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Our Big Island, Hawaii Itinerary - Our Recommendations

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

We had a great 7-day trip to Big Island! The places we visited and things were did were a culmination of recommendations from friends and family! This is ALWAYS my favorite way to plan trips is for friends' recommendations - it helps you filter through the endless reviews! My goal with the itineraries is to provide SHORT overviews and then I will have detailed reports of the activities later.


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As of 03.26.22. domestic travel no longer requires COVID-related requirements. Restrictions for international travel still apply. The mask mandate was also lifted, but may still be required throughout certain areas (especially public travel). Check out the Hawaii Travel site for most up-to-date info. During our end of April 2022 trip, masks were not required in our taxi and throughout our resort.


GETTING AROUND THE ISLAND

NOTE: If you're coming from the mainland US or any major city, it is much more difficult to grab a Lyft or an Uber - even if the app says they're looking for a driver, sometimes it'll look for 20 minutes just to say that there are no drivers available. We found ourselves a little stuck at the airport trying to get to our Turo and most of the taxis that are waiting at the airport are cash only. Through our hotel we were able to find a great taxi company that takes credit card, you can call them at 808-796-7272.


Renting a Turo in Hawaii is a couple hundreds of dollars cheaper PER day. Of course, this can change at any moment, so always compare, but we have found that Turo has always been significantly cheaper in Hawaii


NOTE: Most links on our website are affiliate links, which means that The Bouj Crew collects a little bit of money or points when you click on certain links. This is to help us with the upkeep and fees associated with running a website, offering products, etc!


Our referral link will get you 130,000 Hilton points with their credit card (restrictions apply). This is DEFINITELY a resort, but you sure pay for it - resort fees, parking fees, etc. (No special parking spots for Diamond members). At the time that I booked, there was a $300 difference PER night to book at the Ocean Tower versus the main tower (Makai). When I looked at the reviews, I KNEW this would be the furthest tower from the main entrance, but for $300 savings PER night I felt it worth it. However, we spent most of our time off of the resort, and don't feel that the stay here was worth it. We often ran late in leaving the resort, because it took that long to walk from our room to the lobby then to the parking lot (15-20 minutes). The resort does provide drinking water (you will need bottles to fill-up) at regular spots throughout the resort.





NOTE: Most links on our website are affiliate links, which means that The Bouj Crew collects a little bit of money or points when you click on certain links. This is to help us with the upkeep and fees associated with running a website, offering products, etc!

ITINERARY

Date of Trip: end of April 2022

Day 1 - Arrive into Kona airport about 4pm. Pickup Turo (rental car) and stop at the grocery store for water and have dinner at Kuleana Rum Shack.


Day 2 - Explore Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park and watch the sea turtles. Lunch at Umeke's and stop at HiCO for coffee while we waited for our table at Umeke's. Head to Kailua Bay and walk around the shops there. Gecko Girlz Shaved Ice for an early dessert then the Kanaloa Octopus Farm to interact with Octopus! Dinner at Beach Tree Bar at the beautiful Four Seasons Resort!


Day 3 - Drive to the South part of the island for an ATV Tour to Black Sand Beach & Green Sand Beach with a stop for coffee and the best banana bread I've ever had at Pink Mocha Cafe. Stop at L&L Hawaiian BBQ out of convenience to location, head back to the resort to use the hot tubs!


Day 4 - Head to Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden and stop by What's Shakin for coffee and a smoothie on the way. Cafe Pesto for a late lunch in preparation for a late night! Head to Volcanoes National Park to do the Chain of Craters Road (drive) plus get out to see some spots then end at Kilauea to see lava! Head to stargazing spot for our Stargazing tour by Mauna Kea.


Day 5 - A late start to the day due to the late stargazing tour. Stop by Ippy's Hawaiian Barbecue on our way to Hawaii Zipline Tours for an epic zipline over waterfalls! Stopped by Akaka Falls State Park before ending the day at Hilo Bay Cafe


NOTE: Most links on our website are affiliate links, which means that The Bouj Crew collects a little bit of money or points when you click on certain links. This is to help us with the upkeep and fees associated with running a website, offering products, etc!

Day 6 - Learn and interact with seahorses. Lunch at Genki Sushi with a return to HiCO for midday cocktails. Early dinner at Harbor House in order to make our Manta Ray Snorkel.


Day 7 - Finally spend some time at the resort. Snorkel in the salt water lagoon and see some amazing fish. Eat lunch at the lagoon grill and watch the dolphins at Dolphin Quest. Grab an early dinner at Kona Tap Room so we can catch the sunset at Buddha Point and sleep early for our early morning flight!


