I only have one day in Hawaii. What should I do?

Big Island Palm Tree

One of the more frequently asked questions I receive is from a person who only has a day on an island wanting suggestion for what to see and do in one day. Since I’ve vacationed on all the islands multiple times, I feel that I have an excellent perspective for what the top sights and attractions are.

I created this series of posts detailing what I would do if I were visiting each Hawaiian Island for the first time and only for one day. This series of suggestions will benefit those who are:

  • on a cruise
  • on a long layover from a transpacific flight
  • on a business trip to Hawaii and adding a day for sight-seeing
  • interested in island hopping day trips

So, here are my top recommendations for what to see and do in a short amount of time for:

These one-day itineraries involve renting a car. Be sure and see our tips for Hawaii car rental.

  1. Hi Sheila,

    Your idea to provide suggested 1 day itineraries for each Hawaiian island is great, especially since the Superferry now makes daily trips to Maui from Oahu. Many people such as myself prefer to make day trips to save on hotel expenses. I usually make a day trip to an outer island when a festival or concert is going on to add value to the trip.

    You may want to write another article on suggested 2-day itinerary for those who like to stay overnight in a hotel.

    One thing I have learned is not trying to do too much in one day on a day trip. While you are planning a vacation to Hawaii back home, it is tempting to try to visit as many activities as possible. There are some tour companies that try to sell you 25 or so attractions on one island within 5 days for a low price. But the reality is, there simply isn’t enough time to do everything, especially if you have young children or if you are traveling with a group. Singles or married couples that are very organized can benefit from it, but only if the purpose of their vacation is not to relax.

    Internet tools like maps.google.com and google earth can help with your tour planning, especially when you are trying to navigate some of the one-way streets in Waikiki.

    I am anxious to read your suggested one-day itineraries. Sometimes the best things to do are free and sometimes it is best to pay a little more to get the best value for something, but that also depends on your personal preferences. I could spend a whole day at a museum looking at artifacts but my kids would rather spend the day at the beach. Be prepared to make some compromises!

  2. Hi Chris – It’s nice to know that someone who lives in Hawaii is actually interested in my opinion of what to see in a short period of time. 🙂

    I agree with you about trying not to do too much all at once. It can be too overwhelming and you just don’t get to enjoy everything properly.

    I was able to work in a 2-day suggestion for Kauai. I’ll see if I can do it for the other islands too.

    As I’m writing these, I’m trying to be mindful of all ages and abilities as well as what are the natural wonders or extra special sights to see. As you said, sometimes the best things to do are free. I couldn’t agree more!

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

  3. Hi HVG – Wow – another Hawaii resident interested in this series! Woohoo! 🙂

    Whenever I write these series, they turn out to be much more difficult than I expected. It’s hard to narrow down some many great things to just a handful. Your island of Hawaii will probably be the biggest challenge. I’m thinking I’ll probably have to split it up into two separate days – one from Hilo side and one day from Kona side.

  4. I think splitting the Big Island up into the Kona side and Hilo side is an excellent idea. Many people don’t realize that all of the other Hawaiian islands can fit onto the Big Island!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like