Visiting Hawaii Check Out My Travel Guides
Hawaii Island is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
With 11 of the worlds 13 climate zones in one place, there is so much to explore and experience from lush jungles and waterfalls, to dry desert land and beaches, to vast expanses of lava rock.
Its the size of all the Hawaiian Islands combined or roughly the size of Vermont. Because it is so large, with so much to take in, it can be daunting to find where to stay on the Big Island.
In this post, Ill share different accommodation options and a unique, curated list of some of my favorite places to stay on the Big Island.
Where To Stay In Hilo
The Hilo side of the island is as lush a place as youll find anywhere in Hawaii. This side is all jungles and rainforests and its green, green, green. And its that way because it rains a lot. Like, all the time. Which is why youll find some of Hawaiis most spectacular waterfalls right outside of Hilo. But the rain situation is why most visitors forgo staying on the Hilo side and opt for sunnier Kona instead.
Hilo has some of the Big Islands absolutely must see spots so you HAVE to spend some time here. Hilo will be your base for exploring Hawaii Volcano National Park, driving Saddle Road to the summit of Mauna Kea, and seeing the north shore sites.
Hilo town is one of the most charming towns in Hawaii. It was originally built to be the capital but because it rains all the time here, that honor went to Honolulu. Hilo is not near as touristy as Kona and you wont find any big resorts here but you will find plenty of budget options that make a great home base from which to explore this part of the island.
There arent really many swimmable beaches near Hilo . If you decide to stay a couple of nights in Hilo , its primarily to adventuring and exploring and not so much relaxing.
The Hamakua Coast, Puna, and Punaluu are also all remarkable regions of the Hilo side that are absolutely worth being explored but I would recommend hitting them as day trips from Hilo instead of trying to stay there as theyre all pretty remote and lack many accommodation options.
The Inn At Kulaniapia Falls An Asian Inspired Eco
Sprawling 22 acres of verdant natural beauty overlooking Hawaiis largest, most breathtaking waterfall, the Inn at Kulaniapia offers a magical setting to lose oneself in the wilderness.
This warm and idyllic inn offers an authentic Kulaniapia experience with its ideal location, comfortable accommodations, and rip-roaring guided adventures.
The Inn is home to multiple Asian-inspired structures offering premium accommodations, ranging from standard rooms to lavish abodes with stunning views of the Kulaniapia Falls.
Guests can also explore intimate cottages with private entrances and a lovely Pagoda house with a fully-functional kitchen.
Adventurers wouldnt want to miss the hotels guided 120-foot rappel escapade to reach the Kulaniapia Falls in the most incredible way imaginable.
- To book, check prices and availability for The Inn at Kulaniapia Falls
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Dont Forget Travel Insurance For The Big Island
Its good to get lost sometimes, but its also good not to get too lost. There are people that want you home in one piece.
Theres one travel insurance provider The Broke Backpacker trusts for all his wildest shenanigans World Nomads!
And then let the shenanigans begin.
Hawaii Island Travel Guide: Where To Stay On The Big Island
Hawaii Island Overview:Where to Stay on the Big Island:My picks for the best places to stay include: Mauna Kea Beach HotelFairmont Orchid, HawaiiThe Westin Hapuna Beach ResortFour Seasons Resort HualalaiMauna Lani, Auberge Resorts CollectionRoyal Kona ResortWyndham Kona Hawaiian ResortCourtyard Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach HotelHilton Waikoloa VillageSheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou BayWaikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & SpaHilo Area Hotels:The Palms Cliff HouseGrand Naniloa Hilo – a DoubleTree by HiltonThe Family Travel Guy
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Best Places To Stay In Kona
For the ultimate in luxury, consider the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Kaupulehu in Kona.
Featuring a well-appointed spa, shops and a golf course, the resort boasts stunning guest rooms dotted along the perimeter of the beach and golf course. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Similarly, the Mauna Lani offers a wide variety of activities for guests of all ages. Immerse yourself in the beauty of mountain views from this luxurious resort. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Families will enjoy centrally located, Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehamehas Kona Beach Hotel. Located near the Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark, this beachfront hotel is perfect for families. Check out the latest prices and more details.
The hotel is close to restaurants, shopping, and the Kailua Pier. It provides the perfect home base for exploring the Big Island.
Another family-friendly hotel is the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay. Perfect for families of all sizes, this 4-star, kid-friendly resort features 4 restaurants and is located near the Kahaluu Beach Park. Check out the latest prices and more details.
For budget-minded travelers wondering where to stay on the Big Island, the Kohala Village Inn in Kona offers family-friendly accommodations.
This eco-friendly inn, with its upbeat but rustic decor, is a warm, welcoming respite for a Big Island vacation. Check out the latest prices and more details.
