21 Things to Do in Big Island in 4 Days!

Here is how we spent 4 days in Hawai'i!


Hey guys! We recently spent 4 days in Big Island, the oldest Island! Also known as Hawai'i. A couple things about Hawai'i, many of the beaches here are formed from volcanic rock making the beaches here less swimmable than the other islands.

However, there are a couple of manmade beaches like Hapuna Beach that are gorgeous. You also can't beat the nature and waterfalls here! You are going to need a car for this island as many of the attractions are spaced apart. I recommend staying 2 nights in Hilo or 2 nights in Kona. Personally, I did 4 nights in Kona and we drove everywhere but it was exhausting! There's airports going out of both Hilo or Kona!

Hilo is full of waterfalls, forests, and nature.

Rainbow Falls

Kona has manta rays, lots of snorkeling, coffee farms, and beaches.

Whichever side you choose, Make sure to visit the Waimea Valley and South part of the Island if you have time. I do want to note that originally we had the observatory on our itinerary but it's a pain in the butt to get up to the observatory, you need a 4 wheel drive and it's a difficult drive. I recommend splurging on a tour but there are beautiful views of the stars from the Volcanoes as well. Captain Cook snorkeling was also on the itinerary but the tour company cancelled with us! Make sure to book a tour company with the proper permitting as they are cracking down on a lot of snorkel and kayaking companies.

Big island Sample Itinerary


  • 0900 arrival- pick up car 
  • Scandinavian shaved ice - closed at 9 pm
  • Lunch: Da Poke Shack- closes at 4 pm. (Closed Saturday Sunday) 
  • Dinner: Broke Da Mouth Grinds 11-7 pm (closed Sunday Monday)
  • Kahalu’u Beach Park

Saturday Hilo Day

  • Akaka Falls (30 min walk) - 30-60 min, need to pay for parking 10 dollars, 5 dollar pp to enter.
  • Rainbow falls(30 min - 1 hr) - Free
  • Two Ladies Kitchen 10 am- 4 pm for mochi
  • Farmers market- closes at 3 pm
  • Lunch: Pineapples Island open till 9:30 
  • Explore Hilo and drive back to Kona.
  • Hapuna beach- pay for parking.
  • Dinner: Teshima Restaurant


  • 7 AM Honaunau Bay early morning - free
  • The Coffee Shack for brunch 10 am
  • Banana bread shack nearby in Captain cook
  • Kenichi Bento Box - togo
  • Head to South side
  • Punaluu bake shop- closes at 5 pm
  • Punaluu Black Sand Beach Quick stop.
  • Volcanos national park (crater Rim trail- 2 hrs) 
  • Thurston Lava tube 
  • Volcanos national park at night 


  • LUNCH: Kuhio Grille
  • acai bowl at magic pineapples shack
  • Hawai‘i Tropical Bioreserve & Garden- 30 pp to enter
  • Volcano National Park again- sulfur trails, Kilauea lookout.
  • Manta Ray Tour night time -  Please arrive by 7:45pm 
  • Sea Quest check in is located at this address
    78-7138 Kaleiopapa St
    Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
  • Huggos- for dinner prior to Manta Ray Didn't have time to do this.


  • We rented a car from Avis, Turo was more expensive in this case.


  • We stayed in a Airbnb in Kona, we made sure to get one with a washer and dryer. The prices for airbnbs are pretty great in my opinion!

Let's Get Started!

1. Scandi's Shave Ice

Located in Kailua-Kona, Scandinavian Shave Ice referred to as "Scandi's" by the locals is a Kona landmark that has been located in the heart of Kailua Village since 1991. We made a quick stop here and ordered their Sunrise with Strawberry yoghurt. The shave ice here come in such large portions they have their own holders! It hit the spot in the 90 degree weather.

2. Da Poke Shack

The best poke you'll find on the island. I recommend getting the poke platter that comes with 4 different poke scoops for 35 dollars. We got a mix but the Shack special was my favorite poke of the 4 in my opinion. The poke is cut fresh here and it's absolutely delicious. We went in September and didn't deal with any crowds but it's usually really famous with a line out the door.

