You can see one or two of the biggest Hawaii highlights during a day trip to the Big Island if you follow our itinerary. The ‘must see’ destination for your 1 day is of course the most active volcano of the island (and the world). If you plan properly, you can add another (or if you are really rushing it two) trip(s) to your day. Your best options for this extra adventures are listed here.
However, if you have the choice, we urgently suggest to at least stay one night on the island. If that is not possible, e.g. because you are visiting the island as part of a cruise, your best option is to rent a car at your place of arrival, and take a pick from the following Big Island Highlights:
One day in paradise itinerary: Seeing the volcano and one more adventure!
The Hawaii Volcanoes national park offers a spectacular view on one of the worlds most active volcano’s! If you drive up the the national park you can spend your day exploring lava-tubes, descend into crates that were full of lava only decades ago and explore many trails in the lush rainforest in the park.
If you happen to be on the east (Hilo) side of the Island, you could also hike to the lava flow. To avoid disappointments first call to the national park at (808)985-6000 to check to current lava conditions.
Here is more information about visiting the lava.
One extra adventure [a]: Seeing Hawaii from the Sky!
If time is your bottleneck on Hawaii, consider using it on a Helicopter tour to see as many of the Big Island Highlights. Seeing Hawaii from birds eye perspective is arguably one of the best ways to spend your bucks if you only have one day. Read more about Helicopter Tours on Hawaii.
If you like to spend you day in leisure on a white or black sand beach, don’t forget to rent some snorkeling equipment and to take sunscreen!
If you are on the Kona side of the island, your beach of choice is Kahalu’u Beach Park. This beach is often nicknamed “turtle beach” and is a great place for leisure and snorkeling.
If you are on the Hilo side of the Island, There are a couple of beaches shortly east of Hilo. Of these the closest is Onekahakaha beach park. This is a beautiful white sand beach with good swimming opportunities. Slightly further east are Leleiwi beach park and Richardson’s beach. These beaches offer great snorkeling. If you want to go a bit further, go to Punalu’u Beach Park. This is the most famous black sand beach on the island with great swimming and snorkeling. It is located south of Hilo of Highway 11.
Here you can read more information and tips on going to the beach in Hawaii.
Yet another extra adventure [c]: A stunning Hike
If you want to be left in awe by the Hawaii’s highest waterfalls, a black sand beach and the lush rainforest, we suggest you to spend your day in Waipi’o valley (also known as the Valley of Kings). Waipi’o valley is located at the end of Highway 240. Take notice: to enter Waipi’o valley you either have to drive a 4WD car or start and end your day with a strenuous 3/4 hour hike down and up the valley wall.
Once in the valley you can choose from a multitude of hikes into one of the five fingers of Waipi’o valley. In the left-most finger of the valley flows the highest waterfall in the state of Hawaii. The hike to this waterfall (named Hiilawe) is great fun, leads through a chest-deep river and ends with a swim under the waterfall. You need to be in good fitness to go on this hike. Do not go if you are not well-prepared. The rewards of this hike however, are great.
One extra adventure [d]:…. Or pick your favorite outdoor activity
If you already have an idea about what activity you want to do during your one day on the Big Island, check out our guide for 20+ outdoor activities!