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With its stunning natural beauty, relaxed pace of life, and year-round near-perfect weather, it’s no wonder the Big Island of Hawaii is such a desirable place to live. If you’re considering a move to this tropical paradise, you’ll want to carefully research which town or community best fits your needs and lifestyle.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The best places to live on the Big Island of Hawaii are Kailua-Kona, Waimea, Hilo, Puna, and North Kohala. Each offers its own unique mix of amenities, climate, cost of living and vibe.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore in detail the pros and cons of living in the most popular towns and communities across the island.

We’ll look at factors like climate and weather, cost of living, recreation and outdoor activities, diversity and culture, healthcare and education, transportation and commute times, and the general lifestyle and feel of each location.

We’ll also highlight some of the best neighborhoods and subdivisions in each area.


Kailua-Kona is a vibrant coastal town located on the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii. It offers a unique blend of natural beauty, rich history, and a laid-back lifestyle that attracts residents and visitors alike.

From stunning sunsets over the Pacific Ocean to a bustling downtown area filled with shops, restaurants, and art galleries, Kailua-Kona has something for everyone.

Overview and Highlights

Kailua-Kona is known for its historic significance as the birthplace of King Kamehameha I, the first ruler to unite the Hawaiian Islands.

Visitors can explore historical landmarks such as Hulihe’e Palace and Mokuaikaua Church, which provide a glimpse into the island’s past.

The town also hosts the annual Ironman World Championship, attracting athletes from around the world to test their endurance in a grueling triathlon.

Climate and Weather

The weather in Kailua-Kona is warm and sunny throughout the year, making it an ideal place for outdoor activities.

With an average temperature of 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit (24-29 degrees Celsius), residents can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and surfing in the crystal-clear waters.

The town is located on the leeward side of the island, which means it receives less rainfall compared to other parts of the Big Island.

Outdoor Recreation

Kailua-Kona offers a plethora of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts.

From hiking along scenic trails, such as the Kona Coast Trail, to exploring the underwater wonders of the Kona Coast, there is no shortage of adventure.

Snorkeling and diving enthusiasts can explore the vibrant coral reefs and encounter a variety of marine life, including sea turtles and tropical fish.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Kailua-Kona is higher compared to other parts of the Big Island. Housing prices can be steep, especially in desirable neighborhoods near the coast.

However, residents enjoy a high quality of life with access to amenities such as shopping centers, healthcare facilities, and recreational activities.

Diversity and Culture

Kailua-Kona embraces a diverse and multicultural community. The town attracts residents from different backgrounds, creating a vibrant cultural scene.

Visitors can experience traditional Hawaiian music, hula performances, and indulge in local cuisine at various restaurants and food festivals.

Best Neighborhoods and Subdivisions

Kailua-Kona has several desirable neighborhoods and subdivisions that offer a range of housing options.

Ali’i Drive, located along the coastline, offers stunning views and easy access to the beach. The Keauhou area is known for its upscale homes and golf courses.

Other popular neighborhoods include Holualoa, a charming hillside community known for its coffee farms, and Kaloko, which offers larger properties and a more rural setting.


Located on the northern part of the Big Island of Hawaii, Waimea is a charming town known for its beautiful landscapes and welcoming community. Here, you can enjoy a unique blend of Hawaiian culture and a small-town atmosphere.

Whether you are looking to retire, raise a family, or simply enjoy a peaceful lifestyle, Waimea offers a great place to call home.

Overview and Highlights

Waimea, also known as Kamuela, is situated at an elevation of 2,670 feet, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and rolling hills.

The town is home to Parker Ranch, one of the largest cattle ranches in the United States, which adds a touch of western charm to the area.

With its rich history and strong sense of community, Waimea offers a unique and authentic Hawaiian experience.

Climate and Weather

One of the appealing aspects of living in Waimea is its mild and temperate climate.

The town experiences cooler temperatures compared to other parts of the island, with average highs ranging from the mid-60s to low 70s Fahrenheit. This makes Waimea an ideal escape from the heat and humidity found in other areas of Hawaii.

The town also receives a good amount of rainfall, contributing to its lush and green surroundings.

Outdoor Recreation

For nature enthusiasts, Waimea offers a variety of outdoor activities to enjoy. You can explore the nearby Waimea Nature Park, go hiking in the nearby Waipio Valley, or take a scenic drive to visit the stunning Waipio Lookout.

The town is also close to some of the island’s best beaches, such as Hapuna Beach and Mauna Kea Beach, where you can soak up the sun and enjoy water sports such as snorkeling and surfing.

Cost of Living

When it comes to the cost of living, Waimea is considered to be more affordable compared to other areas of Hawaii.

Housing prices in Waimea are relatively lower, making it an attractive option for those looking to buy property.

The cost of groceries and utilities is also relatively reasonable, allowing residents to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank.

Diversity and Culture

Waimea is known for its diverse community, where people from different backgrounds come together to create a vibrant and inclusive atmosphere.

