The Ultimate Big Island Hawaii Itinerary for 2 Days

Are you wondering how to spend the perfect two days on the Big Island? You’re in the right place. 

I have been to the Big Island 3 times now, and recently spent 10 days exploring the island. The Big Island has beautiful white and black sand beaches, volcanoes, waterfalls, farms, historical sites, and much more.

Although I recommend spending at least 5 days exploring the Big Island, you can still create lifelong memories on a 2 day trip.

So, which places are worth visiting? And what can you see in just 2 days?

To help you plan a memorable trip with limited time on the island, I’ve put together a suggested 2 day Big Island itinerary. If you want to fill your days with adventure and see the top sites, this is the itinerary for you. 

2 Day Big Island Itinerary At A Glance (Kona)

  • Day 1: Kona coffee farm, Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, beaches, night time manta ray snorkeling 
  • Day 2: Punalu’u bakery, Punalu’u Beach, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kona Inn Shopping Village

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2 Day Big Island Itinerary: Starting in Kona

Day 1: Kona

Kona coffee farm tour

Greenwell Farms, Kona
  Greenwell Farms, Kona

To start your first day on the island, head to a coffee farm for a free tour. Kona coffee is loved around the world for its bold flavor, and there are over 600 coffee farms in Kona alone! Many of these farms offer free tours, including Greenwell Farms and Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation. 

We stopped by Greenwell Farms for their free coffee tour, which they have daily from 9am-3pm. This is a 1-hour tour where you’ll get to walk through their farm, and learn about their coffee cultivation process. We got to sample peppercorn off of a tree, and enjoy free coffee and sea salt samples at the end of the tour. 

Free coffee tour at Greenwell Farms, Kona
Free coffee tour at Greenwell Farms, Kona

If you want a more in-depth tour, they also offer a Deluxe Tour & Tasting starting at $39.95. The paid tour includes a tour of their coffee mills, and a cupping session where you’ll get to learn how professionals evaluate the quality of coffee. 

Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park

After touring a coffee farm, head to Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park. The park’s name translates to “Place of Refuge”, since it historically served as a sanctuary for ancient Hawaiians. 

Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, Kona

This is an excellent place to learn about Hawaiian culture and history, and it’s open daily until sunset. It costs $20 per vehicle or $10 to enter the park. Once you arrive, you can stop at the visitor center to watch a short film and pick up a map of the park. The park’s right by the ocean, and the grounds are surrounded by fascinating ancient structures. 

Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, Kona

Beaches in Kona

No trip to the Big Island would be complete without relaxing on Kona’s white sand beaches. There’s dozens of amazing beaches, but we spent most of our time at Magic Sands Beach, Hapuna Beach, and Spencer Beach Park. 

Magic Sands Beach is a popular white sand beach that gets its nickname “Magic Sands” because the tide pulls in the sand, making most of the beach disappear on high tide days. If you visit during the summer, this is an excellent beach for swimming or boogie boarding. It has restrooms, picnic areas, and free parking. 

Magic Sands Beach, Kona
Magic Sands Beach, Kona

However, Hapuna Beach was by far the most beautiful beach we visited in Kona. It has a long stretch of soft white sand, crystal clear waters, picnic areas, restrooms, and showers. 

Hapuna Beach, Kona
Hapuna Beach, Kona

This is the perfect place to set up a picnic on the beach, or go to watch the sunset. It costs $10 for parking, and $5 per person to enter the park. 

If you’re looking for a family-friendly beach, head to Spencer Beach Park in North Kona.

Spencer Beach Park, Waimea
Spencer Beach Park, Waimea

It has a sandy beach with gentle waters, picnic areas, restrooms, showers, and campgrounds. It’s free to visit and has plenty of free parking. 

But if you want to snorkel, Kahalu’u Beach Park is the place to go. This white sand beach has gentle, crystal clear waters filled with bright coral, tropical fish and sea turtles. The parking fee costs $12 for four hours, and it has restrooms, picnic areas, and showers. 

Night Time Manta Ray Snorkeling

Honokohau Marina & Small Boat Harbor, Kona

As the sun starts to set, head down to Honokohau harbor to go night time manta ray snorkeling.

Night time manta ray snorkeling are one of the most unique activities to experience while on the Big Island. You’ll get to go on a short cruise out to a manta ray feeding site, and use lightboards to attract plankton. 

Since the manta rays feed on plankton, you’ll get within inches from huge manta rays. The tours begin after 7pm, and they provide all snorkeling equipment. 

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Sunset Cruise To Kealeakeau Bay

For those afraid of swimming in the dark, a great alternative activity is to go on a sunset cruise to Kealeakeau Bay. Kealeakeau Bay is a deep sheltered water bay that’s only accessible by boat or hiking a nearly 4 mile trail. 

