Big Island Visitors Guide

Author: jason eisert
Updated: January 11, 2022
hello world!

Welcome to paradise, dear travelers - a land full of awe-inspiring natural wonders and cultural treasures waiting to be explored. The Big Island of Hawaii is a destination that promises an unforgettable adventure for everyone, whether you're a seasoned adventurer or seeking true relaxation. In this guide, we'll share with you insider tips on discovering the island's hidden gems, from white sand beaches and lush rainforests to towering volcanoes and crystal clear waters. Get ready for an experience like no other as we dive into the wonders of the Big Island - your ultimate guide to uncovering the essence of Hawaii.

Say "Hi" to The Big Island of Hawaii

The Hawaiian island is roughly the same size as Connecticut. However, it can contain all of the Hawaiian Islands within the perimeter. This island is considered the Big Island because it is the largest. However, Hawai'i is the Hawaiian name for this island. The Hawaiian Island from which King Kamehameha was born is why it got that name. He's the one who brought the entire island system under one umbrella. People refer to Hawaii generally as the Big Island.

The Big Island is considered the youngest Hawaiian Island. It features Kilauea, which is one of the world's most magnificent active volcanoes. This unique island becomes larger as hot lava meets the Pacific Ocean. The volcanic activity occurs at the island’s far southeast end, around 100 miles from the Kohala Coast's popular resorts. Although we have all seen images of dramatic lava flows, the resort areas can be quite far away.

Visitors sometimes are not prepared to face the Big Island's vast size and geological diversity. This island is huge with over 4000 square miles of attractions! The island is so huge, it's almost impossible for us to visit all of our favorite sites in just a few days.

Exotic Estates offers gorgeous villas for sale in the Big Island's most desirable resort areas, such as Hualalai or Mauna Kea. Many of Big Island Vacation Rentals are situated on the championship golf courses with spectacular ocean and fairway views.

Big Island Weather

The Big Island's weather has more variety than any other island. According to the Koppen Climate Classification System, the Big Island has 10 out of 15 climatic zone types in the world. No matter what kind of weather you love, it is most likely that you will find it here.

Kailua Kona has a warm climate throughout the year. The February average high temperature is 81°F, with a low of 64°F. This month is considered the coldest. August is the warmest, with an average high of 85 degrees and a low at 69 degrees. The humidity in the Big Island ranges between 50 and 80%. It's interesting to note that the temperature variation between daylight- and nighttime is more than the difference in temperature between summertime and wintertime. We suggest adding a light raincoat to your pack and warm clothes!

The Kona Kohala coast has clear mornings. In the afternoon, there are clouds from the thermal heating. Morning is best for outdoor activities such as helicopter tours, hiking, and snorkeling. Evening showers are sometimes possible during summer.

Most of the rainfall occurs on the Hillside, which is the country's wettest city. The average annual rainfall in Hawaii is 100 inches. However, it doesn’t fall all year. Kailua Kona is the most popular side since many visitors to Hawaii want sunshine and warm beaches. Paradise Helicopters gives you an intimate view of Hilo.

Visiting The Big Island of Hawaii

It is a good idea to talk to someone who has been to or lived on the Big Island when planning your trip. Exotic Estate is a popular choice for vacation renters. Look for Villa Specialists who have toured many Big Island villas. They will help you choose the most suitable part of the island for your Hawaiian vacation and find the perfect rental property for your group.

Many major airlines offer direct service from the Big Island to Kona (KOA). Alaska Airlines offers nonstop service to Kailua-Kona via Seattle, Portland and Oakland, San Jose, San Diego, and San Diego. American, Delta and Hawaiian Airlines, United, Alaska, Canada, and San Jose, are options for travelers coming from other major cities.

What to bring on your Big Island Adventure

We have created a list of items you should pack depending on where and when you stay on the Big Island.

Pack your stuff wisely

Because you may want to visit different areas and have a taste of different micro-climates. Here are some essentials to consider bringing:

  • Two bathing suits minimum, so you can switch every other day.
  • Summer dress (for some of our nicer hotels restaurants)
  • Rain jacket (especially for winter trips or those who are staying upcountry or east of Hilo).
  • For sun protection, a hat (or other caps) is essential in all seasons but it's especially important during summer.
  • Sunblock that does not damage the reef (Be sure you check)
  • Shoes for hiking are important if your goal is to explore certain parks and forests.
  • Flashlight (if trekking in caves or lava).
  • Phone or Camera
  • Mosquito repellent for hiking.
  • Simple backpack for easier mobility
  • Reusable water jug (no plastics allowed on the Islands).

