The Big Island of Hawaii is the most diverse of all of the Hawaiian Islands. Within its 4,000 square miles, you can find sunny black sand beaches, wet rainforests, dry deserts, erupting volcanoes, and snow-capped mountains. There’s really no other place in the world quite like it.
With all of these diverse ecosystems, it’s really no surprise that there are so many things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii. Visit the famous Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, hike to the Papakolea Green Sand Beach, admire the ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs, and watch the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival.
As an Oahu local, I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Big Island many times. Yet there’s always more that I want to see and do every time I fly over, whether that’s tackling a hidden hike or visiting the latest trendy eatery.
There are many fun and unique vacation rentals on the Big Island – like a romantic treehouse in Hilo or a luxury oceanfront mansion in Kona. Which exciting place to stay will you pick?
Here you’ll find my list of the 12 best Airbnbs on the Big Island to help you plan your amazing Hawaiian getaway!
- Top 10 Things To Do on the Big Island
- Why Stay in an Airbnb on the Big Island
- Best Big Island Airbnbs for Couples and Solo Travelers
- Best Big Island Airbnbs for Small Groups and Families
- Best Big Island Airbnbs for Large Groups and Events
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Top 10 Things To Do on the Big Island
- Spend a day at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. While there, check out the steam vents, explore the Thurston Lava Tube, and even see the lava flow if Kilauea is active.
- Stare in awe at Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach. If you’re lucky, you might even see a few turtles lounging on the shore.
- Gape at the beauty of Papakolea Green Sand Beach. Tackle the 2.5-mile hike to the shining olivine-crystal covered beach.
- See snow on Mauna Kea. Thanks to its high altitude and cold temperatures, Mauna Kea is the only place to see snow in Hawaii. And it also happens to be a fantastic place to stargaze!
- Take in the 442-foot ‘Akaka Falls. This beautiful waterfall is one of the most popular attractions on the Hilo side of the Big Island.
- Watch the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. Every April, the best hula halau (hula groups) are invited to compete in this world-renowned competition.
- Snorkel with manta rays at night. These magnificent sea creatures flock to Kona’s shores every night and you can get up close and personal on a snorkel tour.
- Visit a Kona coffee farm. Since Kona coffee may be Hawaii’s most famous export, you should definitely visit one of the many farms on the island – Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation, Hula Daddy Coffee, or Kona Coffee Living History Farm to name a few.
- Kayak at Kealakekua Bay. As a marine life conservation district, Kealakekua Bay is home to some amazing sea creatures including schools of colorful fish, Hawaii green sea turtles, and even pods of dolphins!
- Go on a petroglyph walk at the Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve or the Puako Petroglyph Park. Petroglyphs were the ancient Hawaiians’ pictorial writing form and on these walks you can see the historic symbols carved into the lava rock.
Why Stay in an Airbnb on the Big Island
There are so many advantages to staying in an Airbnb on the Big Island. For starters, you can choose the exact area of the island that you want to stay – whether that’s in the lavish area of Waikoloa, near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, or right on the coastline.
Plus, there are so many fun and unique Airbnbs to choose from on the Big Island! Stay in a tropical treehouse in the rainforest, in a tiny house on a lava rock field, or on a luxury estate by the ocean. You can pick a vacation home that perfectly fits your budget and style of travel.
Another great perk of Airbnbs is that they often offer the coolest amenities. From turquoise pools with three-story waterslides to private natural waterfalls, these Big Island vacation rentals have advantages that most hotels don’t.
Staying at an Airbnb is also a wise way to spend your money as it’s typically much more cost-effective than a hotel. As an example, if you’re traveling with friends or family, you’ll find yourself paying for multiple hotel rooms. But with an Airbnb, you and your group can split the price of a single large vacation rental.
Finally, one of the greatest perks of staying in an Airbnb on the Big Island is the fact that you can connect with a local before you even step foot on the island. Many Airbnb hosts are very friendly and love to share local tips! Find out about secluded beaches, exciting hikes, and local ‘ono grindz (Hawaiian slang for delicious food).
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The 12 Best Airbnbs on the Big Island
Best Big Island Airbnbs for Couples and Solo Travelers
It’s every kid’s dream to live in a treehouse, and this tropical treehouse has turned that childhood wish into one that even adults can appreciate. Tall wooden stilts support this treehouse’s position fifteen feet off the ground and a beautiful hanging bed swings below.
You can spend your days snuggled up in the plush queen bed amidst the sheer curtains and stare at the view of the beautiful Hawaiian jungle. And if you’d like to see a little more of the forest, there is a balcony that wraps around the entire treehouse. The thoughtful host also included a few fun amenities, including tiki torch flashlights, a deck of cards, and even a gramophone.
As for the location, this dreamy tropical treehouse is off-the-grid, making it the perfect place for some much-needed rest and relaxation. That said, if you’re hoping to see some Big Island attractions, you’ll be just 20 minutes away from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and 40 minutes from downtown Hilo.