The town hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year, showcasing the rich heritage and traditions of Hawaii.

Whether it’s attending a hula performance or indulging in local cuisine, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the island’s unique culture.

Best Neighborhoods and Subdivisions

Waimea offers a range of neighborhoods and subdivisions that cater to different lifestyles and preferences.

Some popular areas include Waimea Parkside, a family-friendly community with parks and playgrounds, and Waimea Homesteads, which offers larger lots and a more rural setting.

Whether you prefer a close-knit community or a secluded retreat, Waimea has something to offer for everyone.

Also read: Where Is Waimea, Hawaii?


Hilo is a charming town located on the eastern coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. Known for its lush rainforests, beautiful waterfalls, and vibrant local culture, Hilo offers a unique and laid-back lifestyle for its residents.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply looking for a place to relax and enjoy the stunning natural beauty of Hawaii, Hilo has something for everyone.

Overview and Highlights

Hilo is the largest city on the Big Island and serves as the commercial and cultural hub of the island.

With a population of around 48,000, it offers a small-town feel with all the amenities you need.

The downtown area is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and art galleries, making it a vibrant and lively place to explore.

One of the highlights of Hilo is its proximity to some of the island’s most breathtaking natural attractions.

From the world-famous Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to the stunning Rainbow Falls, there is no shortage of outdoor adventures to embark on in this area.

Whether you enjoy hiking, swimming, or simply taking in the beauty of the landscape, Hilo has it all.

Climate and Weather

Hilo is known for its tropical rainforest climate, with warm and humid weather throughout the year.

The town receives a significant amount of rainfall, which contributes to its lush greenery and vibrant flora. While it may rain frequently, the showers are often brief and followed by clear skies, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors.

With average temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit, Hilo offers a comfortable climate year-round. The trade winds that flow through the area provide a refreshing breeze, making the heat more bearable.

If you enjoy warm and tropical weather, Hilo is the perfect place for you.

Outdoor Recreation

Hilo is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The town is surrounded by stunning natural beauty, including botanical gardens, waterfalls, and black sand beaches.

Whether you enjoy hiking, snorkeling, surfing, or simply lounging on the beach, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to indulge in your favorite outdoor activities.

For those who love to explore, the nearby Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a must-visit. Here, you can witness the awe-inspiring power of nature as you hike through volcanic landscapes and witness active lava flows. It’s an experience like no other.

Cost of Living

While the cost of living in Hilo is generally higher than the national average, it is relatively more affordable compared to other parts of Hawaii.

Housing prices, in particular, are more reasonable, making it an attractive option for those looking to buy a home or rent an apartment. Additionally, groceries and utilities are also reasonably priced in Hilo.

It’s worth noting that while the cost of living may be slightly higher, the quality of life in Hilo is exceptional.

The natural beauty, friendly community, and abundance of outdoor activities make it a great place to call home.

Diversity and Culture

Hilo is known for its rich diversity and vibrant local culture.

The town is home to a mix of different ethnicities, including Native Hawaiians, Japanese, Filipinos, and more. This diversity is celebrated through various cultural events and festivals throughout the year.

From the annual Merrie Monarch Festival, which showcases the art of hula and Hawaiian culture, to the numerous farmers markets where you can sample local produce and crafts, Hilo offers a unique cultural experience.

The friendly and welcoming community makes it easy for newcomers to feel at home and embrace the local way of life.

Best Neighborhoods and Subdivisions

Hilo has several neighborhoods and subdivisions that offer a range of housing options to suit different preferences and budgets. Some of the best neighborhoods in Hilo include:

  • Wainaku: A charming neighborhood located just outside of downtown Hilo, known for its historic homes and beautiful views of Hilo Bay.
  • Waiakea: A family-friendly neighborhood with excellent schools and amenities, including shopping centers and parks.
  • Panaewa: A rural neighborhood with larger lots and a more secluded feel, perfect for those looking for a quieter lifestyle.

These are just a few examples, and there are many other neighborhoods in Hilo that offer their own unique charm and appeal.

It’s important to explore different areas and find the one that best suits your needs and preferences.

For more information on Hilo and the Big Island of Hawaii, you can visit the official website of the Hawaii Tourism Authority at


Overview and Highlights

Puna, located on the eastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii, is known for its lush rainforests, volcanic landscapes, and vibrant local community.

This area offers a unique and off-the-beaten-path experience for those looking to live in a more rural and natural setting. Puna is home to stunning black sand beaches, beautiful waterfalls, and the famous Puna Geothermal Venture.

With a laid-back and bohemian vibe, Puna attracts artists, nature enthusiasts, and those seeking a slower pace of life.

Also read: Where Is The Black Sand Beach In Hawaii?

Climate and Weather

Puna enjoys a tropical climate with warm temperatures year-round. The area receives a significant amount of rainfall, contributing to its lush vegetation and vibrant green landscapes.

The average annual rainfall in Puna is around 150 inches, making it one of the rainiest areas in Hawaii.

