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The Big Island of Hawaii, also known as Hawaiʻi Island, has a wide range of unique and breathtaking places to stay. If you’re short on time, here are some quick recommendations for places to stay: beaches on the Kohala Coast like Waikoloa Beach Resort, small towns like Volcano village near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and lush rainforest hideaways like Waipio Valley.

We’ll go into more detail on all those options along with pros and cons for each region in the article below.

This in-depth guide covers six key things to consider when choosing accommodation on Hawaii’s largest island: location by region and top towns/areas to base yourself, types of places to stay from hotels and condos to Airbnbs and campgrounds, recommended areas and lodgings based on your interests like beaches, hiking adventures, unique local experiences and more, pros and cons for different regions and types of lodging, average costs for accommodation, and tips to save money and get deals on places to stay.

Regions and Towns/Areas on the Big Island

The Big Island of Hawaii, also known as Hawai’i Island, is divided into various regions and towns that each offer something unique for visitors. Here is an overview of some of the main areas to know about:

Kona Coast

The Kona region along the west coast is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Big Island. Known for its resort areas, beautiful beaches, great snorkeling spots, and Kona coffee farms, highlights include:

  • Kailua-Kona: The largest city on the west side with shops, restaurants, and cultural sites like the Huliheʻe Palace.
  • Keauhou: An upscale resort area near Kahaluʻu Beach which offers excellent snorkeling with sea turtles.
  • Holualoa: A small artists’ village in the hills above Kailua-Kona surrounded by coffee farms.

Kohala Coast

The Kohala Coast refers to the northwest region which boasts world-class luxury resorts nestled along some of Hawaii Island’s best beaches. Highlights include:

  • Waikoloa Beach Resort: Upscale resort area with two mega-resorts, shops, golf courses, and beautiful beaches like Anaehoomalu Bay.
  • Mauna Lani Resort: Another luxury resort complex with great restaurants, golfing, and lovely beaches.
  • Mauna Kea Beach: Known for its beautiful crescent beach and proximity to beachfront Mauna Kea resort.


Located on the lush eastern side of the island, Hilo is the largest population center on the Big Island. With its rich history as a sugar town, Hilo offers:

  • Historic early 20th century buildings in downtown Hilo.
  • Close access to Volcanoes National Park to see lava flows.
  • Beautiful rainforest waterfalls like Akaka Falls and Rainbow Falls.
  • Interesting museums like the Pacific Tsunami Museum.

Volcano Area

As home to Kilauea volcano in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, this area offers a landscape of craters, lava fields, steam vents, and volcanic wilderness. Highlights include:

  • Seeing lava glowing at Halemaʻumaʻu crater at night.
  • Hiking across volcanic landscapes like the Kīlauea Iki Trail.
  • Learning about volcanology at the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum.

There are a few small towns near the park that serve as bases for visitors like Volcano Village and Hawaiian Paradise Park.


Also known as Kamuela, Waimea is a small upland town known for its paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) culture and serves as the center of cattle country on the island. Features include:

  • Picturesque green pastures with grazing horses and cattle.
  • Interesting museums focused on the paniolo heritage like the Kamuela Museum.
  • Serving as a jumping off point for exploring Mauna Kea’s summit.

This covers some of the major areas and towns on Hawaii’s largest island. With so much diversity across its regions, travelers can enjoy lush rainforests, beautiful beaches, volcanic landscapes and rich culture all on the Big Island.

Types of Accommodation

The Big Island of Hawaii offers a wide variety of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. Here is an overview of some of the main types of places to stay:


Hotels range from large resorts to smaller boutique properties. They offer amenities like pools, restaurants, room service, and concierge services. Hotels are located along the Kohala Coast and Kona-Kailua areas, as well as in Hilo.

Condos and Vacation Rentals

Condos and vacation rental homes provide more space and privacy. Many have full kitchens so you can cook your own meals if you want. Some also offer amenities like pools and hot tubs. These rentals are found throughout the island from the beaches to the mountain slopes of Waimea and Volcano.

B&Bs and Small Inns

For a cozy, personal touch, bed and breakfast inns and small, family-run hotels have fewer than 20 rooms, with many having just 3-5 guest rooms. You’ll find these in small towns like Volcano and Hawi. The friendly hosts serve home-cooked breakfasts and provide excellent service.

