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Hilo vs Kona: Which Hawaiian Gem to Explore for Unforgettable Vacation?

Choosing the ideal destination when planning a trip to Hawaii is a challenging feat, especially when faced with the alluring options of Hilo vs Kona. On my trip to Hawaii, I was fascinated by both places.

These two towns on the Big Island are worlds apart, offering unique experiences that cater to diverse tastes. Let’s dive into their unique qualities so you can choose the perfect place for your vacation!

Hilo vs Kona

Quick Comparison

The Big Island of Hawaii is where adventure calls and paradise unfold. But where’s your ideal gateway to this tropical wonderland: Hilo or Kona? Both have a unique appeal, located on opposite shores and offering distinct experiences.

In this quick comparison, I will show the key differences, helping you decide whether Hilo or Kona is your ticket to an unforgettable Hawaiian journey.

  1. Location: Hilo is on the East side of the Island, where lush rainforests and beautiful waterfalls define its landscape. In contrast, Kona is located on the West side of the Island, basking in sunny weather and stunning sandy beaches. It is a water sports and snorkeling paradise renowned for its coffee farms and historical landmarks.
  2. Activities: Hilo offers nature enthusiasts various outdoor activities and lively local culture. On the other hand, Kona is a haven for those seeking snorkeling, diving, and water sports adventures. It is also celebrated for its coffee plantations and historical treasures.
  3. Unique Charms: Hilo’s appeal lies in its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, offering an authentic and unique experience. Meanwhile, Kona has a more laid-back ambiance, relaxing in the sunshine, and hides intriguing aspects worth exploring further.

Although I have touched on some key aspects, there’s much more to discover about these Hawaiian gems. Keep reading to find out about the weather, landscape, attractions, entertainment, culture, places to stay, and more!

Read also: Aruba vs Bahamas: Discover Your Ideal Caribbean Getaway!

Hilo vs Kona: Comparison Chart

Below is a comparison chart of Hilo vs Kona at a glance.





East coast, lush rainforests

West coast, sunny weather, beautiful beaches


Nature enthusiasts' haven, vibrant local culture

Snorkeling, diving, water sports, coffee farms, historic sites

Unique Charms

Natural beauty, cultural diversity, authenticity

Relaxed atmosphere, sun-soaked days, intriguing surprises


Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is near Hilo

Slightly farther from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Island Exploration

Convenient access to explore the island's east side

Great starting point for excursions around the island


Local markets and art shops

Numerous boutiques, shopping centers, and farmers' markets

Pros and Cons of Visiting Hilo

Are you considering exploring Hilo’s lush landscapes and cultural charm on Hawaii’s Big Island? Knowing the benefits and drawbacks of visiting the Big Island is advantageous. Continue reading and I will take you through the pros and cons of visiting Hilo so that you can make an informed decision when choosing between the two.

Pros of Visiting Hilo

In case you are thinking of visiting Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii, here are some of the pros:

Pros of Visiting Hilo
  • Unique Attractions: Hilo boasts unique attractions such as Rainbow Falls and Liliuokalani Gardens, adding to the town’s distinct charm.
  • Peaceful Atmosphere: Hilo provides a peaceful setting, making it an ideal place for relaxation and rejuvenation. The serene gardens and the green sand beaches offer a peaceful escape.
  • Local Cuisine: Enjoy fresh seafood and a variety of local dishes that showcase the flavors of Hawaii. The local food scene is diverse and delightful.
  • Cultural Events: Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture by attending festivals, hula performances, and exploring historic sites in and around Hilo.
  • Convenience for Island Exploration: Hilo’s location on the east side of the island provides easy access to explore the wonders of the Big Island.
  • Scenic Drives: The nearby Hamakua Coast offers stunning scenic drives and beautiful vistas.

Cons of Visiting Hilo

Below are some cons of visiting Hilo.

