A rental is a must to get around. If you're looking for adventure, try a 4x4. Some of the best beaches are only accessible by 4x4 or a very long hike. The Big Island is home to the nicest and happiest bunch of people I have ever encountered, and how could they not be -- the air they breathe smells of sea and sweet flowers! Kona was "touristy" but had a small town feel, whereas Hilo felt more like a city (with reason, it is). I think my favorite part of the trip was walking through the Waipio Valley -- a phenomenal experience, from cascades of brightly colored wild impatiens to alien fruit trees and the random wandering horse, and kind wandering tourists I met along the way, and of course the waterfall and black sand beach, it was the highlight of my trip. The volcano was another sight to remember -- I got phenomenal photographs. Sometimes I think my memories of the Big Island are all a dream. The Big Island is definitely more laid back than other popular islands. Pretty much everything is closed and quiet by 10 p.m. (in Kona, at least). If you're looking to party into the wee hours, you may want to consider a different location. But if you want to relax and see nature at its finest, the Big Island is a great place to be.
From Chicago, IL
We visited the Big Island in 2004 and are going again this year. We loved it. It was great to visit the towns/cities when we wanted, but also easy to get away and enjoy solitude on many quiet beaches. The rainy, jungled, Hilo side had dramatic thunder storms -- very cool! Kona was definitely more touristy, but interesting and was closer to the best snorkeling areas. The Big Island has a little bit of everything. Avoid Issac Hale and Puna, as these are the areas where local Hawaiians are especially territorial about their land and not all that friendly to tourists. We stayed in hostels and a VW camper van and had no problem getting around. A rental car of some sort is a must if you want to see all of the island.
I'm lucky enough to have been more than once. There are real and friendly people. I need to return but I'm still unsure about sleeping on a volcano.
Kona is the best.
This island is fantastic. There is so much to do and its far less touristy than you might expect.
Its pretty much essential to hire a car to make the most of it though, and try to avoid Kona. Hilo is the rain captial of the USA but the weather changed in a matter of a few miles on Hawaii. Its amazing.
The island of Hawaii -- affectionately nicknamed Big Island -- is one of the largest major islands of the Hawaiian archipelago and is an up-and-rising tourist hot spot that boasts a number of great to-dos that only Hawaii can provide. The state of Hawaii is an archipelago composed of some eight major islands and a number of tiny islets located in the central Pacific Ocean. Initially a British colony during the early nineteenth century, it later became a part of the United States in 1959. Now known chiefly as a scenic vacation hotspot noted for its breathtaking beaches, exotic locales, and amazing coterie of multi-ethnic peoples, Hawaii is a prime vacation destination for anyone who loves the surf and the sea. And it isn’t all that difficult to find a hostel in Big Island. Bookings are best done in advance, but with the number of Big Island hostels around, even last-minute reservations are possible.
The first (and perhaps the best) thing that comes to mind when thinking of Big Island is surfing; boasting long coastlines, pristine waters, and a mix of dark-sand/white-sand and verdant seashores, Big Island is definitely the place to be if you’re a water lover. But if surfing’s not your thing, don’t worry -- you could go boating, swimming, snorkeling, wake boarding, or even take a little romantic walk at the shore.
Since Big Island is practically an untouched wonderland of nature’s own crafting, it's the perfect camping ground where you can share stories, songs, and even create memorable experiences with your family or significant other as locals and natives since time-immemorial have done. The great thing about heading off to the Big Kahuna at Hawaii is that some things (from the mellow and pensive to the downright fun) can be free. If you’ve got some cash to spare, however, Hawaii also allows you to tour its majestic and awe-inspiring volcanic formations at the Hawaii National Park. A snorkeling cruise at Kealakekua Bay should send you off to pleasant dreams of underwater wonderlands. For the daredevil in all of us, a hike at the many peaks and summits of Hawaii should provide a bracing enough experience to invigorate even the most hardened trekker.
Hi, I'm Angelica Burrage,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Big Island hostels. Welcome.