How to Hike Trolltunga


How to Hike Trolltunga

Hiking Trolltunga was truly a dream come true.  When we saw a picture of the summit of this hike many years ago, we knew we had to complete it.  Trolltunga is one of the most challenging yet memorable hikes you will ever complete.  The summit of this hike, Trolltunga rock (a rock that juts out from a mountain over stunning Lake Ringedalsvatnet) makes it unlike any other hike we have ever done before.   Stepping out onto the Trolltunga rock with our daughter is something we will never forget.  Here is our guide on hiking Trolltunga in Norway. 

FYI: This post is written based on a hike taken in late August.  See our 2 Week Norway Road Trip guide for all the details on this trip. We took this trip with our 12 month old daughter.  For all our baby travels tips and tricks see our Top 10 Baby Travel Tips, 5 Top Baby & Toddler Flying Tips and our How to Hike with a Baby post. 

How to Hike Trolltunga

Note: Trolltunga is one of our top 5 favorite hikes we have ever completed.  That is saying a lot too as we have hiked more miles than we can count all over the world including many US National Parks and Europe.  Definitely add Trolltunga to your bucket list. 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!


Hiking Trolltunga FAQs


How long of a hike is Trolltunga?  What is the elevation gain?  

From the P2 parking lot, Trolltunga is 16.7 miles (27 km) with 4000 feet (1200 m) of elevation gain.  It is an out & back hike.


Is there a way to shorten the Trolltunga hike? Details about Parking at P3 at Trolltunga? 

Yes!  And we highly recommend parking at P3 instead of P2 to shorten your trek to Trolltunga.   By parking at P3 instead of P2, you shave off 4.3 miles (7 km) of hiking and 1,300 feet of elevation gain.  From P3, the hike is 12.4 miles (20 km) with 2600 feet (800 m) of elevation gain.  Parking at P3 saves you approximately 3 hours of hiking round trip and is completely worth the extra cost (600 NOK, about $60 US dollars).  

If P3 parking is full, you can also book a shuttle from P2 to P3.  Overall, the shuttle costs about the same as parking at P3 (if you only have 2 people).  However, you have to start/get a ride back on the shuttle schedule.  Parking at P3 is better so you are on your own schedule.  

The ‘trail’ going from P2 to P3 is a simple, narrow, heavy switchback road without any unique views.  The road from P2 to P3 is not peaceful either as cars and shuttles are driving on it throughout the day.  It also makes an already strenuous hike more strenuous without adding any views or nature serenity. Park at P3 (or take the shuttle from P2 to P3)!  

Note: There are only 30 car spots at P3 so be sure to book online using the link here as soon as possible in advance to guarantee your spot.  


How do I hike Trolltunga? What are the logistics of the Trolltunga Hike? 

Hike Trolltunga

If you start at P2, which we again do not recommend, you will have a steady climb for over 2 miles on the road before reaching P3.  This is the steepest part of the climb and least scenic part of the hike. 

From P3, there is approximately 1 mile of slight incline up, followed by another approximately 1.5 miles of more steep incline.  After that, the hike involves 2 more climbs but both are less steep and spread out with some down/somewhat flat hiking in between.  The hardest part of the hike is the beginning so if you get through the first climb, feel confident you can do the whole hike. 

How to Hike Trolltunga

Once you reach Trolltunga, to get down onto the rock, you have to climb down a ladder (built into the rocks) and then you can easily walk onto Trolltunga itself.  We did not find walking out onto this rock scary, unlike stepping onto Kjeragbolten.  It is very large and wide.  When you are on it, you cannot tell how far of a drop it is unless you get close to the edge. 

Tip: Throughout the hike, be sure to follow the red T’s on the ground and/or the poles in the rocks to keep on the path at Trolltunga. Numerous people have required rescuing from this trail.  


Looking for great hiking boots?  Here are links to the ones we’ve used for 8+ years and highly recommend: Men’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots & Women’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots


Is the Trolltunga hike hard?

Yes, Trolltunga is a hard hike, but not as hard as we expected.  We had read a lot of reviews online of this hike (prior to hiking) saying Trolltunga was the hardest hike most had ever completed.  We disagree (maybe because we started the hike at P3 and didn’t hike as far as if you started at P2).  Now, this hike is no cake walk but the elevation is spread out and feels manageable.  Hiking Trolltunga requires good physical fitness, due to the length and elevation gained, but no technical climbing skills.  

Despite Trolltunga being a much longer hike than Kjeragbolten, we found this hike to be easier, mainly because there were no spots where you needed chains to get up due to the steepness.  


How far of a drop is it from the Trolltunga rock into Lake Ringedalsvatnet?

How to Hike Trolltunga

Sources vary on this factoid, but it is estimated to be about 2200 feet (670 meters).  It is unlikely, unless you get too close to the edge or intentionally jump, that you would fall off this rock.  Again, we did not find it scary.  If you can climb down the ladder, we think anyone with a reasonable level of fitness can walk onto this rock.  We held our 1 year old daughter’s hands as she walked on the rock.  It was such a cool moment! 


How is it stepping onto the Trolltunga rock (aka the Troll’s Tongue)? 

Surreal!  Like we said earlier, we have been dreaming of hiking to this spot for years and it was so cool to finally do it.  This spot is straight out of a postcard!  


How long does it take to hike Trolltunga? 

It took us 8 hours to hike Trolltunga from P3.  This includes stopping at Trolltunga rock for about 1 hour to take pictures and a break.  If you hike from P2, it will likely take about 3 more hours. 


Is the Trolltunga hike busy?

When we hiked it, no.  However, we hiked it just after the end of peak season (August 30th) and on a Tuesday.  Unlike Pulpit Rock, this hike is not overly busy because it is so long and most beginners steer clear of it.  And only 30 cars can park at P3.  There are definitely other people on the trail but everyone has their own space and there were no traffic jams.  We saw about the same amount of people at Kjeragbolten as we did on this trail. 


When is the best time to hike Trolltunga?  

Hike this trail in the summer/early fall, ideally June 1st-September 30th.  Outside of that window, it is not recommended to hike to Trolltunga unless you have a guide as the weather in the area is less predictable.  Be sure to check trail conditions too.  When we visited, late August, there was no snow on the trail.  However, we had unseasonably warm and clear weather  for our hike (and really for our entire Norway trip).  Many years, in early June, a lot of the trail tends to be covered in snow still.  


Can you Hike Trolltunga with kids?  

Yes! We completed this hike with our 12-month-old daughter and it is one of our favorite hikes we have completed with her.  That being said, this is a very long hike.  Some kids may not tolerate being in the carrier or hiking this long. If your child is not being carried, we would say kids should be 10+ and have a decent amount of hiking experience.  We saw NO other babies or kids on this hike.  All the hikers we saw were adults. 

Hike Trolltunga with kids

For all our tips on hiking with a baby, see our How to Hike with a Baby post. 


Where to Stay When Hiking Trolltunga? 

Odda is the closest option to stay while hiking Trolltunga. If you are looking for convenience, stay in this area.  However, if you are willing to drive a little further, you can get a place a bit off the beaten path that will give you a more peaceful, and likely beautiful, experience, for a fraction of the cost.  We stayed at a farm a bit north of Odda in Lofthus.  The fjord views here were spectacular, especially from the dock.  I mean just look at the dock views pictured here.  We spent 3 nights at this Lofthus Airbnb and wish we could have spent even more time here. 

Where to stay when hiking Trolltunga

Hiking Trolltunga was one of the top highlights of our 2 Week Norway Road Trip.   See this guide for all the details on planning an epic Norwegian fjord road trip of your own.  

We hope this guide helps you plan your trip to hike Trolltunga.  Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

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How to Hike Pulpit Rock


Pulpit Rock Hike

Pulpit Rock, also called Preikestolen, is an impressive rock that towers 2000 feet (600 meters) above Lysefjord.  This larger-than-life rock was featured in the movie Mission Impossible Rogue Nation.  Pulpit rock is one of the most hiked trails in Norway given its proximity to Stavanger and relatively short length.  Here is our guide on how to hike on to hike Pulpit Rock. 

  

Pulpit Rock Hike

FYI: This post is written based on a hike taken in late August.  See our 2 Week Norway Road Trip guide for all the details on this trip. We took this trip with our 12 month old daughter.  For all our baby travels tips and tricks see our Top 10 Baby Travel Tips, 5 Top Baby & Toddler Flying Tips and our How to Hike with a Baby post. 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!


Pulpit Rock Hike FAQs


How long is the Pulpit Rock Hike?  How much elevation gain is on the Pulpit Rock Hike? 

Pulpit Rock is a 4.6 mile (7.6 km) out & back hike with 1150 feet (350m) of elevation gain. 

How do I hike Pulpit Rock?  What are the Pulpit Rock Logistics? 

This hike first takes you through a pine forest before taking you above the treeline for about a mile until you reach Pulpit Rock itself.   The trail alternates between less and more steep sections.  The hike overall felt like a steady climb up with some more steep areas at certain points.  A lot of this hike is on a path of rocks and on variable sized rock stairs.  You definitely have to pay attention to your footing throughout the hike. 

There is a very short section of the hike along the cliffside. If you have a fear of heights, you may find this difficult.  However, there were chains on the edge along the cliff and we did not feel fearful of the height at any time. 

Pulpit Rock Hike

Once at Pulpit rock, you can wait in a line to get views from the end of the rock.  However, you can see the impressive nature of the rock and how far down it is into the fjord better from the side view. You also can get some really pretty expansive fjord views from the side as well. 

How long does the Pulpit Rock Hike take to hike?

This hike will take about 5 hours to complete (on average).  We hiked Pulpit rock in about 4.5 hours including stopping at the summit on Pulpit Rock for about an hour. 

How much does it cost to park at Pulpit Rock? 

250 NOK (about $25 US dollars) in 2022

Is Pulpit Rock hike busy?

Yes! The Pulpit Rock Hike is VERY busy. Pulpit Rock is one of the most hiked trails in all of Norway due to the impressive views that you are afforded on a relatively short hike.  

Pulpit Rock Hike

Tip: Hike this trail as early or as late in the evening as possible. 

This trail was so busy that it did take away from the experience a bit. We started this hike around 10:30 am on a Saturday and in hindsight, would have started this hike earlier or later.  We had ‘traffic jams’ on the trail at times and it was hard to have your own space on the trail for very long.  This experience was a stark contrast to hiking Kjeragbolten and Trolltunga

We have seen some pictures of people on Pulpit rock with no other people in the pictures, but do not expect this for your journey.  Expecting to get pictures without others (without photoshopping extensively) is unrealistic.   FYI- we do not photoshop people out of any of our pictures as that gives an unrealistic depiction of any experience/hike.

Can you hike Pulpit Rock with kids? 

Absolutely!  We hiked this trail with our 12-month-old daughter in the backpack carrier.  This trail is not technically challenging so as long as you are in decent shape, you should be able to complete it baby wearing.  Most kids over 7 years old, and younger depending on experience, should be able to complete this trail.   

Pulpit Rock Hike

We saw SO many kids and babies on this trail, more than we have ever seen hiking before.  When we got to Pulpit Rock, we realized we had forgotten wipes for changing our daughter’s diaper.   Another mom overheard us and kindly gave us some of hers to use.  Our babies then had fun taking rocks back and forth from one another.  Rocks really can provide hours of entertainment. See our How to Hike with a Baby post for all our baby hiking tips.

When to hike Pulpit Rock?  

Ideally, hike it June 1st-September 30th.  Outside of that window, it is likely the road to the Pulpit Rock trailhead and trail will be covered in snow and potentially closed.

Fun Fact: Despite being over 2 hours apart driving, Pulpit Rock is located on the same fjord as Kjeragbolten

How do you access Pulpit Rock from Stavanger?  

Ryfylke Tunnel, a 14 km long tunnel, connects Stavanger to Tau on your way to Stavanger.  This is one of the world’s longest and deepest subsea tunnels. You will drive through this tunnel if you travel from Stavanger to Pulpit Rock. The cost to go through this tunnel is 140 NOK each way (our rental car company charged us automatically for this when driving through so we didn’t pay anywhere in person).  It is about a 45 minute drive from Stavanger to Pulpit Rock.  

