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Big Island Itinerary

The Big Island is aptly named.  Unlike the other islands, you will drive long distances to get from one end of the island to the other.  Almost everyone wants to go to the Volcanoes National Park but it is 110
miles from Kailua-Kona on the west side of the island.  It takes almost three hours to drive, so take this into consideration when making your plans.  This itinerary is based on staying in the Kailua-Kona or Waikoloa area.

Day 1
Fair Wind's catamaran cruise:  We've taken this snorkel cruise several times to Kealakekua Bay.  This bay contains some of the Big Island's best snorkeling with a wide variety of tropical fish.  In addition, you will see the Captain Cook Monument which marks the spot where the legendary sea captain died at the hands of the Hawaiians.  If you are in the mood for more to do, visit Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park.  This was a place of refuge for defeated warriors, noncombatants in time of war, and those who violated the kapu, the sacred laws.  If you don't choose the snorkel cruise and enjoy sightseeing you can drive on to Punalu'u.  Here you will find the Big Island's most accessible black sand beach (other than the 60 mile drive from Kailua-Kona). 
Punaluu Black Sand Beach
The Big Island's Punalu'u Black Sand Beach
In addition to the black sand beach you will normally see many turtles in the bay and resting on the shore.

Day 2
Explore the cowboy town of Waimea where Parker Ranch is located.  Spend the rest of the day enjoying Hapuna Beach in the Kohala area or shopping in Kailua-Kona.

Days 3 and 4
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park:  One day isn't enough time to travel from the Kona or Kohala area, see the park, and return.  Plan to spend the night in Hilo, Volcano Village just outside the park, or at the Volcano House inside the park.  Some people make this the last (or first) thing they do after arriving and leave from Hilo airport rather than Kona airport.  There will be a charge for dropping your rental car off at a different location than you rented it if you decide to do this, but it saves you a 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive returning to the Kona airport.  Or, if you want to say you drove around the entire Big Island you can return to Kona by the southern route.  See our description under Big Island Sightseeing for help in planning your trip to the park.  

Day 5
If you returned to Kona or Kohala you deserve a day of rest.  Enjoy the beach or you may want to splurge on a helicopter ride over the island. 

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