Destinations / North America

Hawaii Holiday: How to Spend 4 Days in Paradise

Worlds collide in Hawaii, creating a kaleidoscope of awe-inspiring culture, nature, food, history and adventure. Few other destinations let you have it all quite like Hawaii, where a mere four-day holiday can provide you with a lifetime’s worth of unforgettable memories.

If you’ve got a long weekend or a short holiday break coming up, turn your attention to Hawaii and discover this island state’s rugged volcanic landscapes, signature seafood dishes, towering waterfalls and heritage villages. However, there’s so much to choose from, so we’ve gone ahead and featured the truly amazing highlights of a four-day Hawaii holiday.

Day 1: Vibrant Worlds in Kona

Hawaii snorkelling
Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority

Start your Hawaii holiday on the largest and youngest of the Hawaiian islands: The Island of Hawai’i (nicknamed the Big Island). Its volcanic structures and vibrant coral reefs are best experienced on a Sea Quest lava tube and snorkel tour, which lets you snorkel remote reefs with dolphins and turtles and cruise through 1,000-year-old lava tubes formed by Mt Hualālai. The 56-kilometre excursion covers most of South Kona coastline and includes a deli lunch and tropical snacks.

Afterwards, visit the historic Kailua-Kona Village, a seaside town that once lured in Hawaiian Ali‘i or royalty with its picturesque bays, fine-dining restaurants and upscale boutiques. Explore the town’s iconic landmarks, such as Hulihee Palace and the Ahuena Heiau temple, before admiring the sunset from Kailua Pier, which is also the site of the famous IRONMAN World Championship in October.

While you’re in Kailua-Kona, indulge in shave ice, a Hawaiian ice-based dessert using sweetened syrups. Pop into Hawaiian Ukulele & Guitar to admire handmade Hawaiian-style ukuleles and guitars. The owner, Rob, might even teach you a chord or two to get you started. Finish your day with a romantic sunset dinner at Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai, renowned for its signature poke dish, fire pits and daily happy-hour cocktails.

Day 2: Incredible Mother Nature Performances Around Hilo

Hilo Volcanoes
Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority

Wake up fresh and ready for a two-hour drive to the Island of Hawai’i’s eastern side, where the charming town of Hilo and nearby Hawaii Volcanoes National Park reveal Hawaii’s natural spoils. Maunaloa and Kilauea, two of the world’s most active volcanoes, deliver an array of incredible natural wonders, including the Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku). This 500-year-old lava cave showcases lava tube geology through solidified drips and waves of lava rock with colourful minerals.

Stop by Jagger Museum to discover the national park’s unique history and geology through lava displays, electronic seismographs and exhibits on the Hawaiian deity of volcanoes, Pelehonuamea. The museum also overlooks the Halema’uma’u Crater, offering one-of-a-kind views during the evening when the crater emits a fiery glow from its lava lake.

You can enjoy an up-close view of the lava during a lava boat tour or take to the skies for an enthralling bird’s-eye vista of the volcanoes and lava on an open-door helicopter ride. Those with a bit more time can hike the moderate Halema‘uma‘u Trail, which descends 130 metres below Kīlauea Caldera to reveal lava formations, steam vents and the 1974 lava flow. Expect the 2.9-kilometre hike to take around 1.5 hours.

Day 3: Adventure Awaits on Kaua’i

Waimea Canyon
Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority

It’s time to bid the Island of Hawai’i farewell and embrace adventure on the island of Kaua’i, where Waimea Canyon cements itself as one of the world’s most astounding geological wonders. You’ll quickly realise why it’s been nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” as you hike past its dramatic valley gorges and crested buttes. At over 22 kilometres long, 1.6 kilometres wide and more than one kilometre deep, Waimea Canyon offers grand vistas of contrasting ochre rock faces and lush green forest.

With only 10 percent of the island accessible by car, your best bet is taking to the skies when exploring the rugged Nāpali Coast. Jump on a Jack Harter Helicopters Doors Off Tour and cruise over the island, soaking up diverse countryside, azure ocean and cascading waterfalls. Make sure your tour includes flying into the depths of the volcano, Mt Wai’ale’ale, where you can marvel at waterfalls as high as 880 metres.

Relax after all that excitement by strolling around the eclectic streets of Hanapepe Town, where the authentic traditional buildings have been used in Hollywood films. The buildings now house local art galleries, fashion boutiques and inviting eateries serving fresh regional fare.

Day 4: Truly Authentic Local Experiences on Kaua’i

Kauai swimming pond
Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority

Sure, the unique scenery on Kaua’i can be admired from afar, but you’ll seriously regret not experiencing it alongside a range of authentic Hawaiian experiences. Start your morning with a sunrise kayak tour on Huleia River with Outfitters Kaua’i. These experts in Kaua’i adventures also let you zip across the top of the region on the 1.2-kilometre-long Flyline Kaua’i Zipline, hike to secret waterfalls and spot whales during migration.

After kayaking and zip-lining, venture into one of Hawaii’s most famous swimming pools, better known as the “Fountain of Youth” from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. When you’ve soaked up enough “eternal youth”, jump behind the wheel on an enthralling ATV tour with Kipu Ranch Adventures. The various tours last between two and three hours, taking you past verdant pastures, tranquil waterfalls and the tropical Huleia Valley.

The famed Kilohana plantation is the perfect place to unwind after all those adrenalin-pumping activities. Tour the plantation to learn about the sugar cane harvesting techniques and even harvest your own sugar cane. Enjoy the fruits of your labour with an authentic Mai Tai made with rum produced on Kaua’i. It’s a refreshing accompaniment to a meal of fresh seafood or meat alongside a cosy fire pit.

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