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Lucky you! You’re about to explore one of the most magical places on earth. We all know that Hawaii is special but the Big Island is something else. It’s everything you could ever want from a Hawaiian vacation. Beautiful beaches, stunning resorts, steaming volcanoes, crazy landscapes, local culture and an abundance of wildlife. If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii make sure you devote some time to this magical place. To help you plan, let me share with you where to stay on the Big Island.

As you can tell from the name, the Big Island is, well… big! You would be hard pressed to drive around it in one day and see everything you want. For this reason we recommend that, when looking where to stay on Big Island, you split your stay across three separate locations. This is easily doable if you have a week-long trip to Hawaii. Luckily, we tried and tested this strategy ourselves and it worked beautifully. We uncovered the best places to stay on the Big Island during our week-long trip and I’m going to share them with you now.

The best place to stay on the Big Island and what Big Island hotels you pick does depend somewhat on your budget. You’ll find that in each best place to stay on Big Island has hotels at a range of price points but the Big Island is expensive overall so you do need to have a somewhat healthy budget to come here. I’ll give you some budget, midrange and luxury alternatives so you’ll know where to stay in Big Island no matter what your budget is.

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Where to Stay on the Big Island Hawaii


Where to Stay on the Big Island Hawaii:

The Best Places to Stay on the Big Island for a One-Week Vacation



, Big Island, Hawaii

Where to Stay in Kona

We recommend you stay in Kona for two nights at the start of your trip.

Kona is the main hub on the Big Island of Hawaii. You’ll find many of the island’s local residents here as well as a good deal of the Big Island hotels. Kona itself doesn’t have much in the way of beaches but it makes an excellent gateway to the Big Island. Kona town is very cute with lovely restaurants and has many of the island’s tours and attractions like the Atlantis Submarine Kona (stay tuned for an upcoming post on this!) and Manta Ray snorkelling at night.

Sheraton Kona – Our pick!

We think this is best place to stay in Kona Hawaii. The Sheraton Kona sits in a prime spot, south just south of Kona town, surrounded by black lava rock and crashing waves. The hotel is very 70s but was renovated in 2012 and has beautiful Hawaiian decor. The Sheraton Kona has an amazing pool area with waterfalls, a sandy-bottomed kids pool and an epic waterslide. Check out my Youtube video of us going down the waterslide! We saw dolphins playing from our oceanfront room, fabulous sunsets and enjoyed sipping a cup of Kona coffee on the balcony each morning. It really is one of the best places to stay in Kona Hawaii if you can afford it. Check prices and availability at the Sheraton Kona here.

Other Hotels in Kona

If the Sheraton isn’t available or within your budget, here are some other ideas on where to stay in Kona Hawaii:


Big Island Travel Tip

You can fly direct to Kona from Anchorage, Denver, Los Angeles, Oakland, Phoenix, Portland (OR), San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and Vancouver. Within Hawaii you can fly to Kona from Honolulu, Kahalui (Maui), Kapalua (Maui) and Ho’olehua (Molokai). Click here to search for flights in Kona (Kailua) airport.
Renting a car is the best way to see the Big Island!
Where to stay in Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii

Where to Stay in Hilo

We recommend you stay in Hilo for two nights in the middle of your trip.

In order to explore the “other” side of the Big Island, you need to stay for at least 1-2 nights in Hilo. This will allow you to explore the Volcanoes National Park, swim with turtles and see some of the “wet” side of the island’s best natural attractions like Akaka Falls. We stayed with some lovely friends when visiting this side of the island which was a treat because we learnt where the locals go!

Hotels in Hilo:

Deciding on places to stay in Hilo Hawaii isn’t as easy as on the other side of the island. There are less hotels on the East coast of the Big Island.

  • The Inn at Kulaniapia Falls – This charming 11-room inn is probably the best place to stay in Hilo. Guests love the comfortable rooms and the wonderful view.
  • Hilo Seaside Hotel – Comfy 2-star hotel with an outdoor pool and leafy rainforest garden.
  • Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel – This 3-star hotel in Hilo has views of Mauna Kea, an outdoor pool and sundeck.


Big Island Travel Tip

Tip: You can actually fly into Hilo from Honolulu, Kahalui (Maui) or Los Angeles. Click here to search for flights into Hilo.



Where to stay in Waikoloa, Big Island, Hawaii

Where to Stay in Waikoloa

We recommend you stay in Waikoloa for three nights at the end of your trip.

Finish your Hawaiian vacation with a relaxing stay at a Big Island resort in Waikoloa. You’ll find the most beautiful resorts on the island here as well as water sports and activities like whale watching and glass bottom boat tours. Waikoloa is also the easiest point to access the Big Island’s nicest beaches.