Where to stay when hiking Pulpit Rock?  

We recommend staying in Stavanger and exploring this Norwegian city the day before or after your hike.  This town is so quaint and picturesque with its many wooden houses.  This is the Stavanger Airbnb we stayed at and would highly recommend.  There was a path from our accommodations we were able to take through the neighborhoods to the city center of Stavanger.  It was so nice to be able to just walk into town once we arrived.  This path also allowed us a peek into local living.  We really enjoyed walking through the neighborhoods and the walkable nature of the area itself. 


Looking for some further guidance on preparing for this hike? See this Ultimate Hiking Checklist article.


Hiking Pulpit Rock was one of the highlights of our 2 Week Norway Road Trip.   See this guide for all the details on planning an epic fjord road trip of your own.  

We hope this guide helps you plan your hike at Pulpit Rock.  Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.

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1 Week Puerto Rico Itinerary


1 Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary

Spending a week in Puerto Rico will leave you wanting more time on this island.  From rainforest hikes to hidden beaches to historic Old San Juan to a hopping food scene, Puerto Rico has a little bit of it all. Our 1 week Puerto Rico itinerary will guide you on how to not only experience it all but also have plenty of time to relax.  Read on for our 1 week in Puerto Rico Itinerary.  

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!

FYI: This post is based on a trip taken in early March.  We took this trip with our 7 month old daughter.  For all our baby travels tips and tricks see our Top 10 Baby Travel Tips, Flying with a Baby, 5 Top Baby & Toddler Flying Tips  and How to Hike with a Baby posts.


One Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary

1 Week Puerto Rico Itinerary Overview

  • Day 1: Fly into San Juan
  • Day 2: El Yunque (Hike Mount Britton & La Coca Trail, La Coca Falls, etc.) & Pork Highway
  • Day 3: Old San Juan (El Moro Fortress, Castillo San Cristobal, etc)
  • Day 4: El Yunque (Hike Los Picachos & Angelito Trail)
  • Day 5: Playa Escondida Hike, Luquillo Food Kiosiks
  • Day 6: Luquillo Beach/Hike
  • Day 7: La Zanja Trail, Fly Home

Note: This itinerary covers visiting mainly the East side of the island and Old San Juan.  If you want to visit both sides of the island, you really need more than a week.  We hope to go back one day to explore the West side of the island. 


1 Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary Day 1: Arrive in Puerto Rico

On day 1, fly into San Juan. There are several airports on the island but you are going to find the best deals in/out of San Juan as it is the biggest airport. For tips on saving on flights see our 5 Ways to Save on Flights post.

After arriving in San Juan, pick up groceries before heading to your accommodations on the East side of the island. You are going to have the most options and the best prices on groceries in/around San Juan.  We recommend stopping at the Costco (not sponsored but should be) not far from the airport.  We stayed at an Airbnb with a full kitchen and found Costco to be a great spot to stock up on some essentials for the week. 

Stay East of Old San Juan

Next, drive to your accommodations and settle in. You can either go out for dinner or cook depending on your preference/timing of flights. 

We recommend staying at the Airbnb we stayed at in Ceiba (East of the Island) just south of Fjarado, The East Point P.R. Airbnb.  We loved this Airbnb for many reasons.  For one, the patios at this Airbnb are amazing. The front patio has hammocks under a gorgeous tree and the back patio has stunning mountain views.  The hosts at this Airbnb were so kind and helpful as well. Our daughter also loved the swimming pool (which is shared but we always had it completely to ourselves). This Airbnb is not a resort and allows for a more local experience as the other people at the complex reside there. 

Luquillo and Fjarado are also good areas to stay in while visiting the East side of the island. They are far enough away from the city yet close enough for a day trip to Old San Juan and with convenient access to El Yunque and some of the best beaches/beach hiking.  You may also consider staying in Old San Juan if looking for a nightlife scene and if you plan to spend more than one day in Old San Juan. 


1-Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary Day 2: El Yunque National Rainforest

1-Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary

El Yunque National Rainforest

The next morning, wake up early and head to the El Yunque National Rainforest, which is the only tropical rainforest in the US National Parks system.  It is one of the smallest National forests yet one of the most biodiverse.  We loved visiting El Yunque (several times) and our favorite parts of the trip happened here!

IMPORTANT: You Need Reservations to Enter El Yunque National Rainforest.  

Since 2022, you cannot enter El Yunque National Rainforest without a reservation.  You can book these reservations 30 days in advance at recreation.gov. We recommend you set an alarm to get these tickets as soon as they become available.  These tickets are not as competitive to get as some tickets for entering other National Parks like Zion National Park, Arches National Park or Rocky Mountain National Park but we still recommend getting them as soon as possible otherwise you may be SOL.  We encountered numerous people who did not have tickets and could not get in (and had no idea prior to visiting they needed these tickets).  You also cannot give or sell your ticket to someone else, even if you are not going, because the park rangers were checking IDs to make sure ticket names matched your ID.  

Tip: If possible, get morning entrance tickets because there will be less people in the park.  In the morning, you will only encounter other people with morning entrance tickets whereas in the afternoon, twice the number of people can be in the park at that time.  The mornings are a bit cooler and better for hiking as well. 

Stop at La Coca Falls

1-Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary

This location is a brief stop to see a waterfall off the main road (Hwy. 191) as you enter the park from the east. Our daughter loved looking at this waterfall. She was memorized by the waterflow! 

Stop at Yokahu Tower

Yokahu Tower

You can climb up the Yokahu Tower to look out over the park from even higher up or you can simply look out from the spot right next to the parking lot.  Regardless of what you decide to do, it is certainly a pretty spot. A short stop again and right off the main road. 

Hike La Coca Trail (3.2 Miles, 947 feet of elevation gain, out & back)

1 Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary

This hike is very serene, peaceful and pretty. We hiked this trail on a Saturday at 9am and were the only people on the trail.  For more information on this hike, see our El Yunque National Rainforest Guide.  

Mount Britton Tower Trail (1.6 Miles, 649 feet of elevation gain, out & back) 

This trail takes you up to Mount Britton Tower that affords you panoramic views across the park. To access it, drive further up road 191 from the Vereda La Coca Trailhead (same road you use to access La Coca Falls)  

1 Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary

The Mount Britton hike is along a well maintained trail, mostly paved with rocks.  We advise wearing hiking boots for this trail though as it was a bit slick. The slickness was nothing our hiking boots could not handle but we saw people in regular shoes struggling. 

Looking for great hiking boots?  Here are links to the ones we’ve used for 8+ years and highly recommend: Men’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots & Women’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots

1 Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary

Tip: Hike Mount Britton on a Clear Day and in the Morning 

Try to go on a more clear day for better views from the top as cloud cover can completely obscure your views.  The cloud cover can change in a matter of minutes and go from clear skies for miles to complete cloud cover (it did this when we were there). Also, try hiking the trail earlier in the day for the best views/weather as it typically rains in the afternoon in the rainforest (per park ranger). There are also less people on this trail in the morning.  We saw at least a dozen other people while hiking this trail on a Saturday late morning/early afternoon. 

For more information on this hike, see our El Yunque National Rainforest Guide for more details, including a detailed map 

Pork Highway

After a morning hiking in the National forest, you will be ready for some delicious food so head to the Pork Highway. This drive consists of lechonera after lechonera on highway 184 that leads you up into the mountains.  Lechoneras are restaurants/food joints specializing in roast pork. These lechoneras each serve pork that is slow roasted over hot coals making it crispy on the outside, yet tender on the inside. Yum!

Pork Highway Puerto Rico

Our favorite places we stopped along the Pork Highway included: 

  • Lechonera Los Amigos: This cafetería style lechonera had the most flavorful pork we tried on the Pork highway.  We also had some very good tostones (crisp flattened plantains) here.  The staff was very kind and accommodating to our daughter (7 months old at the time) as well. 
  • La Placita Guavate: This restaurant was further up highway 184 past the main lechoneras.  This location was certainly a local spot. Our waitress only spoke Spanish. The views from the dining area here were stunning over the mountains. Here, we enjoyed some really delicious sides, including Mofongo and Amarillitos. The house dessert (Churro Balls filled with nutella covered with vanilla ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce and whip cream) did not disappoint either. Our daughter got to try all the foods here, and we gave her a lime for the first time.  What a funny reaction to see! 

Tip: Locate the beginning of the Pork Highway by searching for Lechonera Los Amigos. 

This Lechonera is at the start of the Pork Highway. From here, drive southeast on highway 184 towards Guvate (will be labeled with yellow signs as pictured).  The Pork Highway is a build your own experience so drive on highway 184 as far as you would like and stop at as many or as few lechoneras as you please. 

1 Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary

Tip: Visit between traditional mealtimes 

We drove the Pork Highway late on a Saturday afternoon (started around 4 o’clock).  At that time, it was not crowded.  Most information we read on the Pork Highway advised arriving by noon.  Otherwise, it would be very crowded and difficult to drive but we found driving it late afternoon to be very easy-going. 

Foods to Try while in Puerto Rico:

  • Amarillitos (Sweet fried plantains) 
  • Tostones (Crisp flattened plantains, savory) 
  • Mofongo (Mashed up plantains and yuca, National Dish, Natalie’s favorite, has a garlic bread like taste) 
  • Arroz con Gandules or Vegetables (Rice with pigeon peas or other vegetables, has a sweeter taste)
  • Cuajito (stewed pig stomach)
  • Morcilla (blood sausage)
  • Longaniza (spicy sausage)
  • Yuca al mojo (cassava with onions, olive oil and vinegar)

1-Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary Day 3: Visit Old San Juan

Visit Old San Juan

Old San Juan

Next up, Old San Juan! Old San Juan reminded us of a charming European city with its cobblestone roads and colorful buildings. The Spanish influence, from Puerto Rico’s time as a Spanish colony, is very evident. The vibrantly colored buildings paired with the lively music, food and people we encountered made for a very fun day exploring Old San Juan. Old San Juan is also dripping with history, with the Castle and Fortress (on the shoreline) are a delight for any history buff.  See our 1 Day in Old San Juan Puerto Rico guide for all our recommendations on visiting this city.

1 Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary

We recommend walking around the entirety (a couple miles of walking) of Old San Juan to experience the culture and see all it has to offer.  Simply park at one spot (see below where to park for FREE) and make a big loop.  Be sure to also pop down random streets and not always walk on the main roads.  We found some of the cutest spots when we were off the beaten path.  If you love photography like Natalie, you will love finding these quaint and colorful spots.  We also found some fun murals tucked away on less trafficked streets. 

Explore El Moro Fortress & Castillo San Cristobal

Beyond the cobblestone streets and colorful buildings, be sure to visit El Morro Fortress and Castillo San Cristobal on the coastline.  El Moro was constructed in the 1400s to protect San Juan from pirates. The architecture here is quite magnificent and provides for some awesome photo ops. Castillo San Cristobal is located just south of the fortress on the shoreline and has similarly cool old architecture.   See our 1 Day in Old San Juan Puerto Rico guide for how to save on admission to these spots.

 El Moro Fortress Old San Juan

La Fortaleza/Calle Fortaleza

Another spot you may want to make sure you visit is La Fortaleza/Calle Fortaleza, the Governor’s Mansion and the street in front of it. Typically Calle Fortaleza is very picturesque and has umbrellas hanging above it but when we visited, this was not the case.  A local told us the objects hanging above the street rotate throughout the year so do not expect to necessarily see this decor. 

Tip: Park near El Morro for FREE. 

Across the street a couple blocks east, we were able to park on a Sunday morning for free. Here is the location we parked at for free. Be sure to read all signs, as this could have changed.  Signs are in Spanish so either ask a local or use Google translate if you do not speak Spanish to be sure it is free to park (and you won’t get a ticket). 

Tip: Arrive early as it gets busier throughout the day.  

We were able to drive into Old San Juan quickly without any traffic but when we were leaving in the afternoon, the traffic to get into Old San Juan was bumper to bumper.  The National Park Sites were also quite crowded at that time.  We like people, not crowds!  