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THINGS TO DO - TOURS RECOMMENDED

OVERVIEW ON TOURS

Tours in Hawaii are PRETTY pricey. I would say on average, you're looking at $200 per adult PER tour. Check out our blog on how we scored $1,500 of tours on Big Island for FREE! Also note that dining times in Hawaii can be slower than compared to the US Mainland. In both Kauai in April 2021 and Big Island in April 2022 average lunch and dinner wait times were 1.5-2 hours. So, plan accordingly!


NOTE: Most links on our website are referral or affiliate links, which means that The Bouj Crew collects a little bit of money or points when you click on certain links. This is to help us with the upkeep and fees associated with running a website, offering products, etc!

KANALOA OCTOPUS TOUR (Kailua-Kona)

Absolutely worth the price! You get to interact with the Octopus and feed them along with learning all about them! Tours last 1 hour and are offered at 10am, 2pm and 4pm every day! $50 per adult (6yo and older) and $40 per child 5 and under (infants 12 months and under are free)



We did our tour through Aloha ATV Adventures LLC and loved it (the link above will take you to their tour). The views are breathtaking and include places that are difficult to reach by car (even if you rent a 4WD vehicle) plus the fun and excitement of riding/driving an ATV. FYI this is truly an off-road adventure and if you're not used to off-roading this may not be the best tour for you - I will detail more in my full review!


Also note that from Waikoloa this was a 2-hour drive. We gave ourselves 3 hours to stop for coffee and an extra bathroom break and arrived RIGHT on time. We stopped by Ocean View Market and all they had available were port-a-potty's that haven't been cleaned in awhile. We also stopped at the L&L in Oceanview to grab lunch after our tour and there were no bathrooms available here as well (the market, L&L and gas station were all pointing this poor patron to each other's establishments with no one giving up the key to the bathroom).


I hesitated with this tour because of the price, however, I was fearful of heading to the summit of Mauna Kea because of the altitude and the duration of the other tours was much longer. The reviews for Epic Tours were FANTASTIC (link above will take you to the direct link for Epic Tours) and I will say the reviews were all absolutely correct. Our photos were amazing and James is truly an expert in his field and makes stargazing fun. If you or a loved one is even remotely interested in space and stars this is a MUST do


NOTE: Most links on our website are affiliate links, which means that The Bouj Crew collects a little bit of money or points when you click on certain links. This is to help us with the upkeep and fees associated with running a website, offering products, etc!

I have tried ziplining on several trips but the timing, pricing, etc never seemed to work out, so when this one said it's over waterfalls, it was a no brainer to make it happen! The staff are fun and you feel safe in their care. The views are absolutely breathtaking and just such a neat course to complete! We absolutely recommend this!


This was a neat experience. However, I will say it's pretty pricey for only being able to hold a seahorse for a few minutes (some patrons got only a few sedconds). Price is $74 per adult (online - $2 more for walk-ins) with discounts for local residents, military, seniors and AAA members. Children (5-12yo) are $69 (online - $2 more for walk-ins)





This experience was recommended by every friend that went to Big Island, some reporting it was life-changing. I have to agree as the manta rays swim right up to you! I really enjoyed our tour group: Coral Reef Snorkel Adventures (link directly to them above) as they promise a small group, which is really nice that you have the attention/care of your guide. They did a great job of making sure we were in the correct spot and had all of our directions clearly so that the manta rays would stay around us and they did!


THE VANILLERIE (Kailua-Kona)

This experience was recommended by a friend that loved Big Island. #58 of 469 Best Things To Do in Big Island on Trip Advisor. Beautiful grounds with complementary homemade vanilla ice cream. Tours are only Wed-Friday at 10am and 12pm (making it tough to fit into our itinerary). Adults are $20pp and Children (14 and under) are $10pp


#16 of 469 things to do in Island of Hawaii on Trip Advisor. Many people rate that this is a MUST do. Dress casual and be prepared with a sweat shirt or light jacket. A true farm to table experience. You learn the history of the ranch, enjoy entertainment while dining, incredible sunsets, sit around the fire pit eating smores


Recommended by a friend that loves Big Island. Farm tours run at 1pm Monday through Saturday for $35 per person and include a welcome beverage of Vanilla Lemonade or Vanilla Ice Tea along with dessert! They also offer lunch and tours as well.


OTHER TOUR IDEAS

NOTE: Most links on our website are affiliate links, which means that The Bouj Crew collects a little bit of money or points when you click on certain links (this is at no extra cost to you). This is to help us with the upkeep and fees associated with running a website, offering products, etc!

