Hawaii Trip Guide - Big Island


Big Island really throws down the gauntlet with its insane landscapes. One day you’re basking by the ocean, the next you’re soaring above the clouds at over 13,000 feet on Mauna Kea. As your plane descends, the view from your window will drop your jaw—miles of dried-up volcanic lava stretch out like scenes from another planet. Tucked among these wild vistas are world-class resorts and top-notch eateries. No matter how long you stay, it’ll never feel long enough. You’ll leave already craving your next visit to this otherworldly paradise.

Quick Guide

  • Suggested Time: 5-10 Days
  • Best Time to Go: March (Great Weather & Whales are still around)
  • Other good times to go: May and September (Low Crowds)
  • Highlights: Mauna Kea, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, Fairwinds Morning Snorkeling Tour

Vacation Packages

Hawaii is the ultimate bucket-list destination, but it’s no secret that it demands both thorough planning and a hefty budget. The best approach? Book early to catch the best deals:

  • Costco Travel: For a seamless DIY option, Costco Travel is a game-changer. We tapped into our stash of points for our trip, but our friends who joined us went through Costco and snagged a seriously hot deal. Planning ahead really pays off when you’re headed to paradise!
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Value Hotels & Resorts

If you’re planning a trip to Big Island, an ideal itinerary would start with a 4 to 6-night stay in either Downtown Kona or the Waikoloa Resort area. After soaking up the sun and surf there, make your way to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for a night to experience the awe of the volcanoes up close. Wrap up your journey with a night or two in Hilo for a taste of its lush landscapes and local vibe.:

  • Kona: For accommodations in Kona, you can’t go wrong with the Royal Kona Resort or Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa. Both offer oceanfront views at reasonable prices. We spent a day at the Royal Kona’s pool with friends and the views were unforgettable.
  • Near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: The Volcano House is your go-to; their restaurant, The Rim, serves up delicious lunches with stunning crater views.
  • Hilo: The SCP Hilo Hotel offers a charming stay, perfectly rounding out your island adventure.

Big Island Hotels with Credit Card Points

For Hotel Bookings using Points, here are our Top Picks for Big Island :

Marriott Fans:

  • Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa: We cashed in 50K points per night for a two-night stay here. It was a fantastic deal given the resort’s superb pools, live evening music, and prime location on Anaehoomalu Bay beside an ancient fishing pond. The nearby Lava Lava Beach Club is a must-visit for its vibrant atmosphere. *Bonus: book four nights with points, get the fifth night free!
  • Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel: Another excellent Marriott option with rich historical significance and beachfront access.

For Hilton Enthusiasts:

  • Hilton Waikoloa Village: Right next to the Waikoloa Beach Marriott, this Hilton is another stellar pick for point bookings, known for its expansive property and unique amenities. *Bonus: book four nights with points, get the fifth night free!

IHG Fans:

  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites Kailua-Kona: We spent four nights here, using 40K IHG points per night. Located in downtown Kona, the hotel boasts spacious rooms and a fantastic complimentary breakfast—perfect fuel for island adventures. *Bonus: book three nights with points and get the fourth night free!


When planning your flight to Big Island, we recommend using Google Flights for a comprehensive view of your options. Always aim to book direct for the simplest travel experience. :

  • Most travelers heading to Big Island fly into Kona (KOA), a conveniently located but smaller airport. If you’re exploring multiple islands, consider booking multi-city flights for better deals and flexibility. There are always plenty of options to find competitive cash rates or make the most of your points. 

*On our last trip, we snagged return flights from the Midwest using 41K Avios each through American Airlines. We even stumbled upon a fantastic deal with United—return flights for just 16K each through Turkish Airlines. Unfortunately, the dates didn’t work for us, so we stuck with AA, but it just goes to show the deals are out there if you keep an eye open!

Itinerary for Big Island

Day 0-1: We spent a fantastic six days exploring Big Island, starting with a relaxing two-day stay at our resort in Waikoloa where we unwound and soaked in the sun.

Day 2: This day, we ventured out to Mauna Kea to catch a breathtaking sunset and indulge in some stargazing—an absolute highlight of our trip.

Day 3: We did an early start as we headed to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We started with a visit to the visitor center, followed by a hike along the Sulphur Banks & Steam Vents, immersing ourselves in the unique volcanic landscapes. Lunch at Lava Rock Cafe refueled us before we tackled the epic Kilauea Iki Trail, and then we relaxed back at our hotel.

Day 4: The excitement continued into day four with a snorkeling tour with Fairwinds, which was nothing short of spectacular.

Day 5: We wrapped up our adventure on day five at Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, where we explored the serene and culturally rich Place of Refuge Trail. Each day was packed with new sights and experiences, making our Big Island stay truly memorable.

Day 6: We took a morning flight to Maui, eager to continue our Hawaiian adventure and explore even more breathtaking landscapes and experiences.


*On our Hawaiian journey, we missed a few gems that are high on our list for next time: exploring the unique black-sand beaches at Punalu’u Beach Park, taking in the natural splendor of Hilo—from Akaka Falls to Waipio Valley Lookout—and touring a famous Kona coffee farm.

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