Big Island Day Trip – Volcanoes and Waterfalls

The Big Island of Hawaii is by far the largest of all the islands in the Hawaiian chain, and it is also one of the most time consuming when it comes to getting from one place to another. Since the island is quite large and there is so much to see, a three or four day stay is recommended to fully explore and enjoy this island. But, what happens when the desire to enjoy some of the natural beauty of this island and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is high on your “must-see” list?

Planning a day trip to the Hilo side of the Big Island is the perfect solution. A tour can be arranged with much the same result, but to make air and car reservations, or booking a fly-drive package, will allow the flexibility of sightseeing at your own pace.

Hawaiian Airlines, Go! and Mokulele Airlines operate the short 50 minute flight from Oahu to Hilo about every 45 minutes or so. Book a flight to arrive on the Big Island by 8:00am. Anything later may not make the trip worth the expense.

Car rental desks are located just across the street at Hilo airport, making the car rental and return process fast and simple. Hilo International Airport is a quiet airport which makes passing through security a breeze.

Once out of the airport, expect the drive to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to be about 50 minutes. After leaving the airport take the first left to follow the signs to the park entrance. Once at the park entrance, there is a nominal per car fee that must be paid upon entry. The park’s extensive visitor’s center is the recommended first stop. There is something for everyone at this park. Choose activities that are both appropriate for your age and fitness level. One of the most interesting experiences at the park is the Thurston Lava Tube. A well paved and lighted trail makes the short stroll through this natural tunnel safe and easy. Lots of free parking makes it effortless.

Once finished with the park, it’s a relaxing drive to visit one of Hawaii’s longest waterfalls. Akaka Falls is located about 15 minutes from Hilo. Located mauka or upslope of the highway.

To get there, return to Hilo passing the airport entrance. Once at the corner of Banyan Drive turn left onto the Hilo Bayfront Highway and continue over the metal bridge. The drive to Akaka Falls will take approximately 45 minutes from the volcano. This drive will take you through Hilo town and up along the coast though agricultural lands and cane fields. Once past Onomea Bay, turn left at Honomu (Hwy #220) and up toward the entrance to the falls. Akaka Falls is located in a tropical cliffside gully along a paved trail. Lots of native tropical plants and of course the waterfalls make the area seem so fanciful.

Perhaps a stop for a bite to eat or to pick up some sweets at Big Island Candies in Hilo before heading back to the airport to return the car and board a flight.

Those wanting to visit the Big Island will find the day trip option worth the effort. The adventure with excite and the memories will last a lifetime.