Before You Leave The United States
Make sure to plan ahead:
- You tested positive for COVID-19.
- Do not travel until a full 10 days after your symptoms started or the date your positive test was taken if you had no symptoms.
If you had close contact with a person with COVID-19 but are NOT recommended to quarantine…
Cosy Log Cabin In Kau: Crater Rim Cabin
They say two nights just isnt long enough at this special log cabin that is located at the top of Kilauea Volcano! Moderately priced and suitable for a family or group of four, the cosy Crater Rim Cabin comes with a fully stocked and functional kitchen and is surrounded by lush gardens and forestry. You might even feel a small earthquake while youre there if youre lucky!
There Are More Than 9700 Guest Rooms On The Island
Looking for a place to stay on the Big Island? The Orchid Isle has accommodations of every kind, from luxury hotels to bed & breakfast cottages. No doubt youll find a number of accommodations tailored to your needs, desires, and budget.
Choosing a Location
Due to the Big Island large size, choosing a location near sightseeing, attractions, activities and other things youd like to do becomes important. You dont want to spend the majority of your vacation in a car! If there are several areas you would like to see, we suggest arranging multiple accommodations around the island.
Luxurious Kohala Coast
For the finest in luxury resorts, head to the Kohala Coast, located at the northern end of the Big Islands western coast. Often referred to as The Gold Coast, Kohala is a sunny and arid region offering a good number of luxury hotels set in four resort areas. World-class golf, award-winning beaches, and fine dining are among the amenities here.
The highest concentration of visitor rooms is located in Kailua-Kona on the islands west side. This bustling vacation town offers a mix of upscale properties, budget hotels and motels, condominiums, rental homes, hostels, and bed & breakfasts.
Tip: It gets really tough trying to find a room here during mid-October, when Kailua-Kona hosts the Ironman Triathlon World Championship.
Volcanoes National Park
On the Big Islands east side is historic Hilo town
North Shore is home to the plantation town
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Hilo Or Kona: Do You Need A Rental Car
I recommend getting a rental car regardless of staying in Hilo or Kona. You will need a car to see all the sights on your itinerary for either location.
Hilo is walkable as it is small compared to the sprawled-out Kailua-Kona area. But, you wont be spending all your time in Hilo. To see waterfalls, explore the rainforest, find unique places to eat, see the volcanoes, and all the other activities around Hilo will require a rental car.
We do recommend you book through Discount Hawaii Car Rental. We saved over $300 by booking through them over New Years Eve compared to directly with a national car rental company. It was a week-long rental, crazy expensive over the holidays but so much better with Discount Hawaii Car Rental.
We Saw The Local Waterfalls
We saw the local waterfalls. You can’t hike in close to them though after it rains… it rains A LOT. We biked around the city along the water. We had great meals in town. ‘Pinapples Island’ GO THERE!!! Great Gluten Free menu. A real one. They are so knowledgeable. And you can get a drink IN a pineapple. The staff were awesome and the food was Great too. Paddle boarding was so good near our property There were lots of turtles. A local gave us so much great information about the area. Also ate in an Italian restaurant Cafe Pesto, not many GF choices but still good.
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Hilo Or Kona: Where To Stay
Where to stay, in Hilo or Kona? When it comes to accommodations, Kona provides more options in regards to hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals.
Kailua-Kona is the resort area due to the nicer beaches and better climate. The Kohala Coast, north of Kona, is littered with five-star resorts like the Mauna Lani, Hilton Waikoloa Village, and the Fairmont Orchid. On the Kohala Coast, average room rates are $480 per night compared to $318 for the rest of the island .
Hotel options in Hilo are few and far between. The only big brand hotel is a DoubleTree by Hilton. There are no five-star or four-star hotels or resorts. There are only a few hotels in Hilo and they are getting dated. They are comfortable places to stay and provide good service.
Hilo offers the cheapest prices for hotels and vacation rentals.
