The Ultimate Guide To The Big Island of Hawai'i

Explore with Confidence: Your Complete Big Island Travel Guide

Visiting the Big Island of Hawaii? Our definitive Big Island travel guide provides key tips for an unforgettable trip. Navigate through diverse climates, find accommodation suited to your needs, and learn the best times to enjoy the island’s wonders. Anticipate what to pack, how to travel sustainably, and where to find the island’s culinary delights. Start your Big Island adventure here, with practical advice at your fingertips.

Big Island Insider Tip #1

The Big Island of Hawai'i offers an impressive range of climates and experiences, from active volcanoes and luxury resorts to lush jungles and stunning beaches. Be prepared for a trip of a lifetime!

Big Island Insider Tip #2

There is an array of accommodation options to fit every traveler’s needs, with optimal times to visit for favorable weather, fewer crowds, and more economical travel being April, May, August, September, and October.

Big Island Insider Tip #3

Engage in the Big Island’s diverse offerings such as hiking, beach activities, and local dining, while practicing sustainable travel by respecting the environment and supporting local businesses.


Discovering the Big Island

The Big Island of Hawaii, aptly named for its vast size and variety of attractions, invites you into a world of diverse landscapes and climates. With its stunning landscapes ranging from lush, jungle-like environments to rugged lava fields, the Big Island hosts all but four of the world’s different climate zones. Isn’t it incredible that such a small landmass can offer such a diverse range of experiences?

The Big Island Guide

Discover the diverse beauty and experiences of Hawaii’s Big Island, which is one of the Hawaiian Islands combined, and is divided into six main regions, each with its unique features:

  • Kona: Explore lava fields and enjoy sunny weather.
  • Kohala: Hosts luxurious resorts and beautiful beaches.
  • Hamakua Coast: Offers breathtaking sea cliffs and lush greenery, making it a paradise for nature lovers.
  • Hilo: Experience a vibrant city life amidst a lush jungle-like environment.
  • Puna: Known for its volcanic activity and black sand beaches.
  • Ka'u: Offers a more rural and secluded experience.

Volcanoes National Park

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, also known as Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, offers a thrilling opportunity to walk on an active volcano, showcasing Mother Nature’s power in an unparalleled way. Spanning an impressive 333,000 acres, the park is located just 30 miles southwest of Hilo and 96 miles southeast of Kona. Its global significance as an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a National Historic Park is a testament to its unique geological features found within Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

Visitors can embark on popular activities like exploring the Thurston Lava Tube area and the Kīlauea Iki Trail. Imagine the excitement of possibly witnessing a live lava flow during your visit! After a day of exploration, you can unwind at the beautiful beaches of the Big Island. To fully experience the wonders of the park, plan to spend at least two whole days here. And remember, the adventure doesn’t stop there.

After exploring the park, you can visit Mauna Kea, the world’s tallest mountain when measured from its base on the ocean floor.

Kohala Coast

Head to the Kohala Coast on the east side of the Big Island to experience stunning natural beauty intertwined with luxury. Luxurious resorts dot this sun-soaked region, making it a haven for relaxation. Enjoy breathtaking scenic views as you lounge by the pool at one of these resorts, and when you’re ready to explore, prepare to be captivated by some of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii.

One such gem is Hapuna Beach, known for its pristine white sand and crystal-clear blue water. Another must-visit is Kua Bay, which offers a delightful beach experience with amenities like restrooms, showers, water, barbecues, and picnic tables. Remember, some beaches can have strong currents and waves during winter, so it’s best to swim when the water is calm. For a tranquil experience, visit Kua Bay on weekdays.

After a refreshing time at the beach, you can try your hand at golf at one of the renowned golf courses in the area.

Hamakua Coast

The Hamakua Coast, located on the Hawaiian island, invites you to immerse yourself in its lush, tropical beauty marked by dramatic cliffs, magnificent waterfalls, and captivating scenery. The lush greenery, deep cliffs, and significant valleys like the Waipi’o and Pololu Valleys make it a paradise for nature lovers, offering a glimpse into the breathtaking beauty of the Hawaiian Islands.

