Recommended Number of Days to Spend on the Big Island

How many days should you spend on the Big Island of Hawaii during your vacation or trip?

Beyond Pololu Valley

How many days should I spend on the Big Island of Hawaii?

Our recommendations for visiting the Big Island

You are planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands and wondering about the recommended number of days to spend on Big Island of Hawaii. Determining the ideal duration of your stay in Hawaii depends on various factors. This article will help you choose the perfect length of stay for your adventure on Hawaii's Big Island.

We'll prioritize activities based on your preferences, from exploring volcanoes to relaxing on pristine beaches. Next, we'll discuss transportation options around the island that can impact how much time you need. Finally, we'll guide you through planning an itinerary that balances sightseeing with leisurely downtime. Considering all these aspects in this guide on the recommended number of days to spend on Big Island of Hawaii, you will have an unforgettable experience tailored just for you.

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Taking in the view at Akaka Falls State Park

Taking in the view at Akaka Falls State Park

Determine your Ideal Length of Stay

Deciding how long to stay on the Big Island of Hawaii is a must, given its wide array of activities and attractions. For an optimal experience, we suggest dedicating 7-10 days to exploring the Big Island of Hawaii. However, if you don't have a week or more to devote to the island, we'll also discuss your best options for shorter trips below.

When planning your trip, consider travel time, budget constraints, personal interests, and available vacation time. Remember that the more days you spend on the island, the more opportunities you'll have to explore regions like Kona, Hilo, or Volcano Village.

  • Short stays (3-5 days): If you're short on time but still want to taste what the Big Island offers, focus on one or two main attractions, such as visiting Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park or snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay.
  • Moderate stays (6-9 days): A moderate-length stay allows relaxation and exploration. You can visit multiple regions while also taking advantage of beach time or enjoying local cuisine.
  • Extended stays (10+ days): A more prolonged stay provides ample opportunity for adventure seekers looking to hike through lush rainforests or witness lava flows up close at night (when Kilauea is actively erupting) from one of the world's most active volcanoes.

To ensure you don't miss out on any must-see attractions, check out our Big Island Sightseeing Guide for a list of top-rated experiences and destinations.

Remember that the Big Island is much larger (hence the name) than all other Hawaiian islands (twice as large as the others combined), so travel times between attractions can be substantial. Allocating enough time to explore each region leisurely will help you make the most of your visit without feeling rushed.

Hiking out to Makalawena Beach

Hiking out to Makalawena Beach

Factors Affecting Your Stay Duration

Determining the Total Days, You'll Spend on the Big Island

  • Budget: Consider how much money you will spend on accommodations, food, transportation, and activities during your trip. Longer stays typically require larger budgets, and you'll likely want extra days on the Big Island.
  • Interests: Think about which aspects of the Big Island appeal most to you. Are you interested in outdoor adventures like hiking or snorkeling? Or do cultural experiences like luaus or historical sites hold more allure?
  • Vacation Style: Are you seeking restorative downtime by lounging beachside? Or would you prefer action-packed days filled with sightseeing excursions?

To make the most informed decision regarding your ideal length of stay on the Big Island, research top attractions, events, and local customs before finalizing any plans. This guarantees you an experience tailored to your inclinations and preferences.

Kilauea Volcano in 2022

Kilauea Volcano in 2022

Recommended Number of Days to Spend on Big Island of Hawaii

While the answer depends on your preferences and travel style, we recommend spending at least five to seven days on the island to experience its diverse attractions and activities fully. Ideally, as we noted above, you'd devote a week to 10 days to exploring the island.

With so much to see and do on the Big Island, it's essential to prioritize your activities to make the most of your time there. To help you decide which attractions, events, and experiences are most important for your trip, consider creating a list of must-see destinations based on personal interests or recommendations from friends and online resources like our Must See & Do on the Big Island.

If you're an outdoor enthusiast, you might want to focus on exploring some of the island's stunning natural wonders, such as Hawaii Volcanoes National ParkPololu Valley, or Akaka Falls State Park. For those interested in history and culture, don't miss out on visiting Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park or attending a traditional Hawaiian Luau.

Remember that certain activities may require reservations or have limited availability due to seasonal factors. For example, manta ray night snorkeling adventures are best experienced during summer, while whale-watching tours are more common between December and April. Make sure to research these factors when planning your itinerary.