THINGS TO DO - COFFEE FARM TOURS

This is not a comprehensive list. These were just coffee farms that I added to our list. There are SEVERAL on the island

GREENWELL FARMS (Kealakekua) - They produce 100% Kona Coffee with a rating of #30 of 469 Best Things to Do in Big Island (via Trip Advisor)

  • FREE 45-60 minute tour with coffee sampling before and after the tour

  • no reservations are required

  • Tour times: 9am, 10am, 10:30am, 11am, 11:30am, 12pm, 12:30pm, 1pm,1:30pm, 2pm, 2:30pm, 3:00pm

  • Arrive 10-15 minutes prior to start time

HOLUALOA KONA COFFEE CO (Holualoa) - They produce organic coffee and was recommended by a friend

  • Tours are FREE

  • Monday-Thursday 8a until 3pm

  • per website: masks are required

HULA DADDY KONA COFFEE, LLC (Holualoa) - They produce 100% Kona coffee with a rating of #43 of 469 Best Things To Do in Big Island on Trip Advisor

  • Tours are $30 per person

  • Tours last 60 minutes

  • They are only open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10am-1pm and min of 2 people required to book a tour


THINGS TO DO - NO TOURS NEEDED

A 182-acre park - a sacred place of refuse as well as Hawaiian chief temples. Check out their photos on google - it looks amazing, but we ran out of time to go here. The gates to the park close 15 minutes after sunset, which made it tough to fit into our plans. FREE for military (especially with an Interagency Military Pass). #34 of 469 Best Things To Do in Big Island on Trip Advisor



This was a pleasant surprise with a 20-30-minute walk/hike from the parking lot to the ocean, where you make it to the water's edge where you are greeted by tons of green sea turtles! Entry is FREE and there are clean bathrooms at the visitor center. NOTE that the parking gates close by 4pm, so if your car is stuck inside the lot after 4pm, you will not get access to it until the next morning. It is an easy hike with a mostly flat trail all on gravel with some steps or having to step over some obstacles. The reviews were correct, there is MINIMAL shade and I could see it being QUITE miserable in the sun (luckily it was overcast the day we went). There was a set of port-a-potty's closer to the fishing ponds, as the restrooms at the end were out of order. Reviews report you can snorkel here as well and because of the rocks, the water looked like a calmer area where the kids were able to play safely.


KAILUA BAY (Kailua-Kona)

Park anywhere around here and walk around to the shops. We only had a few minutes between lunch and our next tour, so we went along the bay to take photos. There are several small boutiques and places to eat for snacks, lunch, dinner, coffee and dessert!

NOTE: Most links on our website are affiliate links, which means that The Bouj Crew collects a little bit of money or points when you click on certain links (this is at no extra cost to you). This is to help us with the upkeep and fees associated with running a website, offering products, etc!

KONA FARMERS MARKET (Kailua-Kona)

Featuring not just produce but also flowers, handcrafts, Hawaiian dresses and more! Per Google 7a-4pm Wednesday to Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday)


WAIKOLOA PETROGLYPH RESERVE (Waikoloa Village)

#8/10 Hikes on Big Island via Hawaii Guide: "The trek along the Mamalahoa Trail, or King's Trail, leads to some of the most well-preserved petroglyphs on the island. Nearly 30,000 carvings of animals and people were left in old pahoehoe lava flows by the ancient Hawaiians. The trail, built in the mid-19th century for horse travel, used to stretch 32 miles from Kailua Kona north to Puako."


#54 of 469 Best Things To Do in Big Island on Trip Advisor. Public parking is small, one review said "most gorgeous spot on the island about 10 minute walk in"


PUAKO PETROGLYPH PARK (Waimea)

#44 of 469 Best Things To Do in Big Island on Trip Advisor. Close to the Fairmont Orchid. More of a hike (don't wear sandals) that has cool petroglyphs


#37 of 469 Best Things To Do in Big Island on Trip Advisor. An ancient Hawaiian fishing community with fantastic views


WAIPI'O VALLEY (Honokaa)

#4 of 469 things to do in Island of Hawaii on Trip Advisor. Our taxi drive reported that many things have changed here in the valley with rains changing the terrain and that the views are no longer worth it. This is another area that rental car insurance will not cover you and our Turo explicitly stated we could not bring her car to this area. Reviews report it's "well worth the drive" with many reviews recommend "going down to the valley". Bathrooms are located at the little park at the lookout


Resort Pass allows you to book a day pass at participating resorts! You can book daybeds, cabanas or even at their spa! It's a great way to experience more luxurious resorts without actually paying the price of staying there! Participating resorts on Big Island are: Hilton Waikoloa Village, Fairmont Orchid and Outrigger Resort and Spa




Rated #2/10 Hike from Hawaii Guide. Google and their website report they close by 5pm but when you get there the signs all say 6pm. We were told by one of our guides to park outside of the gate so that we don't have to worry about them closing and then we also don't have to pay parking - which we didn't. But their website claims you will have to pay even when parked outside of the gate, but you'll see others parked outside of the gate. I will add photos on my full review of the park. We made it in/out of here in 20 minutes as we had dinner reservations, but we were definitely hustling through the park. If you take your time, I think it can take about 45-minutes - depends on your activity level. There are a good amount of stairs up/down at this park, so those with mobility issues may need to stay back. Definitely worth a stop though and for us, it was free - hope you all have the same luck!


