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The Most Fun 6 Day Itinerary for Big Island, Hawaii with Kids!

The Big Island is the perfect family friendly beach destination. If you’re looking for a less touristy Hawaiian Island with plenty of space, stunning beaches, a unique and beautiful volcanic landscape, and excellent food – the big island of Hawaii is amazing. We had the best vacation here with our two little kids and can’t wait to go back and explore more. This itinerary for the Big Island has all of our favorite things to do, and some tips for traveling to Hawaii with young kids. The Big Island with toddlers or babies is the perfect amount of relaxation and adventure.

If you’re looking for a Big Island itinerary map or a 4 or 5 day Big Island Itinerary, scroll all the way to the bottom of this post!

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Day 1 Itinerary for the Big Island: Welcome to Hawaii!

Welcome to the Big Island of Hawaii, you are going to have an amazing vacation. Assuming you’re arriving via airplane you’re first step is to leave the airport and hit Costco (or a local grocery store) to pick up supplies for your week.

Getting Around

You’ll definitely want a rental car while you’re on the Big Island. We found a super affordable rental car through Economy Bookings! Since it was so much cheaper, we actually cancelled our original rental car reservation and booked through Economy Bookings. We had a great experience. You’ll be able to do most things with a normal rental car. There are certain beaches that you can’t access without a high clearance vehicle but we got by just fine with our normal car.

Stock up on snacks/food at Costco

Making a stop at Costco in Hawaii, can save you a lot of money if you plan on eating any meals in. Even if you plan on going out for most meals, it’s a good idea to stop somewhere to get coffee, fresh fruit, snacks, etc. Groceries in Hawaii can be expensive, so I would recommend getting at least a few things. Plus, Costco is only 10 minutes from the airport.

Travel Tip: Another thing we do to save money when traveling to Hawaii is packing some easy snacks and meals in our checked bag (like peanut butter, fruit snacks, granola bars, etc). They are probably much cheaper wherever you live than in Hawaii.

Check into your hotel in Waikoloa!

We chose to stay at the Fairway Villas in Waikoloa. This condo was absolutely perfect for traveling to the Big Island with kids! They had pack and plays, a high chair, kids toys, and lots of kitchen supplies. Plus the location was great and in close proximity to the pool, shops, and the most important part – SHAVE ICE! This guide will be based around things to do in Waikoloa, HI with kids. The island is still small enough you can travel around as much as you want, but there are so many great activities in Waikoloa.

Lava Lava Beach for Sunset

If you want to start your trip off with a bang, head to Lava Lava Beach Club for one of the best Big Island sunset spots. Lava Lava Beach Club is a great place to let the kids run around while you have a drink and watch the sunset. If you want to have a full dinner here, you may have to wait (or plan ahead and get a reservation). However, we had a blast just getting drinks and letting the kids play games in the yard. Plus you can actually take your drinks to the beach while you watch sunset. We loved visiting here on the first day because we didn’t expect the kids to be able to sit down at a restaurant after traveling all day. Definitely one of the best things to do in Waikoloa, HI!

Quick Dinner at Island Gourmet Market

Before or after getting drinks at Lava Lava, grab a quick dinner at the Island Gourmet Market. This is a grocery store but they also have a poke bar (with delicious poke!) or some grab and go options. This is also a fun place to shop for souvenirs!

Day 2 Itinerary for the Big Island: Time to Hit the Beach

Coffee at Island Vintage Coffee

Grab a quick coffee before heading out on your beach day. Island Vintage Coffee is located really close to Waikoloa. It’s a great place to try 100% Kona Coffee near your accommodations. They also have some quick breakfast options if you want to grab something. We usually chose to eat breakfast at our vacation rental, but they had delicious looking food here.

kona coffee cold brew from island vintage coffee waikoloa
Head to Hapuna Beach

Spending time at the beach is one of the must do kids activities in Hawaii. Hapuna Beach is the largest white sand beach on the island located on the Kohala Coast and it is stunning! It opens at 7:00 AM and we planned to arrive right at opening time so we could enjoy as much time with the kids before nap time (and before we had to lather them with sunscreen). Since we visited during the winter, there was some big waves, but tons of room for the kids to play in the sand and in the waves. In the winter, it’s also possible to see whales in the distance if you’re lucky enough to spot them!

Travel tip: Just a heads up that this is a state park so you will have to pay $10 per vehicle AND $5 per person (kids under 3 are free). They have options to pay with a credit card in the parking lot. This fee was well worth it to play at this beautiful beach all day.

Hawaii with kids travel tip: I would highly recommend bringing a few sand toys with you to the beach! Kids will have a blast with their bucket and shovel, even if they are not interested in swimming in the ocean.