1 Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary

Parent advice: You can navigate Old San Juan with a stroller but ideally would baby wear

It is a bit tricky but doable to use your stroller in Old San Juan Puerto Rico. In Old San Juan, the roads are mainly cobblestone but you can roll your stroller on the sidewalks.  The sidewalks are not always continuous and sometimes we had to lift our stroller up or carry it briefly.  However, it worked and was worth the extra effort for us.  We prefer to have our stroller, when we can, as it serves as a portable napping spot for our baby. Having our stroller allows the baby to sleep quite well almost anywhere. A well rested baby is a happy baby!  For all our baby travel tips see our Top 10 Baby Travel Tips, How to Hike with a Baby and Flying with a Baby posts. 

Check Out Barrichina, Home to the Original Pina Colada

Be sure to get some traditional Puerto Rican food or check out one of the many other types of restaurants in Old San Juan.  We recommend eating at Barrachina (specializes in traditional Caribbean food), has a beautiful enclosed outdoor dining area and is, allegedly, home to the “Original” Pina Colada. 

See our 1 Day in Old San Juan guide for more tips on visiting Old San Juan.


1-Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary Day 4: El Yunque Rainforest

After a day in the city, we were ready to get back out in nature again and hike in El Yunque National Rainforest. We entered again through the east entrance. If you want to revisit a stop, you can stop at any of the pull offs along the road again.  There are several other small waterfalls and rest areas you can stop at along the road (see map in our complete El Yunque National Rainforest Guide) but we hit most on the first day we visited. 

El Yunque Trail to Los Picachos vía El Camilito Trailhead (about 5 Miles Roundtrip, 1,748 feet of elevation gain, out & back) 

This hike takes you through the serene rainforest and into the clouds.  It ends at a cement landing that you climb up to get panoramic views of the park.  It is a steep climb to the top but 100% worth it. This was our favorite hike and overall activity we did in Puerto Rico.  It was so peaceful and our 7 month old daughter at the time adorably babbled the entire hike. 

Tip: Try to go on a more clear day or in the morning (less likely rain) to have more clear views without cloud coverage (sometimes cannot see any views with full cloud coverage)

Along the trail, there are several small waterfalls and plenty of very pretty rainforest flora to keep this hike interesting.  Also, despite having quite decent elevation gain, the elevation gain was well spread out and the hike did not feel overly strenuous.  See our El Yunque National Rainforest Guide for more details on this hike.

1 Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary

Stop at La Murella for Lunch 

This roadside stand is located just prior to La Coca Falls.  The food here is delicious and freshly prepared.  It is quite overpriced but you are paying for the convenience of a hot Puerto Rican Food in the middle of a rainforest.  This is the best food we have ever had at a National Park site. Typically the food at the National Parks does not match up to the views but this time it did!  Be sure to bring cash to pay for it. 

Hike the Angelito Trail (0.7 miles, 127 feet of elevation gain, out & back) 

The Angelito trail takes you through the rainforest to a river where you can go swimming.  The highlight, for Natalie, at this spot was the rope swing that she had fun mastering swinging on into the river.  On the trail, you’ll pass through some bamboo too.  

1 Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary

Tip: Go right after it rains or on a weekday to beat the crowds. 

We had this normally very busy spot almost completely to ourselves after a short downpour because everyone else cleared out.  Also, try to go here on a weekday as it gets packed on weekends. 

See our El Yunque National Rainforest Guide for more details on this hike.


1-Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary Day 5: Beach Hiking & Food Kiosks 

Seven Seas to Playa Colorá and Playa Escondida Hike (2.2 mile out & back, 147 feet elevation)

This easy, mainly shaded, hike takes you through Mangroves to two secluded beaches.  We hiked this trail around 7:30 AM and had both beaches completely to ourselves.  On this hike, we saw lots of large fist sized crabs going into their holes as we approached the mangroves (don’t worry, they were off the path).  When we walked slowly and looked out closely, we could see 30 + out at a time! 

1 Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary

Tip: Park for free along the road just south of where the trail starts (north of Costa Mia restaurant). You can park at Seven Seas for a fee as well but if you arrive before 8 AM, you should have no trouble parking here for free. 

Eat at the Luquillo Food Kiosks

There are about 50 food kiosks at the Luquillo Food Kiosks.  Several are sit down restaurants with outdoor seating overlooking the beach.  Other spots are more grab and go, specializing in different Fried Puerto Rican Street Food and drinks (mojitos and pina coladas mainly).  The Kiosks are definitely a fun atmosphere!  

Eat at La Parilla 

We ate at the seafood seat-down restaurant La Parilla (Kiosk #2).  We liked the food and atmosphere here so much, we actually ate here twice. Our main dishes were on-point (grouper with a lemon butter cream sauce and chicken yuca mofongo) and we loved the tostones filled with crab appetizer.  You can also get the tostones filled with lobster but we liked the ones filled with crab-filled better so we would recommend a full order of those.  


1-Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary Day 6: Luquillo Beach Hike & Beach or Pool Afternoon

Luquillo Beach Hike (Up to 6 miles round trip, out & back, little to no elevation) 

This hike starts at Monserrate Beach (near and behind Luquillo Food Kiosks) and heads south along the shoreline. You can hike up to 6 miles round trip if you hike as far as you can along the shoreline.  We hiked 4 miles along (north to south) Monserrate Beach, Luquillo Beach, Fortuna Beach and Playa Azul.  On this hike, you access very pretty and secluded beaches south of Luquillo Beach.  These beaches also have calmer waters that our 7 month old greatly appreciated being able to stand in more easily.  These beaches are more “classic” in that they are lined with coconut trees and there are no mangroves unlike the previous day’s hike to Playa Escondida.  Be sure to have sun protection with you as most of this trail is in the direct sun if done anytime after early morning. 

1 Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary

Tip: Park for free at the Luquillo Food Kiosks and walk to the shoreline to get to the trail.  Otherwise, you have to pay for parking at Luquillo Beach (small fee but same distance of walking to the coastline so we suggest the free option). 

Eat at the Luquillo Food Kiosks again

Since you are already parked at the food Kiosks, time your hike to finish around when you want to eat lunch and eat here again.  Try somewhere new or eat at La Parilla again if you liked it as much as we did.


1 Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary Day 7: Hike La Zanja Trail, Fly Home

La Zanja Trail (3. Miles round Trip, out & back, 351 feet elevation)

The La Zanja Hike is along the beach and mangroves outside of Reserva Natural de Las Cabezas.  This hike was very pretty, serene and felt secluded. We saw no one else on this trail during our morning hike around 7:30 AM.  And if you hike before 9 AM, most of the hike will be in the shade.  Depending on the tide, you may have to wade some water/slippery rocks at high tide. We completed the hike during a low tide time so we had no issues and simply walked on the beach the whole time. 

1 Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary

Tip: Park for free along the road just north of where the trail starts (before Costa Mia restaurant).  This is the same spot you park for the Seven Seas to Playa Colorá and Playa Escondida Hike but instead of heading north to Seven Seas Beach, you head south towards the nature reserve.

Fly Home 

We did not want to leave Puerto Rico and hope you feel the same after traveling with this itinerary. 


Other Puerto Rico Travel Tips/Observations

Foods to try in Puerto Rico:

  • Mallorca: Sweet Puerto Rican Bread
  • Mofongo: Mashed up Plantains and Yuca, Natalie’s favorite
  • Arroz con Gandules: Rice with Pigeon Peas
  • Empanadillo: Puerto Rican Empanada 
  • Tostones: Fried flattened plantains, our favorite were filled with crab at La Parilla 
  • Flan: Egg custard dessert, Sam really liked it, Natalie did not care for this

Bad Drivers and Roads

Drivers in Puerto Rico, in general, are VERY aggressive (worse than, sorry IL friends, Chicago drivers) so be cautious. There are also speed bumps everywhere, probably to slow down those aggressive drivers. Similarly, the roads are also in poor condition at baseline so if a road has signs it is in poor condition, expect it to be really rough (especially Road 186 in El Yunque). We found this very ironic because you pay extra taxes with your rental car for the poorly maintained roads.

Many Stray Dogs and Cats  

We encountered several aggressive stray dogs in numerous areas of Puerto Rico.  This caught us off guard as we have not previously encountered aggressive strays despite all of our travels.  We love dogs but an aggressive stray dog biting you would completely alter your trip.  Prophylactic Rabies vaccinations are now something we are considering to potentially get for further travels.

 


Other Potential Puerto Rico Activities

Below is a list of some things we hope to do in the future but did not have time for or were unable to do with baby.

Bioluminescent Bay at night  (best to see during new moon phase, check prior to trip) 

The glowing bioluminescent bays are a phenomenon you can only see in a few parts of the world, including Puerto Rico.  They are best viewed during the new moon phase so try to time a visit to one of them around that. There are 3 places you can view these in Puerto Rico–near Fajardo at Mostiquo Bay, on Vieques Island or in La Parguera (southwest corner of the main island).  Kayak tours (not an option with a baby) are plentiful and there are many different companies you can use.  Some different options for viewing these bays we came across during our research included: 

  • Boardwalk Tour with Reserva Natural Las Cabezas de San Juan (Para la Naturaleza, was not occurring when we visited)
  • Big Island Boat Tours (Electric Boat to the Islands, BioIslandPR, 1 (787) 422-7857, Minimum age 3 so that was a no go with a 7 month old)

Eat at La Estacion 

This is a laid back gas station turned restaurant in Fajardo with locally sourced meat and produce with Puerto Rican Street Food.  Be sure to check when it is open and plan accordingly. This restaurant was closed all the times we thought about going. 

Visit an Island 

Other than the Puerto Rico main island, Culebra and Vieques are the most popular islands. You can take a ferry from Ceiba (East Side of the Island) to access them.  If you go to Vieques, it is quite large and our friends who have been there advise renting a Jeep to get around the island. 

Puerto Rico Ferry

Cerro Mime Hike (3.4 Miles out & back, 354 feet of elevation gain)

Central Region Island hike with mountainous Views.  We did not hike because it is very far from most other activities/sites we visited. 


We hope this guide helps you plan your trip to Puerto Rico.  Anything you’d add to our guide?  We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

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El Yunque National Rainforest Guide


El Yunque National Rainforest is the only tropical rainforest in the US National Parks system.  It is one of the smallest national forests yet one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.  El Yunque has stunning rainforest hiking and plenty of scenic waterfalls to explore.  This National Rainforest is only about 45 minutes outside of historic Old San Juan making it an easy day trip for anyone staying there.  We recommend spending 1-2 days exploring the El Yunque National Rainforest.  Here is our complete El Yunque National Rainforest Guide.  

El Yunque National Rainforest Guide

FYI: This post is based on a trip taken in early March.  We took this trip with our 7 month old daughter.  For more baby travel tips, see Top 10 Baby Travel Tips, How to Hike with a Baby, 5 Top Baby & Toddler Flying Tips and Flying with a Baby posts. 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!


Two Entrances to El Yunque National Rainforest

There are two separate entrances to El Yunque National Forest.  The east entrance (PR 191 and 988) is the more popular entrance. PR 191/988 is where you will see the main attractions including all but one of the hiking trails we discuss below.  The west entrance (Road 186) takes you on a very rough remote road, past several waterfalls, and to the El Toro trailhead.  Our favorite activities were on the east side of the park. We recommend spending at least two days on the east side of the park prior to exploring the west side of the park.  Read our full guide below for more details and use the maps in each section to help you navigate each enterance.  

IMPORTANT: You Need Reservations to Enter El Yunque National Rainforest  

Currently, you cannot enter El Yunque National Rainforest without a reservation.  You can book these reservations 30 days in advance at recreation.gov. We recommend you set an alarm to get these tickets as soon as they become available.  These tickets are not as competitive to get as some tickets for entering other National Parks like Zion National Park, Arches National Park or Rocky Mountain National Park, but we still recommend getting them as soon as possible otherwise you may be SOL.  We encountered numerous people at the entrance to El Yunque who did not have reservations and could not get in.  You also cannot give or sell your ticket to someone else needing one, even if you are not going, because the park rangers check IDs to make sure ticket names match your ID.  

Tip: If possible, get morning entrance tickets because there will be less people in the park 

In the morning, you will only encounter other people with morning entrance tickets whereas in the afternoon, twice the number of people can be in the park at that time.  The mornings are a bit cooler and better for hiking as well. 