I was not expecting what this would look like but it is TRULY rewarding with views of waterfalls, the ocean and one of the most breathtaking gardens I've ever seen. A relatively easy/hike depending on your mobility level. The ramp INTO the garden is quite steep and would be difficult for those with mobility or balance issues along with some steps inside the garden. There are spots to sit throughout along with a bathroom in the middle of the garden. They are open daily from 9a-5pm with the last entry at 4pm and they are closed for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day and July 4th. Cost of entry is $25 per adult, $20 for Kama'aina and active military (valid ID required), children (6-16yo) are $12, $10 for Kama'aina Keiki and Children 6 and under are FREE. Make sure to bring mosquito repellent, sunscreen, water and have a fully charged camera battery! I originally found them off of Hawaii Guides list of best hikes on Big Island. Note that the bird aviary he mentions has now been relocated out of the Bioreserve. They estimate an average of 1.5-2 hours to complete the walk - with us taking as many photos and videos as we do, plus a bathroom stop it took us 1.5 hours. They are rated #68 of 469 Best Things To Do in Big Island on Trip Advisor and #3/10 Best Hikes on Big Island via Hawaii Guide



LILUOKALANI GARDENS (Hilo)

#32 of 469 Best Things To Do in Big Island on Trip Advisor. However the reviews are very mixed, so we didn't put this at the top of our list. Some reviews mention that it's not as well manicured like Japanese gardens and another review reports too many homeless people around this area. I couldn't find a website of theirs, so I don't know the hours or the price


HILO FARMERS MARKET (Hilo)

Featuring not just produce but also flowers, handcrafts, Hawaiian dresses and more! The website link on google did not work.


#23 of 469 things to do in Island of Hawaii on Trip Advisor. They have 20,000 different types of orchids. Tours have stopped since Covid and the shops open hours are very limited: Wed and Fri 10a-12pm and 12:30-3pm


FREE for Military with valid ID - otherwise it is $30 per vehicle (including all passengers) valid for 7 days. We planned to be here later at night since I wanted to see lava, but I can see how you can easily spend all day here. We definitely ran out of time, but got to see lava!

Nahuku - Thurston Lava Tube was recommended by a friend that loved it AND they just reopened after Covid, but we ran out of time! #65 of 469 Best Things To Do in Big Island on Trip Advisor. Parking in the lava tube lot is limited to 30-minutes, so you can also park in the Kilauea Iki parking lot for a longer stay

Kilauea Iki Trail - #1/10 Hikes on the Big Island via Hawaii Guide. It is a 4-mile look that takes 2-3 hours that walks around the rim of the crater.

Chain of Craters Road - this can be a 2-3 hour drive depending how many times you get out of the car. If you just do a drive by, it is estimated to take 45-minutes down and back. There are several places to stop along the route (including bathrooms.) You will NOT have cell service during this drive, so I made screenshots of Hawaii-Guide's link as he outlines what you can see at each mile marker, which was pretty fantastic. This drive is rated #8 of 469 things to do in Island of Hawaii on Trip Advisor and #7/10 Best Hikes on the Big Island via Hawaii-Guide.

Kilauea Overlook - for a long time this volcano had been actively erupting until 2018. Since 2020 it has been off/on if you can see active lava. At night is when you can see the lava, so we opted to be here after sundown and you can see the amazing photos we got! On your way to the lookout you will pass the visitors center where they have bathrooms and they also have them at the lookout.



SOUTHERN MOST POINTS IN THE STATES (Naalehu)

We didn't make it here, but it is spot that pops up on Google Maps (it is also on our Big Island Google list)



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BEACHES

For details on hikes, beaches, etc. I love to use hawaii-guide.com as they always give a comprehensive overview of each spot.


Click on the link above to see our overview on this place. There is a beach here and it was not that crowded with an area for kids to safely play.


KEKAHA KAI STATE BEACH (Kailua-Kona)

Recommended by a friend that LOVED Big Island. Open daily from 8a-6:45pm. It is a 1.8 mile drive of unpaved roads over lava fields - but reviews report that it's worth it. If you are in a car, it is recommended to park near the main highway and take the 30-minute hike to the beach. Ultimately, the road is recommended with a 4x4. There are bathrooms in the parking area, clean, picnic tables, you cansee whales and monk seals #26 of 469 things to do in Island of Hawaii on Trip Advisor


WAWALOLI BEACH PARK (Kailua-Kona)

We drove this beach on the way to the Konoloa Octopus and Ocean Rider Seahorse Farms. Small but nice beach with parking close to the beach front and public restrooms were available. It did not look too crowded the 2 times we passed by here


MAKALAWENA BEACH (Kalaoa)

I'm so sad we ran out of time to come here. It's rated #4/10 for hikes on the Big Island via Hawaii Guide. Hawaii Guide's link details all that you'll see. It's a bit of a hike (20-minutes) across lava fields to get there but sounds like the views are completely rewarding. White sand beaches with crystal clear waters with places to swim, dive, snorkel, paddleboard and kayak.