Hilton Waikoloa Village (4 stars) – Our pick!

You won’t find a bigger, more beautiful hotel than the Hilton Waikoloa Village. It’s easily one of the best places to stay on the Big Island of Hawaii… maybe even in the whole of the Hawaiian Islands. This is a huge resort, so big in fact that there’s a monorail and boat shuttle to help you get around. There are two large pool areas with water slides but the most alluring part of the resort is the lagoon in it’s centre. Swimming the this sandy bottomed lagoon is a real treat, especially when you spot a turtle swimming right next you. The Hilton Waikoloa Village also has the best luau on the Big Island which is a must for an evening of Hawaiian culture, food and entertainment.

Other hotels in Waikoloa:

There are plenty of hotels and resorts to choose from in Waikoloa Village on the Big Island. They’re not cheap but a few luxury nights will round out your Hawaiian vacation and help you relax before returning home.


Any questions on where to stay on the Big Island in Hawaii?

Do let me know if you need any further guidance on the best place to stay on the Big Island in Hawaii. I’d be happy to help you pick the best Big Island hotel for your Hawaii trip.


Stay tuned for more posts on the Big Island of Hawaii!

We absolutely loved the week we spent on the Big Island this year. I can’t wait to share more of this magical place with you. Stay tuned as I have posts coming up on:

  • Where to Eat on the Big Island
  • Swimming with Sea Turtles on the Big Island of Hawaii
  • Whale Watching on the Big Island
  • Atlantis Submarine Tour of Kona
  • A Complete Itinerary for Visiting the Big Island in One Week
  • Review of the Sheraton Kona
  • Review of the Hilton Waikoloa Village


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Where to Stay on the Big Island of Hawaii

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Showing 9 comments
  • Tom Fakes

    Hi Bethaney, I visited the Big Island last September and stayed at the Fairmont Orchid. Except for checkin, which was a bit dis-organized, the rest of the hotel was really good. At that time of the year, it was a little cheaper too.

    We were part of a group of science nerds with a company called Science Getaways, so we bussed to the volcano on the Hilo side. This was a long day. Staying on the Hilo side for a few days is a great way to avoid the 2 hour drive each way.

  • Tonya

    This is very helpful. My husband and I are hoping to visit Hawaii next year and of course, the Big Island is on our list. I pinned this so I can refer back.

  • Major Stroupe

    Stayed in Waikoloa with Hilton at Kings Land It is all connected to the main Waikoloa village and has complementary transportation around the Waikoloa Village . Great place! Rented a car and traveled the island. Best luau we did was at Marriott in Waikoloa. Try the Lava Lava Club for a refreshment and some outstanding side dishes. Main courses are good too! Don’t miss a sunset, it happens so quickly! Enjoy!!

  • Ivory

    Thanks for your advice on where to stay. I have been reading for more of an idea of the differences between Kona, Hilo etc. I dont know anything about Waikoloa. What is it like in Waikoloa.

    I am thinking to split time in Hilo and Kona. Boyfriend and I want to see the volcano lava flow, snorkel and I love the sun! I would stay in Hilo the whole time except there is less sun on that side. Anyway, Ill keep reading other posts for more suggestions!

  • Aspen

    We stayed at paniolo greens I was actually a little disappointed. While the staff was great the rooms need to be updated. The carpets need to be replaced due to wear over time, weird noises from the toilets. While my list goes on and on if you want a beach front hotel/motel paniolo greens is not the one you want. I did however enjoy my stay in hawaii on the big island. For first time visitors make sure you get to oahu and visit pearl Harbor. The Hilton waikiki village was a beautiful beach front motel. Anyways 10 days is not enough time to explore the big island. I’m hoping to go back later on!

  • Amber Hill

    A ha! Thanks for this breakdown of options. The Big Island is MUCH bigger than I was expecting….I’m hoping to have 6-7 days on the Big Island. Would you recommend flying in and out at the same location or in on one side and out on the other? I assume it is cheaper to fly in and out from the same location? Thanks!

    • Bethaney Davies

      Hi Amber. It depends where you’re flying in and out to. We went in and out of Kona because we wanted to lap the whole island but you could do into Kona and out of Hilo and just do the bottom bit.

      • Amber Hill

        Thanks…..we will be flying to and from Honolulu…and want to see as much as possible…..the internal flights are looking really expensive though….

        • Bethaney Davies

          If you want to see the whole Big Island I would probably just in and out from Kona then. We drove from Hilo to Waikoloa in one day and it was a lovely drive. Lots of good things to see. The good thing about the Big Island is most of the things to do are actually free so it’s not like you’re forking out a lot to go to activities every day.

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