Cons of Visiting Hilo
  • Higher Rainfall: Hilo is one of the wettest cities in the United States, so you’ll likely encounter frequent rain, which might also affect outdoor plans and activities.
  • Limited Nightlife: Hilo is not for you if you seek a vibrant nightlife with many bars, clubs, and entertainment options. It has a more laid-back atmosphere.
  • Fewer Accommodation Options: While Hilo offers a range of accommodations, it may have fewer luxury resorts than other Hawaiian Islands.
  • Distance from Volcanoes National Park: While Hilo is closer to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park than Kona, it’s still a drive to reach this iconic attraction. If your primary focus is the park, you might prefer staying closer.
  • Warmer and Humid Climate: Hilo’s climate is characterized by warmth and high humidity. I found this climate less comfortable since I was not used to it.
  • Limited Shopping Options: While you can find local markets and art shops in Hilo, I found limited shopping options compared to larger urban centers.
  • Possible Traffic Congestion: While Hilo generally has lighter traffic than major cities, it can still experience congestion during peak travel times.

Is Kona a Good Island to Visit? Pros and Cons of Visiting Kona

Kona, situated on the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii, is a destination that promises a unique blend of experiences. From sunny weather and pristine beaches to coffee farms and water sports, Kona offers a compelling allure. I will provide you with valuable insights to help you make an informed choice for your Hawaiian adventure. Let’s look at the pros and cons:

Pros of Visiting Kona

Is Kona a good Island to visit? Yes, Kona is a beautiful destination with some breathtaking views and activities. There are some benefits of visiting the place and here is a detailed list of them.

Pros of Visiting Kona
  • Kona Coffee Delight: Kona is renowned for its exceptional coffee farms, allowing you to savor some of the world’s best coffee right at the source. You can explore coffee plantations and enjoy freshly brewed Kona coffee while enjoying the stunning views.
  • Sunset Serenity:  The Kona side of the Big Island provides a front-row seat to breathtaking sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. Relax on the beach with a tropical drink and witness the sky’s vibrant colors as the day ends.
  • Historical Sites: Kona boasts a rich history, with sites like the Honaunau National Historical National Park and Hulihee Palace offering a glimpse into Hawaii’s royal and cultural heritage.
  • Manta Ray Night Dives: If you’re an adventurous spirit, Kona offers the unique opportunity for night dives with majestic manta rays. This exhilarating experience is an unforgettable adventure.
  • Water Sports Paradise: Kona’s warm waters and diverse marine life make it an ideal destination for snorkeling, diving, and water sports. Explore coral reefs and underwater wonders like the majestic manta rays just off the coast.
  • Kohala Coast Exploration: Drive along the stunning Kohala Coast, where you can discover beautiful landscapes, charming towns, and pristine white sand beaches.
  • Mauna Kea Stargazing: Kona’s proximity to Mauna Kea, one of the world’s best locations for stargazing, provides an opportunity to witness the cosmos like never before.

Cons of Visiting Kona

Kona is a beautiful place to stay but still has some drawbacks. Below are some of the cons of visiting the west side of the Big Island.

Read also: Where To Stay On The Big Island: 9 Wonderful Destinations

Cons of Visiting Kona
  • Crowded Tourist Spots: Kona’s popularity, particularly for activities like manta ray night dives, can lead to crowded tourist attractions. Be prepared for some waiting and overcrowded conditions during peak travel seasons.
  • Higher Cost of Living: While Kona offers luxury and comfort, it can be relatively expensive, impacting your daily expenses, dining, and accommodations.
  • Hot and Humid Climate: The warm and humid climate can be a downside for those not used to tropical weather. Be ready for higher humidity levels during your stay.
  • Traffic Congestion: Like many tourist destinations, Kona can experience traffic congestion, especially in and around the town center. Plan your travel times accordingly.
  • Limited Public Transportation: Kona has limited public transportation options, so having your rental car can be essential for exploring the area.
  • Isolation from Other Islands: The Big Island is more remote than other Hawaiian islands, making it less convenient for island hopping if you desire a multi-island experience.
  • Variable Beach Conditions: Some beaches in Kona may have rocky or pebbly shores, so it’s a good idea to research specific beach conditions whether you’re looking for green sand beaches or black sand beaches.