MANINI'OWALI BEACH (KUA BAY) (Kalaoa)

#12 of 469 things to do in Island of Hawaii on Trip Advisor. Review reports white sand and beautiful water. Reports show challenging parking


KAHALU'U BEACH PARK (Kahaluu)

#39 of 469 Best Things To Do in Big Island on Trip Advisor. Reviews report a nice bathroom, lifeguard, easy to find parking, clean, lots of fish in the water and a swimming turtle, great snorkeling in a protected bay, free sunscreen dispensers


'ANAEHO'OMALU BEACH (Waikoloa Village)

#22 of 469 things to do in Island of Hawaii on Trip Advisor. Reviews report great spot to watch the sunset. Walk towards the Lava Lava Club to see turtles


WAIALEA BEACH (Puako)

#13 of 469 things to do in Island of Hawaii on Trip Advisor. Reports talk about shade, sun, snorkeling, gentle waves, scenery, lava, coral, bathrooms, showers, white sand beach. One review says it's $5 for non-residents


HAPUNA BEACH (Waimea)

Recommended by a friend that LOVED Big Island. #21 of 469 things to do in Island of Hawaii on Trip Advisor. Large beach with lots of parking and places to wash sand off your feet, it runs along the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail. One review reports a long wait to buy your pass to use the park, another review reports 1 hour at least for parking process


Recommended by several friends. #6/10 Hikes in the Big Island from Hawaii Guide. There are 4x4 rides to the beach for $20 at the trailhead, but the hike is very easy to navigate - this was based on one review and my friend said it's more of a long hike. However, several reviews say that it's a dusty labyrinth with ruts. One review wrote that the 4x4 is the best $20 you'll spend (bring cash). Reviews complain that the 4x4s have ruined the terrain and one mentioned that if you take the 4x4 you won't have much time to explore the hike. Reviews recommend having water, a hat, sunscreen and proper footwear. DO NOT GO AT NIGHT. We did our ATV tour here and ultimately recommend it if you are up for riding/driving an ATV. Our tour guide talked about the many cars (even Jeeps) he's seen rollover trying to navigate Green Sand beach - any rental cars will not cover you out in these areas because they know the chance of rollover is high.




PUNALU'U BLACK SAND BEACH (Naalehu)

Recommended by several friends. Reviews report you can see turtles and you can stop here on your way to Volcanoes National Park. There are plenty of picnic tables and free parking. Life guards are on duty. One review reported going here first thing in the morning for a sunrise over the ocean. We did our ATV tour that took us to several black sand bays and sites, not this particular beach, but we do recommend this tour if you are up for riding/driving an ATV.


CARLSMITH BEACH PARK (Hilo)

#31 of 469 Best Things To Do in Big Island on Trip Advisor. Reviews report no sand, parking is hard to come by, clean, clear water, great for snorkeling, marine life, more grass than sand. Recommend a weekday as it can get crowded


RICHARDSON OCEAN PARK (Hilo)

#27 of 469 Best Things To Do in Big Island on Trip Advisor. Reviews report that two turtles were just lounging around, some say "best snorkeling in Hawaii"


This is a tropical park where you can walk into a massive 1881 lava-tube cave formed by Mauna Loa. Reviews recommend wearing good shoes to walk, have a good flashlight/headlight, no tour necessary


ISAAC HALE BEACH PARK/POHOIKI (Pahoa)

#5 of 20 things to do in Pahoa from Trip Advisor. Reviews report it's a beach park with new black sand beach from the Kilauea Volcano Eruption in 2018. One review reports that it is a far drive for not a lot of things to do once you're there as you can't swim and surfing is dangerous. Another review disagreed reporting that there's a great spot where you can see the lava flowing straight into the ocean. There is a better beach up the road for swimming. #50 of 469 Best Things To Do in Big Island on Trip Advisor



HIKES/WALKS

For details on hikes, beaches, etc. I love to use hawaii-guide.com as they always give a comprehensive overview of each spot.


Click on the link above to jump to my summary on this place


Rated #4/10 for hikes on the Big Island via Hawaii Guide. Click on the name above to read more


WAIKOLOA PETROGLYPH RESERVE (Waikoloa Village)

#8/10 Hikes on Big Island via Hawaii Guide (read more above)


POLOLU TRAIL (Kapaau)

Rated #5/10 Big Island Hikes from Hawaii Guide that promises amazing views at the end of the trail.


