Let the tropical vibe load! Welcome to one of the best Hawaiian Islands, the Big Island. I guess white sand beaches, rainforest, lava fields, and lush palm trees are more than enough to explain how unique this island is!
The Big Island is the largest island in the USA and among the Hawaiian Islands. Thanks to its incredible landscapes this volcanic island will enable you to snorkel in the best waters, explore amazing national parks, see incredible waterfalls and snap some great pictures on black sand beaches. You will have the chance to experience all kinds of natural beauties so there is no reason to not get excited!
In this blog post, I will talk about the 5 best areas where to stay on the Big Island with hotels from luxury to budget plus Airbnbs. Before I start I would like to let you know that the Big Island is a very popular and expensive travel destination that is visited by travelers all year round.
I have carefully selected the best of the best accommodations for all budgets but you have to be quick and make a reservation in advance if you don’t want to miss them. Many of the hotels have a free cancelation, so don’t worry if you change your mind. I also highly recommend you to rent a car in advance too, to get around easily on the Big Island of Hawaii and see all those incredible day trips!
Shall we start to discover the Big Island?
- If you are in a hurry
- 1. Kona / Kailua-Kona – the best place to stay for the first time
- 2. Hilo – the best place to stay on the Big Island on a budget
- 3. Kohala – coolest place to stay on the Big Island for couples
- 4. Puna – the best town to see volcanoes and black sand beaches
- 5. Waikoloa – best family-friendly resort town to stay on the Big Island
- Frequently asked questions about the Big Island
If you are in a hurry
Here are the best places to stay on the Big Island of Hawaii from luxury to budget. They all have great reviews and ideal locations close to beaches!
Four Seasons Resort
Best luxury hotel
Big Island Retreat
Best value for money
Big Island Hostel
Best affordable accommodation in the center
Mauna Lani Resort
An Airbnb with amazing reviews
1. Kona / Kailua-Kona – the best place to stay for the first time
Kailua-Kona is a town located inside the region of Kona on the Big Island’s west coast. Confusing, right?
Well, don’t worry, while the names are often used interchangeably, both the town of Kailua-Kona and the entire region are worth visiting. Thanks to its gorgeous white sand beaches, historic landmarks, trendy bars, and restaurants, Kailua-Kona Coast is the best place to stay on the Big Island for the first-timers.
Start your day by hitting some of the best white sand beaches on the island such as Kahalu’u Beach, Kamakahonu Beach, Two Step, and Kua Bay. After spending time snorkeling and chilling on the powdery sand of Kona, discover the historical sites and beautiful landscapes at the historic Kaloko-Honokōhau National Park.
During the sunset make sure to pick a nice restaurant by the sea to have a cooling Hawaiian cocktail and nice local dishes. If you feel like shopping, head to the main street of Kona, Alii Drive to check out some cool boutiques and have a beer in one of the many local bars. Do you see why this town is perfect for first-timers? I’m sure you will have a great time here!
On the Kailua-Kona Coast, you will be able to find more than enough accommodations from luxurious resorts to budget hotels. In order to make your work easy, I’ve already picked the best ones but make sure to book your place in advance as these hotels are selling too fast! For those who are curious about the other Hawaiian Islands, check out my complete guide to the best areas to stay in Hawaii!
Four Seasons Resort is located on the west side of the island in Kona and is one of the best luxurious resorts to stay on the Big Island. This resort features an epic swimming pool overlooking the ocean, spacious rooms with scenic views, a nice spa, and a very good breakfast. You can sip your tropical cocktails on the private beach and have delicious meals at onsite restaurants inside the lush gardens. With its ocean views suites, it is also a great place to stay for couples.
Other accommodation options in Kailua-Kona
Centrally located in Kona this hotel is within walking distance to the beach and has spacious rooms with a terrace
Aeolian Ranch is 5 minutes drive to Kona town center and offers family-friendly rooms and a special lounge area with ocean views
This Airbnb has amazing views overlooking the gardens and oceans and fully furnished spacious rooms and free wifi
Things to do in Kailua-Kona
- Visit the historic Kaloko-Honokōhau National Park
- Swim in the crystal clear water at white sand beaches like Kamakahonu Beach, Two Step, and Kua Bay
- See the Mokuaikaua Church and the historic landmark, Hulihe‘e Palace
- Take a pint at the Kona Brewery and Pub and taste the island’s local beers
- Go for a walk at the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area
- Watch the Hawaiian hula dance at Island Breeze Lū‘au – He ‘Ohana Kakou
- Check out the shops and restaurants at Ali’i Drive street
- Go surfing or snorkeling at the white sand beach, Kahalu’u
2. Hilo – the best place to stay on the Big Island on a budget
Hilo is located on the east side of the Big Island and offers spectacular landscapes such as a rainforest, national parks, and gorgeous beaches. Hilo has a more local vibe and is a bit less touristy compared to the other parts of the island. That’s why here you will be able to find accommodations for a relatively cheaper price. So, if you are a budget traveler there is no better place than Hilo!
