Big Island - where to stay?

I know there have been other threads about Hawaii, but I hoped to get some in-depth advice about where to stay on the Big Island. Both geographic location and places to stay. Recs for “must dos” on the Big Island are also welcome!

We are going in mid to late August of next year (waiting for the school calendar to be finalized). We are going to start in Waikiki with 4 days at the Embassey Suites, then plan on 2 days at Aulani.

Then we will head to the Big Island and spend 6 nights there. We can either stay in one place all six days, or break into a 4 night, 2 night split.

Notes:

  • Me and DD love to snorkel. Extra points if we can walk out of where we are staying and snorkel - doesn’t even have to be great snorkeling!

  • We will be snorkeling with the Mantas.

  • I am interested in the valcanoes and lava fields but am a bit worried about the unpredictability of that area these days.

  • My family will hike, but 2-3 miles is there limit, 1.5 if there is significant elevation changes. And maybe 2 hikes a week. I love hiking. They do not.

Other notes

  • Happy to do VRBO or Air B&B
  • Bonus for kitchen amenities
  • Also happy to do hotels
  • Would consider a timeshare ptich
  • Goal price ranger per night is between $250 and $500 (after taxes and parking).

Thank you! I know a lot of people on here have loved their visits to the Big Island. I feel like I have a handle on Oauhu, thanks to detailed threads and trip reports, butnInam struggling with the second half of the trip.

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I have been to the Big Island twice and loved it. I would recommend a 2/4 night split (2 near the Volcano, 4 on the west side). We like the Waikoloa Village area which is pretty far north. We rented VRBO places for both on our most recent trip. Let me see if I can find the listings for you.

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Thanks - all details are appreciated! Listings are even better!

What do you like about that area?

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It may sound snooty to say, but when we go to Hawaii we like a resort area that is more upscale. We like to stay in areas with great beaches and great restaurants, but less total resorts and people overall. Our favorite place to stay on Oahu is Ko Olina area near Aulani.
The Waikoloa area seemed to provide a similar feel. Kailua/Kona area is a bit more crowded in my opinion.

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That makes sens as long as I can find something in my price range! My goal is always to get as “luxurious” as possible within my price range!

And I suspected sheer number of people was part of the answer.

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This. We usually go in the winter, so it is crowded. Except January 2021 when it wasn’t and was like a totally different vibe than ever before with no international tourists.
The prices in Hawaii have gone up a lot in the last few years. We used to be able to stay for $400-$500 a night (we do always get a 3 bedroom condo, usually with ocean view which adds to the cost of course). When we went to Oahu in January 2021 it was $550 a night (we stayed next door to Aulani at Ko Olina Beach Villas, had stayed there previously for quite a bit less). We are going to Kauai this January and this will be the most expensive trip yet. We had to compromise on views and size of place…and it is costing $750 a night. :scream: And based on what I see on VRBO/AirBnB, that isn’t too bad for Kauai in January. I have never seen so many $1000-$3000 a night places in any search of any island. Crazy. It better be %^&*&^% great, as I don’t think with the high costs we will be going back to Kauai again.

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My first and only trip (so far!) to Big Island was this summer. I’d recommend a split- there’s enough at Volcano National Park (and that general area) to do more than a day trip. We stayed right in the park which was convenient but bear in mind that the hotel is old (well cared for, but old). We’re Hilton timeshare members so we never looked beyond Waikola. You may be able to get a presentation deal, but they usually put you in a standard hotel room for those, not a larger condo. It’s a nice area but we did find ourselves driving south a lot.

(fyi- there’s lots of hiking at Volcano NP but there’s also a lot of park/short walk sites to see as well. Let’s feel like you’ve seen a lot without dragging the family on long hikes)

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This is where we stayed near the Volcano. It is likely a lot bigger than you need with 3 of you but we liked it a lot.

I am still looking for the exact place we had at Waikoloa, but it was at the Hali’i Kai resort. The only downside is no direct beach access there (though there are several world class beaches not too far away), but that is common on the Big Island as it is so rocky. There are quite a few condo resorts and hotels there, and some will have a beach. We always choose size (more bedrooms) so that won over a beach, though our condo did have an ocean view. You might be happier in a smaller place though (most are, I know I am spoiled :rofl: ), and choose a hotel/resort with a beach.

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Thank you! I am looking at the Hilton resort too - we can live without a condo or kitchenette, but I always calculate the extra cost of food.

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Thanks for these! We can sleep in much smaller spaces with 3 of us - which saves a lot of money.

I was like - 3 bedrooms for $250! Then I saw the extra fees. So now I am warned :rofl:

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Oh yes, the fees on VRBO and AirBnB need to be looked at for the real cost. It drives me nuts that now a $250 a night place is really $450. They didn’t used to do it that way. We have used VRBO for a very long time and only recently have the fees become ridiculous. But in a hotel we would need 2 rooms as with 2 college age kids plus us, it is just too crowded in one room.

The “extra guest” fee for any more than 2 guests, on an 8 person house is just silly.

I just got caught out on a big unexpected price up. I planned to upgrade our Alaska flights to first class using points. Turns out you have to purchase special spendy seats just for the ability to do that. Unless I am mixing up the different upgrades. They make it so difficult! I haven’t bought the tickets yet, but might have choosen a differnet credit card if I knew.

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We did a split stay on the Big Island in 2017. Larger part of the stay in the Waikoloa area, and a few nights by Volcano. I’m intrigued with the idea of staying further south of Kona-Kailua. There is a great snorkeling spot near the Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historic park, but I can’t remember what it’s called. If you want a short-ish hike, I highly recommend Kilauea Iki at Volcano National Park. You hike down into a crater and walk across the lava bed and then out and up the other side. It’s very cool. There are vents where steam comes out. The floor is lava!! You could also just walk down into the crater and then back up without going all the way across. Obviously, climbing up is the hardest part. But the crater itself is just a flat walk.

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How about at the base of Mauna Loa? I hear it’s a glowing good time this time of year

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:blowfish:

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We decided to stay in the same place instead of a split stay for the big island. For VRBO there is a service charge and a cleaning fee and I just couldn’t stomach being charged that twice. So I am thinning about Kona Kailua or further south, so the drive to the volcaoes is shorter.

Unless we find a hotel at mu price point, then we would split, but the condos are pricing out way better.

Some.of the reading I have done about the snorkeling, it seems that some spots can ve hard to get to with little beach for entry or rest. I’m wondering if it might be worth picking up some life vests to make it easier in those places with no beach. DH would think I was crazy but we get free checked bags, so I may have a bag with only life jackets and snorkeling gear!

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Definitely is keeping things interesting!

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This sounds amazing. Like, I think the kid in me has always dreamed of this exact hike.

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Kīlauea Iki crater may look tranquil these days. But in 1959, this now 400-foot (120 m) crater held a seething lava lake that spewed fountains of molten lava thousands of feet into the air. Considered by some to be the most spectacular eruption event of the 20th century, Kīlauea Iki provided a unique opportunity for geologists to study the plumbing system of Kīlauea volcano.

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There’s also a black sand beach down south that is cool and it usually has turtles on it. Not necessarily a place to have a relaxing day at the beach, but worth visiting for sure!

One of my friends and I have been talking about renting something for a week this summer that would be large enough for both families but save $$ for both too. I think we may end up on the Big Island, but we’re also looking at Kauai.

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