Hotels: Looking at 3-star hotels in July for two people:
Kona averages $192 per night
Hilo averages $148 per night
Vacation rentals: Looking on Airbnb and Vrbo for a one-bedroom apartment in July:
Kona averages $116 per night
Hilo averages $98 per night
Hawaii Tourism Authority doesnt differentiate between Hilo and Kona in their data, but you can expect to pay the following hotel rates as of January 2020.
Near Which Points Of Interest Can I Spend My Holidays In Hilo
Vrbo offers a large selection of rentals near lovely places in Hilo. From Vrbo travelers, the top most popular points of interest to stay for a holiday trip or just for a weekend are:
- Keaukaha Beach Park: 293 rentals
- Rainbow Falls: 294 rentals
- Liliuokalani Park and Gardens: 319 rentals
- Panaewa Rainforest Zoo: 358 rentals
- Hilo Municipal Golf Course: 426 rentals
But there are many other points of interest around Hilo listed on Vrbo where you can find your place to stay. Just write your wanted destination in our search bar and have a look at our selection.
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Big Island Regions Explained
The Big Island is broken down into 6 regions + Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The yellow lines indicate the only major roads on the island.
Before you begin looking into the best hotels and resorts, take a moment to study the map below and become acquainted with where things are. This will help you make the most informed decision possible on where to stay on the Big Island.
The Kona and Kohala regions make up the west coast and are where you will find most of the best beaches on Big Island. This is also where the vast majority of tourist accommodation and amenities are.
Aside from these two regions, Hilo is the only other one to consider staying in. While this is the wet side of the Big Island, the precipitation has created a beautiful rainforest and numerous waterfalls to see nearby. Also, it is much quieter for those who prefer calm and serenity over crowded beaches.
The Kau region is home to two popular beaches, including the world-famous Papakolea Green Sand Beach and Punaluu Black Sand Beach two of the best beaches of Hawaii. However, the area is fairly remote and there is little to see or do outside of these destinations.
Puna is the gateway to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and has a couple of beaches, but none that merit a visit.
Hamakua will be a drive-through region at most.
So what is Kona? Is it a town? A region? A side?
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.
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Best Private Villa In Kau: Bamboo Treehouse
This unforgettably unique bamboo cabin is the perfect place to stay on the Big Island for couples looking for a little romance combined with adventure! Located just minutes from the Volcano National Park and completely surrounded by trees, youll love climbing the outdoor spiral staircase to your private suite and lounging on the lanai while taking in the spectacular views surrounding you. Its hands down one of the coolest treehouses in Hawaii.
Best Hotel On The Big Island: Holua Resort
If youre visiting The Big Island for the first time and want a classic Hawaiian experience with a modest price tag, The Holua Resort is a perfect choice. Its got oceanview pools, activities for the kids, and is situated in a great location for exploring the rest of the island.
The Big Island aint called that for nothing! This spectacular Hawaiian island oasis is home to all but four of the worlds climates, which means there is a tonne of ground to cover when deciding where to stay on The Big Island.
Kona gets the most sun by far on The Big Island and has the widest choice of accommodations with a friendly and exciting vibe, making it perfect for your first time. You could easily spend your whole vacation here because it truly offers something for everyone regardless of budget or age!
Rather than doing a day trip from Kona, choose to stay in Puna or Kua for the ultimate volcano experience. This is one of the most incredible things to do on The Big Island and will give you major bragging rights at home!
Puna is a great choice for the budget-savvy traveller because it has plenty of modest accommodation for great prices meaning you can spend more on your activities. Choose Kua if you have a little more cash to spare and want to stay far away from big hotels and hordes of tourists.
Finally, Hilo is the lush and rainy cousin to Kona on the eastern side of the island. Here, families can veg out and enjoy their perfect Hawaiian vacation.
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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 .
Grand Naniloa Hotel In Hilo
This newly renovated property is a great choice if you are staying over in Hilo.
These are, in my humble opinion, some of my favorite places to stay on the Big Island of Hawaii. Ive been traveling here for the past decade and living here for the past five years.