While this means occasional heavy downpours, it also creates stunning waterfalls and helps maintain the area’s rich biodiversity.

Outdoor Recreation

Puna offers a plethora of outdoor activities for residents to enjoy.

From hiking through the enchanting Puna Forest Reserve to exploring the unique volcanic formations at Lava Tree State Park, there is no shortage of natural wonders to discover.

Puna is also home to the famous Kapoho Tide Pools, a series of crystal-clear pools perfect for snorkeling and swimming.

Additionally, the nearby Puna Coast Trail provides breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and is a favorite among hikers and nature lovers.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Puna is generally lower compared to other areas on the Big Island.

Housing prices are more affordable, and there are plenty of options for those looking to rent or buy a home. The cost of groceries, utilities, and transportation is also relatively reasonable.

However, it is important to note that some areas in Puna may be more remote, resulting in longer commutes to amenities and services.

Diversity and Culture

Puna is known for its diverse and eclectic community. The area is home to a mix of longtime residents, artists, hippies, and newcomers seeking an alternative lifestyle.

Puna embraces a sense of community and self-sustainability, with many residents actively involved in sustainable agriculture, permaculture, and alternative energy initiatives.

The area also hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year, showcasing the rich heritage of Hawaii.

Best Neighborhoods and Subdivisions

Puna offers a range of neighborhoods and subdivisions, each with its own unique charm.

Some popular neighborhoods include Pahoa, which features quaint shops and restaurants, and Hawaiian Paradise Park, known for its larger lots and spacious properties.

Other notable areas include Volcano Village, located near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and Kalapana, a coastal community famous for its black sand beach.

It’s important to research and visit different neighborhoods to find the best fit for your lifestyle and preferences.

North Kohala

Located on the northern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii, North Kohala is a breathtaking destination known for its natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere.

This region offers a unique blend of stunning landscapes, rich history, and a close-knit community that makes it one of the best places to live on the island.

Overview and Highlights

North Kohala is famous for its awe-inspiring views of the Pacific Ocean and lush green valleys.

The area is home to several charming towns, including Hawi and Kapaau, which are known for their historic buildings and vibrant arts scene.

The region also boasts a strong sense of community, with residents coming together to support local businesses and participate in events such as the annual Kohala Country Fair.

Climate and Weather

The climate in North Kohala is mild and pleasant, with temperatures averaging around 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year.

The region receives a refreshing breeze from the ocean, which helps to keep the temperatures comfortable.

Rainfall is higher in the winter months, creating lush green landscapes and beautiful waterfalls.

Outdoor Recreation

For those who love the great outdoors, North Kohala is a paradise. The region offers a plethora of outdoor activities, including hiking, snorkeling, horseback riding, and beachcombing.

One popular attraction is Pololu Valley, where visitors can take in stunning panoramic views and hike down to the black sand beach below. The area is also home to several world-class golf courses, perfect for golf enthusiasts.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in North Kohala is slightly higher compared to other parts of the island, primarily due to its desirable location and limited availability of housing.

However, the quality of life and the unique experiences it offers make it worth the investment.

It’s important to note that prices for groceries and goods can be higher due to the remote location, so planning and budgeting accordingly is recommended.

Diversity and Culture

North Kohala is a melting pot of diverse cultures, with a rich history deeply rooted in Hawaiian traditions.

The area is home to several sacred sites, including Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site, where visitors can learn about the ancient Hawaiian culture and its significance.

The region also celebrates its cultural diversity through various festivals and events, showcasing the vibrant traditions of its residents.

Best Neighborhoods and Subdivisions

North Kohala offers a range of neighborhoods and subdivisions, each with its own unique charm. Some popular choices include:

  • Hawi: This historic town is known for its small-town charm, boutique shops, and delicious eateries. Many residents are drawn to Hawi for its peaceful atmosphere and stunning ocean views.
  • Kapaau: Another charming town in North Kohala, Kapaau is home to the famous King Kamehameha statue and offers a sense of history and community.
  • Kohala Ranch: Located in the uplands of North Kohala, Kohala Ranch is a gated community offering stunning views and large lots for those seeking privacy and tranquility.

When considering a move to North Kohala, it’s important to explore these neighborhoods and subdivisions to find the perfect fit for your lifestyle and preferences.

For more information about North Kohala, you can visit the official website of Go Hawaii, which provides detailed insights and recommendations for living in this beautiful part of the Big Island.

Also read: How To Live In Hawaii: A Complete Guide


The Big Island of Hawaii offers tremendous variety when it comes to choosing the ideal place to live.

By weighing factors like climate, cost of living, outdoor recreation, culture and lifestyle, you can zero in on the community that best matches your individual needs and preferences.

From bustling beach towns like Kailua-Kona to charming upcountry escapes like Waimea and North Kohala, there is something for everyone on Hawaii’s largest island.

We hope this detailed guide gives you the insights you need to discover your island dream home.

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