To optimize your time on the island, consider grouping activities near each other or combined into a single-day trip. For instance, you could visit Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park in the morning and stop at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach in the afternoon. You'll ensure an unforgettable experience on the Big Island by prioritizing and organizing your activities efficiently.

Torch Ginger in Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

Torch Ginger in Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

Key Takeaway: 

To fully experience the diverse attractions and activities on the Big Island of Hawaii, spending at least five to seven days there is recommended. Prioritizing must-see destinations based on personal interests or recommendations from online resources like our Top Things to Do can help optimize time and ensure an unforgettable experience. Grouping nearby activities into a single-day trip can save time while exploring the island's stunning natural wonders, historical sites, cultural events, beaches, and family-friendly adventures.

Rainbow Falls in Hilo

Rainbow Falls in Hilo

Consider Transportation Options

When planning your trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, evaluating different transportation options for getting around the island is essential. The right choice will depend on your preferences, budget, and itinerary.

Rental Cars: Renting a car is one of the most popular ways to explore the Big Island at your own pace. With a rental car, you can easily access various attractions such as Hawaii Volcanoes National ParkAkaka Falls State Park, and numerous beaches along the coastlines. Remember that renting a car may require advance reservations during peak travel seasons or if you have specific vehicle requirements.

  • Tips:
    • Compare prices from multiple rental agencies before booking.
    • Consider purchasing additional insurance coverage for peace of mind.
    • Familiarize yourself with local driving laws and regulations.

Taxis and Ride-Sharing Services: If you prefer not to drive or only need occasional transportation, taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft are available on the Big Island. These options can be convenient for airport transfers or short trips within urban areas like Kailua-Kona or Hilo but may become expensive if used frequently throughout your stay.

  • Tips:
    • Estimate fares ahead of time using smartphone apps.
    • Allow extra time for pick-up during busy periods or in remote locations.

Public Transportation: The Big Island's public transportation system, called Hele-On Bus, offers limited service between major towns and attractions. Though cost-effective, Hele-On Bus may not be ideal for those with strict timelines or who wish to explore lesser known areas.

  • Tips:
    • Review bus routes and schedules in advance.
    • Purchase a multi-day pass if you use public transportation frequently during your stay.

In conclusion, considering your transportation options before arriving on the Big Island of Hawaii will help ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. Organizing your means of getting around before arriving on the Big Island can help make for a more tranquil and pleasant stay, whether you opt for car rental, taxis or ride-sharing services, or public transportation.

Exploring Lava Fields in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Exploring Lava Fields in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Key Takeaway: 

When planning a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, it's important to consider transportation options such as renting a car, using taxis or ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft, and public transportation. Renting a car is the most popular way to explore the island at your own pace.

Hiking the Pololu Valley Trail in Kohala

Hiking the Pololu Valley Trail in Kohala

Allocate Time for Relaxation

The Big Island of Hawaii is not just about going through a catalog of sights and experiences; it's also an ideal destination to de-stress and soak in the island's gorgeousness. To make the most out of your visit, ensure you allocate enough time for relaxation and exploration.

One way to relax on the Big Island is by visiting its stunning beaches. With various options ranging from white sand beaches like Hapuna Beach State Park to unique black sand beaches such as Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, there are plenty of spots where you can soak up some sun or take a refreshing dip in the ocean.

  • Visit Waterfalls: The Big Island boasts numerous picturesque waterfalls that offer tranquility and adventure. Some popular choices include Akaka Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Onomea Falls, located inside the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden (admission required).
  • Hike through Rainforests: Explore lush rainforests teeming with native flora and fauna by taking hikes along trails like those found in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park or Pololu Valley Lookout Trail.
  • Savor Local Cuisine: Treat yourself to authentic Hawaiian dishes at local restaurants or food trucks scattered throughout the island. During your stay, don't miss trying delicacies such as poke bowls, loco moco, or malasadas. Check out our best local Hawaii places to eat articles for more information and ideas on where to grab local dishes.

In addition to allocating time for relaxation during your trip planning process, consider incorporating downtime into each day's itinerary. This could mean scheduling leisurely mornings spent sipping coffee on your lanai (balcony), setting aside afternoons for beach lounging, or planning evenings to enjoy breathtaking sunsets and stargazing.

Remember, the Big Island of Hawaii presents a captivating mix of excitement and tranquility. By allocating time for relaxation amidst your action-packed itinerary, you'll be able to fully appreciate the island's natural beauty and create lasting memories during your visit.

