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Just Got Back: Hawaii Island Family Travel Itinerary

Hawaii Island Family Travel Itinerary on Where to Stay, Things to do and Where to Eat!

We recently returned from a Spring break trip to Hawaii that included exploring the Big Island and then another stop to visit Maui!  In this new series titled, "Just Got Back", we go over a quick trip itinerary report on where we stayed, what activities we did, where we ate and our top recommendations on things to consider adding to your own trip the the Big Island of Hawaii.   

There is so much information available out there online and on social media on where you should go, stay, things to do and where to eat for every destination imaginable, but with this new series, "Just Got Back", I hope to provide a quick and easy way for you to take a glimpse into our travel style and of our trip we just got back from and show what we did as a traveling family of four.

The sheer size of the Big Island is awe-inspiring and one of the few places in the world where you can travel through all but four of the world's different climate zones - ranging from a wet tropical climate on the East side of the island to snow-capped mountains, a result of the shielding effect and elevations of the massive volcanoes Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.  From the molten magma flowing at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to the snow-capped heights of Mauna Kea; from the lush valleys on the Hilo side to the jet-black sands on the Kona side, the island of Hawaii is an unrivaled expression of the power of nature.  However you decide to experience the island, it is sure to leave you amazed and humbled!

Where to Stay

There are many great options to consider staying at when visiting the Big Island that depend on your particular preferences, hotel location and budget.

For this trip, we stayed at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort since we have hotel status (Marriott Bonvoy Titanium) that unlocks extra benefits/amenities and since we had lots of Marriott Bonvoy points that could help cover our entire stay.  I plan on writing more about this in an upcoming post and how we used a lot of Marriott hotel points to cover a majority of our trips for 2022 and the reasoning behind it.  

We stayed at this resort back in 2019 and loved the amenities and beach here, so it was easy to pick it again.  Having hotel status and points readily available to use made it easy to pick the Westin Hapuna again as our home base.

The hotel sits adjacent to Hapuna Beach, the number one ranked beach in the United States and number thirteen ranked beach in the entire world, as rated by TripAdvisor for 2022.  In addition to the spectacular beach, the hotel offers a family pool, adults-only pool and a nice selection of dining options on-site.

For our Spring break stay, we were upgraded to a Premier Ocean View with Two Queens that offered ample space for our family of four and an awe-inspiring view of Hapuna Beach from the balcony.  

Things to do

The Big Island of Hawaii is full of many natural wonders and cultural experiences.  When we weren't relaxing poolside or at the beach, these are the places we explored, things we did on our trip and recommend you to consider adding to your itinerary as well.

  • Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park - We journeyed down Crater Rim Drive stopping off the steam vents and a viewpoint overlooking Halema'uma'u Crater, where we saw lava in the distance. 

  • Zipline at Botanical World - There a few different zipline companies on the East Side of the island including Botanical World, Hawaii Zipline Tours and the Umauma Experience.
  • Go for a hike and explore waterfalls.  We visited Akaka Falls, Umauma Falls, Rainbow Falls and the Hawaii Botonical Gardens on the East side of the Big Island

  • Explore the food and craft markets in downtown Hilo - After ziplining and exploring waterfalls, we enjoyed a late lunch in downtown Hilo and then explored the surrounding farmer's and craft markets.  

  • Lounging poolside and beach activities at Hapuna Beach - At the hotel, the kids enjoyed the family pool, playing on the white sand Hapuna Beach and using a boogie board on the gentle ocean waves 

  • Mauna Kea Resort Luau - Originally created for Newsweek magazine back in the 1960s, the Mauna Kea Luau is a journey through the stories of Hawaiian culture shared through music, food and island traditions all told over a wonderful luau show.

Places to Eat & Drink

The Big Island has many wonderful restaurants and various food options to choose from.  Fresh and local produce is at your fingertips throughout the region and whether you’re splurging on an elegant beachside dinner at your resort, feasting on kalua pig and poi at a luau or grabbing a quick bite from a food truck, there is something for everyone. 

Depending on which part of the island you're closest to will dictate what is available to you.  For example,  I always like to plan ahead and research food options on different parts of the island, so when we are on the Hilo side exploring the island, we don't have to hunt around too long to get a bite to eat.  Knowing what options we have and where they are located comes in handy when traveling with younger children.  And when all else fails, there may a fast food option like McDonald's nearby. 

Also, due to location of where we were staying at the Westin Hapuna, unless we were not at the hotel, we had breakfast at the hotel every morning (Marriott Bonvoy Titanium breakfast benefit) and most dinners at the Westin Hapuna or sister property, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel most nights.

At the Westin Hapuna, we enjoyed dinner at Meridia and Napauka Beach Grill and at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, we had a birthday dinner beachside at Hau Tree.  

Other restaurants we enjoyed on this trip include: 
  • Cafe Pesto Hilo Bay (we didn't want to wait over an hour for Pineapples Island Fresh Cuisine)
  • Umeke's Fish Market & Grill
  • Tommy Bahama Restaurant
  • Kona Brewing Company
  • Dinner at the Mauna Kea Luau
  • Ulu Ocean Grill at the Four Seasons Hualalai
  • Canoe House at Mauna Lani Resort

There are a lot of options available at many other resort hotels, as well as the Mauna Lani Shops & Kings Shops (Restaurants, dining, coffee shops)

Connect with The Family Travel Guy
Let me know what you think of this new trip report series, "Just Got Back", and if you find it useful for planning and getting ideas for own trips.