Rated #3/10 for hikes on the Big Island via Hawaii Guide. Click on the name above to read more of my review


This is a tropical park where you can walk into a massive 1881 lava-tube cave formed by Mauna Loa. Reviews recommend wearing good shoes to walk, have a good flashlight/headlight, no tour necessary


KILAUEA IKI TRAIL (Volcano - inside Volcanoes National Park)

#1/10 Hikes on the Big Island via Hawaii Guide. It is a 4-mile loop that takes 2-3 hours that walks around the rim of the crater. It is recommended as #1 of 25 Things to Do in Volcanoes National Park.


KIPUKA PUAULU TRAIL (Volcano - inside Volcanoes National Park)

#10/10 Hikes on the Big Island via Hawaii Guide. Alo called Bird Park, it is an old ohia tree and fern forest. It is a 30-minute stroll along 1-mile trail with a restroom and picnic tables with barbecue pits near the trailhead.


DINING TIMES ALERT

Our lunches and dinners were sometimes 1.5-2 hours

Both on Big Island and on Kauai our lunches and dinners took quite some time - I first thought it was Kauai was just opening up from lockdown in 2021, but this also happened on Big Island. Just a heads up as you want to plan accordingly. On rare occasions could you get in/out of a restaurant in 1-hour.


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RESTAURANTS

WEST PART OF THE ISLAND - Captain Cook and Kailua-Kona

The Coffee Shack (Captain Cook) - the views here look amazing! We ultimately didn't make it here, but will keep it on our list for when we go back!

Shaka Tacos (Captain Cook) - #3 of 19 Restaurants in Captain Cook on Trip Advisor. Choice of tacos,quesadilla, burrito, bowl or salad with pork, chicken, veggies, steak or fish.Hot sauces include: lava sauce, magma, salsa verde and mango

Da Poke Shack (Captain Cook) - #2 of 168 Restaurants in Kailua-Kona on TripAdvisor. Features insanely fresh fish of Poke Bowls or PokePlates. Features Poke includes: dynamite poke (da bomb avocado aioli), spicygarlic sesame, shoyu, shack special (sweet miso & honey with roastedseaweed), spicy scallops, kim chee tako (octopus with korean sauce), spicygarlic tako (octopus with spicy Hawaiian chili pepper and garlic), and freshgarlic shrimp. Sides include potato and macaronic salad, broccoli crab salad,spicy crab salad, kim chee cabbage, cucumbers and mussles. They also have hothawaiian plates of lau lau, kalua pork and kahuna (both kalua and lau lau).

HiCO (Kailua-Kona) - We just HAPPENED upon this place thanks to their sign that advertised an Ube Latte. We had to wait 45 minutes for our table at Umeke's, so it was worth the walk. It was so good we went back later on in the week! Small shop, but loved the vibe here - they have a second location opening soon as well!

Pink Mocha Cafe (Kailua-Kona) - I found this place on Google Maps while in the area - unfortunately, they are CLOSED Sundays and Saturdays. I ordered a delicious Cheetah Mocha (caramel & chocolate) and the most delicious banana bread I've ever had in my life! Order it warmed up! I had the white chocolate banana bread with cookie butter, but imagine that the milk chocolate banana bread would be just as good. They have indoor and outdoor seating and a bathroom available!

Genki Sushi (Kailua-Kona) - We just HAPPENED upon this place in Kauai and wanted to go back. It's a great QUICK stop for good food that I can't get on US Mainland. It's conveyer belt sushi but on a high-speed boat that you order from an ipad at your spot. If you have kids, I highly recommend stopping here, plus the food was delicious. Items they have: edamame, baked mussels, agedashi tofu, tempura, gyoza, chicken karaage, assorted nigiri, gunkan & inari, sushi rolls and even sushi bowls. They also have a location in Hilo

Poke Nachos on Umeke's Patio
Poke Nachos on Umeke's Patio

Umeke's Fish Market Bar & Grill (Kailua-Kona) - Great/relaxing vibe with delicious food! Parking can be tough to find - depending on the time that you go and there was definitely a wait to get in (we spent our time waiting walking over to Hico Coffee) and then about 1.5 hours to order, get our food and pay the check. #10 of 168 Restaurants in Kailua-Kona on Trip Advisor. Has Nachos with Poke or Kalua Pork, Ahi Belly, Ahi Cakes, Pupu Steak, Crispy Pork Belly, Oysters, Poke by the pound, Fish Tacos, Sweet Sour Tempura Ahi Belly. For drinks they have bottles and cans of beer, seltzer and cider; local draft beers, white wine, red wine and cocktails