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Kealeakeau Bay, Captain Cook HI

It has an incredible diversity of marine life, and is a resting site for spinner dolphins. If you go on an evening snorkeling tour, you’ll have a great chance of spotting dolphins, whales, and other marine life. 

Captain Cook Monument, Kealeakeau Bay

It’s also home to the Captain Cook Monument, which marks the site where the first westerner that discovered the Big Island (Captain James Cook) was killed in 1779. On a snorkeling cruise, you’ll get to enjoy live music and drinks while learning all about the site’s historical significance. 

Day 2: Kona to Volcanoes National Park

Kīlauea Overlook, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a must see place for anyone visiting the Big Island. It’s home to the world’s largest shield volcano (Mauna Loa), and one of the world’s most active volcanoes (Kīlauea). Although most people recommend exploring the park for 2 days, you can see most of the top sites on a day trip. 

Punalu’u bakery

On your way from Kona to the Volcanoes National Park, stop by Punalu’u bakery for breakfast. The Punalu’u bakery is the southernmost bakery in the United States, and famous for their malasadas, a delicious fluffy Hawaiian donut. They sell Hawaiian pastries, breakfast sandwiches, and a variety of flavored malasadas. 

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Crater Rim Trail, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

After breakfast, head to the Volcanoes National Park. You’ll have to pay $30 per vehicle to enter the park for a 7-day pass. Once you arrive, I recommend stopping by the Kīlauea Visitor Center to pick up a park map, and learn about the different hikes available. You can also view a list of their day hikes on their website. 

You can also use find a self-guided driving tour here

In a day, we hiked Sulphur Banks Trail, part of Crater Rim Trail, and walked through the Thurston Lava Tube. 

Sulphur Banks Trail is a short 1.5 mile loop trail beginning near the visitor center that’s perfect for a day trip. The trail has boardwalks, and volcanic thermal areas where sulfur gas seeps out of the ground. 

Sulphur Banks Trail, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

We started hiking Sulphur Banks Trail, and crossed the street (Crater Rim Drive) to begin hiking Crater Rim Trail. Crater Rim Trail is an 11 mile trail that encircles the Kīlauea caldera, where you can see steam vents, and lava flows emerge from the summit. 

Crater Rim Trail, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Other popular things to do within the park are hiking the Kīlauea Iki trail, and driving Chain of Craters Road. The Kīlauea Iki trail is a 3.3 mile hike where you’ll get to walk over a solidified lava lake next to the summit of the Kīlauea volcano. 

Chain of Craters Road is a 19 mile road that leads down to the coast, passing by old lava flows, petroglyphs, volcanic craters, and a sea arch. Before we left the park, we walked through the Thurston Lava Tube.

Thurston Lava Tube, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

This is a short 0.5 mile hike through a 500 year old lava tube that was one of the highlights of our visit. 

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Punalu’u Black Sand Beach

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach

After a long day exploring the Volcanoes National Park, head to Punalu’u Beach. Punalu’u is a spectacular black sand beach, just a 20 minute drive from the park. 

The beach has fine black sand made of basalt, and is fringed with coconut palm trees. We spotted a few sea turtles on the shore when we visited. It’s free to visit, and it has picnic areas, restrooms, showers, and a small souvenir shop. 

Downtown Kona 

Before leaving the island, stop by Kona Inn Shopping Village in downtown Kona. This is a waterfront shopping village with small boutiques, souvenir shops, and restaurants. It’s a great place to enjoy a waterfront dinner during sunset and shop for Hawaiian gifts to bring home. 

Kona Inn Shopping Village, Ali‘i Drive
Kona Inn Shopping Village, Ali‘i Drive

More Things to Do in the Big Island Hawaii

See Waterfalls in Hilo

If you want to visit the Big Islands waterfalls, you can do a road trip from Kona to Hilo on day two (instead of visiting the Volcanoes National Park). Hilo is a charming small town on the east side of the island that has a zoo, waterfalls, botanical gardens, beach parks, and more. It’s around a 1.5–2 hour drive from Kona, depending on the route you take. 

The quickest route from Kona to Hilo is Saddle Road, but the best route to maximize your time is taking highway 19 along the Hamakua coast (northern route). By traveling along the scenic Hamakua coast, you’ll get to pass by the Waipio Lookout, Akaka Falls, and Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. 

Or, you can stop by Hilo after visiting the Volcanoes National Park to see Rainbow Falls. 

Then, you can take the quickest route (Saddle Road) to return to Kona, which is around a 1.5 hour drive. 

For more guidance on where to stay on the Big Island of #Hawaii, make sure to check out our article on Kona vs Hilo

Author Bio: Layla Pond of Layla’s Lens

Layla Pond is a solo female travel blogger and the creator of Layla’s Lens. She has traveled to 20 countries, 13 states, and is on a mission to see the rest of the world. As a California native, she also shares her favorite nature destinations in Southern California. 


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