Hotels on Big Island range from luxury resorts to unique bed and breakfasts to extremely low-priced condos and vacation rentals. But the island is spread out, so there are two ways to best plan your lodging. One, you could pick a priority when it comes to things to do and situate yourself in the best part of the island to experience those things. Or two, you could split your vacation between beach time (consider the hotels of Kohala Coast), sightseeing (Hilo offers both scenic beauty and a downtown vibe) and adventure (try a bed and breakfast or vacation rental in Volcano Village or the Hamakua Coast).
- Another reason to try a bit of both: your budget. You can justify splurging on a west coast resort for a few nights because you'll spend the rest of your time paying one-third that rate in the east." -- Fodor's
- One tip with all hotels in Hawai'i: You'll always pay extra for an ocean view, but a garden room is likely just as close to the beach -- and a lot less expensive. If falling asleep to the sound of breaking waves appeals, be sure to ask if staying oceanfront will actually provide that." -- Concierge.com
- Remember to add Hawaii's 11.42% in taxes to your final bill." -- Frommer's
- There are also great Bed and Breakfast type places, vacation rental homes and small operator hotels too. The Big Island is the only county in Hawaii that has no restrictions on the operation of vacation rentals. Before making reservations it's best to review a map of the island and plan ahead. Think about the activities and sightseeing you'll want to do." -- Wikitravel
Kona & Kohala Coast
Staying in Kona at the Kohala Coast is about luxury, pure and simple. Some of the island's toniest complexes are situated on the ecru beaches of Kohala, so if you can afford it, take your pick: The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka'upulehu or the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel are just some of the top choices you'll find there.
- Consider staying at one of the resorts along the Kohala Coast or in a condo in Kailua-Kona for half of your trip. … You can justify splurging on a west coast resort for a few nights because you'll spend the rest of your time paying one-third that rate in the east." -- Fodor's
You'll save yourself some coin in Hilo on the east coast, but you won't be as close to Big Island's premiere stretches of sand. In exchange, you'll be near some of the prettiest natural sights, like Akaka State Falls. From here you can also visit the town's Farmers Market: Head to the corner of Mamo and Kamehameha on Wednesday or Saturday to stock up on fresh fruit or cute souvenirs.
Bed and breakfasts, condos and vacation rentals are particularly popular in Hilo, so this could also be a great section of the island to choose if you're traveling with kids.
- If you've got children in tow, opt for a vacation home or one of Hilo's family-friendly hotels. … On the east, hike through rain forests, frolic in waterfalls, and go for a plate lunch." -- Fodor's
The Volcano Village is a small pocket of a town called Puna (located just south of Hilo) that was designated especially for those looking to visit the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park next door. Here you'll find quaint lodging, plus a few stores, a post office, and coffee shop -- all to make the experience more accommodating.
- It gets cool here at night -- Volcano Village is located at 3,700 feet -- so a fireplace might be an attractive amenity. … I recommend spending at least 3 days to really see and enjoy the park. The best way to do this is to rent a cottage or house." -- Frommer's
Although it's considered out-of-the-way from Big Island's coveted sites and most popular beaches, the Hamakua Coast, just north of Hilo, has become another go-to for vacationers who like the romantic atmosphere of a B&B or the independence afforded with a vacation rental. If you enjoy hiking, you should note that Waipi'o Valley is located near this section of the island, but otherwise, nearly all travel sites suggest you rent car if you're planning on staying here.
- When booking, ask about car-rental arrangements, as many B&B networks have discounted rates. No matter where you stay, you'll want to rent a car – preferably one with four-wheel drive. This is imperative for getting to some of the best beaches and really seeing the island." -- Fodor's