WHERE TO STAY ON BIG ISLAND
Big Island is SO diverse on either sides that I highly recommend splitting your trip into 2 parts. Spent part of it in Hilo and part of it in Kona or Waimea. I spent 5 nights in Hilo at the Grand Naniloa Hotel for the lush greenery, waterfalls, volcanoes and beautiful beach parks in the area. I spent the next 3 nights in Waimea at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort to enjoy some luxury and resort vibes.
I really liked this hotel because I felt like the location was prime! It was close to a lot of beautiful nature and so it made exploring a lot more convenient. The list of places I explored while staying here is:
Carlsmith Beach Park (5 minutes away)
Hilo Farmer’s Market (5 minutes away)
Rainbow Falls, Boiling Pots, PeePee Falls (10 minutes away)
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden (15 minutes away)
‘Akaka Falls (20 minutes away)
Volcano National Park (40 minutes away)
Punalu’u Black Sand Beach (1 hour away)
Aside from the location, the customer service is on point, the rooms are spacious, the wifi & AC works great, and the views are stunning. We also LOVED dining at Hula Hulas. It is one of the best restaurants in the area and it is located inside the hotel. The food is absolutely delicious and you CANNOT go wrong dining here.
The Hilo International Airport is only 5 minutes away from the hotel.
WAIMEA - westin hapuna beach resort
I chose this hotel because I knew the location was great for when I was done exploring and wanted to relax on the beach. Hapuna Beach is a BEAUTIFUL white sand beach with stunning blue waters. The resort is MASSIVE with a variety of dining options to choose from. My favorite was the adults-only infinity pool. This was a definite treat for sure! The customer service, wifi, AC, views, and rooms are all on point here as well. What I really appreciated was that the concierge was so willing to help me book a manta ray night snorkel tour that she got me in last minute on one of the tours. I made the mistake of not booking online in advance and I was lucky that the concierge was able to help me because the tours all get booked up very quick. It actually worked out very well because the night snorkel tours off of Kona get very busy with many tour boats in one area whereas the local Waimea one goes off of Mauna Kea beach and there is only 1 or 2 other tour boats around you. This resort also holds Luau events a couple nights a week which is really neat as well! It includes a dinner buffet as well as the show. I definitely recommend booking this resort if you are coming for a relaxing vacation.
It is also closer to Kona International Airport so if you are flying into Kona, stay here first. If you are flying out of Kona, stay here at the end of your trip.
We made the mistake of flying into Kona late at night and driving across the island (1.5hr) to get to Hilo. Make sure to book your flight in & out of the correct airport to make things more convenient for you.