East Entrance El Yunque PR 191

In this part of our El Yunque National Park Guide, we will outline attractions and trails from south to north. Use the map here for guidance of the East Entrance.

East Entrance El Yunque National Rainforest Map

El Yunque National Rainforest Guide: Stop at La Coca Falls

At this brief stop, you can see a waterfall off the main road (191) as you enter the park from the east. Our daughter loved looking at this waterfall. She was memorized by the waterflow! 

El Yunque National Rainforest Guide

El Yunque National Rainforest Guide: Hike La Coca Trail

This hike is very serene, peaceful and pretty. We hiked this trail on a Saturday at 9am, and we were the only people on the trail. 

3.2 Miles, 947 feet of elevation gain, out & back

Slippery but not Strenuous Conditions 

Reviews we had read, and speaking with a park ranger we encountered, advised us that this hike was very strenuous due to steep, muddy and slippery conditions. We found the hike itself to not be very strenuous, but the rocks on the trail were indeed very slippery.  The rocks on the trail will likely always be slippery as it is a rainforest, and it has always recently rained.  The initial descent was more slippery and tedious than the climb back up. 

El Yunque National Rainforest Guide

Slick River Crossings

We had to turn around at about 0.6 miles (1.2 miles roundtrip) on this trail because there was a river we needed to cross. However, the rocks were too slippery to cross with a baby.  Sam attempted to cross the river on his own but since he slipped 3 times without the baby, we deemed it too unsafe to cross with the baby.  We would have attempted to do it on our own but would not advise planning to do it if you have a child strapped to you.  Regardless of how far you go and the sometimes slippery conditions on the trail, this trail was a slice of rainforest heaven.  We took this trail slower than usual and got to soak in even more of the rainforest magic it had to offer. 

Vereda La Coca Trail AllTrails 

El Yunque National Rainforest Guide: Stop at Yokahu Tower

You can simply look out from the spot right next to the parking lot or climb up the Yokahu Tower to look out over the park from even higher up.  Regardless of what you decide to do, it is certainly a pretty spot. This stop is short but pretty. 

El Yunque National Rainforest Guide

Note: La Mina Falls/Trail, near Yokahu Tower, is currently closed.  It was set to reopen in 2021 but was still closed when we visited in 2022. 

El Yunque National Rainforest Guide: El Yunque Trail to Los Picachos via El Camilito Trailhead

This hike takes you through the rainforest and into the clouds!  This trail ends at a cement landing that you climb onto affording you panoramic views of the park.  It is a steep climb to the top but 100% worth it. This trek was our favorite hike and overall activity we did in Puerto Rico.  It was so peaceful, and our 7 month old daughter (at the time) babbled the entire hike. 

El Yunque National Rainforest Guide

About 5 Miles Roundtrip, 1,748 feet of elevation gain, out & back

Los Picachos AllTrails

Tip: Try to go on a more clear day or in the morning (less likely rain) to have better views without cloud coverage (sometimes you cannot see anything with full cloud coverage)

Along the trail, there are several small waterfalls and plenty of very pretty rainforest flora to keep this hike interesting.  Also, despite having quite decent elevation gain, the elevation gain was well spread out and the hike did not feel overly strenuous. 

El Yunque National Rainforest Guide

Note: You can hike to Los Picachos overlook and El Yunque from the same base via the El Camilito Trailhead.  See Map.  During our visit, the El Yunque Peak was closed.

Mount Britton Tower Trail

This trail takes you up to Mount Britton Tower that affords you panoramic views across the park. To access it, drive further up road 191 from the Vereda La Coca Trailhead (same road you access La Coca Falls)  

1.6 Miles, 649 feet of elevation gain, out & back 

The Mount Britton hike is along a well maintained trail and mostly paved with rocks.  We advise wearing hiking boots for this trail though as it was a bit slick.  The slickness was nothing our hiking boots could not handle but we saw people in regular shoes struggling (slipping all over the place). 

Looking for great hiking boots?  Here are links to the ones we’ve used for 8+ years and highly recommend: Men’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots & Women’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots

Tip: Hike Mount Britton on a clear day and in the morning if able.

Try to go on a more clear day for better views from the top as cloud coverage can completely obstruct your views.  The cloud cover can change in a matter of minutes and go from clear skies for miles to complete cloud cover (it did when we were there). Also, try hiking the trail earlier in the day for the best views/weather as it typically rains in the afternoon in the rainforest (per park ranger). There are also less people on this trail in the morning.  We saw at least a dozen other people while hiking this trail on a Saturday late morning/early afternoon. 

Mount Britton Trail AllTrails

Stop at La Murella for Lunch 

This roadside stand is located just prior to La Coca Falls.  The food here is delicious and freshly prepared.  It is quite overpriced, but you are paying for the convenience of warm Puerto Rican Food in the middle of a rainforest.  This is the best food we have ever had at a National Park site. Typically the food at the National Parks does not match up to the views, but this time it did!  Be sure to bring cash to pay for it! 


East Entrance El Yunque PR 988

Hike the Angelito Trail

The Angelito trail takes you through the rainforest to a river where you can go swimming.  The highlight, for Natalie, at this spot was the rope swing. She had fun attempting to master swinging into the river.  On the trail, you’ll pass through some bamboo adding to the biodiversity you see through the park. 

0.7 miles, 127 feet of elevation gain, out & back

Located on Road 988, Angelito Trail AllTrails

Tip: Go right after it rains or on a weekday to beat the crowds 

We had this normally very busy spot almost completely to ourselves after a short downpour. Everyone else had cleared out due to the rain.  Also, try to go here on a weekday as it gets packed on weekends. 

Tip: Bring a compact umbrella into El Yunque in case it does rain  

We almost always carry an umbrella with us when we hike (mainly because it can serve as quick sun protection for our baby when she is too young for sunscreen), and this definitely came in handy during this downpour. 


West Entrance El Yunque Road 186 

West Entrance El Yunque National Rainforest Map

El Yunque National Rainforest Guide: Drive Road 186

This is a very peaceful and serene drive on the west side of the park. There are several pretty waterfalls along the road and plenty of rainforest flora to adore. In comparison to the east site, this area of the park is rarely visited.  We only saw one other car while driving on the entirety of this road. 

El Yunque National Rainforest Guide

It is important to note that this is a VERY rough road. Park maps indicate it is a rough road and they are not kidding.  We only recommend driving Road 186 if you have a 4 x 4 vehicle.  We did not have a 4 x 4 vehicle and are lucky we did not damage our rental car.  The potholes were filled with water so to access the best route to drive, Sam would get out of the car and use a stick to estimate the depth of each hole. It was a less than ideal situation. It took us almost 2 hours to drive less than 15 miles with the rough road conditions. Again, we do not recommend driving this unless you have a 4 x 4 high-clearance vehicle.  We recommend visiting the east side of the park several times before you venture here. 

Hike El Toro Trail

This hike is located in the west El Yunque National Forest, and you access it by driving Road 186 (at the end of this road).  Based on reviews we read, it is very muddy, some people said they would not do it again and it took most people 5 hours to hike.  We did not hike this trail because at the trailhead, located near the edge of the park, there was a pack of large, aggressive stray dogs.  Based on the reviews we read, we did not think the hike was worth doing to potentially get bit and contract rabies.

El Toro Trail AllTrails


Other El Yunque National Rainforest Observations 

No Bug Bites

None of us got any bug bites while in El Yunque National Rainforest. Normally, Natalie gets eaten alive in Wisconsin so we figured the mosquitoes would be much worse in the rainforest but this was not the case. This was a real win.

Plenty of Shade

On the trails we hiked in El Yunque, there was plenty of shade on all of them.  This made all the hiking much more comfortable and more fun to complete with a baby.  See our How to Hike with a Baby post for more tips on hiking with your little one.  You know you are getting older when you rate something more highly based on the amount of shade and lack of bugs.  Seriously though, trails with no bugs and shade are the best.


Where to Stay when visiting El Yunque National Rainforest

Stay East of Old San Juan

We recommend staying at the The East Point P.R. Airbnb we stayed at in Ceiba (East of the Island) just south of Fjarado and about 30 minutes from the east entrance to El Yunque.  

We loved this Airbnb for many reasons.  For one, the patios at this Airbnb are amazing. The front patio has hammocks under a gorgeous tree and the back patio has stunning mountain views.  The hosts at this Airbnb were so kind and helpful as well. Our daughter also loved the swimming pool which is shared by others at the complex, but we always had it completely to ourselves.  When we visited, there was a reservation system in place to only have one family at the pool at a time. This Airbnb is not a resort and allows for a more local experience as the other people at the complex reside there. 

Luquillo and Fjarado are also good areas to stay in while visiting the island. They are far enough away from the city yet close enough for a day trip to Old San Juan and with convenient access to El Yunque and some of the best beaches/beach hiking.  See our 1 Week in Puerto Rico Itinerary for all our tips on spending more time in Puerto Rico.  You may also consider staying in Old San Juan if you want a lively, city feel and taking a day trip to El Yunque from there. 


We hope this guide helps you plan your trip to El Yunque National Rainforest.  Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

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Dog Friendly Apostle Islands National Lakeshore


Dog Friendly Apostle Islands

Being avid travelers to the US National Park sites in addition to being loving dog owners, we were excited when we found out that unlike most US National Park System designations, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is actually rather dog friendly. Everything’s better with your dog, including vacation.  Being able to bring your dog on vacation with you is vital to helping you unwind and relax while visiting a new place.   We spent an extended weekend in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore with our pup Gordie and were so happy to find so many dog friendly activities to do with him while there.  Here is our guide on Dog Friendly Activities in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore area. 


Looking for another dog friendly vacation? See our Dog Friendly Door County, Wisconsin Guide and our A Day at Starved Rock State Park guides.   


FYI This post is written based on a trip taken in Mid-August. 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!


Hike the Meyers Beach Sea Caves Trail with your Dog

Our top dog friendly recommendation for Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is to hike the Meyers Beach Sea Cave Trail.  We loved hiking this trail with our pup!  Unlike most trails at other National Lakeshores, such as Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, you can hike here with your dog.  Our dog loves a good hike so he was in heaven.  

Meyers Beach Sea Caves

The Meyers Beach Sea Cave Trail leads you to Lake Superior’s waterfront cliffs where you can see some of the Apostle Islands sea caves and Lake Superior from above.  This trail goes through the woods and is mainly shaded (we love a shaded trail) until you reach the sea caves at 1.8 miles. 

At 1.8 miles, you reach the Crevasse, an impressive 100-yard-long fracture in the rocks.  We actually got to Kayak into this sea cave on our kayak tour of the lakeshore (see all the detailed about sea kayaking Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in our What to do Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Unfortunately, sea kayaking is not dog friendly, hence why it did not make it into this guide). 

You can continue on the trail for more sea cave views until the 2.2 mile point but after that, the trail only leads to some remote campsite through the woods and there are no further views of the sea caves.   

Dog Friendly Apostle Islands

Not too hard of a hike for your or your pup

We did this hike with Natalie’s parents and our dog.  It was a really nice hike as it was not overly strenuous and had some great views of the sea caves without kayaking.  Natalie’s parents, who do not do much hiking at all, felt it to be very manageable for beginners.  They also were not disappointed with the views.  On the hike back from the sea caves, Natalie’s Dad was sure to tell each hiker we passed about the cool views.  It was adorable.   

Caution: Be careful as the edges along the trail may be undercut/slippery.  You don’t want you or your pup to fall into the water from the trail.  It’s not a short fall! 

4.6 miles round trip, 269 feet of elevation gain, out & back

Cost: $5 fee to park (cannot use America the Beautiful Pass) 


Hike Lost Creek Falls with your Dog

Our next top dog friendly activity for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore area is to hike Lost Creek Falls.  Our pup loved, and we mean LOVED, hiking this trail.  This trail brings you through a peaceful wooded setting to a more impressive than we expected waterfall and small pool area. Our dog LOVED running through the pools of water around the waterfall at the ‘summit’ of this hike.  He was really living his best life zooming back and forth. 