Hilo vs Kona – What’s the Difference?

Hilo and Kona are two major towns on the Big Island of Hawaii. The two towns have some unique features that make them different. I’ll explore some of these differences between Kona vs Hilo.

  1. Location: Hilo is located on the eastern side of the Big Island, while Kona is on the western side. This difference in location results in variations in climate and landscape.
Hilo vs Kona – Difference in Location
  1. Climate: Is Kona hotter than Hilo? Hilo is known for its frequent rainfall and is one of the wettest cities in the United States. On the other hand, Kona is known for its sunny and dry weather. It’s on the island’s leeward side, which means it receives less rainfall and is sunnier.
  2. Landscape: Hilo’s terrain comprises tropical rainforests, lush vegetation, and waterfalls. Kona has a drier, more arid landscape with lava fields and black sand beaches. The barren terrain and the unique black sand beach create a surreal experience.
  3. Activities: Hilo is a good base for exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home to active volcanoes, lava tubes, and unique geological features, while Kona is known for its water activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, and deep-sea fishing. Additionally, Kona Coffee brings enthusiasts to the region.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  1. Cultural Differences: Hilo is deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture, and I had the privilege of attending traditional hula performances and cultural events. The native Hawaiian community’s presence is strong and adds a unique depth to the town’s identity. In Kona, the cultural aspect blends with tourism seamlessly.
  2. Tourism: Hilo attracts fewer tourists than Kona. Most tourists prefer staying in Kona mainly because of the favorable weather.
Hilo attracts fewer tourists than Kona

Hilo vs Kona: Location

Regarding Hilo vs Kona, the location is a crucial factor to consider. The two destinations are located on different sides of the Big Island which greatly contributes to their climate difference.

  • Hilo is on the eastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii and has lush, tropical surroundings. The frequent rainfall has created a vibrant green landscape, and I was amazed by the stunning waterfalls and rainforests.

  • Kona is on the western side of the island. It offers an entirely different experience with its dry and sunny climate. The sun shines relentlessly, making it ideal for beach lovers and sun-seekers. The arid landscape, often dominated by black lava fields, lends Kona a unique, almost otherworldly appearance.

Your choice between Hilo and Kona might depend on whether you prefer the lush, rainy beauty of Hilo’s east side or the sunny, dry climate and stark, black lava fields of Kona’s west side. Each location has its charm and appeal.

Is Hilo or Kona More Rainy? A Weather Comparison

Well, during my trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, I found myself facing a weather dilemma when it came to Kona and Hilo. The two destinations were totally different.

  • Kona, which is on the western side, was like a sunny dream. Each day brought endless blue skies, and I couldn’t get enough of that warm, inviting sun. It was perfect for beach days, snorkeling trips, swimming with the sea turtles, and soaking up the Hawaiian rays.
Is Hilo or Kona More Rainy?
  • Hilo, on the eastern side of the island, welcomed me with frequent rain showers. I had heard it was one of the rainiest cities in the United States, and boy, did it live up to its reputation. But here’s the thing, that rain is responsible for the vibrant landscapes that define Hilo.

When it came to picking between Kona and Hilo, it all came down to personal preference. If you love sunny days, Kona is perfect for you. But if you don’t mind an occasional shower and appreciate that lush, green beauty, Hilo is your oasis.

Is Kona Hotter Than Hilo?

Kona is hotter and drier than Hilo, making it a preferred choice for visitors who enjoy warm, sunny weather. On the other hand, Hilo offers a more tropical and rainy climate, which contributes to its lush, green landscapes and is attractive to those who appreciate a rainforest environment.

Is Kona Hotter Than Hilo?
  • Kona is located on the leeward side, which makes it experience more sunshine and less rainfall.
  • Hilo is on the windward side and experiences North East trade winds, giving it a more tropical and rainy climate.