If you like outdoor activities, Hilo also has the best hiking trails with scenic cliff views. You can discover waterfalls, botanical gardens and see lava fields all in one day! For beach bums, a must-visit place is Coconut Island with its spectacular white sand beaches.
In Hilo, you will find local restaurants, cafes, shops as well as affordable hotels but as the Big Island is still a popular and expensive travel destination, make sure to make your booking in advance to get better deals. If you are thinking of jumping onto one of the other Hawaiian Islands after this vacation in Hilo, I recommend you check out the best areas and hotels in Maui.
Let’s check out the best places to stay in Hilo:
This hotel is one of the best places to stay on the east side of the island. SCP Hilo hotel features spacious rooms, a lush swimming pool where you can enjoy getting a suntan on sunny days, a bar with a great selection of tropical cocktails, and a fitness center. The beach is just a few minutes walk from the hotel and you can rent paddle boards or bicycles to discover the east coast.
Other accommodation options in Hilo
This hotel offers a pleasant stay in Hilo with its comfortable rooms, ocean views, good breakfast, and free airport shuttle
Big Island Hostel is the best budget accommodation on the east side of the island and offers free parking and comfortable rooms with free wifi
This Hilo Airbnb offers free parking, beautifully decorated rooms, a fully furnished kitchen, and easy access to the beaches
Things to do in Hilo
- Visit Panaewa Rainforest Zoo
- Explore Rainbow Waterfalls and the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden
- Go to the Imiloa Astronomy Center
- Shop at the Hilo Farmers Market
- Have fun at Botanical World Adventures
- Discover the white-sand beaches of Coconut Island in Hilo
- Go for a stroll at Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens
3. Kohala – coolest place to stay on the Big Island for couples
Kohala Coast is located in the northwestern part of the island just above Kona and is known for its white-sand beaches and resorts in nature. If you are asking for the best place to stay on the Big Island for couples, my answer is definitely Kohala!
Kohala coast offers not only the island’s best beaches with spectacular landscapes but also the best spot for snorkeling. Imagine yourself having a Hawaiian cocktail under the palm trees watching the surreal color of the ocean. I guarantee that you will have so many postcard-perfect photos here!
You won’t have difficulty picking a place in Kohala as you will find the most delightful resorts by the white sand beaches here. These resorts are also the most preferred by couples for those who want to have a romantic getaway. Here are the best of the best hotels in Kohala that I carefully picked for you.
This Beachfront Hotel is the best luxury hotel on the north side of the island in Kohala. Waikoloa Beach Marriott offers a lush swimming pool area where you can enjoy sunny days with tropical cocktails, a good fitness center, and a spa to pamper yourself after a great breakfast. You can also enjoy a private beach and rent paddle boards to discover the bay area.
Other accommodation options in Kohala
This hotel offers spacious rooms with a kitchen, a pool, a fitness center, and a couple of dining options in Kohala
Surrounded by beautiful trees this hotel offers comfortable rooms with a coffee machine and easy access to the beaches
This Airbnb is the best housing option on the north side of the island with an epic ocean view and a private swimming pool
Things to do in Kohala
- Go to Hapuna Beach State Park, Kohala
- Visit the island’s historic sites at Pu’ukohola Heiau National Park
- Go snorkeling at Lapakahi State Historical Park
- Spend time at the Big Island’s largest white sand beach, Hapuna Beach
- Swim in the crystal clear water at Spencer Beach Park in Kohala
- Check out the Big Island’s stunning view from Pololū Valley
4. Puna – the best town to see volcanoes and black sand beaches
One of the most interesting things to see in the Hawaiian Islands is for sure the incredible volcanoes and lava fields. Puna is the closest town to visit the famous Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the Volcano Village.
Puna is located on the east coast of Big Island right opposite Kona and offers incredible landscapes and scenic views. Start your day by heading to Kehena Black Sand Beach that was formed by the lava fields nearby and is the best spot to take awesome Instagram photos.
Afterward continue your trip to visit the main landmarks of Puna, Lava Tree State Park, and Volcano Village in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. After a very impressive day, you can have a delicious dinner at the local restaurants in the Puna town center.
In Puna, you won’t be able to find big resorts like other parts of the island but there are nice accommodations where you can enjoy spending time in nature. Here are the best places to stay in Pune for all budgets.
Volcano Eco Retreat is a great place to stay on the Big Island for those who want to have a relaxing holiday. This hotel offers bungalow rooms with a lush garden, a spa, a dining area where you can make BBQ, and a sun terrace surrounded by trees. The Rainforest Zoo and lava fields are just 15 minutes drive from the hotel.