Campgrounds and Cabins

To get back to nature, campgrounds and cabins offer affordable options, especially in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Tent camping and RV sites provide access to park trails and sights. Simple cabins have bunk beds and shared restrooms. Few amenities but unbeatable views and a peaceful setting.


Hostels provide simple, dorm-style lodging for backpackers and budget travelers, with shared bathrooms and a communal kitchen. Most are found in Hilo. Private rooms may be available in addition to dorm bunks. A fun way to meet other travelers.

With lodging options available for all preferences and budgets, you’re sure to find the perfect place to call home during your Big Island vacation.

Best Areas to Stay for Beaches, Adventure & More

The Big Island of Hawaii offers a wide variety of amazing areas to stay, depending on what you’re looking for. With its diverse landscapes featuring sandy beaches, towering volcanoes, lush rainforests and more, there are plenty of options for adventure, relaxation or both.

Kailua-Kona for Beaches & Water Sports

Known for its beautiful beaches, Kailua-Kona on the west coast is a top choice for water lovers. Sunbathe on soft white sands, snorkel calm waters filled with colorful fish and sea turtles, or try thrilling water sports like parasailing and surfing.

The friendly downtown area also offers local shops, restaurants and weekly craft fairs.

Waikoloa for Upscale Resorts & Golf

The Waikoloa Beach Resort area located along the Kohala Coast features luxury hotels and endless amenities set along tidal pools and beaches with swaying palm trees. Here you’ll also find world-class golf courses, shopping centers showcasing high-end boutiques, art galleries and restaurants ranging from casual to fine dining.

Volcano Area for Hiking & Exploring

Adventure seekers flock to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park near the town of Volcano, where you can take incredible hikes and see volcanic craters, steam vents, lava tubes and flows. The winding Chain of Craters Road offers stunning overlooks and leads to the 2003 lava flow that extends into the sea.

At night, witness the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater glowing against the night sky.

Area Highlights
Kailua-Kona Beaches, water sports, downtown shops & dining
Waikoloa Upscale resorts, golf, shopping centers
Volcano Hiking, volcanic sites, lava flow views

With diverse landscapes and activities across the island, the Big Island has accommodation options for every interest and budget. Consider what attractions you want nearby, then pick a base that fits your ideal Hawaiian getaway!

Pros and Cons of Different Regions and Accommodation Types

When deciding where to stay in the Big Island, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of the different regions and accommodation types. The Big Island has incredibly diverse landscapes and climates within its small area, so where you stay will impact your vacation experience.


The sunny Kailua-Kona coast on the west side is one of the most popular regions to stay thanks to its beautiful beaches, calm waters, great restaurants and shops. However, it can be quite touristy and hotels here tend to be more expensive.

Volcano Area

The Volcano area offers a unique chance to see lava flows and volcanic craters, along with lush rainforests. Temperatures are cooler at higher elevation here. But lodging options are more limited than the coastal regions.


Hilo on the east side is the largest city and quite rainy due to its mountain location. Travelers will find authentic Hawaiian culture and lower costs here. Yet heavy rainfall could dampen plans for outdoor activities on some days.


The Waikoloa coast offers great sunshine, beautiful resorts and nice beaches for swimming and snorkeling. But this area lacks authenticity and feels very tourist-oriented. Prices at resorts also run quite high in the winter high season.

Vacation Rentals vs Hotels

Vacation rentals provide home-like amenities, often with kitchens that allow you to cook. They may offer better value especially for families or groups. However availability is lower than hotels and minimum night requirements could limit flexibility.Hotels and resorts offer consistency in quality and services like daily cleaning, pools, restaurants and activities desks on-site. Yet rooms tend to be smaller than rentals, with less privacy.

Pros Cons
Vacation Rentals More spacious rooms, home-like amenities, often better value Less availability, minimum night requirements
Hotels & Resorts Consistency in quality and services, on-site amenities Less space and privacy, higher costs

As you can see, each region and accommodation type has trade-offs. Choosing the right area and lodging based on your vacation priorities can help you make the most of your Big Island getaway!

Average Costs and Saving Money on Lodging

When it comes to finding accommodations on the Big Island, there is certainly no shortage of options. From luxury beachfront resorts to budget-friendly condos and vacation rentals, the prices run the gamut.