11 Things to Do in Kona

Kona in Hawaii is where the sun always shines, the beaches are blissful, and the coffee is world-renowned. It’s a place that invites you to explore history, dive into incredible marine adventures, and taste the finest flavors. Get ready to experience Kona at its best by engaging in the following activities.

  1. Snorkeling and Diving: Kona’s crystal-clear waters are a haven for snorkelers and divers. Explore vibrant coral reefs, encounter diverse marine life like sea turtles, and don’t miss the opportunity to swim with manta rays at night.
  2. Visit Coffee Farms: Kona’s coffee is world-famous. Take a tour of a local coffee farm to learn about the coffee-making process, savor various coffee blends, and enjoy the stunning coffee plantation views.
Visit Coffee Farms in Kona
  1. Historic Kailua Village: Stroll through the historic downtown area of Kailua-Kona, where you’ll find charming shops, restaurants, and historic sites, including the Hulihe’e Palace and Mokuaikaua Church.
  2. Beach Time: Embrace the sunny weather by spending your days at beautiful Kona beaches. Magic Sands Beach, Kahaluu Beach Park, and White Sands Beach Park are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water activities.
Beach Time in Kona
  1. Kealakekua Bay: Kayak or take a boat tour to Kealakekua Bay, a marine sanctuary with fantastic snorkeling opportunities. You can also hike to the Captain Cook Monument for a historic adventure.
  2. Kona Coffee Living History Farm: Immerse yourself in the history of Kona coffee at this historic farm. Experience the daily life of a Kona coffee farmer, from cultivating coffee beans to enjoying the serene surroundings.
  3. Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park: Explore this sacred Hawaiian site, often called the “Place of Refuge.” Dive into Hawaiian history, explore ancient structures, and soak in the peaceful atmosphere.
Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
  1. Helicopter Tours: Get a breathtaking aerial view of the Big Island by taking a helicopter tour. Witness the island’s stunning landscapes, including waterfalls, volcanoes, and lush valleys.
  2. Shopping: Kona boasts a variety of boutique shops, art galleries, and local markets like The Ali’i Gardens Marketplace. Here, you can find unique souvenirs, local artwork, and handcrafted goods to take home.
  3. Nightlife: Experience Kona’s vibrant nightlife scene with numerous bars and restaurants offering live music and entertainment. It’s a perfect place to unwind and immerse yourself in the island’s culture.
  4. Hiking: Discover numerous hiking trails in the Kona area, including coastal hikes and paths leading to breathtaking vistas. The Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park offers hiking opportunities amidst historical sites and natural beauty.
Kona hiking

These activities provide a taste of the diverse experiences you can enjoy in Kona, the island of Hawaii. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history lover, or just seeking relaxation, Kona has something for everyone to enjoy. Click on the link below to watch a video of some things you can do in Kona.

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9 Things to do in Hilo Island of Hawaii

Hilo has plenty of hidden treasures: From majestic waterfalls and lush rainforests to captivating museums and vibrant local markets, I was captivated by its natural beauty. Let’s explore the best things to do in this beautiful town.

  1. Hike through The Akaka Falls State Park: Take a hike through the lush rainforest to witness the breathtaking Akaka Falls, which plunges 442 feet into a gorge. It’s a short trail that showcases Hilo’s natural beauty.
The Akaka Falls State Park
  1. Visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Explore the otherworldly landscapes of active volcanoes, lava tubes, and craters. Don’t miss the Jaggar Museum, which offers insightful information about volcanic activity.
  2. Go to The Rainbow Falls: Visit these beautiful waterfalls known for creating rainbows in the morning light. The surrounding park is a serene place for a stroll.
The Rainbow Falls in Hilo
  1. Hilo Farmers Market: Dive into the local culture and flavors at the Hilo Farmers Market. You’ll find fresh produce, tropical fruits, handmade crafts, and delicious Hawaiian treats.
  2. Imiloa Astronomy Center: This interactive science museum combines Hawaiian culture with astronomy. It’s a fascinating place to learn about the cosmos and the unique connection between astronomy and Hawaiian history.
  3. Liliuokalani Gardens: Stroll through the serene Japanese-style gardens offering beautiful views of Hilo Bay. It’s a peaceful place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty.
Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo
  1. Mokupapapa Discovery Center: Explore the intriguing marine life and ecosystems of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
  2. Tour the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo: I toured the only tropical rainforest zoo in the United States. It has a variety of animals, including endangered and exotic species.
  3. Hilo Bay Beach Park: You can relax on the beach, go for a swim, or enjoy the views of Hilo Bay. It’s a great place for picnics and leisurely beach days.
Hilo Bay Beach Park