Many of the coolest Big Island Airbnbs, including this Hilo vacation rental, offer outrageous amenities. Staying a night at this ocean view cabin gives you access to the private 120-foot Kulaniapia Falls. And this breathtaking natural waterfall is definitely the highlight of this adorable cabin.
These cute wooden cabins are a part of The Inn at Kulaniapia Falls. It’s glamping in an incredible setting! You’ll have a super comfortable memory foam queen bed. Plus there’s a wraparound ocean view front porch and a communal barn with a lounge area and a full kitchen.
While staying in these cute cabins, you’ll also get access to the larger Kulaniapia Farms community. You can tour the sustainable farm, take a cooking class, or dine at The Table restaurant. All of these perks are exclusively available to overnight guests at Kulaniapia Farms.
While you could easily spend all of your time on the Kulaniapia Falls property, this cabin also happens to be close to many amazing Hilo attractions including Rainbow Falls, Pe‘epe‘e Falls, and Boiling Pots. It’s also just a 15-minute drive into downtown Hilo, where you can enjoy Hilo Bay, try the delicious mochi from Two Ladies Kitchen, and stop by the Big Island Candies factory.
One of the most unique Airbnbs on the Big Island is this incredible glass tiny house near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This inventive home is essentially a glass box in the middle of the jungle. You’ve probably never stayed in an Airbnb quite like this one and it will undoubtedly be a highlight of your trip!
This unique vacation home includes one comfortable king bed, two hanging pod chairs, a small workspace, and a spacious patio. The main perk of this glass house is the fact that you’ll always be able to see the lush greenery all around you. You’ll get to see the colorful sunrise each morning and do fantastic stargazing each night.
This glass house is another Big Island vacation rental that’s perfect for getting away from the hustle and bustle of life. But if you’d like to add a few nearby stops to your Big Island bucket list, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is 20 minutes away and downtown Hilo is 40 minutes away.
Once you walk through the glass French doors, you’ll be amazed by this fantastic little treehouse. While it’s not technically in a tree, it is a house built high on stilts and surrounded by lush green jungle – and it also happens to have a wonderful interior!
With quartz countertops, a bamboo hanging pod chair, and turquoise touches, you can tell that this house was decorated by someone with an eye for interior design. You can cuddle up in the queen bed, prepare a meal in the well-appointed kitchen, and breathe in the fresh air on the lower level patio.
One of the best perks of staying in a treehouse is, well, the trees. Plus there are beautiful wild plants all around this vacation home – purple orchids, bright hibiscus, and even a small grove of rare ohi‘a lehua trees to name a few.
This romantic treehouse is one of the closest vacation rentals to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This location also puts you near the Kilauea Iki Trail, the Thurston Lava Tube, and the Volcano Winery.
Best Big Island Airbnbs for Small Groups and Families
Featured in Airbnb Magazine, Aolani House is definitely one of the best Airbnbs on the Big Island! With unobstructed ocean views, a tiki torch-lined walkway, and a heated pool, you should certainly stay at this gorgeous house if you get the chance.
This lavish Hawaiian-style home includes two beautiful bedrooms, a professional kitchen with WOLF appliances, an immaculate ocean view living room, and even a little coffee nook. And let’s not forget the gorgeous backyard where you can swim in the ocean view infinity pool, soak up the rays on the sun loungers, relax on the shaded patio, and stare at the stars while soaking in the hot tub.
The Aolani House is situated in the Kailua-Kona suburb of Holualoa. While in the area, you can enjoy Magic Sands Beach, learn some Hawaiian history at Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark, or visit the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm.
Thanks to its location on a lava rock field, this modern tiny house is one of the most unique Big Island Airbnbs. And to add to its distinctiveness, it also happens to be a one-of-a-kind home designed by ArtisTree, a tiny treehouse design company with trendy homes all around the world.
With an exterior of earthy colors and natural wood, this house fits nicely into the untouched landscape around it. And the interior of this vacation rental is unique as well. Split into two halves, this tiny house includes two bedrooms with eye-catching pillows, a stocked kitchen, a cozy living area, a small dining area, and a pretty outdoor deck.
This tiny house Airbnb is situated off-the-grid in Pahoa. But while you might be far from the biggest cities on the Big Island, you’ll be close to some natural gems like the newly created Pohoiki Black Sand Beach and the Holei Sea Arch.
When you walk into this oceanfront Balinese house, the first thing that you’ll notice is the abundance of wood. The walls, the ceiling, the artwork, the furniture, the fans – absolutely everything made from beautiful hardwood! And this certainly gives the home a unique and spiritual feel.
This vacation rental includes two bedrooms with sheer curtains, a fully stocked kitchen, an earth-toned living room, and a formal dining area. And outside you’ll find a bubbling hot tub and an outdoor patio with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean.
This unique Balinese house is right across the street from the breathtaking Kehena Black Sand Beach, so be sure to enjoy this rare natural wonder. It is important to note that Kehena Beach is a clothing-optional beach so it may not be the best place to bring the kids.
