For those who love to travel, especially to tropical countries, almost nowhere on Earth sounds as appealing as the state of Hawaii.
In many respects, Hawaii is the ultimate idyllic paradise. From sandy beaches to beautiful rainforests and awe-inspiring volcanoes, Hawaii really has it all. However, depending on your personal idea of a dream vacation, certain areas of Hawaii may appeal to you more than others.
» Check here for Where to Find the Best Food Trucks in Hawaii.
Additionally, there’s no shortage of hotels to stay in during your Hawaiian vacation (data from 2019 shows that Hawaii has an average of 249,000 visitors per day).
While this means you’ll be spoiled for choice, it also means you’ll have a tough decision to make when it comes to where you’ll be staying.
In this article, we’ll be sharing our top 5 places to Stay on Hawaii’s Big Island.
» Visiting several islands in Hawaii? Check out our guides to Oahu (with it’s gorgeous waterfall hikes), top things to do in Maui, and be sure to use our Hawaii packing list to ensure you’ve got everything you need.
The Best Places to Stay on Hawaii’s Big Island
It was very difficult to choose our favorite areas on the Big Island, Hawaii because the entire island is so beautiful and interesting to explore.
However, if we had to choose just 5 areas for tourists, we’d recommend these places:
If you’re planning a family vacation, one of the best areas of Hawaii you could visit is Waikoloa. Waikoloa is located on Big Island Hawaii, and something many people don’t know about this popular tourist spot until they visit is that Waikoloa village was originally built on top of a lava field!
It’s just 30 miles away from Mauna Kea volcano (don’t worry, it’s dormant!), the eruptions from which created the path between the village and the ocean.
The reason Waikoloa is such a great destination for family vacations is that there are so many fun things to do and see.
- There’s the 49 Black Sand Beach, which is strikingly beautiful to look at and a perfect relaxation spot.
- At Hapuna Beach State Park, you and your family can take part in a range of exciting activities, including snorkeling and surfing.
- You could spend hours shopping at the Mauna Lani shops, and when you’re exhausted at the end of a fun-filled day.
- We recommend heading to the Mauna Lani Beach Club, where the whole family can enjoy a delicious meal overlooking the sunset (complete with cocktails for the grown-ups).
Where to Stay in Waikoloa
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Waikoloa, there are plenty of hotels to choose from for a luxurious experience.
- You could book at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, located on a private beach with lots of different room categories to choose from. There’s golfing onsite and 2 poolside bars at the gorgeous pool.
- The Waikola Beach Marriott Resort and Spa is another luxury option with balcony rooms overlooking the ocean, a restaurant, a spa, and plenty of shopping, hiking, and biking trails nearby.
- If you want something more budget-friendly, the Paniolo Greens Resort is an excellent choice with villas located right on the green, with a pool, and the Hapuna Beach State Park and Mauna Kea Beach nearby.
Kona is another wonderful destination for family-friendly Hawaiian vacations. It’s very near Waikoloa, so you could even visit both destinations if you’re staying for a while with your family.
- Whether you prefer to sunbathe at Hapuna Beach, go diving with manta rays, snorkel at Honaunau Bay, or spend time whale watching at the coastline, you can do it all in Kona.
- If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you can book a waterfall ziplining session.
- Hike up to the Mauna Kea summit. At 13,796 feet, this peak offers an incredible view of lava, desert, the valley, and Mauna Loa.
- Visit Manini’owali Beach (Kua Bay) with soft sands, crystal clear water, and sea turtles!
- Go to Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park to see the sea turtles.
- Alternatively, for those who are interested in Hawaii for its culture and cuisine, we recommend the tour of Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation.
Where to Stay in Kona
As you can tell just from this brief description, Kona has something for everyone, and the same can be said for the accommodation options you get to choose from!
- The Four Seasons Resort is the top-rated hotel in Kona because of its luxurious atmosphere and extensive range of services and on-site activities, including an unlimited golf package and poolside dining experiences.
- We also highly recommend the Kona Coast Resort which is more affordable but still provides everything you could want from a hotel, including an outdoor swimming pool, terraces, gardens, and a gas barbecue. It’s next to a golf course and near the beach.
Many people associate Hawaiian vacations with lounging on the sand and soaking up the sun, but if you love to stay active while traveling and enjoy the natural beauty of your destination, you should consider staying in Hilo.
Hilo is located on the East coast of Big Island Hawaii, and it’s the perfect place to experience long walks through the rainforest, waterfall tours, and entire days of trekking through lush greenery.