Hilo has a rich blend of natural wonders and cultural experiences which makes it perfect for you. Click on the link below to watch a video on things to do in Hilo.

Hilo or Kona: Which Airport to Arrive?

My exciting journey started with arriving in Hawaii. So, what does this mean? It means I had to choose an Airport prior to my departure. Here is what I had to work with. 

  • Hilo International Airport: Hilo Airport is located in Hilo on the east side of the Big Island and offers a convenient gateway to explore Hilo’s lush landscapes, nearby waterfalls, and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
  • Kona International Airport: Kona Airport is on the west side and provides easy access to Kona’s sunny beaches, coffee farms, and cultural sites. 
Hilo or Kona: Which Airport to Arrive?

Your decision should be guided by your travel itinerary and the experiences you seek, as both airports offer unique adventures on this beautiful island.

Hilo or Kona: Do You Need a Rental Car?

Whether to rent a car in Hilo or Kona largely depends on your travel plans and preferences. The following factors can contribute to your decision of getting a rental car or opting not to.

1. Proximity of Attractions

If your main focus is the Hilo area, many of the town’s attractions, such as Rainbow Falls and downtown Hilo, are within walking distance. A rental car may be more convenient if you venture beyond Hilo to the volcanoes or other parts of the island.

Hilo or Kona: Do You Need a Rental Car?

Kona is more spread out, and renting a car can be highly beneficial. It allows you to explore the island’s west side, visit coffee farms, snorkel at various beaches, and take day trips to Waimea or the south point of the island.

2. Availability of Public Transport

Hilo also has public transportation options. You can board buses and shuttles when moving around. While Kona has some public transportation, it’s less comprehensive than major cities.

Ultimately, whether you get a rental car depends on your travel itinerary and how much you plan to explore. Renting a car in either location provides flexibility and convenience, but the necessity varies depending on your activities and the areas you wish to visit during your stay.

Hilo vs Kona: Available Accommodation Options

Selecting the perfect place to call home during your Hawaiian adventure is a crucial decision, and it all starts with your choice of accommodations. Regarding accommodation options in Kona vs Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, each location will give you distinct experiences.

I had the following experience and discovered some differences in accommodation when I visited Hilo and Kona.

Accommodation in Hilo

In case you were looking for a place to stay in Hilo, I got you covered. Below are some accommodation options that I encountered during my visit.

  1. Variety of Accommodations: Hilo offers a diverse range of places to stay. Travelers can choose from hotels like Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals like Hale Hualalai, and more. This diversity gave me different options to choose from according to my budget. Each price point and style ensures visitors can find a place to stay that aligns with their needs and budget.
Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel
Credit:, Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel
  1. Authentic Bed and Breakfasts: When I was looking for a more genuine Hawaiian experience, Hilo’s local bed and breakfasts became an attractive option. These lodgings come with a personal touch, allowing me to connect with local hosts and immerse myself in the culture. Bed and breakfasts in Hilo like the Old Hawaiian B&B and Hale Kawehi Bed and Breakfastprovided an intimate and local experience.
Old Hawaiian B&B
Credit:, Old Hawaiian B&B
  1. Affordability: When comparing Kona vs Hilo, I found that Hilo’s accommodation options are more budget-friendly compared to Kona’s. This affordability makes it an excellent choice for budget-conscious travelers exploring the island’s eastern side. I wanted to enjoy the Big Island without breaking the Bank, and Hilo gave me that with affordable options like the Wild Ginger Inn Hotel and Hostel.
 Wild Ginger Inn Hotel and Hostel
Credit:, Wild Ginger Inn Hotel and Hostel
  1. Laid-Back, Local Vibe: Hilo maintains a relaxed, local atmosphere, and this ambiance is often reflected in its accommodations. You can expect a more down-to-earth, authentic Hawaiian experience. The accommodations in Hilo mirrored the town’s authentic Hawaiian character and gave me a genuine and non-commercialized experience that showcases the local way of life.

