Travel Rankings & Advice

Hawaii - The Big Island Travel Guide

Hawaii - The Big Island

In Hawaii, the Big Island is like the sometimes awkward older sibling. Forgotten in favor of adorable little brothers and sisters, her attributes are often glossed over. Maui is for fun and families. Oahu attracts surfers, partiers and outdoor adventurers. Kauai is for romance and luxury. And the Big Island is just … big.  continue» Read More

Best Airfares to Hawaii - The Big Island

Find the best fares from Orbitz, Expedia, Kayak & more – in one place!

When to Visit Hawaii - The Big Island

The best time to visit Hawaii's Big Island is between September and November. That's when the island's generally reasonable room rates take the most significant plunge. Temperatures remain constant throughout the year — generally in the high 70s or low 80s — so you might want to avoid the priciest season, from December to March, unless you like to surf.

Read More Best Times to Visit Hawaii - The Big Island»

Hawaii - The Big Island Temperature (F) Hawaii - The Big Island Precipitation (in)

Temperature [+ enlarge]Precipitation [+ enlarge]

Getting Around Hawaii - The Big Island

Hawaii - The Big Island Neighborhoods

Many people refer to the Big Island in terms of its Leeward (or west) and Windward (or east) coasts, but there are other major designations. Areas like Kau, Puna, Waimea, or Pahoa (mostly in the interior or southeast) see fewer visitors. You'll probably spend most of your time in northwestern Kona, where the resort area of the Kohala Coast lies; the eastern capital city of Hilo; or the northern coast, Hamakua. Beaches in Kona on the Kohala Coast are particularly popular, but there are also a few coveted shores on the southwest coast. And there are the volcanoes. Big Island's most visited ones rest or erupt in the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, on the southeast side.


Kailua-Kona (or Kona, for short) -- is known for its beaches and calm turquoise waters. Most of the resort areas are located on the Kohala Coast, just north of Kona town, and this is a great place to stay or visit, for its touristy shops and cafés, as well as outdoorsy activities. 

Fodor's highly recommends checking out the beautiful beaches of Kaunaoa or Hapuna, north of Kona on HI-190. Nearby the Anaehoomalu Beach, commonly known as A-Bay, offers calm waters for trying water activities. 


Big Island's other major town, Hilo, is known for its funky, hippy-like ambience. Located on the eastern or windward coast, this town is home to the University of Hawai'i at Hilo and Hilo International Airport (ITO). Its popular attractions include the always-busy Hilo Farmers Market or the Akaka Falls State Park

Hamakua Coast 

Remote as it may be, Hamakua is steadily becoming a popular place to hole up in a private cottage or romantic bed and breakfast. The north coast area also has a particularly popular tourist attraction: The beautiful Waipio Valley, or "Valley of the Kings." 

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Some of Big Island's top attractions are also located in small towns that just touch -- but are not part of -- Hilo, Kona or on the Hamakua Coast. One such place, the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, spreads through much of the southeast. At some point during your trip, you're likely to end up here. This park is where the Kilauea volcano is often spewing lava into the sea; its now-dormant Mauna Kea volcano is the highest point in the state.


Crime is rare on the Big Island. Your primary concern should be water safety. While the water temperature is almost always agreeable, winter surf can get very rough, especially along the north shore and on the beaches in the west coast. Strong currents have caused drownings in the past, so swim with caution and never enter the water alone or without the supervision of a lifeguard. If you plan to hike or walk along the coastline, be sure to wear sneakers or protective footwear so that your feet aren't exposed to sharp rocks. You should also wear sunscreen, especially at higher altitudes.

The best way to get around Hawaii's Big Island by car. This is simply too large an island to affordably and conveniently navigate without one. You can pick up a rental car at either the Kona International Airport (KOA) or the Hilo International Airport (ITO), or if you want to let go of some serious cash, you could take a taxi from the terminal to your hotel. Once near your lodging, you might be able to get around town on the free bus system, just keep in mind that its schedule is not always convenient for tourists.

Getting Around Hawaii - The Big Island»

Enlarge Map

Next Steps: Hawaii - The Big Island

You might also like...

  • Maui Maui
    • Stunning beaches
    • Very family-friendly
  • Kauai Kauai
    • Similar rocky landscape
    • Nice and quiet
  • Yellowstone Yellowstone
    • Quite a bit chillier
    • Plenty of outdoorsy activities