Dog Friendly Apostle Islands

The trail is well-maintained with some boardwalks. We did this hike in the morning and had the waterfall/pool area all to ourselves.  It was so pretty and serene! 

2.2 Miles, 216 feet of elevation gain, out & back

Cost: Free to park

Dog Friendly Apostle Islands

Tip: Bring good bug spray and tick wipes for your dog.   

The bugs were actually not bad at all during our trip (we all got less than 3 mosquito bites on our 5 day trip) and found no ticks on our dog while there.  However, this very wooded trail with water at the end is typically notorious for both.  We think our bug spray and tick wipes helped prevent us having an issue here.  These are the tick wipes we use with our dog.  This is the non-chemical bug spray we use with our daughter.   This is the deet bug spray we use on ourselves. 


Take the Madeline Island Ferry with your Dog

Our third dog friendly activity recommendation for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore area is visiting Madeline Island/taking the ferry to Madeline Island.  Again, our dog was living his best life on the ferry to the island and on the island itself.  The pictures speak for themselves. 

Dog Friendly Apostle Islands

Fun Fact: Madeline Island is the largest and most developed of the 22 Apostle Islands. It is well known for its beaches and hiking trails/biking trails.  It also has some eclectic shops and restaurants.  

Dog Friendly Madeline Island Ferry

The journey to Madeline Island with your dog is half the fun. To access this island, you take the Madeline Island Ferry from Downtown Bayfield.  This ferry ride offers scenic views of Lake Superior, Bayfield, Madeline Island and some other of the Apostle Islands in the distance.  And you can soak in all these views with your pup as the ferry is dog friendly.  

Cost: $17 per person round-trip, $30 per car round-tip.  Dogs ride for free.  The ferry is a bit pricey but again, part of the experience.  See the Madeline Island Ferry Rates for the most up-to-date prices. If you are interested in more ferry ride experiences, see our, coming soon ***, Two-Week Fjords of Norway Road Trip. 

Also, unless it is an extraordinarily busy weekend, you typically do not need to book this ferry in advance.  Just arrive about 15-20 before the time you would like to depart and you should have no problem getting on the ferry you want. See the Madeline Island Ferry Schedule for the most up-to-date times. 

Dog Friendly Madeline Island

On Madeline Island, explore the downtown area with your pup.  A particularly good spot to visit is the Pub Restaurant & Wine Bar at the Inn on Madeline Island as they will serve dog treats while you dine on the patio.  You also can go hiking on some of the trails in the area.  However, note that, unfortunately, not all the trails in the parks on Madeline Island are dog friendly.  The casper trail (1.2 miles one-way) near downtown is dog friendly though so be sure to check that one out!  See the map below for all the Madeline Island trails.


Explore Cornucopia with your Pup

Our next dog friendly Apostle Islands area recommendation is visiting the small artsy and eclectic town of Cornucopia.  Cornucopia is located not far from Meyers Beach and the sea caves hike.  There are several small boutique and resale shops in this town as well as a few restaurants on the main street, many being dog friendly.  The harbor area is very picturesque here too.  

Dog Friendly Apostle Islands

For a dog friendly dining experience in Cornucopia, try eating at the Fat Radish Restaurant.  This restaurant is known for its tasty farm-to-table dishes and is of course dog friendly.  Note: this restaurant has limited evening hours (Wed-Sun) and brunch hours (Sun only).  

We actually visited Cornucopia during Cornucopia days (mid August) and there was also a flea market and fundraiser food sale going on.  Our pup was welcome here too.  


Explore Downtown Bayfield with your Dog

Bayfield is a charming small-town on the largest Great Lake.  This town is very walkable with many cute small shops and restaurants, many that are also dog friendly.  Bayfield reminded us of the shops and restaurants in the small towns in Door County. Plan to spend a morning or an afternoon here. Here is a list of dog friendly spots to eat and shop in Bayfield: 

  • Big Water Coffee Roasters 
  • Big Water’s Bakery (get ther Rhubarb Ginger Scone!)
  • Greunke’s First Street Inn & Dining
  • Portside Bar & Restaurant
  • Pier Plaza Restaurant & Lounge 

Where to Stay near Apostle Islands National Lakeshore with your Dog

We highly recommend staying at Mission Springs Resort while visiting the Apostle Islands area with your dog.  We stayed here and had a great extended weekend with our pup and family.  This resort, located right on Lake Superior, offers you superb lake views while also offering plenty of outdoor areas for your pup to explore.  We loved walking down to the lake in the morning with our pup at our side and a hot beverage in our hands.  Mission Springs Resort truly offers you a serene place to unwind and have a great time with your family, including your dog, around the campfire.  For more details on staying here, see our Where to Stay Near Apostle Islands National Lakeshore post.

Call or text Katie at 715-209-8321 for availability or visit the Mission Springs Resort website for the best price and most up to date availability.  Katie is a great resource while visiting the area and during your stay as well.  She is a fantastic host, allowing you your space yet is available for any questions!  

If Mission Springs Resort is fully booked, some other places to stay with your dog in Apostles Islands include the Inn on Madeline Island and this Bayfield Condo.  There are also campsites on the mainland/islands that allow dogs. 


Looking for another dog friendly vacation? See our Dog Friendly Door County, Wisconsin Guide and our A Day at Starved Rock State Park guides.   


We hope this guide helps you plan your dog friendly trip to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.  Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

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Top 5 Best Baby Hiking Tips


Hiking with a baby

After hiking over 500 miles with a baby (between our two kids), we’ve learned a thing or two about hiking with a baby. Exposing both of our kids to nature and adventure at an early age through hiking was very important to us.  However, the logistics of hiking with a baby can feel overwhelming.  With the unpredictability of an infant, in regards to pretty much everything (feeding, sleeping, changing, fussiness, etc.), and the logistics of hiking with a baby (supporting their head, carrying all your/their gear, protecting them from the sun, etc.), going on a hike with a baby can seem impossible.  However, with the right mindset, gear, practice and dedication, it can be done successfully.  Here are our top 5 tips for hiking with your baby.  

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!


#1 Top Hiking with a Baby Tip: Flexible Attitude

When it comes to most aspects of life, including hiking with your infant, attitude really is everything.  Be patient and flexible with your adventure.  Know that your baby will be in charge and you are going to just have to go with the flow.  When our babies fall asleep in the carrier, we hike as far as we can. When they need to eat or are fussy, we stop and take our breaks.  We stop as much needed and there is no limit to the number of breaks we take. 

For example, on a 10 + mile hike with our daughter as a newborn, the first 6 miles of our hike, we only had to stop twice because she was mainly sleeping but the last 4 miles, we had to 5+ times as she was cluster feeding.  If we would have had a rigid attitude about when we were stopping, this would have certainly frustrated us.  However, knowing we needed to be flexible and that we were going to roll with the punches set us up for success. 

Hiking with a baby

#2 Top Hiking with a Baby Tip: Set Realistic Expectations

Not only is having a flexible attitude important but also setting realistic expectations.  Everything takes longer with an infant, including hiking (and even writing this post) so set realistic expectations in regards to how long a hike will take you.  For example, when we set out on a long hike with our son at 7 weeks (and 2 year old toddler) along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, we knew that between stopping to feed, changing his diaper, doing tummy time with him, etc, it may take us twice as long to complete the hike as it normally would without him (or our toddler).  In reality, it didn’t take quite that long, but it was better to mentally prepare for a longer day than a shorter one.  Having these realistic expectations prior to starting a hike helps you have a better experience. 

Hiking with a baby

#3 Top Hiking with a Baby Tip: Do a Trial Hike 

Before going on a long hike, try out a shorter hike.  We started with a 2 mile hike with our carrier at a nearby park with our daughter and then did the same thing with our son.  This helped us navigate using our carrier with our baby and bringing all of our supplies with us.  It also helped us figure out when we were ready to do some longer hikes with each baby. 

Hiking with a baby

With our babies, we were ready to do some longer hikes with them around 6 weeks. Both our kids sleep great (our son actually better than at home) hiking. However, some kids take more time to get use to the carrier. Be sure to test it out on several shorter hikes before committing to a long hike.


#4 Top Hiking with a Baby Tip: Have the Right Gear 

Having high quality gear for hiking with your baby will make a big difference in both your comfort and your baby’s comfort.  Here are the items we use and recommend:

Front Carrier: Ergobaby Omni 360 Cool Mesh Baby Carrier

Having a comfortable and high-quality carrier is the most important item to invest in for hiking with a baby.  This carrier is great because it can be used from 7lbs-45lbs without a separate infant insert. We’ve carried both babies facing inward with this carrier until about 3 months. Then, once both our kids were about 3 months, they only wanted to be carried facing outward in it, even if sleeping. Turns out babies have the worst FOMO! Natalie has also hiked over 12 miles with the Ergobaby on at one time (several times), while also wearing a backpack, comfortably. Further, this specific Ergobaby Carrier has a cool mesh design that helps keep the baby better ventilated. It also has an included head sun/rain cover that comes in handy often.  

Beyond hiking, this carrier is great for everyday use.  Natalie often has worn it around the house when our babies were fighting sleep.  Natalie tried on a lot of different brands of carriers prior to purchasing this one and it is hands down the most comfortable (for both parent and baby) and easiest to use.  Some of the other carriers she tried on, especially the Infantino ones, had so many straps and felt very awkward.  Make the investment in this carrier. 

Switch to Structured Backpack Carrier at 12 Months

Since our daughter turned a year old, we have been using a structured backpack carrier for her.  She loves hiking in the backpack carrier and it works better for us with than the Ergo with her being bigger now.  The structured backpack carrier make/model (a Sherpani we are borrowing from friends) we use is no longer available but this one is very similar to the one we have and would be the one we would buy if we did not have ours. Natalie has even comfortably carried both kids using each of these carriers at the same time (see above picture).

Diaper Bag: No Reception Club Diaper Bag

We love this diaper bag. It has a very innovative design with shelves that helps keep everything organized which is great while hiking, especially with two little kids. We have hiked hundreds of miles with it and it is very comfortable to wear. Read more about why we love this diaper bag here.

Rain Protection: Baby Rain Suit

We ordered this rain suit in 12 month size and have used it from 6 months to 20 months between our two kids. It runs on the larger side but with adjustable velcro arm bands and ankle bands, you really can use it for a long time. This has come in clutch on many of our adventures when it starts to rain and allowed us to adventure more with our babies.

Breastfeeding Tops: Bearsland Short Sleeve & Bearsland Long Sleeve Nursing Tops

These nursing tops make breastfeeding anywhere, including the trail, discrete and easy.  Natalie lives in them while nursing (traveling and at home) and owns 6 of them.  These particular tops are more economical than most other breastfeeding tops which is a plus as well.  You may have to try out a couple types of breastfeeding tops before you find one that works for you as the fits can be rather awkward.

Compact Umbrella: UV Protective Compact Umbrella

A compact UV protective umbrella will allow you to create shade wherever you need it while hiking. When we hiked in Hawaii, this was particularly helpful as the sun was plentiful while shade was minimal on many of our hikes. We use it to create shade for our kids while hiking (especially important early on since babies cannot wear sunscreen until 6 months) and to create shady spots for our baby while changing him/her or doing any time out of the carrier.  Also, when we have unexpectedly got rained on while hiking, it helps keep our baby nice and dry (in addition to the Baby Rain Suit). This particular umbrella is great because it is compact and UV protective. 

Diaper Bags: Munchkin Diaper Bags

You will need to pack out all your diapers. These contain them well in addition to keeping the smell down. 


#5 Be Dedicated and Don’t be Paralyzed by Fear 

Do not let your anxieties about hiking with your baby paralyze you.  To be honest, we were nervous to take our first baby on her first hiking trip. We were mainly fearful of the unknown and what kind of days she would be having on days we planned to do different hikes.  However, we are so glad we did not let those anxieties stop us and ripped the bandaid off.  We always make our hikes flexible, nothing is set in stone, and everything is on our own time.  After hiking hundreds of miles with one or two babies in tow, we couldn’t imagine not bringing them along now.