Best Big Island Airbnbs for Large Groups and Events
This luxurious private oasis at the Four Seasons in Hualalai is the perfect place to stay if you’re planning to splurge on your island vacation.
From the minute you walk down the stone path and through the large wooden gates, you’ll be amazed at the extravagance of this villa. You can prepare something to eat in the chef-worthy kitchen filled with stainless steel appliances, relax in the elegant living room, savor a meal in the dining room brightened with contemporary lighting, and curl up in one of the five comfortable bedrooms.
But the real highlight of this wonderful home is the backyard. You can wake up for a morning swim in the ocean view infinity pool, sip a cup of coffee on the shaded patio, take an afternoon nap in the sunny hammock, roast some marshmallows over the crackling fire pit, and end your night staring up at the stars from the relaxing hot tub.
Situated in Kailua-Kona, this lovely vacation rental is near some of the best things to do on the Big Island. Discover the beauty of Kua Bay, play a few rounds at the Hualalai Golf Course, or spend a few hours at Makalawena Beach.
The Waterfalling Estate in Ninole is undoubtedly one of the coolest vacation rentals on the Big Island! With two pools, two hot tubs, multiple diving platforms, a tennis court, a basketball court, a game room with a pool table and a ping-pong table, an elevator, a sauna, a grand piano, and a three-story waterslide, it’s the kind of extravagant house you’ve ever only dreamed of renting!
With chic, modern decor throughout, this estate also includes five lavish bedrooms filled with natural light, a full kitchen outfitted with luxury appliances, two comfortable living rooms, an expansive dining area, and a beautiful balcony with unobstructed views of the deep blue Pacific Ocean. There’s really nothing else you could want from this amazing estate.
As for the location, the Waterfalling Estate is situated in secluded Ninole. And while you could easily spend all of your time hanging out in this dream home, there are a few hidden gems near the estate including the Nanue Bridge, Botanical World Adventures, and Laupahoehoe Beach Park.
With a modern architectural design, a private tennis court, a beach volleyball court, a Sonos sound system, and an oceanfront pool, Kahieluana is certainly one of the most amazing Big Island Airbnbs!
The first thing you’ll notice about this vacation home is its unique architectural design. And once inside this opulent villa, you’ll find five inviting bedrooms with hardwood ceilings, a spotless living room with vaulted ceilings and contemporary light fixtures, an outdoor dining room with unparalleled ocean views, and a well-appointed kitchen with marble countertops.
Kahieluana is situated right on the shores of the gorgeous Puako Bay. While you should certainly take advantage of this beautiful beach, you should also make time for the other nearby attractions, including Waialea Beach and Puako Petroglyph Park.
With an aquamarine infinity pool, a pond with a cascading waterfall, a home theater, vintage Polynesian decor, and a tower with 360-degree island views, the Hale Nana Kohola deserves an episode on Netflix’s The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes.
This lavish Big Island Airbnb includes four comfortable bedrooms with hardwood ceilings, a spacious Polynesian-inspired living room, a gorgeous dining area for eight, and a chef’s kitchen with spotless countertops.
And while the inside of the home is amazing, there’s a good chance that you’ll spend most of your time swimming in the pristine pool, relaxing on the comfy lounge chairs, or enjoying the views from the tower.
As if all of the amazing features of this grand estate weren’t enough to sway you, this vacation rental also has a fantastic location. Situated right on the golden sands of the secluded Puako Bay, you can spend as much all day enjoying this dreamy Hawaii beach!
With an abundance of hardwood, clean lines, and open spaces, the lavish Kipuka Lani showcases modernism at its finest.
The interior of Kipuka Lani includes four bedrooms with glass sliding doors that open to amazing ocean views, a gourmet kitchen with sleek white countertops, a living room with vaulted ceilings and trendy wooden coffee tables, and a dining area adorned with contemporary light fixtures.
But as with many of the Big Island’s best Airbnbs and luxury vacation rentals, the backyard is the best asset of the house! Soak in the ocean views while sitting on the sun loungers, splash around in the brilliant blue pool, relax in the hot tub, and make some s’mores over the crackling fire pit.
As an added bonus, you’ll also have access to the neighboring Mauna Lani Estate, which includes a private beach club, a fitness center, tennis courts, and two championship golf courses.
Situated in Waimea, Kipuka Lani is just a five-minute drive from the resort area of Waikoloa. While there, stop by the small 49 Black Sand Beach, explore the Hilton Waikoloa Village, and check out the Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve.
That’s it – 12 of the best Airbnbs on the Big Island! Do you have a favorite vacation rental on the Big Island? Let us know in the comments below.
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Sarah Etinas – About the Author:
Sarah is a travel writer based on the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii. When she’s not enjoying the stunning beaches and hikes of her home island, she’s going on exciting adventures all around the world. A few of her most thrilling adventures have included snowshoeing in the Swiss Alps, kayaking through a river of jellyfish in the Caribbean, and sleeping in a sandstorm in the Sahara Desert.