I am a beach baby so I tend to stay more on the west side, occasionally venturing to the north or south shores but there truly is something different for each traveler no matter where you venture.
Hawaii is such a sacred, incredible place and its my pleasure to share ways to experience fully, tread lightly and honor the space in which youre exploring.
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Makanis Magic Pineapple Shack
Hawaii is popular for its quick bites restaurants and in Hilo, and its good to try Makanis Magic Pineapple Shack. Cafe and serving contemporary cuisine, Makanis Magic Pineapple Shack has some vegan options youll love. Big portions that you can easily share your order with someone else. Try their ice creams and Açai bowl when you visit.
You can find Makani Magic Pineapple Shack at 54 Waianuenue Ave, Hilo, Island of Hawaii, HI 96720-2440
You can contact them at +1 808-935-8454
Staying On The Kohala Coast
Including Waikaloa and Kohala
Stretching north of Kailua-Kona town toward Kohala, you’ll discover a part of the Kona coast known as the ‘Gold Coast. That said, it lacks any authentic budget accommodations. Big Island’s natural sights vary. Visit the primarily barren lava fields and volcanoes here.
Why Should You Stay in Kohala Coast?
It’s home to the Big Island’s top resorts and some of the best beaches found anywhere. This includes the Waikoloa area. Also, you can find a variety of shops and restaurants here. Yet, this area screams luxury.
The Disadvantages of Staying in Kohala Coast?
The Gold Coast takes you further away from many of the great attractions on the north coast and east side of the island . Also, the area lacks a range of budget lodgings.
Our Recommended Places to Stay on the Kohala Coast
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Where To Stay On The Big Island: Kona Or Hilo
Are you planning a trip to Hawaiis Big Island and are confused which side of the island you should find a hotel? Let me break down whether you should stay in Kona or Hilo when traveling to the Big Island. Scroll for all the info!
This post about where to stay on the Big Island: Kona or Hilo contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Because the island of Hawaii has so much to offer, couples, families, and those looking for a sense of adventure may have a difficult narrowing down where to stay on the Big Island.
Kailua Kona and Hilo each have their own dedicated airport so getting to both areas is easy.
If youre wondering where to stay on Big Island, whether youre leaning toward Hilo or interested in heading to Kona, let this breakdown can help. Plus, find out the best kid friendly Big Island resorts and hotels.
If You Are Notfully Vaccinated And Allowed To Travel To The United States By Air Through An Exception
You may be required to attest to some or all of the following measures, depending on the type of exception. For more information see Requirement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Passengers.
- Get tested for current infection with a viral test 3-5 days after arrival, unless you have documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days.
- Stay at home or in your hotel room and self-quarantine for a full 5 days, even if you test negative, unless you have documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days.
- Isolate if your test result is positive or you develop COVID-19 symptoms.
- If you intend to stay in the United States for 60 days or longer, become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within 60 days of arriving in the United States or as soon as medically appropriate.
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How Many Days To Stay On The Big Island
The Big Island is aptly named, and there is a lot to see and do with long drives in between.
One to two weeks is the perfect amount of time to stay on the Big Island of Hawaii if you are hoping to tick off most of the best things to do. If you are just looking for a couple of days of sunshine or are considering a multi-island Hawaii itinerary, 3-5 days should be enough.
For 5-7 day Big Island Itineraries, you need to consider the options of booking one accommodation for the duration or booking multiple locations.
The advantage of staying for the full week in one location is that it will be the easiest to plan and you will not have to lose time re-packing and checking in and out of multiple places. The disadvantage is that your daily drives will be longer to always drive back to the same point.
Conversely, booking at least 2 hotels in different areas of the Big Island allows you to cut back on drive times by exploring locally in each area. This is particularly helpful if you plan on visiting Hawaii Volcanoes NP and/or Hilo.
For Big Island stays of more than one week, you should definitely book at least 2-3 different accommodations split between the Kona and Hilo regions.