Other accommodation options in Puna
Rainforest Eco Cabin offers easy access to the lava fields and has bungalow rooms with a nice garden
This hotel has comfortable rooms, free wifi, a large garden, and is close to black sand beaches
This Airbnb offers accommodation in beautiful gardens with spacious rooms and a fully furnished kitchen
Things to do in Puna
- Explore the island’s incredible lava fields at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Visit the Lava Tree State Park and Volcano Village
- Go shopping at Maku’u Farmers’ Market
- Take impressive photos at Kehena Black Sand Beach
- See lava fields at Puʻu ʻŌʻō
- Try delicious nuts at Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Visitor Center
- Go for a walk at MacKenzie State Recreation Area
5. Waikoloa – best family-friendly resort town to stay on the Big Island
Waikoloa Village is located on the west coast and next to Kona Town. Here you will find the most family-friendly resorts by the beautiful beaches on the Big Island.
Start discovering Waikoloa Village by going to Kings Shops Farmers Market. You can buy some local foods from there and hit the beautiful Waikōloa Beach or Beach 69. After spending time snorkeling and swimming in the turquoise water you should definitely take the opportunity to swim with dolphins at Dolphin Quest, the kids will love it!
Here another impressive landmark you shouldn’t miss is the Waikōloa Dry Forest Initiative. This is a great place to teach the kids about nature and the island’s diverse landscape. Waikoloa Village is also popular for its golf clubs so if you want to have some adult time while playing a round, you are in the right place!
Waikoloa offers a great selection of hotels with family-friendly facilities such as kids clubs and pools. Let’s check out the best ones I picked for you.
Fairmont Orchid Resort is the best luxury hotel on the west side of the island and here you will be able to enjoy one of the best beaches on Big Island. This gorgeous hotel has an amazing powdery private beach that you will want to spend hours on, family-friendly rooms, swimming pools, an upscale spa, and a fabulous fitness center. Every morning you will enjoy a very good breakfast while watching the ocean views for a great start to your day!
Other accommodation options in Waikoloa
This hotel offers 2 swimming pools with incredible ocean views and spacious rooms with quality products
This hotel offers affordable family-friendly accommodation on the west coast with comfortable rooms with a nice garden
Located right on the bay this Airbnb features deluxe rooms, private beach access, and a lush swimming pool
Things to do in Waikoloa
- Go snorkeling at Beach 69
- See many kinds of beautiful trees at Waikōloa Dry Forest Initiative
- Take golf lessons at Mauna Lani Golf
- Swim with dolphins at Dolphin Quest
- Go shopping at Kings Shops Farmers Market
- Take a day trip to the beautiful Hamakua Coast
- Make sandcastles and swim in the crystal clear water at Waikōloa Beach
|👑 Luxury price:||$450|
|💵 Mid-range hotel:||$300|
|💰 Accommodation prices:||High|
|📍 Best Area:||Kona|
|🛎️ Best luxury hotel:||Four Seasons Resort|
|👛 Best budget hotel:||Big Island Hostel|
Frequently asked questions about the Big Island
🌴 Where should I stay on Big Island, Hilo or Kona?
🏖️ Which side of the Big Island has the best beaches?
🤔 What should you not miss on the big island?
Some of the main landmarks you should not miss on the Big Islands are Volcano village, Rainbow Waterfalls, Hamakua Coast, Panaewa Rainforest Zoo, and Hapuna Beach.
👨👩👦👦 Which are the best places to stay on the Big Island for families?
🐠 Where to stay on the Big Island for snorkeling?
🏠 Which are some unique places to stay on the Big Island?
⏳ How many days do you need in Big Island?
I recommend staying 1 week in Big Island to explore the island’s best beaches, national parks, and the volcano.
☀️ What is the best month to visit the Big Island of Hawaii?
Thanks to its tropical climate you can visit Big Island all year round but in order to get better deals on resorts on Big Island Hawaii, I suggest traveling between September – November.
👪 Which is a better destination for families, Kona vs Waikoloa?
Both Kona and Waikoloa offer great family experiences, but Kona provides a more diverse range of activities, while Waikoloa boasts luxurious resorts and a stunning beach environment.
Now we have come to the end of our Big Island Hawaii tour. I hope you enjoyed reading this and are already thinking about which swimwear to take with you! In this blog post, I talked about the best areas to stay on the Big Island, Hawaii, with the hotels from luxury to budget as well as Airbnbs in each area. I also hope to have given you enough travel tips about the activities you can do there.
As I’ve already mentioned, Kailua-Kona is the best place to stay for first-timers but I highly recommend renting a car to discover different coasts of the island and take day trips to the volcano, the rainforest as well as some black sand lava beaches.
I also would like to remind you of the importance of making a reservation in advance as the Big Island is a very popular and expensive travel destination. This will help you to get better deals on hotels and secure your place.
I know I’ve already given tons of hotel options but for those who cannot decide among many places, here are the best resorts where to stay on the Big Island of Hawaii. They both have good locations and great reviews too!
- Four Seasons Resort – One of the best oceanfront hotels located on the west coast, Kona
- Big Island Retreat – A great place to stay in Kona Town with great facilities
I am sure you will have a wonderful holiday in Big Island Hawaii! If you have any other suggestions or questions about the Hawaiian Islands please leave a comment below. I’ll be happy to leave a reply to them!
Enjoy your time in Big Island Hawaii,
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