Happy Hour at Kuleana Rum Shack

After you’ve had enough sun at the beach, head to the Kuleana Rum Shack for a great happy hour. We love to hit happy hour when we’re traveling in an expensive area so we can experience the food and drinks but have affordable options. Kuleana Rum Shack makes their own spirits from ingredients grown on the Big Island – they are committed to sustainability and waste nothing on their farm. Grab a happy hour drink, or a rum flight and some appetizers (we loved the lumpia here!)

Shave Ice Time!

Lucky for you if you’re staying in Waikoloa – some of the best shave ice on the island is right next door. We loved the shave ice we got at the Original Big Island Shave Ice Company or OBISIC. If you haven’t ever had Hawaiian shave ice, you MUST try it. It’s an iconic Hawaiian treat. We visited here multiple times during our trip and it was a hit with us and the kids. Our favorite combo we tried was the Noelanis (haupia ice cream, mango syrup, pineapple syrup, coconut syrup, condensed cream, and haupia topping). I would recommend sticking with the real fruit flavors and getting condensed cream on top and ice cream on the bottom – delicious!

Getting shave ice at the Original Big Island Shave Ice Company is one of the things to do near Waikoloa Village that you can’t skip!

Spend the Evening Relaxing by the Pool

We all know that kids LOVE a pool, so have a relaxing evening by the pool and hot tub. The Fairway Villas in Waikoloa has a great infinity pool and also a hot tub. You’ll want to get to bed early because tomorrow you’re headed to the other side of the island and it’s an early start!

Day 3 Itinerary for the Big Island: Explore Hawaii Volcanoes

We couldn’t visit the island of Hawai’i and not visit Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. This was the 7th National Park we’ve visited with our kids and it was so unique. You definitely won’t want to miss this park if you have time in your itinerary. It’s one of the best Big Island activities for families. This is a busy day because we wanted to pack as much in as possible on this trip to the other side of the island. If you want a more chill itinerary for this day, just pick and choose what sounds most interesting to you.

Drive to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park!

It’s a few hours to drive to Hawaii Volcanoes from Waikoloa, so we would recommend starting your drive really early in the morning to maximize your time spent there. We got everything ready the night before and basically left right after the kids woke up (while it was still dark). This way, the kids could potentially fall back asleep in the car on the way there.

Hike the Thurston Lava Tube

The Thurston Lava Tube was the perfect family friendly hike in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. It’s a 0.4 mile loop that is relatively flat, and you get to walk through a dark tunnel that was created by molten lava! This lava tube used to have lava drippings on the roof of the tube, but unfortunately, people took them as souvenirs and you can no longer see the lava drippings. Remember to leave no trace. This trail also has the incredible sounds of birds as you walk through a lush rainforest. The tunnel is lit from 8 AM to 8 PM, but if you visit outside of those hours, you’ll need a flashlight! This is one of the best kids activities in Hawaii and you won’t want to miss this stop!

Travel Tip: Get to the National Park early – parking is limited and this hike is popular. You’ll have a much better experience if you do this hike early in the day.

Stop by the Kilauea Visitor Center

I would always recommend stopping by the visitor center when you visit a National Park. The rangers are a wealth of knowledge, and it’s an easy place to regroup and figure out your plan for the day. You can also get souvenirs here (we always get a magnet), and stamp your National Parks Passport!

national parks passport with hawaii volcanoes stamp and sticker

Right across the street is the Volcano House that is definitely worth visiting. Whether you’re staying the night in the lodge, grabbing a meal, or just stopping by to visit, it’s worth a stop. The view from the Volcano House looks directly into the Halema’uma’u crater and it is stunning!

Hike the Ha’akulamanu (Sulphur Banks) Trail

The Sulphur Banks Trail is 1.2 miles roundtrip from the visitor center, and is an easy hike in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. There are many signs along this trail that recommend young children and pregnant women avoid this hike due to volcanic gases. This hike was actually recommended to us with our two young children by one of the park rangers, who said as long as we don’t stay too long in the area it’s perfectly fine for children. However, conditions may change and I highly recommend you check with a ranger before doing this hike with kids for everyone’s safety.

Along this trail you will see volcanic gases and steam seeping out of the ground and you’ll probably smell them too (like rotten eggs – but it’s not that bad). You’ll see unique colors along the rocks and unique ferns and other plants along the way. Shortly after you cross the road, make sure to go far enough to be able to look into the crater, you’ll likely be able to see steam and volcanic gases rising from the most active volcano on Earth. If you’re lucky enough, Kilauea may even be erupting while you’re visiting!