Accommodation in Kona

Staying in Kona has its perks. There is everything to cater to all your accommodation needs. I personally tried everything out just to get that experience. You can expect the following if you choose to stay in Kona.

  1. Diverse Range of Choices: Kona boasts a wide spectrum of accommodation options. I had plenty of options to work with, from luxury resorts like The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort, vacation rentals, beachfront properties along the Kona coastand Condos like Kona Bali Kai, a short drive from downtown Kona. This extensive variety caters to a wide array of preferences and budgets.
Kona Bali Kai
Credit:, Kona Bali Kai
  1. Upscale Resorts and Amenities: Kona is home to numerous upscale resorts that offer a wealth of amenities, including pools, spas, fine dining restaurants, and oceanfront views. When I was seeking a more luxurious experience, Kona’s upscale resorts like the Mauna Lani Auberge Resorts Collection, located along the Kohala coast, provided a full-service, pampering atmosphere with a wide range of amenities and services.
Mauna Lani Auberge Resorts Collection
Credit:, Mauna Lani Auberge Resorts Collection
  1. Beachfront Properties: Kona is known for its beachfront accommodations, and I wasted no time getting one. It allows you to wake up to the sound of the ocean and enjoy easy access to the beach. Beachfront accommodations like the Kona Bali Kai offer a front-row seat to the beauty of the ocean and the convenience of beach access.
Kona Bali Kai
Credit:, Kona Bali Kai
  1. Appeal to Tourists and Luxury Travelers: Kona’s accommodations cater to tourists and travelers seeking a more opulent experience, including high-end hotels and luxury villas like Kohanaiki and Waikoloa Beach Villas.

You can book your accommodations through popular platforms like irrespective of whether you want to stay in Kona or Hilo.

Kona or Hilo – Where Should I Spend More Time?

Deciding between Kona or Hilo depends on your interests and what kind of experience you seek. Both towns on the Big Island of Hawaii have unique offerings. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide where to spend more time:

  1. Weather: Kona is known for its dry and sunny weather, ideal for beach activities like manta ray snorkeling and outdoor exploration. Hilo experiences heavy rainfall throughout, making it a paradise for nature lovers.
  2. Affordability: Why is Hilo so cheap? Regarding pricing, Hilo is considered more affordable than Kona, probably because fewer people visit the place. Whether you choose Kona or Hilo, be sure you will pay more at Kona.
Kona vs Hilo Affordability
  1. Volcanic Adventures: Hilo is closer to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, a must-visit for volcanic exploration. Kona is a short drive from the historic place.

You can split your time between Kona or Hilo to experience the best that each place offers. The drive from Kona to Hilo comprises of beautiful views and takes about two hours, so you can manage.

How to Get From Kona to Hilo?

I enjoyed the journey from Kona to Hilo because of the scenic views and opportunities to explore the island. There are multiple ways you can get from Kona to Hilo:

How to Get From Kona to Hilo
  1. By Car: The most flexible way to travel is by renting a car. The drive from Kona to Hilo takes about 2-2.5 hours. This route provides stunning landscape views of the entire Island. I experienced varying weather conditions and road elevation changes. Always check road conditions as well.
  2. By Shuttle Service: Several shuttle services like SpeediShuttle and Hawaii24 Transfers operate between Kona and Hilo. These services offer shared or private rides and may provide guided tours showcasing notable attractions.
  3. By Air: The quickest way to get from Kona to Hilo is to take a domestic flight. Both Kona Airport and Hilo Airport offer multiple daily flights, which take around 30-40 minutes. This option is convenient if you’re looking to save time.
  4. By Public Transportation: The Hele-On Bus system offers limited public transportation options between Kona and Hilo, but schedules can be limited. The Kona route operates within the Kailua-Kona area while the Hilo route serves Hilo and its surroundings.