You CAN Hike with your Baby

Many people told us hiking and travel would not be possible with a baby.  However, that is not true.  Adventure is still completely possible with a baby.  People who say you can’t adventure with your baby are either too scared and/or not dedicated enough to make it happen.  Everything takes longer and requires a lot more planning with a baby, but once you accept that fact and work with it, you’ll realize it can be done. The reward and accomplishment of trying and completing traveling adventures with your little one is worth it.  It’s never easier but always more memorable.

To read more about our hiking adventures with baby, please see

For other traveling tips with baby, please see our Top 10 Baby Travel Tips, 5 Top Baby & Toddler Flying Tips and Flying with a Baby post.


We hope this guide helps you plan a hike with your baby.  Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!


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The Best Hiking Apps


Hiking is one of our favorite ways to get out and explore while traveling.  We look forward to summiting mountains and finding some of the most spectacular views in the world through hiking.  A big part of how we find and decide what different hikes we want to complete is through using different hiking apps. Through seeing pictures and reading reviews, we find inspiration for the best trails to complete.  These apps also give us all the details about distance and elevation, which are very pertinent details when preparing for a hike.  Here is a list of our three favorite apps below. 


#1 All Trails App 

Arches National Park
Arches National Park

This website really has the best database of hiking information. On this website, you can see the top hikes in an area and search different trails.  The information on this app is usually very accurate which is always important when planning a hike.  We like to use this application to plan out our hikes as you can make different lists with it (i.e. Anchorage hikes, Arches National Parks hikes, RMNP hikes, etc.) and share them with your friends. 

Our favorite feature of this app is that you can track your hike using it.  Even if you do not have data or service, you can track your hiking route using your phone’s GPS, just on airplane mode.  This feature has helped us several times, most recently at Arches National Park (see Arches National Park Quick Guide). When we were uncertain if we were on the right route, we simply pulled up the app and were able to make sure our GPS was still tracking on the correct path.  

The comments section of the hikes on this application are very helpful as well.  In the comments section, people rate the hike and discuss pros/cons as well as current trail conditions.  Reading these remarks the day of or before is a good way to be even more prepared for your hike. Important points we have used include finding out if there is snow on the trail or finding out the trail is closed in one section. 

There is a free version and a paid-for version of this application.  We use the free version and it does everything we need it to do, even the tracking.  If you try to track your hike on the free version, it may give you an error message at first but as long as you have the hike previously saved to a list, you should be able to track it.   

All Trails


​#2 Hiking Project App  

Shortoff Mountain, Linville Gorge
Shortoff Mountain, Linville Gorge

This website is similar to All Trails but with a smaller database.  We like this application because it shows the top hikes in certain areas in a more straightforward way than All Trails.  You can download offline maps from different states and then search for different hikes while you are in the area without data and without having a specific hike saved in advance. We download the states prior to our trip where we are visiting to have this information handy.  We found this application to be extra helpful in North Carolina (see Hiking Shortoff Mountain near Asheville, North Carolina) where some of the trails we hiked were not on All Trails. 

Hiking Project


#3 National Parks App

Lion Lake, RMNP

This application is made by the same developers as the Hiking Project application and quite user friendly as well.  It shows you the top hikes in each National Park that is in its database.  Most of the National Parks are on this application but the database is still growing.  We use this application mainly for inspiration for hiking views we want to see through pictures on the app. This app is how we found one of our favorite hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park to Lion Lake (see Top 5 Long Day Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park).  Definitely check out this app if you are headed to one of the National Parks. 

National Parks App


When planning a hiking trip, we use a combination of all three of the above apps (only the top 2 if it is not a National Park) to decide which hikes we would like to complete. All three are great references and we recommend downloading each.  Additionally, given required cellphone use to track hikes, always charge your phone prior to leaving, have other members of your party download the app, and consider a back-up battery pack for the extra long hikes.

Looking to plan a hiking trip? Please see: 

Can you tell we really like to hike?


Are there any other hiking apps you use?  Please leave us a comment. We’d love to hear about them and hear from you. 

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned! 


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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Quick Guide


Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes (Kilauea and Muaona Loa). If you are fortunate enough to see a volcano actively erupting while at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you will never forget it. Further, there are a lot of other interesting sites at this park. You can hike through lava tubes, across volcano craters and along sulfur banks. You can also visit the impressive coastline made up of unique volcanic rock structures.  Driving the Chain of Craters road out to the coastline affords you some really great views of the black lava rocks too.  We recommend spending a full day at this park. Read on for our concise quick guide on visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. 


FYI: This post is based on a trip taken in early November. This adventure was also our first major trip away from the Midwest with our three month old daughter. We loved exploring the park with her! For tips on traveling with a baby, please see our Top 10 Baby Travel Tips, How to Hike with a Baby, 5 Top Baby & Toddler Flying Tips and Flying with a Baby posts.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!


What to Do in Hawaii Volcanos National Park


If there is a volcano actively erupting , go see it!

This was hands-down the coolest experience we had at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and on the Big Island. It really made for an unforgettable adventure.  Make sure to get to the park early in the morning, at least two hours before sunrise, so you have ample time to hike out to the volcano and view it in the dark. Viewing it in the dark creates a surreal experience witnessing the red/orange glow before the sunrises. 

Kilauea Actively Erupting, pictures do not do it justice

To find out the best viewing spot for the current eruption, call the park between 9 AM and 5 PM Hawaii time and speak with a staff member. Had we not called the park the day before to find out where to go to see the eruption, we would’ve had no idea where to park our car or where to hike in the park.  Also, a volcano can stop or start to erupt at any time so if the volcano is actively eruptIng, try to go as soon as possible to see it. The Kilauea volcano was actively erupting in the Halemaumau crater during our visit. 

Note: Double Check Your Location 

Since we arrived at the park so early in the morning, and were a bit sleep deprived, we weren’t the most oriented.  We accidentally went down the wrong trail for over a mile before realizing that we were not on the right path to view the eruption. We could see the smoke and glow from where we were on the wrong path but realized we couldn’t see it up close from the trail we were on. Thankfully, we hiked quite quickly and were still able to get back to the best viewing spot about an hour before sunrise.  Just be mindful that navigating the park at night is difficult. 

As you will be arriving at the park very early in the morning, in the pitch darkness, be sure to bring your headlamp. These are the headlamps we use and recommend. 

Also, for hiking on Lava Rock, you need a solid pair of hiking boots. Here are links to the ones we’ve used for 7+ years and highly recommend: Men’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots & Women’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots


Thurston Lava Tubes

These lava tubes are super neat to see. There is a lot of cool flora growing around where you enter them. We visited several lava tubes while in Hawaii (one on the road to Hana and another one in Hilo) and this one was the most accessible. It was the easiest/largest to walk through and required no crouching/crawling. The hike into and through these tubes is quite short. You will need less than 30 minutes to complete it. 

Thurston Lava Tubes

To access, park at the Thurston Lava Tubes Parking Lot. If the Thurston Lot is full, park in the Kilauea Iki Overlook Parking Lot (0.5 miles away, can walk on Kilauea Iki Rim Trail to access), On Crater Rim Drive


Hike Part of the Kilauea Iki Trail

This trail goes through the rainforest, around part of the rim Kilauea Iki Crater, before descending down into the crater floor itself.  This trail is 4 miles round trip and you can hike as much or as little of it as you please.  We hiked part of the trail along the rim of the crater.  The rainforest and crater views were pretty from here.  After hiking 4 miles to see the erupting volcano that morning and waking up so early, we weren’t feeling overly ambitious to hike down into a crater to see a dormant volcano.  Had the volcano not been erupting, we would have hiked this whole trail as it is rated as one of the best. 

Kilauea Iki Trail

To access, park at the Kilauea Iki Overlook Parking Lot, On Crater Rim Drive 


Drive Chain of Craters Road and Visit the Holei Arch

This road takes you from the higher elevations of the park down to the coastline. The temperature varied by 15°F between the two locations when we visited. The coastline here is very pretty. It is very impressive to see the large waves crashing against the lava rocks that descend into the ocean. When you see the rocky coast, it is even more impressive to imagine the orignal polynesian explorers landing in the area with their canoes. The Holei Arch is an interesting formation of the lava rocks to see at the coastline as well. Eventually, this rock formation will erode and be washed away.  

Holei Arch

Driving the Chain of Craters road will take you about 35 minutes one-way and it is definitely worth your time. There are several other craters you can stop and look at but none are as impressive as the Kilauea Iki Crater. Also, not much could compare after seeing an actively erupting volcano so keep that in mind if you are lucky enough to see that. 

Chain of Craters Road

Hike the Sulfur Banks

0.7 Miles loop trail, minimal elevation

Here you hike on a paved path through the rainforest before coming to a boardwalk that takes you through a volcanic thermal area and mineral deposits.  You can literally feel the heat and smell the sulfur from these thermal areas.

Sulfur Banks Trail

To access, park at the main visitors center 


Tip: Bring Food to the Park

There is really nowhere to eat in the park so it is very important that you bring food. We packed picnic lunches.


Where to Stay to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

If you plan to spend more than a day or go to the park multiple days, stay in Volcano Village or in Hilo. We chose to stay in Kona, which is about a 2 hour drive from the park. This made most sense for us as it was more centrally located by other things we wanted to do on the Big Island.  See our Big Island, Hawaii Quick Guide for all our Big Island tips.  If you are looking for an Airbnb in Kona, we highly recommend the one we stayed at. 

Our Kailua-Kona Airbnb was perfect for us.  We had sunset views every night from the kitchen window and it had everything we needed (including lots of baby items which was a HUGE plus with a three month old). It was very spacious, updated and clean. Also, the host was super kind and helpful! If you looking to stay in Kona, definitely stay here!


We hope this guide helps you plan your trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  Anything you’d add to our guide on visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

For more Hawaii trip tips, please see:

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned


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Top 5 Stops on The Road to Hana


Driving the Road to Hana was our favorite and most memorable activity we did on Maui.  With over 620 turns and 59 bridges, driving the windy Road to Hana is really an experience and not just a drive.  Along the way, you will see many picturesque waterfalls, lots of cute roadside fruit stands, gorgeous coastline views and lots of pretty unique rainforest flora.  

Best Road to Hana Stops
Road to Hana Sunrise Views

Build Your Own Experience on the Road to Hana

The Road to Hana is really a ‘build your own experience’ activity as the stops you choose to take along the way will really create a different experience for each person who drives it.  You can’t possibly stop at everything along the way, especially if you are driving the road back and forth in one day.  Given this conundrum , we narrowed the stops down to our 5 most recommended to help you plan your day. 

Unlike most blogs, we recommend stopping at places along the Road to Hana backwards. By this we mean drive to the furthest away location first and then make your stops on the way back.  This allows you to get an early start on this drive and drive a lot of the Road before most attractions are open. It also sets you up to get to our first stop, the Pipiwai Trail, early in the morning before the crowds arrive. 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!


Note: The mile markers on the Road to Hana are confusing

The mile markers start earlier on the Hana Highway than when the actual Road to Hana starts and then after you reach Hana, the mile markers start going down again.  Be sure to download offline maps so you can navigate the Road to Hana with your GPS.  We typically unplug (see Why you Should Unplug While Traveling) while on vacation but always use offline maps.  Even if you were not unplugged, it is likely your data will not work on this side of the island so download the offline maps regardless. 

FYI: This post is based on a trip taken in late October


#1 Top Stop on the Road to Hana: Pipiwai Trail and Oheo Gulch/Seven Sacred Pools in Haleakala National Park

Pipiwai Trail, East Side of Haleakala National Park, 4.0 Miles Round Trip, 650 Feet of Elevation Gain

Mile Marker 42

Best Road to Hana Stops
Pipiwai Trail

This hike on the Pipiwai Trail was our furthest away stop on the Road to Hana and well worth the drive. It is actually located after Hana so make sure to not stop there and continue on to this trail in the Eastern part of Haleakala National Park.  

Unique Rainforest and Bamboo Forest Flora

Best Road to Hana Stops
Hike through a Bamboo Forest

This hike is super neat because you first hike through the rainforest and then through a bamboo forest before coming to the impressive Waimoku waterfall. On this hike, you will also see a huge Banyan Tree.  The contrasting views on this hike are well worth the effort.  We would rate this hike as relatively easy as the elevation gain is well spread out.  

