Monday, August 3, 2020
hawaii island hop

Hawaii Island Hop in 2 Days

hawaii island hop
Halemaumau Crater from the Kilauea Overlook

You Have Time for That!

Have you decided on a Hawaii island hop, but don’t have a whole lot of time? You’ve come to the right place, but before you embark on this wild adventure, did you know that Hawaii is twice as large as all of the other islands combined? It also boasts 10 of the world’s 14 climates zones! So, it’s no wonder that you can expect to find some incredible landscapes here. Unfortunately, this also means you can’t see all there is to see on this big island in only two days, or three days (optional). So, for this specific trip, we are only exploring the south and west sides of the island. Expect to experience volcanoes, rugged coastlines, epic waterfalls, and exotic sand beaches. Hold on to your hat, my friend. There will be no sipping cocktails by the ocean on this trip!

 Hawaii Island Hop in 2 Days

The day-by-day agenda outlined below is recommended to you from my own personal experience visiting the Big Island over a two-day island hop.

  • Day One 
  • Day Two 
  • Day Three (Optional)
Spend a day exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

  • Take a look around at the Jagger Museum
  • View the Halemaumau Crater from the Kilauea Overlook
  • Feel the heat from the steam vents
  • Stop at the Kilauea Iki Crater Overlook
  • Trek through the Thurston Lava Tube
  • Grab Lunch at the Volcano’s Lava Rock Cafe
  • Start on a scenic drive down Chain of Craters Road
  • Take a walk along the Mauna Ulul Lava Flows
  • Stop at the Kealakomo Overlook
  • See ancient drawings on the Puuloa Petroglyph Trail
  • Stop for a photo op at the Holei Sea Arch

See Park Map

Take a scenic drive on West-side of the Island

  • Rainbow Falls
  • Akaka Falls
  • Laupahoehoe Beach Park
  • Grab lunch at Tex Drive-In
  • Waipio Valley Lookout
  • Waipio Black Sand Beach North

See Google Route Map for this day

  • View exotic colored sand at Papakolea Green Sand Beach
  • Grab lunch at Hana Hou Restaurant
  • Star Gaze on the Mauna Kea Summit

See Google Route Map

hawaii island hop
Akaka Falls


So, where should you stay? If you are currently active duty, a retired veteran, or know someone who is active duty who is willing to book the accommodations for you, then the Kilauea Military Camp located in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is by far the best option. It’s affordable and centrally located. Also, a dining hall is available on camp that is cheap and more than serviceable. So, grabbing most of your meals here can save you time and cash. If military accommodations are not available to you, there are other options in the area you can look into.

Other Attractions to Consider

If you want to substitute or add other attractions to your agenda or even add a third day to your trip, here are some other amazing things to see on this side of the big island. Originally, I had these on my itinerary, but I ultimately did not get to them either because of weather or other unforeseeable circumstances:

  • View exotic colored sand at Papakolea Green Sand Beach
  • Star Gaze on the Mauna Kea Summit

 Green Sand Beaches

If you decide to dip your toes in the black or green sand beaches, you can either hike, drive, or ride. I highly recommend you pay for local transport down to the shoreline to save time. Because the coastlines are extremely rugged, expect a scary trip down to the beach. However, riding down with an experienced local is bound to be a safer option than driving yourself down.

hawaii island hop
Sea coast along Chain of Craters Road

If you want to skip the heart-stopping experience of riding down, consider hiking down if you have the time and you are up for the strenuous exercise.

Mauna Kea Summit

On day two, skip the drive down to Black Sand Beach, and head towards Mauna Kea Summit for some spectacular star gazing, weather permitting. Don’t forget to stop by on the way to the summit, and pick up some dinner to-go for later. Try the Tex Drive-In again, or there is an L&L Hawaiian Barbecue on the way. If you have time for a third day on your hop, this is also an option in the evening. Finally, make sure to check the Mauna Kea website for the best time to visit (see the related links below), because parking is limited.

Download Itinerary

Related Links

About The Traveling Mexican

I’m a proud first generation Mexican-American that's passionate about travel! I grew up harvesting crops during summer breaks to help my family make ends meet. I've been making up for lost time since! I joined the service 20 year ago, began traveling the world, and haven't stopped since. Currently, I teach and I travel on holiday and summer breaks.

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