Kona vs Hilo: Cost Comparison

When assessing the expenses of Kona vs Hilo, Kona proves to be significantly more expensive than Hilo, encompassing a wide range of costs such as fuel, drinks, and lodging.

Therefore, if you’re working with a limited budget, Hilo (along with its abundance of outdoor activities) could be the more economical option.

Here is the cost comparison table for Kona vs Hilo:




Accommodation (3-star hotels for one night)



Food (one person)

from $70 per day





Electricity bill (Rates Residential)

55.80 Cents/kWh

47.95 Cents/kWh


$3 to 6

$4 to $9

Why Is Hilo So Cheap?

I noticed that Hilo was much cheaper than Kailua Kona during my visit. This is, of course, a good thing, especially since I wanted to spend less money. Here are the reasons why Hilo is much cheaper:

  • It has Fewer Tourists: Compared to other Hawaiian destinations like Waikiki on Oahu or Kailua Kona, Hilo attracts fewer tourists. This results in less competition for accommodations and activities, which can help reduce the prices.
Why Is Hilo So Cheap

Read also: Samoa vs Hawaii: Which One Is a Great Tourist Destination?

  • It Is Far From Major Airports: Hilo has a smaller airport with fewer direct flight options than major Hawaiian airports like Honolulu or Kailua Kona.
  • It has Limited Nightlife: Lively cities like Vegas are usually expensive due to their nightlife. Hilo is the exact opposite. It offers a more relaxing atmosphere, which only attracts a few tourists, lowering the activities’ prices.
Why Is Hilo So Cheap

What Is Nicer Kona or Hilo?

What Is Nicer, Kona, or Hilo? The choice between Kailua Kona and Hilo on the Big Island depends on your preferences and what you want in a Hawaiian vacation. Both towns offer different experiences.

Choose Kona if you are after the following aspects:

  • A warmer climate and more sunny;
  • Days unwinding on the beach;
  • Snorkeling with marine creatures.

On the other hand, Hilo will suit you well if you prefer the following aspects:

  • A more chill atmosphere with lush forests and beautiful views;
  • Beautiful black sand beaches;
  • An economical vacation.


Is it better to stay in Hilo or Kona?

Hilo offers a lush, rainy climate, rich culture, and affordable accommodations, while Kona provides sunny weather, beach activities, and luxury resorts. Consider what type of experience you’re seeking.

Is Hilo Hawaii worth visiting?

Yes, Hilo, Hawaii, is worth visiting for its natural beauty, including waterfalls, lush rainforests, and volcanic landscapes. It’s also a hub for Hawaiian culture, with museums, festivals, and a relaxed, local atmosphere.

Is Hilo or Kona more rainy?

The Hilo side is more rainy than Kona due to its location on the windward side of the Big Island, which receives more rainfall and overcast days. Kona, on the leeward side, enjoys drier and sunnier weather.


When deciding between Kona vs Hilo, it is clear that both destinations have something unique to offer because Hawaii is massive. On the Hilo side, you will find lush vegetation, beautiful landscapes, parks, and waterfalls.

If you plan to spend just a few days on the island and can only choose one location, and you desire a sunny beach getaway, a wider variety of things to do, and a superior assortment of accommodations, dining establishments, and flight options, then select Kona.

Ultimately, whether you choose Kona or Hilo depends on your personal preferences. By now, I hope you have a clear understanding of what it’s like to visit these two Hawaiian destinations. Therefore, it would be a good idea to consider sharing this guide with your fellow travelers.

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Hilo vs Kona