This section is dedicated to take away all your "I wish someone had told me that before I went!" experiences. This way, you are better prepared for what to expect, what not to expect and can spend less time settling in, and more time making new friends in your chosen hostel. We share our insider knowledge of tips, tricks and important things to look out for in Big Island. To help you make friends with Big Island before you visit, we've included a few helpful and fun things you should know about the area. Enjoy!
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.
Hilo Hostels, West of Hawaii Big Island
Hilo is Hawaii's second largest city and one of the most authentically Hawaiian towns on the Big Island. It's located on the east side of the island. While Hilo is not as tourist-friendly as the west-side city of Kona, there are Hilo hostels and some tour excursions are offered for visitors, including ziplining, hiking, and helicopter rides. Trips can be made to nearby Volcano National Park, and the villages of Pahoa, Volcano, Waimea, and more. Kona can also be reached in around two hours by car and three hours by bus.
Hilo hostels are mostly located downtown or on beach-lined Kalanianole Avenue. Downtown hostels are within walking distance of Hilo Farmer's Market, Hilo Bayfront Beach, the historic Palace Theatre, and Kress Cinemas (low price movies), as well as several cafes, restaurants, shops, and museums. Kalanianole Avenue hostels allow access to many of Hilo's best beaches, including Richardson's and Four Mile, and are just a bus ride away from downtown Hilo.
An important aspect in choosing where to stay in Hilo is understanding the bus system. Hilo buses run in only one direction, stop at each stop only once an hour, take a two hour break at midday, and complete their run around 5 PM. This can make getting around town very difficult without a car, especially at night. If you're looking to spend time downtown in the evenings, downtown hostels will help save money on cabs. If getting to the beach easily at all hours of the day is your priority, Kalanianole Avenue hostels are a great choice.
It's also good to be aware that it rains a lot in Hilo. Hilo is in fact the wettest city in the U.S., measuring about 130 inches of rain per year (about 100 inches more than Seattle). If you're looking for a drier climate, Kona may be a better bet, however the beauty of the rainforest climate in Hilo is truly unique and travelers can easily immerse themselves in nature. Try exploring the rainforest at Umauma Falls and Akaka Falls, the World Botanical Gardens, and the nations only zoo in a rainforest, Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo (admission is free).
The Big Island is also one of the best places on earth to explore the skies. Hilo has long been an important location in the study of astronomy and visitors can get in on the knowledge by visiting the renowned Imiloa Astronomy Center at the University of Hawaii Hilo, or by taking an exciting trip 13,796 feet up Mauna Kea, where you can explore the skies from the same vantage point as some of NASA's most powerful telescopes.
So wether you're in Hilo for the water, culture, volcano, rainforest, or the sky, the city has a lot to offer. So consider staying a while when you book your Hilo hostel.
Tips for Kailua-Kona Hostels
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA, is located on the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. This area is also known as Kailua and Kona separately. It has pristine beaches, Hawaii's oldest church, and lots of brewing for both Kona coffee and Kona brewing.
Hostels in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA, will celebrate all that this area has to offer. Expect Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA hostels to be beach focused and vacation style. If you want to travel outside of the Kailua-Kona area, there are other hostels elsewhere to stay on your road trip around Big Island. Renting a car is recommended, but biking is also an option.
Kona has become well known because of the beverage products made here. Perhaps the most famous is Kona coffee, which is made of a unique variety of coffee bean. You can even take a tour of Kona coffee plantation. You can also visit Kona Brewing Company, known for their Hawaiian-inspired beers.
For beaches, you'll want to be sure to go to Magic Sands Beach, which is just south of the main part of town. Also check out Kealekekua Bay, Honis Beach, Old Airport Beach, and Honokohau Harbor. Hawaii in general is a calm, relaxed destination, so you can easily spend your days laying in a hammock or on the beach. There is plenty of hiking for active travelers as well -- try the Captain Cook Trail. You can even hike over hardened lava fields!
Also, enjoy the typical Hawaiian tourist activities in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA. You can attend a luau, go snorkeling, ride in a boat, and explore the rainforest-like flora. You'll definitely want to bring a camera (preferably a waterproof one) for all the natural beauty you're going to see!
If you're looking for a beautiful, exotic-type destination with attractions that encourage both relaxation and adventure, a hostel in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA, is the place for you!
Written by local enthusiast for Big Island hostelsAngelica Burrage