3. Broke Da Mouth Grindz

Another famous spot featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, this spot does not disappoint. I noticed this place featured a lot of Korean Hawaii Food. We ordered the 2 meat plates, got the spicy furikake chicken as a meat option for both and got the Kalua Pork and Braised Short rib. I also upgraded one of the plates to have Kimchi Fried Rice. The food here was delicious! I recommend taking the food togo like we did and go eat it at the Kahalu'u Beach Park! The braised short rib and the furikake chicken were my favorite dishes!

4. Sunset at Kahalu’u Beach Park

There's nothing more serene than eating a lunch plate while watching the sunset and listening to music. The music part was contributed by a local who was blasting Hawaiian music from his truck! It was so great and fit the mood perfectly. This beach is known for snorkeling and is pretty shallow. There's lots of picnic tables on the beach to eat at too!

5. Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls is located in Hilo. It's completely free and one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. There's a beautiful Banyan tree up the hill too. I was told if you go early in the morning you can see a rainbow but I didn't see a rainbow at 9 am.

6. Akaka Falls

Akaka falls is located at Akaka falls state park. It's a .4 loop about 30-45 minutes to get to the actual falls! It's such an easy loop with a beautiful views and paved trails. You do need to pay an entrance and parking fee. 10 dollars to park and 5 dollars pp to enter. It's worth it imo, There was a rainbow toward the end of the falls. There isn't a way to go up close to the waterfall but the views are fabulous.

7. Two Ladies Kitchen Famous Mochi

This is a must when visiting Hilo. We got there earlier in the day and there wasn't a line. The only negative was that the mochi take a really long time to make, about 30-60 minutes after you order. I think it's because they make the mochi fresh. If you come here make sure to try their Strawberry mochi or the strawberry short cake mochi. Those were my favorite but expect long waits! We ordered 20 different mochi and it was so worth it!

8. Exploring Downtown Hilo and Farmers Market

Downtown Hilo is full of hidden gems. We went to the Knickknackery and bought some quails from Dorothy Okumoto, the only ceramic artist in Hawaii according to the shopkeeper. There was also a farmers market selling fruit and souvenirs.

Fried Fish at Pineapples

The best day to visit the Hilo farmers Market is Wednesdays and Saturdays as there's tons of vendors.

For lunch we ate at Pineapple but unfortunately we weren't a fan of the food. If you can, try to visit Kawamoto store as I heard great things but they sell out early.

Acai Bowl from Magic Pineapple Shack

9. Hapuna Beach

Hapuna beach is a lovely beach with beautiful white sands. It's known for being the most beautiful swimmable beach in Big Island. The white sands are imported from Australia. There's a 5 dollar entry fee for non residents. The day we went it was raining but otherwise bring beach chairs and enjoy the white sandy beaches.

10. Teshima Restaurant

Teishoku Dinner at Teshimas

One of the oldest restaurants on Big Island. We walked in with no wait. They offer Teishoku dinner sets and traditional Japanese Hawaiian dishes like Saimen. The sashimi here tastes fresh and delicious. Overall, I would say the food here is very homey and comforting!

11. Snorkel Honaunau Bay

Honaunau or two step beach is a must for snorkeling. After snorkeling in Oahu I thing that the beaches at Big Island are teeming with wildlife in comparison. It is free to enter and I recommend going super early around 7am before the crowds get there. We parked on the street. The water here is really deep so i recommend a life vest if you can't swim well.

12. Brunch with Views at The Coffee Shack

Liliha Cheesecake
Breakfast Plate

Coffee Shack has some of the best views I've ever had while eating. The shack actually farms its own coffee beans. There's tons of cute gold dust geckos that come on the patio while you're eating. I recommend the Liliha Cheesecake, the classic breakfast with potatoes, sausage, bacon, and eggs. My only critique was I wasn't a fan of their eggs benedict or french toast. The negative is there may be a long wait for a table.

