TripAdvisor puts Hawaii Island among top 10 destinations in US

  • Tourists begin to fill the lookout area at Rainbow Falls in Hilo. (HOLLYN JOHNSON/Hawaii Tribune-Herald)
  • The Body Glove gets ready to launch from Kailua Pier on Friday. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • Visitors learn to surf at Kahaluu Beach. (Photos by Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Visitors stroll down Alii Drive on Wednesday. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Kua Bay is a popular spot for visitors to Hawaii Island. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — Hawaii Island’s natural beauty and seemingly endless opportunities for adventure have earned it a spot among TripAdvisor’s top destinations in the United States.

The state’s southernmost and largest island — which has seen robust growth in tourism over the past four years — rounded out the annual Travelers’ Choice awards list at No. 10.

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“Life on the Big Island boasts natural beauty and adventure, from the heights of Mauna Kea to black sand beaches to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and a famous local plate of fresh poke,” TripAdvisor wrote when announcing the awards last week.

Joining Hawaii Island among the top U.S. destinations was Maui at No. 2 and Oahu at No. 4.

“It’s nice for us to creep up on them,” said Craig Anderson, vice president of resort operations at Mauna Kea Resort on the South Kohala Coast, noting the designation is a tremendous honor for the island. “We love our sister neighbor islands, but I think it’s about time the Big Island gets the respect it deserves.”

The naming of Hawaii Island as a top visitor spot is likely to fuel even more tourism to the island and state on the heels of a record-breaking 2017 and an already strong start to 2018.

Last year, 9.38 million visitors came to the state, surpassing the 2016 record of 8.9 million visitors by 5 percent. Visitor spending also reached new levels in 2017, with vacationers dishing out $16.78 billion across the islands, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Hawaii Island also notched records with the largest increases in the state for visitor spending, visitor days and arrivals year-over-year.

In 2017, the number of visitors arriving on island increased 13.7 percent to 1.76 million and the amount they spent jumped 14.7 percent to $2.4 billion when compared with the year prior. Visitors also stayed 1.3 million — or 11.2 percent — more days on the island in 2017 than 2016.

That energy continued into the new year, according to statistics for January released by the HTA. February data is not yet available.

On Hawaii Island, more than 158,300 people arrived in January, a 5 percent increase over the same month in 2016. The amount they spent also increased to $268.2 million during the month, $1.8 million more than last year. It was also the highest monthly total ever recorded for the island.

Statewide, arrivals were up 5.4 percent with 796,483 people reaching the state. Those visitors spent $1.69 billion during January, the highest statewide total for visitor spending ever recorded in a single month in Hawaii’s history.

Hoteliers also started the year strong with occupancy statewide at 81.7 percent in January, according to the HTA.

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Hotel occupancy statewide averaged 80 percent in 2017, up from 79 percent in 2016. The highest average of annual statewide occupancy was in 2005 at 81.1 percent.

On Hawaii Island, hotel occupancy was 80.6 percent with the Kohala Coast resort area reporting occupancy of 79.4 percent during January, according to HTA. That’s higher than the 2017 average for Hawaii Island with occupancy at 74.4 percent for the year. The Kohala Coast resort area’s occupancy rate for the year was 73.3 percent.

  1. springbok612 March 26, 2018 9:53 am

    Where else are you really going to visit?


  2. Kaipo Wall March 26, 2018 10:27 am

    way way way too many tourists …..


    1. bpnjensen March 26, 2018 10:39 am

      That’s a shame…but population continues to grow and people want to see cool things.

      I apologize in advance – my family and I will be tourists in your beautiful state in July 2018 – but I promise, we will do our best to be polite and courteous. If you have any pointers or advice on how to succeed at this, please let me know.


      1. NevahHappen March 26, 2018 7:52 pm

        Have a ball. Just try not to stop in the middle of the road to sight-see. And pull off out of the way to figure out where you be going. No one much has issues other than dealing with the normal traffic, so try not to mess it up further.

        Best place if you want space to explore. Kauai is nice, but small.

        Still, far, far better than Oahu. Spit….


        1. bpnjensen March 27, 2018 4:26 am

          Thank you Sir. We feel the same way when tourists we deal with here on the mainland block roads and make a mess of traffic. We’ll try to make our plans and know directions to things we want to see well in advance.

          Can you tell me if GPS works well on the Islands?

          Thank you!


          1. NevahHappen March 27, 2018 7:47 am

            Works perfectly, and none of the roads here are packed together like mainland cities have, Most everywhere is wide open.


          2. bpnjensen March 27, 2018 9:32 am

            Most of the places we visit are actually remote and natural – and STILL people manage to block roads and just act inconsiderately.


    2. Pest Outwest March 26, 2018 12:51 pm

      Yup, they’re ruining the place.

      “If you have any pointers or advice on how to succeed at this, please let me know.”

      Well, you could start by not rubbernecking the lava on the Queen K at 50 mph. Some of us have business on that highway. But in general, just go to Maui, it’s already ruined beyond repair.


  3. PuaTahiti March 26, 2018 4:10 pm

    Come visit our island. There is much to see especially Mother Nature at its best! I enjoy having visitors here who often appreciate Hawaii much more than we do. Aloha all!


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