You've just arrived on Hawaii's Big Island, now what?
General: DIY / How-To
|Guide Series: Big Island Vacation Itinerary
The first day of a Big Island vacation might be full of stress and generally unpleasant times, or at least it will likely start off that way. The bottom line is that the actual traveling portion of a vacation isn't fun at all, regardless of the destination.
You'll probably start your day off with plenty of stress. Did you pack everything you're going to need? Is your flight on time or delayed? Will you get to the airport on time? And then there is the dreaded TSA. A marvel of engineering that seems destined to rain on your parade while simultaneously crushing your dreams.
Get through it all and now you've got a long flight in a tiny, uncomfortable seat on a loud airplane that's likely full of rude passengers who all like to sneeze without covering their mouths. Okay, maybe it won't be that bad but I'm probably not far off in most cases. No matter what, plane travel is stressful.
If you flew into Hilo International Airport (ITO), you're on the Hilo, or east, side of the island. Great, you're already where we need to be. If you've flown into Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA), you're on the Kona, or west, side of the island. That means you'll need to drive east across the island which takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to do via Highway 190 and Saddle Road. Either way, let's get you to your hotel and get you checked in so you can unload your luggage.
Assuming you've got some daylight still, why not drive to a beach. Play in the water, read a book in the shade while listening to the ocean waves, or throw down a towel and take a nap. Of course, be very careful in the sun and be sure to Protect Yourself From Sunburn & Skin Cancer. You do not want a bad sunburn but if you do get burned, be sure read Get Rid Of Sunburn.
Need some suggestions? How about Richardson's Ocean Park or Carlsmith Beach Park which are on the east side of Hilo and shouldn't be too far away.
If the beach isn't close enough, it's too late in the day, or you're not in the mood then hop in your hotel's pool instead. Cool off and just soak it all in. Order yourself a poolside Mai Tai (if you're of legal drinking age), you've earned that much. Another option, if it's not yet evening is to check out the Hilo Farmers Market and pick up some local fruits and snacks to enjoy during your stay.
When you're all relaxed and calmned down, head back to your hotel room, shower off, and put on a change of clothes. Start thinking about where you'll want to eat. Chances are good that you'll have plenty of options so view Big Island Restaurants Nearby Me on your laptop or mobile smartphone and you'll see all of the nearby options.
Maybe your hotel or resort has a good restaurant, or maybe you can walk or take a short drive to something quick, cheap, and local. Or maybe you want something familiar, there's no shame in that on Day 1. But after Day 1, avoid the chains!
After dinner, go for a short walk around your hotel / resort area, along the beach, or even to Coconut Island. When you've had enough just head back to your room and spend a little time unpacking and getting your stuff setup for the days ahead. This is the perfect time to unpack while you unwind.
Avoid staying up late on Day 1. If you've come from the east (like the U.S. mainland) then your body already thinks it is several hours later because of the time zone change. So, if you've come from California (for example) your body will think it's 10:00 PM when it's actually only 7:00 PM in Hawaii (or 8PM depending on DST, see What Time Is It In Hawaii?). Don't fight the time, use this to your advantage to go to bed early as you'll want to get an easy, early start for Big Island Itinerary - Day 2.
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