Best Road to Hana Stops
Pipiwai Trail

Hike Oheo Gulch/Seven Sacred Pools

Oheo Gulch Trail, East side of Haleakala National Park, 0.6 Miles Round Trip, 100 Feet of Elevation Gain  

You can also hike the shorter Oheo Gulch/Seven Sacred Pools trail here that is 0.6 miles roundtrip with minimal elevation change.  This hike takes you through the rainforest, along the coast line and to a waterfall.  We completed this hike after the Pipiwai trail and found it to be very easy and scenic. The trailhead is at the same spot as the Pipiwai trailhead. 

Best Road to Hana Stops
Oheo Gulch

Arrive Early

We recommend arriving at this hike early.  When we arrived around 8am, we were one of three cars, but by the time we left after completing the hike, the parking lot was full and cars were parking in an overflow lot. Crowds can often take away from the experience so we are glad we got to the trail earlier than most. 

For more information and details on visiting Haleakala National Park, please see our Haleakala National Park Quick Guide.


Looking for great hiking boots?  Here are links to the ones we’ve used for 7+ years and highly recommend: Men’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots & Women’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots


#2 Top Stop on the Road to Hana: Hana Farms

Mile Marker 31

Best Road to Hana Stops
Hana Farms

This cute farm stand is located right off the Road to Hana and easy to find. The chocolate chip banana bread here is absolutely delicious. There’s also a restaurant where you can sit down and eat a meal here. The restaurant was not open when we visited but the outdoor seating area was a really pretty spot to enjoy some fresh banana bread. 

Best Road to Hana Stops
Hana Farms

#3 Top Stop on the Road to Hana: Ka’eleku Cave

Mile Marker 23

This is a really neat lava tube right off the side of the road. Lava tubes form when the outside of lava hardens but the lava flowing inside continues to stay warm and fluid. The cave is short, approximately 1/3 mile, and leads to a large banyan tree. This cave felt like a real hidden gem!

Best Road to Hana Stops
Ka’eleku Cave

The floor inside the cave is quite slippery so wear footwear with a good grip. Both of us were wearing sandals and would not recommend that. Ideally, wear hiking boots (we recommend Men’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots & Women’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots). We also both went through the cave separately too as you have to crouch down quite a bit to get in there and with the floor being quite slippery, it was not safe for us to go through carrying our three-month-old daughter. However, it is very short so both of us were able to do it separately relatively quickly. 

Best Road to Hana Stops
Ka’eleku Cave

Note: This is VERY easy to miss.  It is not marked and you need to know just to look for it. Use our picture above so you know what you are looking for. Drive very slow around mile marker 23.  Had one other car not been parked across from where the entrance to this lava tube was, we would have likely missed it.   There is a pull off where you can park (on the side of the road closer to the coast line) that has two or three spots

Shout out to Heidi from Ordinary Sherpa for telling us about this free hidden roadside adventure!  Check out her podcast, Ordinary Sherpa, for more family adventure inspiration. We also are guests on Episode 026 of this podcast that you can listen to here.


#4 Top Stop on the Road to Hana: Upper Waikani Falls

Mile Marker 19

These waterfalls are located right off the side of the road across from a one-way bridge and are truly stunning. In our opinion, these are the prettiest set of waterfalls we saw while driving  the Road to Hana (Waimoku Falls in Haleakala at the end is more impressive but these are the best waterfalls on the journey there). To access these falls, you need to park up the road a bit and walk back to them as it is not safe to park directly by the one-way bridge.

Best Road to Hana Stops
Upper Waikani Falls

#5 Top Stop on the Road to Hana: Twin Falls Hike and Fruit Stand 

Mile Marker 2

1.8 Mile Round Trip (without offshoots to each waterfall), 347 feet of Elevation Gain

Twin Falls hike is fun as it takes you to three different waterfalls through the rainforest.  The first two waterfalls you encounter on this hike look very similar and are a very short hike, about 0.2 miles from the parking lot.  The third waterfall is a bit further from the first two  but, in our opinion, the most scenic one so be sure not to stop hiking after the first two waterfalls.  You can also go swimming at this third waterfall.   

Best Road to Hana Stops
Last waterfall on the Twin Falls Hike

We took our time with this hike, hiking down to each waterfall and exploring around them, and it took us about 1.5 hours total.  The hike was relaxing, as it was relatively easy, and you saw a lot in a short period.  The trail, especially down by the waterfalls, was pretty slippery, as it had just rained so make sure to wear good hiking shoes. 

We actually hiked this trail a different day than when we drove the Road to Hana as it was only about 10 minutes from our Airbnb. We are glad we did it this way as we did not feel rushed hiking it at all. The Road to Hana is already a very full day experience.  

Arrive Around 7 AM

Prior to completing this hike, we read a lot of reviews online and the reviews were quite mixed.  A lot of people said they did not like the hike because it was too crowded.  To our delight, we enjoyed this hike a lot more than we expected as we nearly had it to ourselves. When we hiked this trail at about 7 AM, right around when it opened, we saw only about 10 other people total.  We found it to be really peaceful and pretty so arrive early if you don’t want any crowds to dampen your experience. 

Best Road to Hana Stops
First waterfall on the Twin Falls Hike

Bonus: Fruit Stand in the parking lot

The fruit stand in the parking lot at Twin Falls has some delicious banana bread.  Our loaf we got was still warm from coming out of the oven that morning. 

Best Road to Hana Stops
Twin Falls Fruitstand

Twin Falls Hike

Cost: This trail and these waterfalls are on private property so it costs $10/car to park here. This is very reasonable as the trail is very well maintained. 


We liked all these stops on the Road to Hana but if we had to choose two favorites, they were the Twin Falls Hike in Haiku and the Pipiwai Trail Hike in Haleakala National Park.

Other stops on the Road to Hana

Some other stops you may want to consider making on the Road to Hana:

Wailua Falls, Mile Marker 45 (after Hana), waterfall where you can swim, right off the road

Waianapanapa State Park, Mile Marker 32 (before Hana), Black Sand Beach and lava tubes 

We opted not to stop at this state park because we were visiting 3 other black sand beaches (on the Big Island) and 3 other lava tubes (on Maui and the Big Island combined) on this trip . 

If you do decide to stop at the state park, make sure you check ahead and reserve tickets online if necessary. When we were visiting in November 2021, they were requiring timed entry reservations that had to be made prior to arriving at the park. We did not have any cell phone service in this area so even if you wanted to go to the park, you wouldn’t be able to if you had not made previous reservations (even if they were reservations available which seems, in our opinion, a bit irrationally restrictive).

Garden of Eden Arboretum, Mile Marker 10.5, Botanical Gardens


Other Road to Hana Tips

All-Day Event

The Road to Hana takes, at minimum, 2.5 hours to drive one-way.  With all the stops you will likely make to take pictures and with time spent waiting at one way bridges, budget for at least 3, if not more, hours each way.  In addition, you will likely make some longer stops to hike, explore state parks or eat at the roadside stands.  Budget at least a full day to drive this road both ways.  You may want to consider staying overnight in Hana if you really want to take your time driving on the road and be able to stop at all the stops you’d please along the way.  

Windy Road Cautions 

Note, as mentioned above, this road is VERY windy.  Anyone prone to motion sickness, like Natalie, beware.  For tips on preventing this, see our post, How to Prevent Motion Sickness While Traveling and Flying. In addition, with the windy nature of this road, drive very cautiously.  Do not pass people and even though you will see some locals drive this road very aggressively, just don’t. Your safety and life is more important than saving a couple minutes.  Enjoy the journey! 

Best Road to Hana Stops
Windy Narrow Road to Hana Drive

Where to Stay on the Road to Hana

We recommend staying on the North side of the Island, in/around Paia or Haiku, near the start of the Road to Hana.  Most people stay in West Maui but if you are looking to explore more than the beach, this central location is great.  It allows you an early start for the Road to Hana, a good starting point for seeing sunrise at the Summit in Haleakala National Park and an easy drive to make a day trip to the West side or the South shore of the island. You alternatively could stay overnight in Hana itself if you want to spend more time on the Road to Hana. 

The Haiku Airbnb we stayed at was in a really nice quiet location.  It had all the amenities we needed and the host was very responsive and helpful. The landscape at the property was very pretty too. 

For more Hawaii trip tips, please see:

We hope this guide helps you plan your trip to drive the Road to Hana.  Anything you’d add to our Top 5 Stops on the Road to Hana guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!


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Big Island Hawaii on a Budget Guide


Although Hawaii may have a reputation for being an expensive place to visit, you really can visit Big Island, Hawaii on a Budget. Most of our favorite activities–the coastline valley hikes, the black sand beaches, the lava tubes, the secluded shorelines and the rainforest hikes–on the Big Island are free or cost you very little. Your most expensive costs will be your flights, accommodations and rental car (you need a rental car to visit the Big Island) here. See our posts How to Book Accommodations on a Budget, 5 Ways to Save on Flights and How to Save on a Rental Car for more tips on how to save money on these. For our best budget Big Island activities and tips, see our ‘Big Island Hawaii on a Budget’ guide below.

FYI: This post is based on a trip taken in early November

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!

Note: We recommend spending about a week, if not longer, on the Big Island.  Everything is quite spread apart and to see the whole island, even a week, may be quite challenging.  However, if you are short on time, see this well-planned adventurous 3 Day Big Island Adventure Itinerary.


What to Do on the Big Island on a Budget


Pololu Valley Lookout and Hike Pololu/Awini Trail

This trail was our favorite hike that we did on the Big Island. Also, it’s one of our favorite Big Island on a budget activities as it is completely free. This hike figuratively and literally gives you the most bang for your buck. On this trail, you see a lot of beautiful scenery without an excessive amount of hiking.

big Island on a budget

This hike starts at the Pololu Valley Lookout point. You are afforded stunning views even just from the lookout point you can drive up to easily. It is worth seeing the lookout point from the beginning of the trail even if you are not able to complete the hike itself. 

Big Island on a Budget

Pololu/Awini Trail Hike

From the lookout point, you descend down on the Pololu trail about a half mile on a rocky path into a rainforest valley before coming to the black sand beach. From here, you can continue on up the other side of the valley into the mountainous rainforest on the Awini trail. You really can hike as far as you want on this trail or as little as you want on this trail. In our opinion, the best views are from the valley floor after the initial descent before the beach or from the lookout point at the beginning of the trail. 

big Island on a budget

Arrive Here Early

When we got here at approximately 9 AM, there were only a couple cars in the parking lot but when we left, there were cars parked up the entire street. It was nice to have the valley almost completely to ourselves in the morning.

Cost: Free


Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Although this is the most ‘expensive’ activity on this Big Island on a budget guide, visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is well worth the still rather minimal cost. This park is home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes. While we were visiting this park, we were lucky enough to see one of those volcanoes actively eruptIng and it was a once in a lifetime experience! There are also a lot of different hiking to do at this park. Y ou can hike through lava tubes, across a volcano crater and along Sulfur Banks (or sulphur if you are British). For all the details on visiting this park, see our Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Quick Guide.

big Island on a budget

Cost: $35/car or no charge with America the Beautiful Pass

Budget Tip: If you plan to visit more than 2 National Parks in one year, the America the Beautiful Pass pays for itself and will save you money   


Kaunaoa Beach

This white sand beach located on the Northwest side of the island was our favorite beach on the island and makes our top Big Island, Hawaii budget activities as it is completely free.

We loved Kaunaoa Beach for many reasons. One, it has a good amount natural of shade, something very important to us especially with our three month old daughter on the trip. Although we have a stellar sun tent (which we highly recommend), the additional natural shade helps keep all of us cooler and more comfortable. This beach also had extremely soft sand and clear water. Further, due to the limited public parking to access this beach and the fact that it is located behind a private residence/ resort, it did not feel overcrowded. Moreover, there are also very clean bathrooms and a shower area not far from the beach. We liked this beach so much, we visited it twice (something we do not often do).

