 2 – Stay on the West coast – DH says that we should stay area Hilo; however, there are some really nice sounding B&B’s available in Pahoa area (around the Leilani estates area). Which would be best?
Day 2: Fri. Feb. 12th
- Volcano National Park
Night 3 – same as Night 2
Day 3: Sat. Feb. 13th
- Morning farmers markets
- HTBG if we haven’t been there
- Mauna Kea - star gazing at the visitor’s center – it is a new moon and my SO is super excited
- Drive down to Kona – my SO has driven lots of narrow mountain roads in the Santa Cruz Mnt. area and the Amalfi coast in Italy, so he is not concerned about this drive. Is it really bad?
Night 4 – Stay somewhere on the West Coast. I am not sure where on the west coast we should stay… Also, I am torn between staying at a resort like place on the beach or staying at a B&B at a coffee plantation or something similar. We would love to stay at the beach, but crowded resorts with lots of kids are not our thing… we normally prefer the atmosphere of B&Bs.
Day 4: - Sun. Feb. 14th
- Morning/Afternoon - Snorkeling – I am looking at doing a tour since we have never been snorkeling before…. and as I mentioned: I love boats!
- Evening - ??? a nice dinner somewhere perhaps ??? It will be valentine’s day (which IMO is unfortunate), so I would need to book right away.
Night 5 – Same as night 4.
Day 5 – Mon. Feb. 15th
- Tour a coffee plantation if we do not stay at one
- The southern part of the island – green/black sand beaches
- fly out of Kona at 9pm
I know this is a lot for our short trip…is it too much? Are there any blatant flaws in our timing? Also, is there anything that we should skip or add (should we do a typical Luau?)? Any advise would be greatly appreciated! I hope to book all the hotels/B&Bs this weekend and the V-day restaurant (the flight is booked already). We are extremely excited!
Thanks in advance!