Broke Da Mouth Grindz & Catering (Kailua-Kona) - #5 of 168 Restaurants in Kailua-Kona on Trip Advisor. They have rotating Daily Specials: garlic furikake chicken, garlic butter shrimp, pork belly fat adobo, beef bulgogi, pork belly fat adobo fries, beef bul-go-gi fries, garlic furikake chicken fries DESSERTS: ube ice cream mud pie, kona coffee ice cream

Huggo's(Kailua-Kona) - #12 of 168 Restaurants in Kailua-Kona via Trip Advisor. Menu features: Sashimi, Ahi Tuna Poke Tower, Fritto Misto, Seafood Chowder, Fresh Fish prepared in a variety of ways, Seafood and Pasta, Steak, Short Ribs. They are also known for their cocktails, they have Hawaiian Beer and Wine as well!


Beach Tree Bar (Kailua-Kona - INSIDE the Four Seasons) - Call ahead for reservations. This was definitely a splurge for us and we weren't disappointed. The scenery is amazing and to even just be on the Four Seasons property was an absolute treat! It took us about an hour to get our food from the time of our reservation (we did order drinks first), so total of over 1.5 hour dine. #11 of 168 Restaurants in Kailua-Kona on Trip Advisor.Garlic Prawns, Veal & Beef Meatballs, Grilled Octopus, Pasta (Lobster,Lamb, Beef, Veal & Pork), Porterhouse Steak for two, Brick Oven Pizza:Margherita, Lamb Sausage, Wild Mushroom

Gecko Girlz Shave Ice (Kailua-Kona) - #10 of 40 Quick Bites in Kailua-Kona on Trip Advisor. Instagram-worthy shaved ice creations with varying toppings and flavors and you can build your own. They also have ice cream and sundae toppings! I only ordered a small shaved ice (not any of the other toppings) and wasn't a huge fan. I HATE the taste of fake mango but LOVE real mango and the taste was too fake, for my tastes

Gypsea Gelato (Kailua-Kona) - # 2 of 21 desserts in Kailua-Kona on Tripadvisor. 2 locations in BigIsland. Fun flavors such as Tom Kha, Lilikoi - Passion Fruit, Dragonfruit WhitePineapple Sorbet, Mango Sorbet, Dairy-free flavors and several rotating flavors


NORTHWEST PART OF THE ISLAND - Waikoloa and Waimea

Seafood Bar and Grill (Waimea) - they do not take reservations, so we never made it here. #2 of 3 Restaurants in Kawaihae from Trip Advisor. Claims to be the Best Tiki Bar. Food includes: Coconut Shrimp, Calamari, Seafood Quesadilla, Poke, Sashimi, Poke Burger, Calamari Sandwich, Thai Beef Salad. Seafood bar has: oysters, escargot, seafood bar fried rice, short ribs, fresh catch, lobster and crab pot pie. Desserts: Kona Macadamia Nut Pie, Chocolate Lava Trouffle Cake, Kona Coffee Mud Pie, Key Lime Pie. For drinks: they have tropical cocktails (Lychee Lemonade, Makapala Mango), draft beer selection, cider, white and red wine

CanoeHouse (Waimea) - this is a pretty pricey restaurant, so we decided not to go here. #2 of 7 Restaurants in Puako on Trip Advisor. Food includes: shishito peppers, oysters, sashimi, head on kauai shrimp, king crab legs, beef and foie gras gyoza, grilled whole keahole lobster, chicken, lamb chops, pork jowl, tenderloin, prime ribeye, new york and wagyu

Merriman's Big Island (Waimea) - Merriman's was our favorite dinner on Kauai and I really wanted to return to the Big island location. Only thing is they only offer a prix-fixe menu for dinner, at this location: 3 courses (appetizer, entree and dessert) you cannot order items separately.

Rum Flight at Kuleana Rum Shack
Rum Flight at Kuleana Rum Shack

Kuleana Rum Shack (Waikoloa) - The name says it all! They have shared plates: poke nachos or kalua pork nachos, prawns, lumpia (made with smoked brisket), wings, salads, steak frites, local catch, duck entree, vegan coconut curry, and house made malasadas with 3 dipping sauces. COCKTAILS: draft mojito, mai tai, old fashioned, negroni, Hawaiian punch, Martini, Daiquiri, wines and beers. My overall rating was that the food was just OK. It's a fun place with a neat vibe, but my Pork Chop and the Brisket Lumpia was just ok, to me.