How Many Days Do You Need On The Big Island
There is enough to do on the Big Island to keep you busy for months. But if you cant stay for months , plan to stay for at least one week. This will give you enough time to check out some of the must-see spots and still have a few relaxing beach days.
You can read more about why spending at least a week on the Big Island is the best idea. Plus, start planning out your days with our full list of 21 things to do on the Big Island and the 5 cant miss experiences.
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Where To Stay On The Kohala Coast
If a sprawling beach resort is calling your name, the Kohala Coast is the spot for you. Sometimes called the Gold Coast thanks to the number of luxury resorts, youll find a range of hotels to choose from.
The Kohala Coast isnt just known for its beautiful resorts here youll find great weather, very little rain, and some of the most beautiful beaches on the island. Just note that during the winter, the beaches can be hit with large swells and powerful currents which makes entering the water dangerous.
On the Kohala Coast youre approximately 15-20 minutes north of the Kona airport, making this a very accessible location. Youre also a reasonable drive away from Kailua-Kona as well as some of the other sights in the Kohala region, like Pololu Valley lookout .
If youre looking for at least some relation at a resort, Kohala offers some of our favorite options.
Kona and the Kohala Coast is our recommended place to stay if you plan to do a lot of snorkeling. We share why in our 5 Best Big Island Snorkeling Spots.
Tips For Choosing A Vacation Rental In Hawaii:
Choose legal Airbnbs where the owners live in Hawaii and are paying taxes here. There is a huge problem with housing affordability and availability throughout the islands which is mainly due to neighborhoods being bought out by foreign buyers leaving completely empty neighborhoods and rising housing costs.
If the owner doesnt live here in Hawaii and the property is not taxed as a vacation rental, all of the money leaves the state and is pocketed by someone who does not live in or contribute to the community. Do a little research to make sure the owner is legitimate or stay at an eco-friendly hotel instead.
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Kau Best Place To Stay On The Big Island For Adventure
If you prefer a more adventurous kind of holiday, then Kau is for you. Its the most remote and quietest part of the island, so you wont find any major resorts or tourist traps here. This area of The Big Island is home to Hawaiian Volcano Park and is where avid travellers will find their zen.
Perfect for couples wanting a quiet escape or for those searching for a deeper understanding of the Hawaiian landscape, private rental options are king here. There are numerous secluded forest bungalows available, not to mention some of the most unique accommodation in Hawaii youll ever find.
Best Areas To Stay In Hawaii Big Island
The Big Island of Hawaii is one of the most diverse islands in the Hawaiian Island chain.
Not to be confused, the island of Hawaii is one of the islands in the state of Hawaii, like the city of New York is one of the cities in the state of New York.
The locals refer to it as The Big Island simply because it is, in fact, the largest of the seven Hawaiian Islands.
Each direction has its own unique setting, from north to west to south to east.
Where the sun shines and settles in the west, the rain falls in the east and provides an endless run of waterfalls.
The serene north has rolling hills and pastures, while the south is alive with volcanoes and black sand beaches.
This is the youngest of the Hawaiian Islands and the most alive. With regular lava flows, and rapid changes in the landscape, each time you visit you could find something else anew.
Many people become surprised by the actual size of the island once they arrive.
A drive around the island will clock over 220 miles on your car, and take the better part of a day especially considering stops.
If you plan to have a short stay, youre best to keep to one side of the island.
If you are able to spend more time, it would be good to consider spreading your accommodations across different parts of the island.
Here below a map, later I quickly answer a few questions I usually get. Finally, I go more into the details for each area, based on your type of trip .
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The Best Areas To Stay On The Big Island
The Big Island, officially the Island of Hawaii, is the youngest and largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. The Big Island is bigger than all of the other Hawaiian islands combined, and it grows even larger every day due to consistent volcanic activity. In fact, this island is unique among the Hawaiian islands for being the only one with active volcanoes: Mauna Loa and Kilauea . Three more volcanoes, Mauna Kea , Hualalai , and Kohala , connect with the two active ones to comprise the Big Island. Unsurprisingly, this much volcanic activity imparts a wholly different feel to the Big Island versus its neighboring islands. The landscape on much of the islands interior is rugged with huge swathes of black lava rock spreading out under a layer of vog . There are eight distinct micro-climates spread throughout the Big Island, including deserts, rainforests, and even polar tundra climate zones on the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa summits. There are fewer beaches on the Big Island compared to other Hawaiian islands, though the beaches here are still incredible with white, salt-and-pepper, black, and even green sand beaches studding a coastline thats broken up with rocky cliffs, some with streams of lava flowing down into the ocean.
Outrigger canoes on Kamakahonu Beach in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. In the background is Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark, a reconstruction of King Kamehameha the Greats early 19th-century home.
Where To Stay In Hawaii Big Island For Families Couples And Sport
Each drive offers very different scenery, so with enough time, youll want to tour them all.