Parking at Kaunaoa Beach

The parking situation at Kaunaoa Beach is a bit tricky. If you want to almost guarantee you are going to get parking, arrive before 9 AM or after 4 PM. There are only 40 spots in the parking lot. You have to get a ticket from the front gate attendant at the Mauna Kea private residence/resort.  The public parking is gated so the attendant at the front always knows if there is a spot available.  The first day we visited this beach, we had no problem getting parking right away but the second time we had to circle around for about 10 minutes before a spot became available and we could drive back to the parking area. Try going around lunchtime (if not going early morning or late afternoon) to get a spot when a lot of people tend to leave. 

Kaunaoa Beach

Cost: Free


Punaluu Black Sand Beach

Our next Big Island, Hawaii budget tip is to visit Punaluu Black Sand Beach. We visited three black sand beaches on the Big Island (also at Waipio Valley and Pololu Valley) and this was our favorite of the three. The sand is much darker than any other black sand beach we have seen (including the one in Santorini, Greece). The sand here is also much more fine and soft than the others we visited. We enjoyed a picnic lunch at this park. Be sure to bring food with you as there is none available here and nothing in the close surrounding areas.

Tip: If you are visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, this beach  is only about 20 minutes Southwest from the main park entrance. We recommend visiting both on the same day to decrease driving (unless you are staying on the East side of the island). 

Cost: Free


Waipio Valley Lookout and Hike

Our next Big Island budget activity recommendation is the Waipio Valley lookout and hike. This stop is a cool lookout point over a mountainous valley that leads out to a black sand beach on the coastline. Here, you can also hike down into the valley and onto the black sand beach. This hike involves a very steep descent on a paved road (about 1,000 feet of elevation) and then a hike through the rainforest on a flat dirt (more like mud) road before coming out to the black sand beach. This hike was extra special because we saw some wild horses on the beach and crossing through the river in the valley. Definitely not something you see every day! The hike in total is about 3 miles or so roundtrip, depending on how far you go out onto/across the black sand beach. 

You can alternatively hire someone to drive you down into the valley but we found the hike to be rewarding and not overly strenuous as it was mainly in the shade. We recommend completing this hike before noon though to avoid full sun as that would have made this hike feel a lot more difficult. 

We completed this hike with our infant daughter so Natalie had approximately 15 extra pounds strapped to her. If she can do this hike with the extra weight, have confidence you can do it too if you are physically active. For all of our tips on hiking with your baby, see our How to Hike with a Baby post.

Cost: Free

Note: Check to make sure the hike down to Waipio Valley is open to visitors during your visit. Last we heard in March 2022 after our visit, the hike was closed to only locals. However, this may change so just be sure to check before deciding to hike. Regardless of the hike being closed, you can still view Waipio Valley from the elevated viewpoint and this is still very pretty (and little physical exertion required).

Hike to the Secluded Makalawena Beach

Another one of our favorite Big Island, Hawaii on a budget outings is visiting the secluded Makalawena Beach. This beach is really neat because it can only be accessed by hiking out to it.  Consequently, this seclusion keeps the crowds down as people in general like easier beach access. It is about 1 mile to 1.5 miles one-way hike out to the beach and with little to no elevation change. 

For hiking to the beach, you have to drive on a very bumpy and rough road to get to the trailhead. This road is so rough that we ended up parking on it about a half a mile further away from the trailhead because we thought it would be much easier to walk on it then drive on it in our sedan rental car (and we were right). There are several spots along this road that you can park on before getting to the actual trailhead and we would recommend doing that even if you have a 4WD vehicle. You have to drive so slowly that it is quite frustrating and you can almost move faster walking. 

Makalawena Beach

This beach is pristine and well worth the effort to get to it. It is rated as one of the best on the Big Island. It has classic white sandy beaches and clear blue water. We enjoyed setting up our sun tent and playing in the sand with our daughter. We love our sun tent, especially for beaches like this where shade is super limited as it allows us to create our own. 

Cost: Free


Sunset in Kona

Another great budget activity on the Big Island is to watch the sunset in downtown Kona by the waterfront. There are several restaurants you can eat at and watch the sunset but if you plan to get a sunset spot, you will need to get their hours in advance. There are plenty of areas where you can watch the sunset for free though on the waterfront. Just walk around and you’ll find them.

We could see the sunset from our Airbnb (which was awesome too) but seeing it from the waterfront really is magical.  We have seen a lot of sunsets in cool locations and this definitely is in the top five.

Cost: Free


Rainforest Hike on the Makaula Ooma Trails

Our next Big Island Hawaii budget activity recommendation is hiking on the Makaula Ooma Trails. If you are looking for a hike that mainly only locals do and where you will not see many other people, this is the hike for you. This rain forest hike was really pretty. It took us through a lot of different rainforest flora and the best part, we only saw three other people the entire hike. This also is located very close to the Airbnb we recommend in Kona. This hike does not take you to a specific lookout point but really makes for a peaceful hike through the rainforest.

This hike can vary in length. It can be as short as a mile with minimal elevation gain or as long as 4 miles with approximately 700 feet of elevation gain if you hike the whole path.

Shout out to our Airbnb host for recommending this to us!

Makaula Ooma Hike

Cost: Free


Looking for great hiking boots?  Here are links to the ones we’ve used for 7+ years and highly recommend: Men’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots & Women’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots


Explore Hilo

Spending a day exploring Hilo is our next Big Island, Hawaii on a budget recommendation. Hilo is the biggest city on the east side of the island yet it feels very local and not touristy. It felt like ‘Old Hawaii’ to us and much different than the more glamorous and built up Kona side of the island. There are a lot of different things you can see in this city. We just spent a brief afternoon here and recommend seeing the below, particularly the Kaumana Caves. 

Given the untourist nature of this area, don’t expect a lot catering to non-locals. We arrived in Hilo around 2 PM and found most restaurants were actually closed for lunch. If you are looking for a lunch spot, we would recommend arriving sooner than that.

Also, since there is so much driving and so much to see on the Big Island, you could consider flying into Hilo and out of Kona or vice versa to break up your time on the island as there is an airport (less popular so less flights to it) in Hilo as well. This logistically did not work for us but definitely something to consider.

Kaumana Caves

Kaumana Caves

These lava tubes are located a short drive outside the city center. They are super cool and definitely our favorite thing we saw in Hilo. These caves felt much more untouched than the Thurston Lava Tubes at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Given this, there is a lot more skill and care that is required to explore them. Make sure you are wearing proper hard-soled shoes and that you have a headlamp with you otherwise you won’t make it very far in these caves. 

As far as hiking boots, we recommend Men’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots & Women’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots which we have been using for over 7 years.  These are great in the cave and the rainforest. And these are the headlamps we use. 

Kaumana Caves

These caves also do get quite narrow eventually and require quite a bit of crouching down and crawling.  We were limited in how far we could go as we had our three month old daughter with us in the Ergobaby. Regardless, even going a short distance in these caves is worth seeing. 

Cost: Free

Rainbow Falls

This waterfall gets its name from the rainbow that tends to form within the waterfall midday. When we visited, we did not see a rainbow at this waterfall but think it is worth checking out if you are in Hilo. For your best chance of seeing the rainbow, try to go around noon when the sun is most full. This waterfall is very accessible too. We were able to roll our stroller up to it which is always a huge plus. Sometimes you just need a break from baby carrying! Likewise, it is wheelchair accessible. 

It also feels a bit strange because you literally are right in the city center and all of a sudden bam, there’s a big waterfall.  Don’t expect to be by yourself at this waterfall though. Since it is so accessible and near the city center, a lot of people are usually there. This is a brief stop.

Tip: If you are in Hilo, go see Rainbow Falls. However, we would not recommend driving across the entire island just to see this. We recommend doing a big loop to see/hike Waipio Valley, visit Akaka Falls State Park and then visit the stops in Hilo. This itinerary will save you some driving and allow you to see more sites. 

Cost: Free 

Boiling Pots

This destination is another natural phenomenon that you drive up to right from the city center. Like Rainbow Falls, this is a brief stop. It is also stroller and wheelchair accessible. If you are in Hilo, definitely make the stop here. However, like Rainbow Falls, do not drive across the whole island just to see this.

Cost: Free

Liliuokalani Park and Gardens

These Japanese gardens located along the oceanfront have a lot of different pretty and unique flora. Our favorite site here was the huge Banyan tree. There are additionally some nice paths to walk on around the gardens and most are stroller/wheelchair accessible. We also enjoyed eating some takeout in the park overlooking the waterfront.  Like Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots, stop here if you are in the area but do not drive across the island to see it. This is not a must do but a good spot to relax. 

Cost: Free


Akaka Falls State Park

Our last Big Island budget activity recommendation is visiting Akaka Falls State Park. This state park is located on the Northeast side of the island, in between Waipio Valley and Hilo. It is home to one of the biggest waterfalls in Hawaii. It really is quite impressive! There is about a half mile loop path that you can walk on. It is a paved path but does have some stairs. This is another brief stop. Combine this with visiting Waipio Valley.

Cost $5/person, $10 to park (if you park in the lot but the lot was full so we parked on the road for free)


Where to Eat on Big Island, Hawaii on a Budget

On the Big Island, things are really spread apart. Many of the places you will visit here will not have a lot or any restaurants around them. Given this, we packed lunches most days or ate at our Airbnb (which had a full kitchen), both which are very budget friendly. Definitely be sure to pack a lunch for the beaches and the National Park as you will not really have any other food options.

As far as eating out, the restaurants with the best views and the most variety on their menus are in Kona. However, they come at a price. There are really some hidden gems where you can get a traditional Hawaiian plate lunch while traveling around the island in some of the small towns that are also more budget friendly. We would recommend just stopping at any of those that are convenient for you. 

Also, the roadside fruit stands are really tasty and affordable! Our favorite one was south of Kona, South Kona Fruitstand.  Natalie had a pineapple passionfruit smoothie here that was out of this world. We also got some unique pineapple carrot cake here.  Can we fly back to the Big Island just to get these? That’s how good it was! 

South Kona Fruitstand


Visiting Big Island, Hawaii Budget Tip: Go grocery shopping at Costco

In Hawaii, food is significantly more expensive than the continental US, particularly in the Midwest where we live.  It makes sense given that almost everything needs to be shipped to islands.  However, at Costco, some products are still the same price as they are in the midwest.  We were surprised that we could get large bags of spinach, rotisserie chicken and some other produce for the same price we could at home.  Other things are still more expensive than they would be at home but significantly less expensive than they are at other grocery stores in Hawaii.  

Definitely buy pineapple when you are at Costco as you will not find it for less anywhere else! And with anyone familiar with Costco, the produce is always great quality.  If you have a Costco membership and are going to be staying more than a couple days, it makes complete sense to go shopping here. We did most of our grocery shopping at Costco and then some things that we just really did not need large quantities of, we bought at the local Safeway. 

Costco on the Big Island is located about 10 minutes south of the airport. It was quite close to our accommodations but depending on where you’re staying, it will probably make most sense to stop there after you land if you fly into Kona.


Where to Stay on Big Island Hawaii on a Budget

The Big Island of Hawaii is very BIG.  Unlike the other Hawaiian islands, if you want to see the whole island, you have to do a lot more driving.  In our opinion, there is no perfect central homebase spot to stay because everything is pretty spread apart.  Ideally, you would see this island by hopping around from different accommodations every night or so.  However, packing up and moving every day or so can be stressful and may not actually save you as much time as you think.  

We wanted a consistent homebase for our whole time on the Big Island and we chose to stay just outside of Kona.  If we were to visit again, we would stay here or on the more Northern end of the island.  The activities we enjoyed most, other than visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, were located in these areas (Pololu Valley, Waipio Valley, Makalawena Beach and Kaunaoa Beach). If you want to spend more time exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you will probably prefer to stay in Hilo or Volcano Village. 

Our Kailua-Kona Airbnb was perfect for us. We had sunset views every night from the kitchen window and it had everything we needed (including lots of baby items which was a HUGE plus with a three month old). It was very spacious, updated and clean.  Also, the host was super kind and helpful! And as always, this accommodation was budget friendly. If you are looking to stay in Kona, definitely stay here!


We hope this guide helps you plan your trip to the Big Island on a budget.  Anything you’d add to our guide on visiting Big Island, Hawaii on a Budget? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.  Please leave us a comment!

For more Hawaii trip tips, please see:

For more budget tips, please see:

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!


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