No one knows when Hawaii was first settled by the Polynesian people, but scholars estimate that it was around 1,500 years ago. The islands' first contact with Europeans was the 1778 arrival of British sea explorer James Cook. Thanks to British military technology, King Kamehameha was able to unite the islands, making them into a strong and prosperous kingdom. In the 19th century, waves of immigrants from America and much of Asia flocked to Hawaii for the plentiful agricultural work. In 1898, the island nation formed itself into the Republic of Hawaii, joining the United States as a territory. In 1959, the islands joined the U.S. as the state of Hawaii.
The Big Island (or as locals call it, "The Island of Hawaii" or "The Big I") is the largest of the eight islands, containing a land mass bigger than the other seven combined. That land is filled with gorgeous volcanic and lava scenery, ample watersports and beachgoing opportunities, and a jaw-dropping profusion of natural wonders. But to take in all that natural majesty, you'll need a good place to rest your head first. Fortunately, Big Island has that in abundance, too.
When to Visit Big Island, HI
Weather-wise, there is almost no bad time to visit Big Island. Temperatures stay in the high 70s and low 80s year-round. However, from a hotel-rate standpoint, it helps to remember that the biggest mass of visitors comes to Hawaii to escape the winter. Accordingly, the months of December through March see the highest spike in hotel room prices. Summer is also a popular time for tourism in Hawaii, as elsewhere. So for the best rates, aim to go in the September to November range (with the caveat that November is also when Big Island gets most of its rain). If that doesn't suit your schedule, April through May — the calm before the summer crush — is also a good pocket of time for hotel bargains.
One note, however: If surfing is high on your list of priorities, December through March also happens to be the best time for peak waves. Just be prepared to pay a bit more for your hotel room before you "ride the curl."
Below is a chart of the current pricing seasonality of hotels and motels in Big Island, HI:
Big Island by Star Rating
Below are 3 charts demonstrating mean price trends by star rating class in Big Island, HI. You can use these line graphs to evaluate the best months to book a room in Big Island for your upcoming travels.
Luxury Hotels in Big Island, HI
4 Star Average Prices: $221.88
A top choice for luxury travelers on the Big Island is the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, and it's easy to understand why. This beachside paradise is a full-service operation, or in the words of one visitor: "Needs met before we knew we had them — a fantastic quality for a vacation where you want to pamper yourselves." In addition to typical resort facilities, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai also offers unique touches like outdoor showers and running trails. To put back on those calories you just burned off, it also has world-class dining options — from the Mediterranean-meets-beach-villa vibe of the Beach Tree, to the uber-fresh seafood of the Ulu Ocean Grill. As one guest put it, "We only left the resort once — there was no need to."
Another solid choice for living it up Big Island-style is the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection. An island unto itself on the far end of the island from the Kilauea volcano, the Mauna Kea offers bold architecture, stunning views from nearly all its rooms, and a wide array of outdoor activities ranging from hiking trails to volleyball to the Mauna Kea Golf Course located on-site. And that's just on land! Guests also praised the Mauna Kea for its expansive beach and collection of Polynesian and Pacific Rim artwork from the Rockefeller collection.
Affordable Hotels in Big Island, HI
3 Star Average Prices: $203.38
For a true island adventure at an even more exciting price, try the Hamakua Guesthouse and Camping Cabanas. This rustic collection of private bedrooms and shared washing and dining facilities is a B&B, done up Hawaii-style. Guests speak reverently of waking up to the sounds of tropical birds in its rainforest locale, as well as picking papayas right off a nearby papaya tree.
Another budget-friendly option is the Chalet Kilauea, which one visitor described as "essentially staying in a treehouse while a volcano rumbles around you. What's not to like?" Either you're the type of traveler whom that sentiment appeals to, or not. But if you are, the Chalet is also praised for having comfortable rooms with excellent climate control and your choice of shared or private bathroom facilities.
2 Star Average Prices: $99.00
Which Big Island hotels have real discounts?
AAA members will want to relax in style at one of the member-discounted rooms of the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa. And the rooms themselves are practically a vacation, featuring kitchenettes, video game consoles for kids, and furnished lanais with wonderful views. But it's also worthwhile to go outside every now and then and take advantage of the two swimming pools, tennis courts, the golf course next door, and the full-service spa.
Offering an even wider variety of discounts to seniors, military/government workers, and AAA members is the Castle Kona Bali Kai — A Condominium Resort. As the name suggests, the Castle Kona Bali Kai is a bit more like a condominium experience, with kitchens fully equipped with microwaves and refrigerators. But the Castle Kona Bali Kai also has easy access to a multiplicity of nearby beaches, a spa tub, and do-it-yourself barbecue grills. Just as at the Sheraton Kona Resort, one big selling point for a satisfied visitor to the Castle Kona Bali Kai was "VIEWS VIEWS VIEWS!"