- Connection within the Hawaiian Islands: The Big Island is very well connected with all the main Hawaiian Islands as Maui, Kauaiand Oahu with multiple daily flights at a very good price if booked well in advance.
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Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
Hidden away on the exclusive Kona-Kohala Coast, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai offers traditional Hawaiian hospitality in the most luxurious way possible. The elegant rooms, suites, and villas are housed in a series of bungalows furnished with native Hawaiian art and nature-inspired decor, and the bungalows are connected to one another by a series of landscaped paths that wind their way around the seven pools carved into the natural lava rock. Other on-site amenities include three restaurants, two lounges, a state-of-the-art fitness center, complimentary parking, tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course, and an open-air full-service spa.
72-100 Kaupulehu Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740, Phone: 808-325-8000
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Best Hostel In Captain Cook: Pineapple Park Kona
Pineapple Park Kona is the the ultimate budget option near Kailua-Kona! Without a doubt, you will find the cheapest prices on the entire west coast at this hostel. You will have the best of both worlds, as you are next door not only to the bay, but to some of the best coffee farms on the island as well. Interested in renting a kayak, going diving, or signing up for a tour? Talk with the hostel staff to get the lowest rates available. Both dorms and private rooms are available.
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Best Loft In Captain Cook: Kealakekua Bay Our Home By The Ocean
This cute and cozy studio is both charming and romantic. The use of wood gives it the feel of a mountain cabin although you are only minutes from the beach! You are sure to love the large windows that overlook the pretty garden. The hosts have snorkel gear, boogie boards, and beach chairs you can use free of charge, too. This is a remarkable basecamp for exploring everything in and around Captain Cook!
Hilo Or Kona: Number Of Days On The Big Island
The average length of stay in Hawaii in 2019 was 7.3 days. That includes people island hopping. I hope you can stay longer.
If you are staying for a week on the Big Island and dont mind hotel hopping, I recommend staying 6 nights in Kailua-Kona and 1 night in the Hilo or Volcanoes National Park area.
Take one day on the east side of the island to see the sights around Hilo and the second day to visit Hawaiis Volcanoes National Park and drive the southern road home taking in the sites and small towns.
If you are staying longer, then stay two or three days to explore more of the Hamakua Coast north of Hilo and do every hike and drive around Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
When Kilauea volcano starts erupting again then that is a game-changer, do what you must to see the lava flowing.
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Beautiful Homestay In Puna: Forest A
If youve ever wanted to stay in a remodelled A-frame house nestled in the Hawaiian forest, this Hawaii Airbnb is perfect for you! Its perfect for a larger group, with room for six guests spread over three bedrooms. Its the best location for enjoying the local sights of Pahoa or heading out on a day trip to Lava Tree State Monument.
Best Eco Resort In Puna: Volcano Eco Retreat
Couples looking for a relaxing, adults-only getaway with a difference, this is the place for you. This is one of the most unique eco-resorts on the island with a focus on eco-tourism and sustainability. Enjoy a vegan or vegetarian meal after a day of exploring the nearby volcanic sights. Alternatively, you may rather choose to take a soak in the outdoor hot tub or treat yourselves to a massage.
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What Vacationers Are Saying
Vacationers who have stayed at this property couldnt get enough of the views and the resorts many amenities.
The best part was the two relaxing terraces both with spectacular views of the ocean and surrounding lush landscaping. -Susan O.
We paid the Four Seasons resort fee and used their facilities daily. What an amazing property for a family to enjoy! -Danielle B.
Best Hostel In Holualoa: My Hawaii Hostel
This beachside hostel is our favorite budget recommendation near Kailua-Kona! They have a wide variety of private and dorm room options for budgets of all shapes and sizes, and cooking your own food in their large public kitchen is a great way to save some additional money!
My Hawaii Hostel is a top choice for solo travelers. They have two large common areas fantastic for socializing, one indoors and one outdoors. Want to go snorkeling or biking with your new friends? You can rent gear directly through the hostel at unbeatable rates! Its a budget travelers best friend.
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Marriotts Waikoloa Ocean Club A Classy Vibrant Resort Surrounded By White Sand Beaches And Clear Blue Waters
Nestled amid a magnificent landscape dominated by lush greenery, white sandy beaches, and rugged volcanoes, boasts a stunning location with world-class comforts and modern luxuries.
Travelers can explore 1-2 bedroom suites, vibrantly decorated to pay homage to Big Islands cultural and natural beauty, with thoughtful, modern upgrades. The suites come with dining areas, lounging spaces, private kitchenettes, and state-of-the-art appliances.
The resort amenities are strikingly impressive, including sparkling pools, guided tours, and access to a stunning stretch of the Anaehoomalu Bay beach. This lavish beachfront resort is a stones throw away from the vibrant Waikoloa Village, local dining establishments, and sprawling golf courses.
- To book, check prices or availability for