Get Brunch at Ken’s House of Pancakes

This brunch spot is the perfect local dining joint with great breakfast. The staff was super friendly and it was the perfect way to fuel up with brunch after spending the morning hiking. If you order something from the “sumo” menu, you may hear something special! Pancakes always taste better in Hawaii and it’s one of the best places to eat on the Big Island for kids.

banana macadamia nut waffle at kens pancake house hilo
Visit Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls is a quick and easy stop in Hilo on your way back to Waikoloa. You’ll be able to see views of Rainbow Falls from just a few steps away from the parking lot. I would definitely recommend you take the short staircase up the side to get a view of the falls from above. And then if you keep walking a few more feet, you’ll see one of the most incredible Banyan trees! This tree is absolutely massive, and so interesting.

Explore Hilo!

If you have extra time in town, there are tons of spots to explore in Hilo. We had to get our kids a nap so we didn’t spend more time here but some of the things I would have liked to do are:

  • Richardson Ocean Park (for snorkeling and green & black sand beaches)
  • Two Ladies Kitchen for mochi
  • Carlsmith Beach Park (for snorkeling)
  • Explore other waterfalls!

If you want to explore this lush side of the island, you could stay a few days over here. Just be warned, it does rain a LOT. So don’t expect the perfect beach weather that you’ll likely have on the west side of the island.

Day 4: Kua Bay Beach and Kailua-Kona

Optional: Watch Sunrise Near the Lava Lava Beach Club

Kua Bay Beach doesn’t open until 8 AM so we chose to spend the early morning at this beach near Lava Lava Beach Club. It was the perfect peaceful morning and we saw a bunch of sea turtles swimming in the ocean. It was a little bit of a walk there so if you’d rather just pick up some Kona Coffee and head to Kua Bay Beach at 8 AM that works too!

Head to Kua Bay Beach

Kua Bay Beach was the best beach on the Big Island in our opinion and one of our favorite beaches near Waikoloa! We also had no problem getting a spot when we got there right at opening time. It’s also free! So set up your beach umbrella and enjoy the day here. In the winter there will be some big waves so be cautious with your little ones.

We did find some good snorkeling here off to the far side of the beach. We spent several days at this beach and certain days the waves were too big to be out snorkeling. And one of the days we had to get out of the water because there were a few sharks (this happened at a few different beaches). This is mostly a precaution – just make sure to listen to the lifeguard on duty.

Explore Kailua-Kona and Grab Some Food

This town has a lot of really great places to eat and drink. We loved poke from Umekes, shave ice from Gecko Girlz, and Island Lava Java has a great happy hour. We also really wanted to check out Kona Brewing Company but we didn’t make it this trip.

Head Back to Kua Bay Beach for Sunset

Kua Bay Beach is the best spot on the Big Island for sunset. It can get crowded here for sunset, for good reason. It’s absolutely stunning and a must do on the Big Island. We came back multiple times for sunset and it was one of our favorite things we did during our trip. If you’re looking for things to do in Kona for free, driving the 20 minutes for sunset at Kua Bay is well worth your time.

Day 5 Itinerary for the Big Island: Snorkel and Swim

Spend the Day at Waialea Beach (Beach 69)

If you’re visiting the Big Island with kids you will love Waialea Beach (also called Beach 69)! It’s a fairly small beach area so I would recommend arriving somewhat early. This beach is part of Hapuna Beach State Park so you will have to pay the fee of $10 per car and $5 per person (kids under 3 are free).

One of the great things about Beach 69 is that it has a lot of shade. The shade is perfect for day 5 of your trip when everyone has probably already had enough sun. The waves were a little smaller here so it was a great Big Island beach for little kids. Beach 69 also was our favorite Big Island snorkeling spot. It’s relatively shallow, and we saw a huge variety of fish, coral, and even an eel. Also check out the rocks on the far side of the beach – we saw a TON of black crabs crawling on the rocks!

Do Some Souvenir Shopping

Since it’s your last full day on the island, pick up some souvenirs if you haven’t already. Some great things to bring home from Hawaii are Kona Coffee, a magnet (we collect these from our travels), Christmas ornament, macadamia nuts, unique candy, and we even found some tropical pancake mixes to bring home.

Island Gourmet Market was a fun place to shop for souvenirs or check out the Kings’ Shops in Waikoloa for a variety of different stores. CocoNene is a cool store with a lot of handmade wooden ornaments that are very cute.

