City Guides

Hawaii For First-Timers: An Ultimate Guide for Your Trip

January 16, 2024

Aloha to Hawaii!

Hawaii is one of the most beautiful and sought-after destinations in the world. Many people have dreamed of visiting these intoxicating islands but often think they cannot afford to go because Hawaii is also known for being expensive.

Aloha, Hawaiian word used when greeting  | © Sam Howzit / flickr

The best island to visit in Hawaii for first time visitors might be the Big Island. It is the largest island in the chain and remains affordable while also offering the infrastructure necessary for people learning the ropes out on the islands.

Island Destinations

Kohala Beach on Hawaiian Big Island  | © Wasif Malik / flickr

The Big Island has many options available for those visiting Hawaii for the first time.

The restaurants in the quaint Old West town of Pahoa are very popular. Ning’s is one of the most loved Thai restaurants on the island, and the Mexican offerings at Luquin’s are wonderful along with the frozen cocktails available there. After you dine in Pahoa, take a trip down the Mango Highway to the warm volcanic waters of Ahalanui Hot Ponds.

If beaches are more your style, head over to the Kohala Coast. This is where you will discover the best beaches to visit in hawaii. Hapuna Beach is one of the most popular areas for swimming and boogie boarding or just soaking up the sun. If you’re looking for sunsets and calmer waters, check out Anaeho’omalu Beach.

Some visitors to the island prefer to beat the heat. Head on up to Waimea, the Big Island’s paniolo (cowboy) country. You can visit the Paniolo Heritage Center in the city or take a tour of world-famous Parker Ranch.

If you’re starstruck or looking for an even colder experience, drive up Saddle Road to the top of Mauna Kea. Snow covers the ground here in winter and many of the world’s telescopes are located at the top of this mountain. Drink hot chocolate while standing outside of the visitor’s center and see the stars as you’ve never known them.

Big Island Activities

Sunset Sailing | © Prayitno / flickr

One of the most popular Big Island activities is visiting the active lava flow at Kilauea. This can take some hiking depending upon where the lava is flowing during your visit, so remember to pack good hiking shoes! You can also go to the Kilauea Visitor Center, where you can walk through Thurston Lava Tube and learn about the rainforest.

Water babies will find plenty to do on the island. Snorkeling is incredible here with countless types of fish and coral. You can access the water easily at locations like the Captain Cook monument or Two Step outside of Kona. There are also opportunities for snorkeling at Four Mile Beach in Hilo and almost everywhere you can get into the water.

There are not many options for boat rides between Hawaiian islands because the water is very deep, rough, and dangerous. If you feel the need to travel by water between the islands, your best bet is to charter a yacht or take a Hawaiian cruise.

Surfing is the sport of Hawaiian kings and is very well-known outside of the islands. Those who are interested in learning to body surf or boogie board will find several options available at the beaches along the Kohala Coast.

Perfect Timing

Waikiki from the top view | © nosha / flickr

The best time to go to hawaii is anytime! 

Many people on the island say that the weather does not go to them, they go to the weather. When there is a snowstorm on the top of Mauna Kea, locals will often go up the mountain and load snow into their pickup trucks so they can have snowball fights down on the beach.

Unless you are particularly interested in visiting Mauna Kea during the snowfall in winter, it’s always a good time to visit Hawaii. The Big Island does not see the crowds that other islands do so you’ll find it very easy to carve out a space for yourself and enjoy the relaxing wind and waves on Hawaii’s largest island.

Finding a Home

So many vacation rentals options in Hawaii | © Tirachard Kumtanom / pexels

There are accommodation options all over the Big Island, but most newcomers prefer to stick to Hilo or Kona. These are the two hubs on the Big Island with developed infrastructure and the usual stores, restaurants, and other businesses you would expect in a typical American city. There are options from budget to Hawaii luxury vacation rentals and everyone will find a place suitable for their needs on the island.If you prefer the rainforest and more greenery, Hilo is a good choice. It also tends to have more local flavor. Day trips from Hilo include Pahoa, Volcano, and Ahalanui Hot Ponds.Kona is the dry side of the island with multiple sandy beaches nearby. It is more popular with tourists and tends to be more expensive for this reason. Day trips from this city include Hapuna Beach, the Captain Cook monument, and the Hawaiian coffee farms.

Newcomers to Hawaii will be thrilled by the variety of the island and its unique culture. 

Everyone who visits tends to fall in love with this ancient celebration of fire and ice in the middle of the sea.

Riya is an inspired writer, passionate about traveling, lifestyle and encouraging startups. As a freelancer, she understands the importance of productivity at work. Riya never stopped finding new ways to create her work productivity.


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