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Hawaii Island Travel Guide: Where to Stay on the Big Island

The island of Hawaii is the youngest and largest island in the Hawaiian chain and nearly twice as big as all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined, hence, its nickname - "The Big Island".

Hawaii Island Overview:
The sheer size of the Big Island is awe-inspiring and one of the few places in the world where you can travel through all but four of the world's different climate zones - ranging from a wet tropical climate to polar tundra, a result of the shielding effect and elevations of the massive volcanoes Maunakea and Maunaloa.  From the molten magma flowing at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to the snow-capped heights of Maunakea; from the lush valleys of the Hamakua Coast to the jet-black sands of Punaluu Beach, the island of Hawaii is an unrivaled expression of the power of nature.  However you decide to experience the island, it is sure to leave you humbled!

Where to Stay on the Big Island:
The island of Hawaii is a land of diversity and choices, and that includes the island’s accommodations. There is a hotel, resort or accommodation that will satisfy every taste and price range, from world-class resorts to charming inns and spacious vacation rentals.

The main resort destinations on the island of Hawaii are on the the Kohala Coast and Kona area on the West side of the island.

My picks for the best places to stay include: 

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
The first hotel development on the rugged lava fields of the Kohala Coast, founded in 1965 by Laurence Rockefeller, was the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.

It was the most exclusive and expensive resort of its day and fast forward to today and the Mauna Kea once again stands as a landmark of luxury on the Big Island’s golden Kohala Coast.

Check out my detailed review here -- Review: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection

Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii
The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii, is located on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island and offers everything you would expect of a luxurious Hawaiian resort and the Fairmont brand.

The luxurious Hawaiian resort, surrounded by thirty-two oceanfront acres overlooking Pauoa Bay, features lush tropical gardens, cascading waterfalls and a tranquil white sand beach and lagoon.

Other great amenities include an award-winning apa, a ten thousand square-foot pool, six restaurants, beach club, year-round children's program, golf, fitness center, tennis pavilion, and the exclusive Fairmont Gold floor.

Check out my detailed review here -- Review: Fairmont Orchid Hawaii

The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort
This spectacular and newly renovated open-air hotel is located on one of Hawaii's largest white sand beaches (Hapuna Beach) and is within the 1,839-acre Mauna Kea Resort Area.

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
This AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star resort boasts 243 luxurious rooms in 36 low-rise ocean view bungalows, private golf course, Hualalai Spa, seven distinct pools, cultural center, fabulous island cuisine, and signature Four Seasons service.

Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection
This tranquil resort is nestled oceanfront on a white sandy beach surrounded by lush tropical gardens. Mauna Lani features understated elegance, superb cuisine, golf, tennis, spa, kid’s camp, cultural activities and gracious Hawaiian hospitality.

Royal Kona Resort
This oceanfront Resort offers spacious rooms featuring large lanais with beautiful mountain or ocean views, a private swimming lagoon and sandy beach area, oceanfront pool, and Luau show. Dine at the signature Don the Beachcomber Restaurant and Mai Tai Bar.

Wyndham Kona Hawaiian Resort
Designed in the style of an 1880's Hawaiian village. Palm thatched roofs, rustic bungalows and paths lie amidst flower and fruit bearing trees, palms and tropical vegetation. It is an easy walk or drive to Kailua-Kona Village, ocean activities and exciting night life.

Courtyard Marriott King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel
The Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel offers resort-style amenities without the resort price tag. This beachfront hotel features 452 guest rooms, 2 ocean view restaurants, an infinity pool, & is home to 20,000 square feet of event space, which can accommodate up to 500 persons.

Hilton Waikoloa Village
A spectacular oceanfront resort featuring tropical playground with saltwater lagoon, pools, water slides and wildlife. There are fourteen restaurants and bars on-site, as well as the Legends of Hawaii Luau.

Activities include the Dolphin Quest, tennis, golf and Kohala Spa.

Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay
Perfectly situated resort for Hawaii Island exploration and abundant ocean activities, meaningful cultural activities, manta ray viewing and inspired island dining.

Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa's recent renovation features contemporary redesigned guest rooms and new spaces for mingling.

The resort offers a Mandara Spa, infinity pools, ocean view dining and calm beach, all located a short stroll from destination shopping and dining.

Hilo Area Hotels:
If you're planning on visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, consider staying in Hilo, Puna or the Volcano Village area for a night since a one-day round trip from the main resort areas of the island will not give you enough time to explore the park.

Hotels in Hilo and Puna on the east side closer to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park include:

The Palms Cliff House
A beautiful Victorian Luxury Inn named one of Travel+Leisure magazine's 30 Great US Inns.  It has a spectacular garden and ocean location and features luxury accommodations with king beds, extra large rooms, jetted tubs, fireplaces, and more.

Grand Naniloa Hilo - a DoubleTree by Hilton
Boasting a stunning oceanside location with magnificent views of Hilo Bay and Mauna Kea, Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo - a DoubleTree by Hilton occupies a historic site amidst a lush, tropical landscape.

The Family Travel Guy
If you're planning a trip to the Big Island, be sure to send me a message for quotes, travel tips, special promotions available and more!

Virtuoso travel advisors have global connections to make your trip better. When you check in, you’re a VIP and can expect exclusive amenities such as room upgrade on arrival, daily breakfast, resort credits, early check-in/late checkout, spa treatment credits, special Virtuoso experiences and more!

I have access to Virtuoso hotel amenities as a Virtuoso Travel Advisor, Marriott STARS, Marriott Luminous, Hyatt Prive (coming soon!), and other great deals available from wholesale travel suppliers such as Pleasant Holidays, Journese, Blue Sky Tours, Travel Impressions, and many more!

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Check out more great photos of these resorts on the Big Island here: Photos by Randy