The scenery, weather, accommodations, and atmosphere of the Big Island all vary dramatically depending on location, from the lush rainforests on the west side of the island to sunny white sand beaches on the east. To pick a vacation home base, here's what to know about the island's top towns and what they have to offer.
Set on the sunny eastern side of Hawaii, Kona is a common entry point to the island. Its proximity to the international airport, picturesque bays, shopping, and historic attractions makes it ideal for those looking for a classic tropical vacation. Enjoy the area’s white sand beaches and historic parks or book a kayaking, snorkeling, or parasailing adventure.
Surrounded by lush mountains and waterfalls, Hilo is an adventure lover's paradise. Set on the west side of the island, Hilo is the opposite of Kona when it comes to geography and climate. Plus, it has its own international airport, making it a great spot to stay if you want to explore the alternate side of the island. For spectacular views accompanied by an adrenaline rush, take an open-door helicopter tour or zipline over the region’s many waterfalls.
A historic village set on dramatic black lava fields, Waikoloa has blossomed into a hamlet of luxury resorts. History buffs and nature lovers can get a window into ancient Hawaiian culture on a tour that combines historic sites with splashing in waterfalls. Plus, take advantage of the area's sunny weather and vibrant marine life on a cruise and snorkeling adventure along the Kohala Coast.
Ideal for those who prefer an intimate vacation rental and mountains over expansive resorts and beach towns, Volcano Village is nestled in the jungle close to the entrance of Volcano National Park. If you want to see the famous volcano, staying in the quaint village saves you time you would otherwise spend traveling there on a tour. Here you can spend the whole day exploring the park on a hiking or biking tour.