Best Hotel Values in Big Island, HI
To find the best bang for your pooka shell, try the Leilani Bed & Breakfast. This flower-draped tropical getaway has been featured in New York Magazine as one of its top five destinations for road-tripping honeymooners, and it has also been honored for its eco-tourism opportunities (including a custom travel package for it). The Leilani Bed & Breakfast also features other unusual offerings that cater to individual interests. They have an artists' retreat for plein air artists, which includes art-making facilities and special access to gorgeous views. Or if you're a ham radio enthusiast, you can visit The Ham Shack (this being Hawaii, you can be forgiven for thinking it was the other kind of ham).
If a B&B is less your speed, consider the Kings' Land by Hilton Grand Vacations, another good value. The Kings' Land is praised as a great place to bring families, as it features that key element for satisfying a rowdy bunch: variety. There are multiple-sized swimming pools, movie screenings, outdoor games and activities for all ages, and a sumptuous (complimentary) breakfast buffet. Another way in which the Kings' Land by Hilton Grand Vacations expands the palette for visitor experiences is the hotel shuttle. This convenience puts you in easy range of Waikoloa Village, a sister resort with ample opportunities to view sea life, and the Lava Lava Beach Club to hula the night away.
What to Do in Big Island, HI
Big Island contains regions that are part of eight of the world's 13 climate zones, which means it's home to a smorgasbord of natural diversity. But, it also means a never-ending supply of opportunities to explore and play. Almost no other locale can boast of not one, not two, but three colors of sand beaches: white, black, and green (you read that right). Visitors to Hawaii's flagship isle can be found, practically year-round, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, and of course, surfing. One highlight is to take in some night snorkeling off the Kona coast and see manta rays close up.
Then, there's lava. The Big Island is made of it, but its endless formations also offer a majestic, natural sculpture garden unlike anywhere else. Take a lava hike, a lava boat tour, or really, just look for it everywhere you go.
Speaking of lava, the Big Island's biggest claim to fame — literally the biggest — is its volcanoes. Specifically, the island is home to Mauna Loa, the biggest volcano in the world. It can be found in Volcanoes National Park, a giant natural area with forests, mountains, and waterways to explore for days. Hearty adventurers can take a hike to the summit of Mauna Loa or take a guided tour of its distinctive lava tubes and caves. And Mauna Loa's summit is the growing place of Hawaii's world-famous Kona coffee. You may not be able to get a cup (or a bag) right there, but you can find one just about anywhere else on the island.
And for a different type of volcanic experience, climb Mauna Kea at night and take advantage of its publicly available telescopes for the best view of the stars you will ever see.
Whatever brings you to Big Island, Hawaii, its natural charms are everywhere and in great abundance. Fortunately, for the savvy traveler, so are plentiful types of accommodation that will have you shaking your hips in joy.
The native son of the Big island of Hawaii Dwayne Johnson once said 'Success isn't always about greatness, it's about consistency. Consistent, hard work gains success. Greatness will come.
This sort of tough yet somehow gleeful wide-eyed optimism is something you will find all over the island in one form or another including in the world of leisure. You can even see this in the Big Island hotels which have become attractions in their own right, next to the volcanoes, flowers, beaches, and the countryside. As the largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago it functions as the capital and as a place at heart of the state's culture, history and personality, featuring the Papakolea (green) and Punalu'u (black) beaches and truly amazing rainforests.
Little Budget, Big Island
Though Hawaii is known as a destination for those on rather expensive vacations there are a lot of places to be enjoyed by those on a budget. One of the more popular cheap hotels on the island is the Wild Ginger Inn Hotel & Hostel. This place is simple but well outfitted and it features both private and dorm style rooms. This hotel is right near the popular beaches and not too far from the big volcanoes and, in particular, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This place is family owned and very comfortable and the private rooms feature ensuite bathrooms and a few of them even have TVs. Another one of the cheap hotels on the island is Uncle Billy's Kona Bay Hotel. This place is very comfortable while at the same time cheap and it features coffee machines, free Wi-Fi, cable TV, and fridges.
Luxury Under Volcanoes
Of course, there are many options for those of us more interested in luxury when looking for hotels in the Big Island. One of the more established and well-known luxury hotels here is the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. This hotel is made to resemble the most opulent four to five-star hotels while giving you access to some of the beauty that surrounds the resort. It features a nicely refined beachfront that is very close to Kekaha Kai State Park and the airport as well. This hotel features 7 pools, 3 restaurants, 2 lounges, soaking tubs, 42-inch flat-screen TVs, room service, and Wi-Fi. Another option for those looking for hotels in the Big Island, is the Royal Kona Resort this place features some fine amenities including 4 tennis courts, Wi-Fi (surcharge), and private balconies.
Nature on The Big Island
If there was anything that this place is known for other than the Big Island hotels it would have to be the wonders of nature and the feeling you get from watching the culture and the wonder of nature fold into one another. One of the attractions on the island that fits this description the best is the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. This place is filled with flouring wonders you cannot find any place else in Hawaii, this includes the tree and the little creatures that help the vegetation thrive. Another place to visit is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This place is a must for those looking to experience Hawaiian nature in the raw while waking up under the pacific sky.