Should I fly into Kona Airport or Hilo Airport?

The two biggest towns on the Big Island are Kona(west side) and Hilo(east side). Before we get into talking about which one you should fly into, let’s first understand these two towns on the Island.


Kona is the more popular town among tourists for one reason: Kona is how we image Hawaii to look like. It has hot weather with beautiful beaches. If you goal is to sit on the beach while staying at your luxury beach front resort for your entire Big Island vacation, then Kona is perfect for you. These are the advantages of staying on the Kona side. However, the downside is that all you get to do on Kona side (west) are to sit on the beach, swim, and watch sunset.



While Hilo side (east) is less populated with tourists because it’s not the typical Hawaiian vibe portrayed by the media, however most of the attractions on the Big Island are on the east side. On the east side, you have mountains, volcanoes, waterfalls and beaches. If your goal is to do a lot of sightseeing and see beautiful sights that the Big Island has to offer, the east side is your best friend.

Akaka Falls is one of the more popular waterfalls on the East side of the island

Our Suggestion:

What we suggest you to do to make the most out of your vacation here on the Big Island is to stay one or two nights in Kona to get the tourist Hawaiian vibe and the rest of your time on the east side of the island. We made a post Big Island 5 Day Itinerary so you get the most out of your vacation by visiting all the must-sees throughout the entire island.

If you intend to visit attractions throughout the island based on our suggestion in the post Big Island 5 day itinerary, you can fly into Kona Airport and fly out in Hilo Airport or vice versa. If you prefer to fly in and fly out with the same airport, it’s up to your personal preference to choose either one. Just keep in mind that it takes about 2 hours or more to drive from Kona side to Hilo side. For instance, if you fly into Hilo Airport (east side), spend a few days on the east side, then spend a few days on the west side, you will have to account for 2 hours of driving back to the Hilo Airport from the west side. It’s the same vice versa.

If you want to get to know where the most attractions are on the Big island, check out: Top 33 things to do on the Big Island and Big Island Hawaii Map.