- If you’re interested in seeing the Mauna Loa Volcano, you can book a day trip in advance (this is a popular tourist attraction). The same is true of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
- After all that exertion, you’ll probably be excited to sit down and enjoy some delicious meals, which is lucky because Hilo has some incredible restaurants showcasing authentic Hawaiian cuisine.
- The Hilo Bay Cafe serves wonderful organic food, while the Moon and Turtle specialize in fresh, locally-sourced seafood.
Where to Stay in Hilo
In terms of accommodation, Hilo certainly doesn’t disappoint. Our top recommendation would have to be:
- Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo, a Doubletree by Hilton resort, has 9 holes of golf, a terrace, and a garden.
- The Mahana House Country Inn, 4-star hotel by the sea, has comfortable rooms with sea views, a terrace, and a garden. Choose from a room in the inn or a cottage.
- The Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel is another amazing option, featuring beautifully furnished and spacious rooms as well as a freshwater swimming pool, restaurant, and bar.
Home of one of Hawaii’s most exclusive honeymoon resorts, there’s no competition with Kohala when it comes to romantic Hawaiian getaways.
Whether you’re planning your honeymoon or a couple’s vacation, Kohala is one of the most luxurious areas of Hawaii, and this is reflected in the choice of activities, accommodation, and restaurants you can find in this portion of the island.
While a trip to Kohala obviously isn’t something reserved for couples, there’s no denying that many of the activities available in this area are perfect for kindling the romantic spark!
- You can go horseback riding at sunset through one of the many horseback riding companies.
- Spend time admiring the artwork in Kohala’s art galleries.
- The Pololū Valley Lookout at the top of the Polulu trail has a fantastic view of the valley and beach below.
- There are many gorgeous beaches on and around the Kohala coast, like Spencer Beach Park and Hapuna Beach Park.
- Waimea is home to Parker Ranch, one of the largest cattle ranches in the United States.
Where to Stay in Kohala
Many of the hotels in Kohala also lend themselves to romance and relaxation. There are a lot of high-end resorts here to indulge in:
- Fairmont Orchid is one of the most luxurious hotels in the whole of Hawaii. Located in Kamuela, Fairmont Orchid is in the historical district and on a private beach. With a focus on wellness, this hotel features an outdoor spa, which is secluded (despite the lack of walls) and surrounded by natural waterfalls.
- Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection is another 5-star resort with exceptional views and lovely accommodations. It’s also on the beach, near the golf course, and there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor sports nearby.
- Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, rivals the other two above for best resort in Kamuela, with a beachfront location, beachfront dining, fishing, golf, and two onsite restaurants.
Last (but not least!), the area of Waikui is another excellent option for a couple’s vacation. It’s ideal for couples who would like to enjoy a luxurious Hawaiian experience, but prefer things that are a little out of the ordinary.
Waikui has some very unique options for entertainment, dining, and accommodation, so if the standard options recommended on the travel brochures aren’t speaking to you, a stay in Waikui could be the answer!
During your time in Waikui, you can experience once-in-a-lifetime activities such as:
- Glass bottom boat cruises, allow for a breathtaking view of marine life from the luxury and comfort of a boat.
- Get helicopter tours of Hawaii, which are unforgettable
- There’s also the opportunity for nighttime manta ray snorkeling.
- The beaches in Waikui are tranquil and lend themselves perfectly to sipping a cocktail while watching the sun go down.
- If you prefer to have a little entertainment whilst relaxing on the beach, you can also watch live Lua, which is something we believe everyone should experience whilst in Hawaii!
Where to Stay in Waikui
- If you can, we recommend staying at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. This oceanfront resort is perfect for any kind of holiday, but couples, in particular, rate it very highly. The Mandara Spa is a wonderful environment in which to connect with yourself and your partner, and the outdoor swimming pool will provide hours of blissful relaxation.
- The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort is another great option. This resort is a great place to bask in the sun with a beachfront location, beachfront dining, and sun loungers.
We hope that this guide to the 5 best areas and some of the best hotels in Hawaii has given you some inspiration for planning your Hawaiian getaway!
Whether you’re on a budget or ready to splash out on the most luxurious activities and accommodation, you can find what you’re looking for at any of our 5 recommended portions of the island.
For fun-filled family vacations, make your way to Waikoloa or Kona.
Hilo is the best place to go for an active and exhilarating exploration of Hawaiian culture and nature, whereas we recommend Kohala or Waikui for the ultimate romantic experience.
Thank you for reading, and enjoy your time in Hawaii!
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Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.