Among the many attractions, the Big Island offers:

  • Akaka Falls State Park: two stunning waterfalls surrounded by vibrant tropical greenery.
  • Pololu Valley: breathtaking views of the ocean meeting the sea cliffs, a beautiful black sand beach, and unique features like ironwood trees.
  • The Four Mile Scenic Route: an off-the-beaten-path detour that offers amazing views and excellent vantage points for appreciating the area’s natural beauty.
  • Lastly, don’t miss out on the Waipi’o Valley, celebrated for its mile-long black sand beach, taro patches, forests, and extraordinary cliffs adorned with plunging waterfalls.

Big Island Travel Tip

When visiting the Big Island, remember to prioritize water safety, be mindful of terrain safety during hikes, and comply with health measures like testing requirements before your flight.


Best Time to Visit the Big Island

  • April
  • May:
  • August
  • September.
  • October.

These months offer fantastic weather, fewer tourists, and budget-friendly travel options, making them the ideal time for an amazing experience on the Big Island.

The island experiences two main seasons: the drier, warmer summer from May to October, and the cooler, rainier winter from November to April. However, the Big Island is blessed with warm and pleasant weather year-round, so you can plan your visit at any time. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly trip, consider staying in Hilo, utilizing the bus system, and planning your visit for the fall season.

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Big Island Accommodation Options

A wide range of accommodation options on the Big Island makes finding the perfect place to stay a breeze. From luxurious five-star resorts to charming hotels and unique vacation rentals, there’s something to suit every traveler’s preference. Most accommodations are conveniently located in Kailua-Kona, making it easy to access the main attractions. However, if you wish to explore the lush, jungle-like environment of Hilo, you’ll find a variety of options that offer a memorable experience.

Big Island Best Accommodations

When choosing your accommodation, there are a few things to consider. The location, convenience, amenities, and budget are some of the key factors that can guide your choice. Some fantastic options recommended by the author include:

  • Fairmont Orchid
  • Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
  • Mauna Lani
  • A Auberge Hotel

So, whether you’re planning a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a solo adventure, you’re sure to find the perfect place to stay on the Big Island.

Kona (West Region) Accommodations

Offering a variety of accommodations, from luxurious resorts to budget-friendly options, the sun-soaked paradise of the Kona region caters to all. Here, you’ll find top-rated accommodations like Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Royal Kona Resort, and Outrigger Kona Resort & Spa. For those on a budget, Kona West offers clean facilities and stunning ocean views.

The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, in particular, is a luxurious accommodation that offers incredible food, numerous pool options, and the enchanting sound of the ocean at night. After a day of exploring the attractions of the Big Island, there’s nothing like unwinding in the comfort of your luxurious resort. Around Kailua-Kona, you’ll find a diverse range of ocean-side restaurants, grocery stores, shops, and activity huts offering a variety of water activities, all conveniently located near the beautiful Kailua Bay.

Hilo (East Region) Accommodations

The Hilo region is another great place to stay on the Big Island, especially for those who love nature. Here, you’ll find top-rated hotels like SCP Hilo Hotel, The Inn at Kulaniapia Falls, Dolphin Bay, and Hilo Hawaiian Hotel. For a unique and memorable stay, you can explore places such as Volcano Eco Retreat by Heart Core Hotels, At the Craters Edge, Orchid Tree B&B, Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo, and The Inn at Kulaniapia Falls.

For sustainability-conscious travelers, there are fantastic eco-friendly accommodations available, such as SCP Hilo Hotel, Eco Retreat Hawaii, and Rainbow Hale Unit 1. These accommodations are dedicated to sustainable practices and offer unique lodging options. And the best part? They provide easy access to the Big Island’s eastern natural wonders.

After a day of exploring, you can return to the comfort of your accommodation and relax in the midst of nature, just like you would at botanical gardens.