Hawaii: The Big Island and Kauai

Table of Contents

We spent two weeks in Hawaii dividing our time equally between the Big Island of Hawaii and Kauai. We went to Kauai our first time in Hawaii and loved it despite all the rain we had, so we wanted to come back and hopefully have better luck with the weather. We did and got to do some of the things we missed the first time. The Big Island was new to us and parts of it are like no place else we’ve ever been or seen. Who knew lava could be that interesting?

Food & Beverage $52 per day

Average per person per day. Breakfast was included half the time. We ate most of our meals out.

Lodging $72-$149 per night

The Manago Hotel on the Big Island was the least expensive. Our Kahala Poipu Kai condo on Kauai was the most expensive. All were good value.

Transportation $992

Includes our flight from the Big Island to Kauai plus rental car and fuel on both islands.

Entertainment $153 per person

Our snorkel tour was $135 each. The rest was transportation to and from the green sand beach on the Big Island and $5 for flashlight batteries for our lava viewing hike.

Days 0-1: Home to Captain Cook, the Big Island

The Plan: We weren’t sure we could make the drive to Volcano our first day and wanted to make a couple of stops along the way, so we spent the first night just south of Kailua-Kona.

The Reality: We enjoyed the Manago Hotel and got there early enough that we were able to visit the Honaunau historical park on our first afternoon. 

Days 2-3: Volcano

The Plan: We wanted to see Volcanoes National Park and volcanic activity if we could. We also planned to stop at a couple of unique beaches on the way. 

The Reality: Since we were able to visit Honaunau our first day we didn’t need to stop there again. We did go snorkeling first thing in the morning. One of the advantages of the time change is that you want to get up early! We had an opportunity to see lava flowing into the ocean while were there so we did, while also fitting in a more traditional daytime hike and sightseeing.  

  • Snorkel at Kahaluu Beach
  • Drive via green and black sand beaches
  • Kilauea Iki hike
  • Lava viewing +
  • Chain of Craters Road

Related Posts: The first post describes daily activities and the destination. Other posts cover anything that generated lots of photos!

Days 4-6: Kailua-Kona

The Plan: We planned to drive around the rainy side of the island then spend our time on the sunny side snorkeling, relaxing on the beach, and going to the top of Mauna Kea.

The Reality: After talking to our host in Volcano we drove across the saddle road instead, missing the Waipio Valley but getting to see mountain scenery. Which worked out well because we opted not to do Mauna Kea due to rain and hail. Our snorkel tour was one of the best we’ve ever been on. We didn’t snorkel at Kahaluu because we did that our first day. 

  • Drive via Hilo, Apaka Falls, and Waipio Valley Saddle Road
  • Snorkel at Kahaluu
  • Mauna Kea
  • Kealakekua Bay snorkel tour

Days 7-9: Kilauea, Kauai

The Plan: We like the north shore though it can be wet. So we spent a part of our time here to be close to Na Pali, Hanalei, and the north shore beaches. Even though Kauai is a small island, it’s boring and congested around Lihue.

The Reality: We didn’t spend as much time at the beach as we’d planned. The Na Pali hike took us longer than estimated. We did snorkel at Lydgate Park on our way to the south shore. An easy place to learn and practice. 

  • Anini Beach
  • Hanalei
  • Na Pali coast hike
  • Snorkel Lydgate Park

Related Posts: The first post describes daily activities and the destination. Other posts cover anything that generated lots of photos!

Days 10-15: Poipu, Kauai

The Plan: We like the south shore because it’s sunny, it’s close to Waimea Canyon, and there plenty of places to stay and to eat. 

The Reality: We did what we planned to! The snorkeling at Poipu was even better than expected, if you don’t mind snorkeling in shallow water amongst people playing in the water. 

  • Waimea hike
  • Kokee hike (partial)
  • Snorkel Poipu Beach

Related Posts: The first post describes daily activities and the destination. Other posts cover anything that generated lots of photos!

Frommer's Hawaii cover


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Christmas Ornaments

We buy Christmas ornaments on each trip. This time we bought a chicken, because chickens are — surprisingly — everywhere in Hawaii! And we bought a turtle because we saw one and it’s pretty.