Exploring Pu'uohonua o Honaunau

Exploring Pu'uohonua o Honaunau

Itinerary Ideas for Visiting the Big Island

Plan Your Itinerary for Hawaii Island

Prioritizing your Big Island of Hawaii itinerary is critical to ensuring a well-rounded experience. By prioritizing activities, considering transportation options, and allocating time for relaxation, you can create a well-rounded trip that caters to all interests.

To begin planning your itinerary, research popular attractions and activities on the island. Some must-see spots include Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kona Coffee Country, and Akaka Falls State Park. Consider incorporating cultural experiences such as luaus or traditional Hawaiian cooking classes into your schedule.

Next, determine how you will get around the island during your stay. As noted previously, renting a car provides flexibility and is the preferred choice in our opinion. Be sure to book any necessary reservations in advance - especially if visiting during peak tourist seasons - as availability may be limited.

  • Day 1: Arrival and check-in at accommodations; explore nearby beaches or local shops/restaurants.
  • Day 2: Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; hike through lava tubes and witness active volcanoes up close.
  • Day 3: Tour Kona Coffee Country; sample locally-grown coffee while learning about its cultivation process.
  • Day 4: Explore Akaka Falls State Park; marvel at the stunning waterfalls and lush rainforest surroundings.
  • Day 5: Attend a traditional Hawaiian luau or cooking class to immerse yourself in local culture.
  • Day 6: Relax on Big Island's beautiful beaches, such as Hapuna Beach or Punalu'u Black Sand Beach.
  • Day 7: Departure day; check out of accommodations and bid farewell to the Big Island.

This sample itinerary is just a starting point - feel free to customize it based on your interests and priorities. Consider that the weather can be unpredictable, so having alternative activities in mind is always a wise move. Additionally, don't forget to allocate time for relaxation and enjoy the island's natural beauty. Check out more itinerary ideas on our Big Island Itineraries page.

Itinerary Conclusion

Organizing your trip beforehand will guarantee a fantastic experience on the Big Island of Hawaii. By prioritizing activities, considering transportation options, and allocating time for relaxation, you'll create a well-rounded trip that caters to all interests while maximizing your time exploring this incredible destination.

So, whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, we highly recommend spending at least five to seven days on the Big Island of Hawaii to immerse yourself in its beauty and culture fully. If time and your budget allow, seven to ten days are even better since there is so much to see and do on this island.

John & Victoria at Green Sand Beach

John & Victoria at Green Sand Beach

FAQs about Recommended Number of Days to Spend on the Big Island of Hawaii 

Are three days enough for Big Island?

While you can get a taste of the Big Island in 3 days, spending at least 5-7 days, and ideally more, exploring its diverse attractions is recommended. This allows time for visiting popular sites like Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Mauna Kea Summit, and the beautiful beaches.

Is five days enough for Big Island Hawaii?

Yes, spending five days on the Big Island will give you ample time to explore its main attractions. However, if you want a more relaxed pace or plan to participate in activities such as hiking or snorkeling, consider extending your stay to 7 or 10 days.

How many days should you spend on each island in Hawaii?

The ideal length of stay varies depending on personal preferences and interests. Generally speaking:

  • Oahu: 4-6 Days
  • Mau'i: 5-7 Days
  • Kauai: 4-6 Days
  • Hawaii (Big Island): At least 5-7 Days, 7-10 is preferable

What is the perfect amount of days in Hawaii?

There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer since it depends on individual preferences and travel goals. For first-time visitors who want an overview of multiple islands, plan for around two weeks. If focusing solely on one island like the Big Island or Maui, allocate at least five full vacationing days.

Roadside Farm to Table Stand

Roadside Farm to Table Stand


Deciding how many days to spend on the Big Island can be challenging. Still, you can maximize your trip by prioritizing activities and planning your itinerary. It's also essential to allocate time for relaxation because it is a vacation, after all!

Ultimately, the time to stay on the island will depend upon one's desires and goals for the trip. Our recommended number of days to spend on the Big Island of Hawaii is at least five to seven days to experience its diverse landscapes and culture, with our preference being 7-10 days to fully maximize the experience of all there is to see and do on the island.

If you want more information about visiting Hawaii or need help planning your trip, check out our Big Island of Hawaii Travel Guide. It provides comprehensive travel information that covers everything from accommodations and dining options to outdoor activities and local events on the Big Island.

Sunset atop Mauna Kea

Sunset atop Mauna Kea

Recommended Big Island Tours
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