Generally speaking, you can expect to spend an average of $150 to $300 per night for mid-range lodging on the Big Island.

Average Hotel & Resort Rates

If you stay at one of the island’s many beach resorts, expect to pay upwards of $300+ per night during peak seasons. Some popular options include the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel on the Kohala Coast, which routinely see room rates from $400 to $800 per night.

Several resorts in the Kona district like the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa also command premium prices year-round.

Vacation Rentals & Condos

One of the most popular lodging choices for families and groups are vacation home and condo rentals, which offer more space and amenities for your money compared to a standard hotel room. Prices vary greatly depending on size, location and season, but expect average nightly rates between $150 and $300.

Some popular vacation rental areas include:

  • South Kohala/Waikoloa Village
  • Kailua-Kona
  • Keauhou

Saving Money on Lodging

Luckily, there are also plenty of ways to save money on accommodations when visiting Hawaii’s largest island:

Tips for Saving Description
Avoid peak seasons Visiting during shoulder seasons like April-June and September-November can mean significantly lower hotel rates.
Book vacation rentals Often better value than hotels, especially for groups and longer stays.
Use hotel points Great way to reduce or eliminate lodging costs if you have travel reward points to utilize.
Look for packages Many resorts and hotels offer packages with discounted room rates, dining credits, etc.

No matter your budget or lodging preferences, you’re sure to find suitable accommodations options on Hawaii’s Big Island. Being flexible with travel dates and shopping around is key to scoring the best deals. For even more savings advice, check out SmarterTravel’s guide to Big Island deals.

Extra Accommodation Tips

When choosing accommodations in Hawaii’s Big Island, keep the following tips in mind for an optimal vacation experience:

Book Early

Hawaii is a popular tourist destination, so booking your hotel or vacation rental early ensures you get your top choice. Booking 4-6 months in advance for peak seasons like summer and holidays is ideal. This way you’ll have the widest selection of rooms and best rates.

Read Reviews

Reviews from previous guests provide valuable insider information. Pay attention to recent reviews and common themes. Factors like cleanliness, customer service and location can make or break a stay.

Consider Air Conditioning Needs

While higher elevations can get quite cool, coastal areas remain warm year-round. If having A/C is important, double check that your room/unit comes equipped, as this amenity is still considered a luxury on the island.

Weigh Convenience vs. Seclusion

Properties located near popular attractions, towns and beaches offer the most convenience for sightseeing. However rural rentals, especially on the island’s green, tropical north provide more privacy and seclusion. Decide which experience suits your travel style.

Compare Payment & Cancellation Policies

Understand a hotel or owner’s cancellation and payment rules before you book. Some require nonrefundable deposits, while others offer free cancellation within a timeframe. Knowing policies upfront prevents surprises down the road.

Consider Onsite Offerings

Lovely extras like included breakfasts, nightly entertainment or oceanview rooms may sway you toward one property over another. Identify must-have amenities to whittle down selections.

Splurge on Some Nights

Balancing pricier hotels with budget savings from condos or motels allow you to soak up resort perks without overspending. Treat yourself to 1-3 luxe nights while spending other nights on a budget.

Compare Rental Car Inclusion

Given the Big Island’s massive size, most visitors rent cars. Comparing car rental costs factored into room rates can reveal hidden savings. Some hotels provide free or discounted car rentals – a huge perk on Hawaii.

By following these useful accommodation tips when booking Big Island stays, you’re sure to make savvy choices that set the stage for an incredible Hawaiian escape. With careful planning, you can craft personalized lodging experiences across fun resorts, cozy rainforest bungalows or even oceanside condos ideal for large families. Use these strategies to handpick dream accommodations meeting every travel need and desire!


To sum up this detailed overview, the best place for you to stay on the Big Island depends on your interests like stunning beaches, outdoor adventures, unique local experiences, relaxation time, proximity to certain attractions, comfort level, and budget.

Do your research on regions and accommodation options using this guide, then narrow down choices by comparing pros and cons against what matters most to you. That way you can make an informed decision and have an incredible vacation on Hawaii’s largest island.

We covered all the essential information you need to pick the most suitable lodging, but feel free to get additional personalized recommendations or ask specific questions in the comments section below.

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