Grab Dinner

If you want to head back to Kailua-Kona, there are so many restaurants you can try there. We love to keep it simple when traveling with our kids so we went back for seconds for a poke bowl at the Island Gourmet Market. We also tried a variety of mochi malasadas from the Island Gourmet Market and they were really good. It’s close to where we were staying and it was delicious! Alternatively, you could also take this evening to drive up North and try the famous malasadas at Tex Drive In (although it is about a 40 minute drive) from Waikoloa Village. We also wanted to try Fresh Off the Grid up North, but we didn’t make it this trip.

Pack Up and Check in for Flights

Unfortunately, it’s time to get packed up and leave this beautiful island! Try to get all your stuff packed up so you have time to get a delicious Hawaiian breakfast before you have to be at the airport.

Optional: Swim with Manta Rays!

This isn’t necessarily a kid friendly activity because it’s only for ages 12 and up. However, this is the coolest thing to do on the Big Island if you can make it work!

Manta Rays are incredible creatures with 8-14 feet wingspans and they live to be 50-100 years old. This snorkeling experience happens at night. Plankton are attracted to the lights and the Manta Rays come to eat the plankton. They swim incredibly close to you and it was amazing!! I was so happy to have this experience through the Manta Ray Advocates. They spend a lot of time teaching you about Manta Rays and how to protect these majestic animals. Not to mention, they’ve been doing this for over 20 years and the group is only 6 people. This makes for a much more personal experience than some tour groups. Before you book, make sure you are participating with a company that has the well-being of the Mantas at the center of what they do, like the Manta Ray Advocates.

Day 6: Aloha Hawaii, until next time!

Say aloha to Hawai’i and head home. This airport is fairly small, but I always recommend giving yourself a little extra time when traveling with young kids. The airport on the Big Island is open air, so you’ll still have a little longer to enjoy this beautiful Hawaii weather while you wait to board your flight.

If time: Head to Kailua-Kona for Breakfast

We ran out of time to grab breakfast because we had a few issues going out the door. However, we did have time to grab a coffee at Hi-Co. Since we are obsessed with Ube flavored things, we saw a sign and had to try Hi-Co. It was some of the best coffee I’ve ever had. For breakfast we were planning to get an Acai Bowl at either Acai Hawaii or the Kona Wave Cafe. Both of which look like they have delicious and fresh Acai Bowls.

ube latte at hico in kona hawaii

Overall Thoughts on the Big Island with Kids

The Big Island with kids was the best Hawaii trip we’ve taken! We absolutely love all of the Hawaiian Islands, but the relaxed vibes of this bigger, less touristy island was totally for us. We can’t wait to visit again because we have so much left to explore here. Let us know what you think of this itinerary for the Big Island. Aloha!

Must See: Kua Bay Beach for Sunset (and daytime swimming), all the delicious Hawaiian food, and the Thurston Lava Tube
Would Skip:
Staying on the East side of the island (it’s stunning but if you only have a short time you might get a lot of rain here!)
Next Time:
Visiting a black sand and green sand beach, longer hikes in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, snorkeling South of Kailua-Kona, Tex Drive In for malasadas, visiting a coffee plantation, and so much more!

Map of Big Island Itinerary

Big Island Itinerary 4 days

If you’re looking for a 4 day Big Island itinerary, here is the things I would recommend at a glance. See the above post for description of each day. Whether you’re visiting the island for 4 days, 5 days, or 6 days, we have the best itinerary for the Big Island for you.

Day 1: Vintage Island Coffee + Hapuna Beach + Lava Lava Beach Club
Day 2: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  • Explore Hilo
  • Rainbow Falls
  • Thurston Lava Tube
  • Sulphur Banks Trail
  • Kilauea Visitor Center
Day 3: Kua Bay Beach + Kailua-Kona (make sure to hit sunset at Kua Bay!)
Day 4: Beach 69 (Waialea Beach) and Waikoloa

Big Island 5 Day Itinerary

Day 1: Waikoloa

Stop by Costco and Island Gourmet Market to get stocked up for your trip. Check into your Waikoloa accommodations and hit Lava Lava Beach Club for drinks/food and sunset.

Day 2: Hapuna Beach

Grab a coffee from Island Vintage Coffee and head up to Hapuna Beach State Park. Enjoy the day at the beach! Consider heading up North to Tex Drive in for malasadas and Fresh Off the Grid for dinner.

Day 3: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park & Hilo
Day 4: Kua Bay Beach and Kailua-Kona

Start your morning at Kua Bay Beach, mid day head to Kailua-Kona for some delicious food. Then make your way back to Kua Bay Beach for the best sunset on the island.

Day 5: Beach 69 (Waialea Beach) + Manta Swim

Spend the day snorkeling and lounging on the beach at Beach 69, one of the best beaches on the Big Island. In the evening, swim with the famous Manta Rays for one of the most unique snorkeling experiences in the world!

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