Climate Zones:

West Low Elevations: Dry/Sunny

South Low Elevations: Wetter/Warm

East Low Elevations: Wet/Tropical

Upper Elevations: Cool

Kona International Airport

Kona International Airport, (KOA), serves the West Side of Hawaii. There are two small restaurants available, so if hunger strikes upon your arrival, you may want to stop by and grab some food before making the journey to your vacation home.

Car Rental

Hawaii's rental car costs can be much lower than other islands, and there is intense competition. Nearly everyone who visits the Big Island uses a rent-a-car as their main transport.

It will take you just a few minutes to get from Kona Airport by shuttle bus to the rental area. Reserving your rental car early is highly recommended as many companies can run out during peak hours.

Getting to Your Hawaii Vacation Rental or Resort

We recommend that you stop by the Kona Costco before heading to your vacation property. This is an excellent place to stockpile local meats, fruits, as well wine, and beer. Don't forget to get your membership card

If Costco is not your preferred option or you do not require bulk food, there are many other local grocery shops. Queens Marketplace in Waikoloa Resort and Kings Shops in Waikoloa are excellent options to stockpile groceries for your vacation rental. Also, you will find restaurants, shopping, and many snorkeling and diving shops. Check with your Exotic Estates Villa Specialist to find the closest grocery store to your vacation home.

Big Island Scenic Drives

The long and scenic road to your rental vacation home is full of majestic volcanic mountains and rolling hills of volcano rock. A sparkling blue ocean hugs the rugged coast.

Hualalai lies north of KOA. It is about 15 minutes by car to reach. Waikoloa lies about 20 minutes to the North. Mauna Kea Resort and holiday homes can be found about 20 miles further. The Exotic Estates Big Island rentals are usually located in the Kohala Coast. Be ready for a long, scenic drive.

How Big Is The Big Island

A trip around the island in a circular fashion would take approximately 222 miles. Driving around the island will take you through several climates and terrains. The Big Island is a great place to spend your week. We recommend spending most of your time on Kona. However, you should also take a couple of days to visit Hilo. The volcano can take up to two days. However, it's easier to explore from Hilo instead of Kona.

Kona Coast and Kohala Coast

Because it gets the most sun, the Kona side of the Big Island is most well-known. Many vacationers choose to spend their time in this area due to the perfect climate and numerous shops and restaurants. The Kona shore is where you'll find the best island activities. The Kohala side of the Island is also known as the Leeward. It has the calmest and clearest waters in the state. This is where you can enjoy amazing swimming, snorkeling, and deep-sea fishing. The Kona side has the best beaches.

Resort Areas in the Big Island


Hualalai lies just north of the Kona Airport and is a great option for anyone looking for luxury while on their Big Islands trip. The Kona Kohala Coast used to be home to a fishing town. However, it has now become the premier coastal community and is the benchmark for hospitality. Hualalai a tiny part of this is where you will find a serene and luxurious atmosphere, along with the excitement and spirit of Hawaii.


Waikoloa Beach on the South Kohala shore is where you'll find vacation rentals, Waikoloa Village and Waikoloa Village. These areas have shops and restaurants. Anchialine is another area that hosts a variety of sea life. Anaeho'omalu Bay will be located nearby. It is the home to the Kahapapa Fishponds (Ku'uali'i). Lava Lava Beach Club has been a favorite spot for sunsets and to have a few beverages.

Mauna Lani Resort

Mauna Lani Resort lies along the Kohala Coast. Mauna Lani literally means, "Mountain Reaching Heaven"; it is the perfect place for relaxing and taking in the breathtaking scenery of Big Island. This area is the perfect mix of nature and culture.

Puako - Big Island

Puako can be found along the Kohala coast near Hapuna Beach. This is one of the most exclusive areas of the Big Island. The best attraction at Puako is the petroglyphs carved into the volcanic rock. Over 3000 of these petroglyphs can be seen here, giving you a glimpse into the Hawaiian past. Puako is great for couples who are looking to get away from it all. The best thing about Puako is to simply stroll along the shore and look at the tide pools, which are home to a wide range of marine life.

Mauna Kea Resort

Mauna Kea has Oceanview luxury villas for rent and condo rentals. It is one of Big Island's most popular areas. This area is situated around the Kauna'oa Beach and Hapuna'oa White Sand beaches. It takes its name from Mauna Kea, which is the tallest mountain in the world. Maunakea is just 30 minutes north and 2 1/2 hours from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

We only scratched the surface of all the fun you can have.

We hope this gives you a good idea of some of the great things you can experience on the Big Island of Hawaii while you stay at Kailua Kona Estate.

Hope to see you soon, 


Thank you for reading! Next up is about the things you must see and do on the Big Island.

jason eisert is a travel blogger with the passion for adventure and exotic food.
Creating extraordinary vacation experiences for everyone in Kona, Hawaii, USA.
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