Gold Dust Geckos

13. Banana Bread Searching

Banana Bread Spot

I recommend looking for banana bread while you're in Captain Cook area. There's lots of vendors on the street selling banana bread that you can purchase from an ice chest. They take venmo and you take what you want to purchase. We went to the Banana Bread spot near Captain Cook and the macadamia nut banana bread was delicious! This is the one we went to -83-5437 Painted Church Rd, Captain Cook, HI 96704.

14. Punaluu Bakeshop


Punaluu Bakeshop is the southern most bake shop in the US. They kinda remind me of buckees but I recommend the plain Malasadas and the Liliha Glazed Malasada. The baked goods here were really delicious and it's a great pit stop on the way to Volcanos or the Black Sands Beach!

15. Punaluu Black Sands Beach

Black sands beach is a wonder. The sands are completely black and so cool to see! You can't swim at this beach since it's dangerous with crashing waves but I saw people with their swim suits. There's also lots of turtles on this beach but we didn't see any.

16. Volcanos National Park

Sulphur Banks

Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is one of the coolest national parks I've been to. I recommend going to the visitor center and picking out the best hike for your time. We actually visited the national park twice during our stay. First at night to see the eruption and the next day at day time to walk along the sulphur banks! I recommend doing the Thurston lava Tube as it's a short hike or to get here early and do hikes all day. There's also a hotel and restaurant in the park! Word of advice is to bring water and a jacket as it's pretty cold. Def Stop by the Kilauea Overlook.

Thurston Lava Tubes

17. Stargazing

One of the top activities in Big Island is viewing the stars. Mauna Loa Observatory is a really cool observatory located on the Island. It's difficult to get there and most rental cars companies don't allow you to drive there or you need a 4 wheel drive. There are tours but they're are pretty pricey. An alternative is Kīpukapuaulu (Bird Park) parking lot near the Volcanos national Park. We watched the stars from beach chairs in the parking lot.

18. Famous One Pound Lau Lau at Kuhio Grille

One Pound Lau Lau with Fried Rice upgrade

Kuhio Grille is a spot that was suggested by a local to me. They are located in Hilo, so yes we backtracked to Hilo lol. We got the Lau lau plate and upgraded to their fried rice. The fried rice was amazing! It was honestly some of the best I've ever had. The Lau lau was perfection! I highly recommend going here!

19. Hawai‘i Tropical Bioreserve & Garden

A beautiful botanical garden near Hilo. It costs 30 dollars and is worth it. It's really humid and I recommend wearing sunblock and bringing bug spray! There's a waterfall and ocean views. Easily one of the most beautiful botanical gardens I've seen.

20. Manta Ray Tour

Manta Ray Tour is a bucket list activity in Kona in my opinion! We did Seaquest for 128 per person. I recommend seaquest because they provide prescription snorkeling if you need it too. Also they're located 5 min outside of Manta Bay and trust me, those shakey boat rides are awful and a shorter ride is better. They also fit you with a wet suit when you arrive. They ask that you arrive earlier and park on the street. I recommend going for the later time at night as I think the bay is less crowded and there's more mantas. Technically they say you have to be able to swim but they do give you a pool noodle to hold onto so it's more knowing how to kick in the water. Once they get out into the water, you paddle to a large board that has a large light attracting plankton. The manta rays are about 6-30 ft in length and come right up to the board to eat the plankton! They may even brush your elbows. Apparently, years ago the nearby hotel put out the lights and one day the Mantas showed up and they never left. We saw over 20 mantas on our tour but apparently that's usually way more than people see. Warning: The board is extremely shakey and I experienced horrible seasickness depsite taking nausea medication. I threw up into the ocean and so did half of the people on my tour. So be mindful!

21. Buying Kona Coffee and visiting a Farm.

Heavenly Hawaiian Coffee

Kona coffee is famous. There's many kona coffee farms on Big Island but we went to Heavenly Hawaiian Kona Coffee farm and it was lovely! There was an amazing view, a pool, free tours, and a cafe. The coffee is pretty expensive and I was told costco had cheaper options but I noticed that they weren't 100% kona coffee and had a mix of beans. Peabody coffee which is made by the smaller whole beans are said to be more desirable since they're rarer. If you're not a big coffee drinker you might like the peabody chocolate too.