Knowing exactly where to stay when you visit Hawaii is critical. The Big Island is home to 8 different mirco-climates and each area of the island is uniquely its own.
Many of the best places to stay on the Big Island are located on either the East side or the West side of the island. The five best regions to stay on the Big Island are Kailua-Kona, Waikoloa, Kohala, Hilo and Puna.
The best time to visit Hawaii is between the months of March and September. During this period of time the Big Island sees its highest temperature and lowest amount of rainfall. May and September are probably the two best months to visit Hawaii. May comes with great weather and lower rates while September is a great time to visit for those looking for a less crowded experience.
If you want to visit Mauna Loa, the active volcano on the Big Island, it will require a full day to drive to. You will probably need to get a jeep from car rentals on Big Island The volcano is centrally located on the island. Another cool site to see on the island is Papakōlea Beach, one of the only green sand beaches in the world. This is another site that requires a day trip to experience the incredible green sand beach of Hawaii.
How Many Days Do You Need on the Big Island?
The Big Island of Hawaii is actually bigger than all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined. Because of the island’s sheer size, you need at least 7 full days on the Big Island to start scratching the surface of worthwhile sites. The longer the stay the better; if you truly want to experience the Big Island, we recommend stay at least 2 weeks.
Best Areas to Stay on the Big Island
If you have the time and budget, it is wise to split up your stay on the Big Island, spending half of your trip on the western coast and the other half on the eastern coastline. It will help you maximize your time on the island and allow you to avoid spending hours in the car driving from one side of the island to the other.
If this is your first time to the Big Island one of the best places is to stay in Kona, Hawaii. Technically speaking, Kona is the name of the region and Kailua-Kona is the actual town. However, these names are often used interchangeably.
Located on the west coast of the island, Kailua-Kona is one of the best places for first timers. The region is home to beautiful white sand beaches, trendy bars and restaurants and historic landmarks. Whether you are looking to travel more on a budget or want to stay in a luxurious resort, Kona has a variety of accommodations to fit your budget and your needs.
Some of the best white sand beaches can be found in the region including Kahalu’u Beach, Kua Bay and Kamakahonu Beach. In addition, the main street in Kona, Alii Drive, has great shopping and cool local bars. The west coast of the island is also a great place to stay if you want to see or swim with manta rays.
Another great place to see when staying in Kona is Kealakekua Bay. The bay contains one of the best snorkeling spots in the state of Hawaii. It is also a major historical site in Hawaii and is where Captain James Cook first landed on the island. There is a monument there to commemorate his legacy.
Other interesting sites to check out in this region include Pololu Valley and Waipio Valley, which are just a day trip outside of the area. The weather and terrain on the west side of the island are much drier. In addition, the main airport is located in Kona.
Waikoloa is a beautiful family-friendly resort town on the west coast of Hawaii, not too far away from Kailua-Kona. Waikoloa is home to the Kings Shops Farmers Market and one of the best family beaches in Hawaii, Waikoloa Beach, also known as Beach 69.
The resort town is surrounded by golf clubs for adults and has swimming with the dolphins experiences for people of all ages. Another must-visit if you are staying in the area is the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative. The experience is a great way to immerse you and your family in the diverse landscape of the Big Island.
Kohala is a great stay for those looking to experience the beautiful beaches of Hawaii and for couples looking for a romantic getaway. The area is known for its white sand beaches and fantastic snorkeling spots.
Kohala is full of resorts for a perfect romantic getaway.
If you want a little bit more of a local feel, staying in Hilo is perfect for you. For those looking for an adventure, Hilo is close to the best hiking trails that the Big Island has to offer. In the span of a single day you can see lava tubes, lava fields, botanical gardens, cliff views and waterfalls.
Hilo is also located close to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Volcano Village. In addition, if you plan on driving up to the Mauna Kea summit, staying on the Hilo side is best. Other popular sites located along the northern border, such as the Hamakua coast are easily seen by day trip from Hilo.
Puna is located close to Hilo and is best for those wanting to see volcanoes and experience the incredible black sand beaches of Hawaii. Puna is also closer to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the Volcano Village than Hilo.
Kehena Beach is nearby and is one of the most popular black sand beaches in Hawaii. The black sand was formed from lava fields.
Puna does not have the high-end resorts like many of the other towns on the Big Island. Puna has many great accommodations for a nature-filled vacation.
Other Things to Know Before Visiting the Big Island
If you are visiting the island for the first time, staying in Kona will give you some of the easiest access to many of the best sites on the island. Those that are a little further away are able to be experienced as a day trip.
The best beaches on the island are located on the northern coast, with Kohala being the best place to stay if a beach vacation is what you are looking for.
The top 5 places to see when visiting the Big Island include Rainbow Falls, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hapuna Beach and the summit of Mauna Kea.
We recommend booking your stay far in advance, as Hawaii is an extremely popular travel destination. In addition, it can be expensive, so booking well in advance will help you get the best rates and maybe even some deals when booking your hotels and excursions.
From luxury resort hotels to Airbnb accommodations, there is something for everyone on the Big Island and something for every budget.