Tips for Picking Where to Stay on the Big Island

Big Island Guide Travel Guide

Tips for picking where to stay on the Big Island.

With the amount of time most vacationers spend in close proximity to their lodgings, your enjoyment will have a lot to do with where you choose to stay. From beautiful beach side resorts to the many vacation rentals available throughout the island, accommodations are plentiful. But one thing should determine your choice of location(s) more than anything else: your preferred activities.

To help you decide where to stay on the Big Island, we’ve collected the best attractions from all four extreme ends of the island to construct the best guide for first-time visitors to the Big Island to get their bearings and returning guests to maximize their stay. Read on:

Staying in Kona

Kona Activities
The bays and beaches along the Kona Coast of the Big Island encompass everything a Hawaiian vacation brings to mind. Fun filled days, gentle waves, and amazing views abound throughout the area and the beachfront offer endless opportunities for playing in the waves. If you’re desiring a vacation with some snorkeling, swimming, and fishing mixed in, picking a vacation rental near Kailua-Kona is a sure bet.

Kona Dining
Some of the state’s finest chefs call Kona home and the result is an amazing dining experience for visitors and locals alike. 5-star restaurants, incredible sushi bars, and hole-in-the-wall eateries are around every corner in Kona. If you’re a foodie in search of the perfect excuse to eat well throughout your vacation, Kona is a great adventure.

Kona Coffee Activities
As with most things on the Big Island, Kona lends itself well to endless adventure and activities. Specialty coffee farms are present throughout the island’s western side. Kona’s the only region in the U.S. suited for coffee production, meaning you’ve got an amazing cup no matter where you look, but a tour through a coffee farm can lend an appreciation for the craft that doesn’t come through at your local cafe.

Kona History and Sightseeing

There’s plenty to explore with numerous historic sites and sightseeing opportunities in the area. And likewise, the major tourist attractions and activities cater well to those staying in Kona, making it simple and easy to have fun within a few minutes of your rental.

Staying in Kohala or Waimea

The Beaches
The beaches along the Kohala Coast of the Big Island are among the most beautiful in the world. The white sand, gentle breezes, and eternal sunshine welcome you to the area and few beachfront come this close to perfection. If you’re desiring a beach-filled vacation with snorkeling, swimming, and lounging mixed in, picking an accommodation in Kohala is sure to please.

Horseback Riding
While it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of a Hawaiian experience, the Big Island was actually home to what was once the largest cattle ranch in the United States. While the Parker Ranch has subsequently been divided and sold off to smaller parcels, there are plenty of ranches that offer a uniquely Hawaiian horseback riding experience that will take you through little-seen regions of the island that you’ll never forget.

The Waipio Valley Shuttle takes you on a fantastic tour of the valley

History and Culture
Many of the notable state parks on the Big Island exist along the Kohala coast, many due to the area’s strategic proximity to neighboring Maui and King Kamehameha’s decision to unite the islands in the late 18th century. As such, visitors to the region can explore ancient fishing villages, sacrificial grounds, and temples whose lava rock formations remain to this day.

Mauna Kea Observatories Visitor’s Center
One of the very best stargazing areas in the world, the telescopes nestled atop Hawaii’s largest mountain are inaccessible to visitors, but the viewing area at the visitor’s center offers regular stargazing for those willing to scale the massive slope. With an uninhibited view of the heavens above, there’s no better place in the United States to learn more about astronomy and our species’ relationship with the stars.

Staying in Hilo or Hamakua

Big Island Waterfalls
Within a short drive of downtown Hilo are some of the most famous waterfalls on Earth. Rainbow Falls, Akaka Falls, and Kahuna Falls are all located along the same stretch of roadway north of Hilo, making a waterfall tour an easy and inexpensive day trip for those choosing to stay in the island’s largest city.

Waipio Valley
A stunning vista of dense tropical rainforests, dark beaches, and staggering cliffs, the Waipio Valley is one of the Big Island’s most iconic locales. While the overlook is one thing, a hike down to the valley’s floor provides excellent perspective on just how incredible this geological formation can be.

Thanks to the vast, open mountain ranges and heavily-rainforested areas along the valleys of Hamakua, several ziplining companies have set up shop and provide a fast, beautiful adventure for guests to enjoy. Strap on a GoPro and zip high above green forests, through native trees, and along the mists of waterfalls below – the experience won’t disappoint.

Botanical Gardens
Home to thousands of native species of plants, a zipline adventure, waterfall experience, and plentiful hiking, the World Botanical Gardens north of Hilo make for a beautiful, educational experience within a short drive of the city.

Staying in Puna or Volcano

Geothermal Pools
Naturally heated by the geothermic activity on the island and mixed with saltwater, warm pools can be found in several locations along the Puna coast. There are expansive water experiences that offer gentle swimming areas and heated relaxation zones. Several of these pools were destroyed by the recent lava flow, but those that remain offer some of the best views of the new lava zone on the Big Island. Pohoiki is a popular area, but those staying in the Puna region will have a leg up on tourists coming from the western side of the island.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Among the most geographically diverse national parks, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is perhaps the primary attraction for adventure seekers headed to Hawaii. A massive area spanning multiple climate zones, visitors can witness an active volcano, massive volcanic craters, lush rainforests, and desolate, barren deserts all within a single trip.

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