Tropics Ale House (Waikoloa) - Has nachos with beer infused cheese sauce you can top with kalua pork or shredded chicken, poke with won ton chips, ahi poke, brussel sprouts with crispy fried garlic, fries with wasabi aioli or truffle-garlic parm, salads, sandwiches, pizza, poke bowl, 23 draft beers, ciders, seltzers, bottles/canned beer, wine and cocktails

Napua at Mauna Lani Beach Club (Waikoloa) - #1 of 36 Restaurants in Waikoloa on Trip Advisor. Food includes: calamari, poke, Ahi with wasabi ginger beurre blanc and cucumber mango relish, pork ribs, ribeye, fresh catch with bok choy and asian pesto


NORTH PART OF THE ISLAND - Honokaa

Gramma's Kitchen (Honokaa) - as of 05.01.22. they are temporarily closed. They do not take reservations and the Yelp reviews were very mixed. #1 of 10 Restaurants in Honokaa on Trip Advisor. BREAKFAST: chorizo hash, corned beef hash, pork chop breakfast, Portuguese-style pork dish, crabcake benedict, Portuguese Chorizo Hash, Omelets (everything, cheese, veggie, shrimp and crab) LUNCH: seafood trio (scallops, shrimp and ono), steak with onions, country fried chicken, country fried beef, Korean katsu, beer battered shrimp and chips, pork chops, Fish 'n Chips, Portuguese-style marinated pork dish, Shrimp & Ono combo plate, Kalbi Short Ribs


NORTHEAST PART OF THE ISLAND - Hilo

Paul's Place (Hilo) - #1 of 185 Restaurants in Hilo from Tripadvisor. Small menu, but rated very highly. Fresh Catch of the day bowl or sandwich, eggs benedict, lox andbagels, caprese napoleon, BLT, belgian waffles and ice cream sundae

Hawaiian Style Cafe Hilo (Hilo) - #5 of 185 Restaurants in Hilo on Trip Advisor. 2 locations on Big Island.BREAKFAST: omelet, french toast with Hawaiian sweet bread, corned beef hash,kalua hash, chicken fried steak, loco moco choices (traditional, chickencutlet, spam and fried rice)

Cafe Pesto Hilo Bay (Hilo) - #7 of 185 Restaurants in Hiloon Trip Advisor. You can reserve your spot on Yelp. Food includes: Korean Cream Cheese Garlic Bread, Half Moon Shrimp Nachos, Coconut Calamari, Fish, Ribeye, Seafood Medley Risotto, Hibachi Chicken, Crabcake Salad, Pasta (pork bolognese, smoked salmon alfredo). They had one of the best pizzas I've had in a LONG time. I love a light, airy but crispy pizza crust and boy did this deliver! I had their smoked salmon pizza based on the waiter recommendation, but imagine all of their pizzas are delicious with that crust! Their coconut calamari was fresh and not rubbery as well!

Moon and Turtle (Hilo) - #2 of 185 Restaurants in Hilo on Trip Advisor. Rotating international menu with a pacific emphasis. Follow them on Facebook. Menu on 03/29/22 was: Garlic Butter Belly (ahi with garlic butter ponzo), Smokey Sashimi, Smoked Ahi Salad, Oysters, Salt + Pepper Kona Crab, Market Fish, Mushroom Risotto, Beef + Bone Marrow Campanelle (beef shank)

Naung Mai Thai Kitchen (Hilo) - #10 of 185 Restaurants in Hilo (via Tripadvisor) - looks like traditional Thai fare, nothing out of the ordinary. They maybe offer more seafood dishes than we can get State side

Paul's Place (Hilo) - #1 of 185 Restaurants in Hilo from Tripadvisor. Small menu, but rated very highly. Fresh Catch of the day bowl or sandwich, eggs benedict, lox and bagels, caprese napoleon, BLT, belgian waffles and ice cream sundae

Hilo Bay Cafe (Hilo) - They offer great views of the bay with a mix of great seafood, sushi and other entrees. Note there are about 25-30 steps to get up into the restaurant (we didn't see an elevator) and our dining time was 1 hour and 45 minutes. Our entrees took a long time to come out. The table next to us ordered after us and got their food shortly after, so it could have just been our food. The sushi was excellent along with the pork lettuce cups! #6 of 185 Restaurants in Hilo. Dishes include: Pork Belly Lettuce Cups, Crab Cake Salad, Sushi (crispy pork belly, torched hamachi), shishitos, gochujang rice, ribeye, pork chop, potpie, duck demi, risotto. Desserts include: cast-iron cookie, molten chocolate lava cake, seasonal fruit cobbler, island style tiramisu, ice cream with kahlua, bourbon and godiva chocolate liqueur, tiki coffee (with baileys, kahlua and coconut rum). They have good menu of cocktails, beer, sake, wine, and dessert wines

Genki Sushi (Hilo) - see above


A MAP OF PLACES

I love using maps when planning my trips in order to see which places would be within walking distance, etc. See our map of places we went here (always easiest to view the map on the desktop)



Click on a category to jump backward:


Comment if you have tried any of the places listed above, or anything you think we should add!

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