The Big Island Vibe
While tourism and activities still abound, the Big Island is a little different than your stereotypical Hawaiian resorts, leis, etc. Much of the economy here is based in agriculture and there is a bit of a relaxed, hippie feel to much of the island - especially on the Hilo side. Much of this volcanic landscape is not plunging rain forest gorges, but varying climatic zones with significant elevation and temperature changes (there is snow on the mountain!). If you're looking for a more laid back adventure, we recommend getting jiggy with it, Big Island Style.
Driving is Worthwhile
While renting a car will put a dent in your excursion budget, it is totally worth it if you want to explore the Big Island even a little. It's a truly large island that will take 7-8 hours to drive the coasts providing unique and beautiful adventures around every turn. Attractions like lava flows are ever changing which makes a vehicle rather necessary if this is a bucket list item for you. Public transportation is available, but is infrequent and only between main points on the island.
You can blow your budget on accommodations
Everyone knows that Hawaii isn't cheap, but it's easy to drop your whole budget just on hotels if you're not careful. Even the most basic of rooms in average 'resorts' begin at $180 a night. If ever a place to consider an AirBNB or VRBO, this is it. Private rooms or entire condos will give your group space to spread out at similar or better prices. Finding your way on the Big Island isn't difficult with only a few main roads so don't fret about getting lost.
Seeing Wildlife can be Free
Paying for wildlife tours can be hit or miss, but you only need to be on the lookout when in the Kona area to see beautiful creatures in the water. Up and down the Kona coast, you can see humpback whales, dolphins or even turtles if you keep an eye one the water. We even saw a huge whale surface while coming out of the grocery store!
Volcanoes Change Daily
If you're coming to the Big Island for the Volcano experience, be sure to do a little homework on where the lava is flowing in the weeks before your trip. Volcanoes National Park is ever changing and it has truly been a rare treat to have eruptions happening this consistently for so long. Depending on the flows, a boat tour may be your best option. When we visited, a long hike was required. It's worth taking the time to research current conditions if this is a make or break activity for your trip.