Hawaii’s Big Island, just under 200 miles (322 kilometers) from urban Honolulu, has many things the latter does not: smoldering volcanoes, black-sand beaches, epic waterfalls, coffee and macadamia nut plantations, and world-famous stargazing. Here’s how to experience the best of the Big Island as a day trip from Oahu.
Most Big Island tours visit popular sights inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, including Kilauea volcano’s erupting Halemaumau Crater, the Jaggar Museum, steam vents, and Thurston Lava Tube.
Tours also include some outside-of-the park stops such as Rainbow Falls, the Big Island Candies factory, Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory, Hamakua Nut Farm, Punalu‘u black-sand beach, Parker Ranch in Waimea, and additional sites in the towns of Hilo and Kailua-Kona.
Tours typically include round-trip airfare from Honolulu on Oahu to the Big Island’s Hilo or Kailua-Kona airport.
Things to Know
Flights are the only way to travel between Oahu and the Big Island. The flight from Honolulu to Hilo or Kona is about 45 minutes.
Some tours fly into Hilo and stay mainly on that (eastern) side of the island, where the national park is. If you want to see the west side’s Kealakekua Bay or are a fan of Kona coffee, make sure to book a circle island tour.
As its name suggests, the Big Island is big. Day trips can last upwards of 15 hours—prepare for a long day with lots of scenic driving.
Because the Big Island has lots of elevation changes amid its five massive volcanoes, weather can vary from one part of the island to the next. Wear layers, and be sure to pack rain gear for your visit to the rain forests around Hilo and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.